Soil Organic Matter Dynamics in Long-Term Experiments in Southern Alberta
The soils in southern Alberta were first cultivated for agricultural production early in the 20th century. Developed under mixed prairie, they were generally fertile but productivity was limited by inadequate and sporadic precipitation. The evolution of farming practices in southern Alberta occurred concurrently and interactively with agricultural research activities. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada established an experimental station at Lethbridge, Alberta, in August of 1906 when land in the area was first being cultivated. The chapter describes briefly the ongoing long-term experiments and highlight some findings with particular emphasis on soil organic matter dynamics. The potential contributions of the long-term studies at Lethbridge to scientific and agronomic communities remain largely untapped. The research objectives in the long-term experiments have evolved well beyond those posed at their inception. Similarly, if adequately maintained and nurtured, long-term studies may provide answers to critical scientific questions not yet envisaged.