Central Alberta farmers are planning for possible drought conditions this growing season.   

Dr. Hiroshi Kubota, Research Scientist for the Lacombe Research and Development Centre explained that farmers in the Central Alberta region should be preparing for drought conditions, and ensure they have a mitigation plan.   

“Drought affects crop development and final yield, if we experience drought, yield is always low,” Kubota said. “The recent snowfall is welcome and adding some moisture to the soil, but still, with this drought condition, we need to have early spring rainfall to kick off the growing season.”  

When planning for drought conditions, farmers are encouraged to pick a realistic yield and fertilizer rate.  

“One important thing is improving the soil structure and soil porosity,” Kubota said. “We are sitting in a good position in terms of improving the soil structure to be ready for a drought condition.”  

Photo of a tractor in a field. Photo provided by Hiroshi Kubota.

Farmers can also adjust seeding depth, seeding rate, and the nitrogen fertilizer rate, or depending on the drought conditions, plant ultra-early seeds to utilize soil moisture from the snowmelt.   

“We usually seed when the soil temperature reaches +2 C, so it’s quite early seeding compared to the conventional seed timing,” Kubota said.   

This year, farmers may also need to adjust herbicide based on residual nitrogen in the soil.  

“Many scientists are trying to understand and come up with a solution for the drought, and there is no perfect solution. But we are trying to provide as much information in terms of drought, climate change, and mitigation,” Kubota said. “It's a challenging situation, but we are trying our best to help producers.”