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Cypress Field School

June 27, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 3:30 pm



Andy Kirschenman & Rob Dunn, FarmWise Inc.

The Kirschenman family farms in the Hilda area near the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. The farm uses no till, disc drills, stripper headers and continuous cropping with a diverse species rotation. Andy began experimenting with intercropping in 2008. He started with peas and canola, then tried flax and durum, peas and mustard, and flax and kabuli chickpeas. He tried companion cropping sweet clover with Clearfield canola. Andy has a goal to have a living root for the entire growing season on all his fields. His overarching motivation is excellent land stewardship.

Rob Dunn works with farmers to help improve long-term profitability and sustainability. His focus area for field trials is cover and inter-cropping practices that have the potential to improve soil health and reduce long term pesticide and fertilizer use intensity.  Rob became a consultant after 29 years with  Alberta Agriculture as an agricultural specialist with research extension roles related to cropping systems, soils and agronomy.  He is based out of Lethbridge. 


A mixed grain inter cropping approach plants two or more crops with similar maturity. At harvest, they become a forage or feed. The crop can also separate into the grain components after harvest.  Companion cropping is two or more species seeded together. At harvest, the crop becomes grain or forage. Some mixtures can  provide fall pasture or soil health benefits (subject to late summer rain).  Research projects across the prairies explore the benefits and challenges of inter cropping Many farmers are experimenting to understand what might work for their farming system, soils and climatic conditions.  Potential benefits compared to monocrops include over-yielding and reduced input costs. Some of the challenges include more limited herbicide options and finding grain crops that can be harvested and affordably separated.  This session will provide insight on why and how some farmers employ inter cropping practices with a chance to see a few examples appropriate for the Medicine Hat area. 

Autumn Barnes

Autumn Barnes is an agronomy specialist for the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) based in Lethbridge AB. Autumn is the stand establishment lead for the CCC and she leads major canola extension events in the province including canolaPALOOZA and Combine College. When she isn’t at work, Autumn enjoys playing soccer, camping and skiing with her family. 


Learn about optimum canola plant density and how to manage different TSWs and plant stands. 

Dianne WesterlundForage/soil benchmarking 

Dianne’s interest in agriculture developed growing up on a mixed farm in the Special Areas.  She completed a Bachelor of Science in Ag Economics from the University of Saskatchewan and has spent the majority of her career managing the applied research and extension program of the Chinook Applied Research Association (CARA) headquartered at Oyen.  In addition to managerial duties, she oversees the forage and range components of CARA’s annual program.  She has participated in and led several provincial forage initiatives, including perennial and annual forage variety trials, a year round grazing project as well as various extension events. Dianne, her husband Tim and son Levi run a small purebred and commercial cattle operation north east of Oyen.  Daughter Katelyn is a chiropractor. 


weed management, poisonous weeds & water 

Scott Meers – Insects

Scott Meers, a farm kid from Acadia Valley, started in the Alberta agriculture industry in 1982. He was the Alberta Agriculture District Agriculturist in Claresholm, Three Hills and Strathmore;  Crop Specialist in Vulcan and Strathmore and the South Central Alberta Regional Conservation Coordinator. Scott also walked the walk in private industry working as an agrologist.  

In 2004, Scott earned a Master of Entomology degree, Montana State University. His research concentrated the on biological control of wheat stem sawfly. Ask him sometime how many miles of stems he cut! Scott returned to Alberta to serve as the Insect Management Specialist with province wide responsibilities. His lab is at the Crop Diversification Centre South in Brooks. Scott coordinates insect surveys throughout Alberta and shares results with producers, agrologists and stakeholders. When Scott is not out chasing crop pests, his passion is cross country skiing.  

Dr. Mike Harding

 Michael Harding – FHB, WSMV (wheat streak) & bacterial leaf streak

  • Fifteen years as a Research Scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
  • Received his PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Arizona  
  • His work is focused on applied research, extension and surveillance of diseases on field and horticultural crops  
  • Grew up on a farm near Taber, AB 


When the weather is dry, we worry a little less about crop diseases. For example, we have a significant drop in FHB level since 2016 – probably due to drier weather as the crop is in anthesis. However, some diseases can still cause some issues in drier weather – especially when cool nights produce lots of dew and/or irrigation keeps the canopy wet for significant periods. In this session we will discuss some of the diseases that might sneak up on us in 2019! 


June 27, 2019
9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Event Category:


Farming Smarter
403 317 0022


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