Alberta Soil Science

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18th to 20th, 2020

Life in Soil at the
Coast Hotel Lethbridge


Coast Hotel
Lethbridge, Alberta
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The detailed program and program overview are now available. Summaries of presentations are not yet available.

Abstract Submission

Abstract submission is closed now. Please contact the Planning Committee if you have any questions.


A bus is available as a ticket option. The cost is $70 from Edmonton and $40 from Calgary. Please visit the registration site (see the link below) to buy a ticket.

Travel Assistance
Student travel assistance is available: To apply, please download the request form.


Plenary Speakers

Mike Bruised Head

Where the Cross Roads meet between Bringing Back the Bison and Industry - "Fighting for Grassland"

Ylva Lekberg

Why Farmers and Ranchers Should Care About Mycorrhizal Fungi

More than eighty percent of plants are colonized by soil-dwelling mycorrhizal fungi. In this plant-fungal symbiosis, the fungi provide nutrients, increased drought tolerance and pathogen protection in exchange for plant carbon. This seminar will outline the potential role of mycorrhizal fungi in farming and ranching systems and discuss how common practices, such as fallow, tillage and herbicide applications can influence fungal abundance and function.
Melissa Arcand

miyo mâmawi atoskewin: “Working together in a good way” to evaluate soil quality on First Nations reserve lands

First Nations in Saskatchewan hold as much as 4 million acres of reserve land under conventional agricultural production. A decade-old estimate suggests that 80% of this land is farmed by non-Indigenous farmers through lease agreements. First Nations have expressed concerns about degraded soil quality on land leased to non-Indigenous farmers that could reduce land productivity and undermine cultural ties to the land. Although the soils on First Nations reserve lands in the agricultural region of Saskatchewan were surveyed and classified in the 1960s, there is no current data to support or refute claims of soil degradation, or other adverse environmental effects, due to long-term agricultural leasing. Together with Indigenous oral historians, language keepers, and land managers, we are working with two First Nations in Saskatchewan to assess agricultural land use and current soil quality based on conventional soil survey methods—but interpreted through Nêhiyawin (Cree world view) on land. By taking a participatory action research approach, the goals of this transdisciplinary research are to begin filling the gap in knowledge of the impacts of agriculture on reserve lands, to provide updated soil information to communities for future land use planning, and to increase within-community capacity in soil management.
Paul Sanborn

The imprint of time on Canadian soil landscapes

If we relied solely on the iconic paintings by the Group of Seven, our dominant impression of Canadian landscapes would be that the Quaternary glaciations scraped large portions of the country down to bare bedrock – with any surviving soils being both shallow and geologically youthful. In fact, careful examination finds that our landscapes preserve a much more complex mosaic of pedogenic legacies. In trying to understand the imprint of time on Canadian soil landscapes, and quantify rates of soil formation, we can find a much longer and more interesting story than that which is told by the array of documented chronosequences. These seldom span the full Holocene, and occur principally in areas of coastal isostatic uplift and shoreline evolution, as well as on recessional moraine sequences in the Cordillera. Longer (and much messier) sequences, involving soils and relict paleosols on Pleistocene morainal and glaciofluvial surfaces in the central Yukon Territory, record more complex legacies of pedogenesis and landscape evolution, but with much coarser time control and many potentially confounding influences of climatic change and disturbance processes. Elsewhere, older weathered bedrock and regolith can make significant contributions to soil parent materials in several settings: (1) in favoured locations where local conditions protected these materials from glacial erosion in southern Canada, (2) beyond the maximum limits of glaciation, principally in northwestern Canada, and (3) in the Arctic, where cold-based, non-erosive ice allowed preservation of these materials. As we consider the future soil landscapes of our new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, our speculations can be guided by soil-environment relationships across a much wider expanse of the continent. Depending on when our current global fossil fuel experiment ends, we can expect that at least one and perhaps more of the next orbitally-controlled ~100,000-year glacial-interglacial cycles will be cancelled. One consequence is that much of the Canadian landscape will, within 100 millennia, display a pattern of soil cover not seen since the end of the Pliocene, 2.6 million years ago.

Pre-Workshop Session

Demonstration of AFFIRM v3.0 (New Release) Len Kryzanowski and Symon Mezbahuddin (Government of Alberta: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry)

The enhanced Alberta Farm Fertilizer Information and Recommendation Manager (AFFIRM) v3 decision support tool is an interactive nutrient management decision support application, which allows the user to evaluate nutrient requirements for crop production based on Alberta research and production economics. AFFIRM is designed to be used by a wide range of users, including farmers, ranchers, crop specialists, farm consultants, industry agents, students and researchers to assist in optimizing fertilizer application rates. The new version has several upgraded features and capabilities that will enhance the users’ ability to evaluate fertilizer and manure management practices. It is now a web-based application, accessible through a web browser using a computer or mobile device such as a tablet. It is accessed through a free basic level My Alberta Digital Identification (MADI) account ( The use of MADI allows the user to store and retrieve their specific information in a secure environment.

In this pre-workshop session, the AFFIRM team (Len Kryzanowski, Director of Environmental Strategy and Research, and Symon Mezbahuddin, Geomatics Modelling Specialist of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry) will demonstrate how to use the new AFFIRM v3.0. The attendees can also play with the AFFIRM tool and gain hands on experience on different enhanced and cool features of the new AFFIRM v3.0.

Professional Development for Soil Scientists and Students

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Oral and poster presentations include: keynote papers focussed on the workshop theme, technical papers within four distinct fields, and volunteer papers. Currently the five technical groups are: Land Use, Soil Fertility, Land Reclamation, Forest, Riparian and Wetland Soils and Pedogenesis and Soil Inventory.


Regional Interaction

The Alberta Soil Science Workshop is held to facilitate regional interaction among professionals in soil science. Typically 100 to 150 participants gather for a 1 to 2 day program.



Workshop participants include a diversity of professionals from private industry (e.g. consultants in agronomy, pedology, reclamation, remediation, and environmental services; chemists from commercial analytical laboratories), government (federal, provincial, municipal) and academia (universities and colleges).


Student Support

The workshop is graduate student-friendly, providing an excellent opportunity to enhance presentation skills in a supportive setting (travel bursaries are available for out-of-town students; awards are made for the best student presentations).

Alberta's Soil Science Symposium since 1962

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