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High Value Specialty Crops

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Farming Smarter Project

Timeline: 2018 – current

Lethbridge Project Contact: Ken Coles

Project Lead: Dr. Jan Slaski, Innotech Alberta


The development of high value specialty crops is crucial for a diversified and robust agricultural industry in Canada. It is very important for on-farm profitability and is a key driver for value added industries. With strong developing markets, it is vastly important that growers can meet the demands by seamlessly integrating these crops into traditional crop rotations. We propose to identify the best fit of novel crops into standard crop sequences specific for three agro-climatic zones including southern portion of the province (on irrigated land), central Alberta and the Peace Country. Using a strip design approach this four year study will involve eight crops including a core set of staple crops (wheat, barley, canola, pea) and selected novel crops (i.e. hemp, quinoa, dry beans, soybean, flax, corn) gaining popularity among Alberta growers.

Due to significant climatic differences among the locations selection of novel crops will be site-specific to address inquiries extended by the local area growers. As a result, 64 crop sequence combinations will be evaluated. Hence, our research is designed to develop a decision making tool for growers selecting the best stubbles to grow specific crops on and help to avoid stubbles that are particularly negative for yield and quality of the subsequent crop. Consequently, it will diminish the risk of crop failure due to inadequate management of crops caused by the lack of knowledge regarding novel crop production.


  • Identification of the impacts of novel crops introduced to production in Alberta and Saskatchewan on the performance of staple crops
  • Diminish risks of crop failure due to inadequate management of new crops by the lack of knowledge for novel crop production
  • Generation of comprehensive, agro-climatic zone specific agronomic information that will be critical for successful introduction of novel crops into rotations.
  • Dissemination of knowledge throughout field days, papers, reports and electronic media


Locations: Lethbridge, Vegreville, Falher and Indian Head, SK.

This project will focus on field trials designed to determine the effects of various crops in rotations using a set of zone specific staple crops and selected novel crops. This information will help producers make decisions on where to fit  novel crops into crop rotations. The project includes trials executed at four locations over four growing seasons aimed at maximizing practical information regarding crop performance in different agro-ecozones.

We will  use a strip design approach for this study, involving eight crops including a core set of staple cops (wheat, barley, canola, pea) and selected novel crops (hemp, quinoa, dry beans, soybean, flax, corn) gaining popularity among Alberta growers. Since there is significant climate differences among the locations, novel crops will be site specific.

The design will result in 256 plots (8 proceeding crops x 8 crops x 4reps) in Year B. Each plot will be 64 m2 (16m x 4m) or 32m2 if only shorter strips are possible. To avoid inter-plot interference only central portion of each plot (48 or 24m2) will be harvested for yield quantification.

Year A will be seeded in 2018, 2019 and 2020 in a new site at each of the four locations. Year B will be seeded in 2019, 2020 and 2021 on the Year A site from the previous year.

Such approach will generate 64 crop sequence combinations. These are just two year sequences. Therefore, this experiment will be conducted three times at each of the four locations providing us with a potential of 12 station-year of data.


Will be published after 3 years of data in 2022. 

Thank you! 



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