A canola (Brassica napus L.) experiment to determine the effect of unconventional or novel inputs compared with standard and increased seed and nitrogen rates was conducted at 14 different Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada sites in 2013 and 2014. All treatments were compared to a “best management practice” (BMP) treatment with canola seeded at 100 seeds m-2 and fertilized according to soil test recommendations. Canola density across all sites averaged 56 plants m-2 and increased to 76 plants m-2 at 150 seeds m-2. Flowering and maturity time were both decreased when 25% less nitrogen was applied in the side-band at seeding. Compared to the BMP treatment, there were trends for lower yield (P = 0.0528) when side-banded nitrogen was reduced by 25% at seeding time or for higher yield (P = 0.0530) when 25% more nitrogen was added as a foliar treatment at the bud stage. Canola yields were generally economically optimized in the BMP treatment at soil test recommended nitrogen rates. Increasing the seeding rate from 100 to 150 seeds m-2 did not increase canola yield; however, it did decrease % green seed enough to potentially affect canola grade and economic returns. Increasing or decreasing nitrogen fertilizer compared to BMP often decreased or increased seed oil concentration, respectively, and had the opposite effect on seed protein concentration. Despite incurring additional costs compared to the BMP treatment, none of the novel inputs impacted canola emergence, days to flowering, days to maturity, yield or quality.
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