The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural affairs has tapped Colin Elgie as the province’s new soil fertility specialist.
Elgie fills a gap created in the OMAFRA soil management team in 2019 with the retirement of long-time OMAFRA soil management specialist Adam Hayes. Jake Munroe, who formerly handled the soil fertility duties, moved into the soil management role at that time, focusing on broader soil topics including microbiology, cover crops, and erosion protection.
The appointment renews a role that primarily focuses on soil fertility. “We need to ensure that our crops have the nutrition they require, whether that be from synthetic fertilizers, manure or organic sources,” says Elgie. He’ll also be taking a close look at soil chemistry, nutrient availability as well as trouble shooting nutrient deficiencies and tie-ups in the field.
A University of Guelph graduate, Elgie earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 2009. He then joined Thompsons Limited Farm Services, first spending time at the Pain Court, Ont., branch as well as the agronomy department before settling into an agronomy solutions specialist role at the Kent Bridge branch. He’s been with Sylvite Agri-Services since the company purchased Thompsons in 2019. He also farms with his family near Dresden, Ont.
Elgie says a key focus of his work will be best management practices, including helping growers adopt 4-R nutrient management strategies — right source, rate, time and place. He’s also keen to build on nitrogen research and help fine-tune strategies for field crop growers. Another thing he’ll be paying particular attention to is phosphorus and potassium recommendations.
“Looking at P and K values, a lot of that research was done decades ago,” says Elgie. “We need to figure out whether those recommendations still apply… or as crop yields have improved, do we need to update those to come more in line with what crops are actually doing in the field.”
There’s also new nutrient frontiers to explore, notes Elgie. He plans to conduct trials on new nitrogen fixation products as well as continue to evaluate stabilizers to determine how they can be incorporated into nitrogen recommendations. ” That’s a big part of what I’m hoping to learn and bring forward.”
Elgie will be based at OMAFRA’s University of Guelph, Ridgetown campus location.