Maximizing Crop Yield: Five Key Factors that Contribute to Poor Yields

At Norstar Agriculture, we know how important it is for farmers to have access to resources that lead to reliable, sustainable crop yields. With Alberta and much of Canada now facing consistently different weather patterns that bring difficult conditions, knowing the various factors that can contribute to poor crop yields is essential to building preventative strategies, including the use of fertilizers, soil testing and crop rotation methods to mitigate drought, flooding and more. With decades of experience behind our team, Norstar is proud to partner with Albertans to help keep your farming grounds as fertile and productive as possible. Below, we’ll take a closer look at five major factors that can be detrimental to crop yields as well as how targeted fertilization and soil testing can help enhance crop vitality and productivity. Read on to learn more!

Soil Nutrient Deficiencies

One of the biggest, if not the primary, factors (outside of uncontrollable environmental conditions) that leads to poor crop yield is core nutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Core nutrients are essential for plant growth and development but can be depleted from soil over time or due to a wide variety of extenuating circumstances. When soils lack core nutrients, plants often become stunted, develop root issues, and are less likely to produce desirable yields. 

Fertilizers help rectify nutrient deficiencies and can replenish the soil with solutions tailored to what your soil needs (often discovered through soil/agronomy testing). Agricultural lime, humic acid, gypsum, and others help boost plant vigour in different ways and can assist with root and flower development, leaf growth, etc.  

Soil pH Imbalance

Even if your soil nutrient balance is reasonable, soil pH is another common culprit of dwindling crops. pH balance influences nutrient availability; most plants prefer slightly acidic dirt over more neutral soil. Soils that are too acidic or too alkaline can lock up valuable nutrients, leading to plant growth suffering. 

Soil testing can be invaluable when it comes to determining the pH (and thus the available nutrients) and can help inform what treatments you use to restore adequate balance. Lime, for example, is crucial for raising pH, whereas gypsum and sulfur will lower the pH where necessary. Regular soil testing ensures that pH levels remain within the optimal range for crop growth.

Poor Soil Structure and Compaction

Soil structure is integral for root growth, water penetration, and retention. Highly compacted soils can cut off root growth, lower aeration, and reduce your crops’ access to water, all of which negatively affect yield. Incorporating organic matter and solutions like humic acid and implementing strategic tilling practices can help to break up compacted layers to allow for root growth, and, as with pH levels, regular soil testing can help catch structural issues before they have the chance to advance. 

Water Stress

Both excess and deficient water supplies can cause serious issues with nutrient uptake, photosynthesis and resiliency, which can lead to poor yields, plant death, and more. To combat these issues, it is crucial to implement irrigation solutions like drip irrigation, precision farming, and more using modern farming technology.

Pest and Disease Pressure

Soaring temperatures and excessive rainfall aren’t the only environmental considerations that can hinder crop production. Pest and disease control plays an integral role in annual yields, and poor soil health can directly correlate with your plants’ vulnerability to both threats. Pest management (pesticides, etc.) and balanced fertilization can help keep threats under control while also promoting stability and resilience. 

The Role of Soil Testing in Optimizing Fertilizer Use

For fertilizer to perform in its best capacity, it is essential to have a tailored approach guided by the actual needs of your land rather than general application. Partnering with agronomists like the team at Norstar makes it easy to identify nutrient deficiencies, optimize fertilizer application, and monitor soil health both during and between growing seasons. 

Grow With Success With Norstar Agriculture

At Norstar Agriculture, we’re proud to help farmers achieve maximum crop yields through informed and sustainable practices. Addressing key factors such as nutrient deficiencies, pH imbalances, poor soil structure, water stress, and pest pressure is essential, and with the help of our products and soil testing services, your crops can thrive in tough conditions. Learn more by contacting our team today!