Improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and soil sustainability in canola production across Canada

Project Summary


The purpose is to develop best management technologies to promote canola productivity, profitability as well as sustaining the environment. This study includes two field experiments at eight locations across Canada and laboratory analysis.

canola research
Canola field (2021 growing season); Photo credit: Dr. Ma’s research team


The specific objectives are to:

(1) assess agronomic and economic responses of canola to nitrogen fertilizer management in terms of nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), yield and crop standability.

(2) improve NUE, crop productivity and lodging resistance through management practices under different soil and cropping system conditions.

(3) identify root architecture traits for efficient nitrogen acquisition and strong anchorage strength.

(4) investigate the taxonomic and functional response of the soil microbiome to nitrogen management.


The project goes until 2023, but early results showed, at most sites, a positive response of canola yields to nitrogen application rates, and at some site-years, a better response to the split (base fertilizer plus top dress at the four- to six-leaf stage) compared to the same amount of nitrogen applied only at pre-plant. The estimated most economic rate of nitrogen (MERN) appears to indicate the need for region-specific recommendations.

canola research
Measuring lodging-related parameters (2021 growing season); Photo credit: Dr. Ma’s research team
canola research
Taking soil samples (2021 growing season); Photo credit: Dr. Ma’s research team