Part of Soil fertility

Soil fertility – Overview

This section provides information on optimizing crop yields from Alberta soils while maintaining long-term soil quality and sustainability.


Proper nutrition is essential for satisfactory crop growth and production. Nutrient requirements of crops and the ability of soils to supply nutrients vary widely. In this section you’ll find information, including the Alberta Fertilizer Guide, for using fertilizers to supplement nutrient requirements under the various cropping and soil-climate conditions throughout the province.

Crops require 16 essential elements to grow properly. Air and water supply 3 main elements: carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O2). These elements comprise from 94.0 to 99.5 % of fresh plant tissue. The remaining nutrients, which come from the soil, make up the balance of plant tissue. Most of these remaining nutrients are in the form of inorganic salts, which do not contain carbon.

In this section, find out about key soil macronutrients and micronutrients in Alberta.


Macronutrient deficiencies are most often responsible for limiting crop yields in Alberta. Soil macronutrients include:


Micronutrients are other essential elements needed by plants in relatively small amounts. Micronutrients are less commonly deficient, and include:

  • boron (B)
  • chlorine (Cl)
  • copper (Cu)
  • iron (Fe)
  • manganese (Mn)
  • molybdenum (Mo)
  • zinc (Zn)

In this section you'll also find a list of soil fertility resources and publications – including the Alberta Fertilizer and Nutrient Management Planning guides.

Contact 310-FARM

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-FARM (3276) (in Alberta)
Phone: 403-742-7901 (outside Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

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