Megan Bourns, to her surprise, thinks about soil a lot. A graduate student and 3MT finalist at the University of Manitoba, she works with her advisor Don Flaten to ensure our food system doesn’t collapse.
Manitoba farmers continue to plant more soybeans, a versatile, inexpensive legume and a great source of protein. After canola and wheat, it’s the third most important crop to Manitoba’s economy, and one of the most valuable globally. But soybeans, it turns out, exhaust soils of potassium, greedily sucking up this nutrient critical to soil health.
Her field experiments have helped her devise innovative ways to sustainably return potassium into the earth. Working alongside the farmers, she’s discovering the ideal fertilizer rate and its optimal placement in relation to the soybean seed, allowing farmers to maximize output and maintain soil fertility.