Principal Investigator: Yvonne Lawley, University of Manitoba
Lethbridge Project Contact: Ken Coles
Funded through Integrated Crop Agronomy Cluster
Cover crops are an ever-growing trend throughout Prairie Canada, but little is known about the benefits and detriments this addition to our rotation can have on our fields. This project will evaluate cover crops to discover more about their viability, impact and benefits. By the end of this project, we hope to know:
Locations: Carman, MB, Brandon, MB, Saskatoon, SK, Reddvers, SK, Lethbridge, AB
Lethbridge crop rotation will be wheat, canola, durum and then pea
Tillage system: Reduced tillage systems. Use tillage when required to incorporate crop or cover crop residue to create a good seedbed. Use direct seeding or reduce tillage where possible or representative of standard practices in your growing area. You will need to use your experience and judgement.
Seeding: Select a representative variety and seeding rate for each crop type for your growing area, to allow for more timely cover crop seeding – consider selecting a variety on the early side for your area. Select an appropriate seeder for each crop. Disc drills are important if direct seeding into cover crop residue
Fertilizer: Fertilizer rates for each crop type will be based on fall soil test and local lab recommendations. Select a representative target yields for your research farm/growing area for each crop. Fertilizer rates should be the same for treatments with and without cover crops. Although soil tests will be conducted by plot (by rep in year 1), select one rate for each crop and apply to all plots with that crop in the experiment for that growing season.
Herbicides: Apply pre-plant and in-crop herbicides as required for adequate grassy and broadleaf weed control. Use label rates. Be mindful of spray drift to neighboring plots for both cash and cover crops. Other mechanical and cultural control practices can be used in combination with herbicides based on your experience and judgment.
Fungicides and insecticides: fungicides and insecticides should be applied as seed treatment or sprayed in-crop following standard practice for your growing area. When possible, disease and insect damage should be limited so that they do not mask rotation differences.
Harvesting: Harvest each crop in the rotation at the appropriate time with the appropriate equipment. Identify a representative area that is one plot combine pass within each plot that will have minimal sampling disturbance during the growing season to quantify grain yield. Sub-samples of grain will be save each year of the study.
Perennial Crop Check:
Establish an alfalfa or alfalfa-grass forage mix that is adapted to your growing area in year 1 of the experiment. This perennial treatment is a check treatment for soil quality measurements in the final years of the study. The perennial crops should be hayed (or cut and raked off) at least once per year. The cut forage must be removed from the plot area. The perennial crops should be fertilized annually based on soil test recommendations or standard practice in your growing area. If the stand is poor – inter-seed in the spring or fall to fill in the stand. Control weeds as required.
We’re still working on this project! We’ll update as soon as we have results.
Keep checking in!
We have no data. We’ll hold our tongues for now.
Cover crops as a southern Alberta option