We've kept a finger on the pulses, it's time to get the results ready!
As our Perfectly Placed trials wrap up their third year, we've seen dramatic differences this year. We're focused on adapting the precision planters for crop production in southern Alberta with this trial. Our trials were located in Lethbridge, Taber, and Medicine Hat.
For the pulse crops, we've planted chickpeas, lentils, faba beans, soybeans, and field peas. All of the crops have been harvested for this trial, aside from soybeans. We compare he performance of precision planters to conventional air drill for seeding of these crops. We examine their effect on crop emergence, stand density and uniformity, and yield.
Checking in on the Trials
Originally, this was the last year of our Perfectly Placed trial. Because we experienced a drought in 2019 and 2021, we have received an additional year of funding from RDAR. This allows us to collect more data under normal moisture conditions.
We are excited to have another trial, and opportunity to support this research in southern Alberta.
"The 4-year data will provide great information about the comparative performance of air drill and precision planter for pulse production under different conditions of moisture availability," said Gurbir Dhillon, Farming Smarter's Research Scientist. "This is important because we found that the precision performed better under high-precipitation and irrigated conditions in the case of canola."
The statistical analysis and interpretation of this data still needs review. However, 2019 and 2020 data shows promising results towards the adoption of precision planters for planting pulses.
In our data, precision planted chickpeas, faba beans and field peas had very significant increase in seeding emergence compared to the air drill. Chickpeas and field peas seeded with precision planter also had higher yields compared to the air drill.
Soon, we will be analyzing the data from 2021 trials. This will let us see how drought conditions affected the relative performance of both seeders. This data will be analyzed in the coming months, keep an eye out for that update!
Pulses - Crunchy & Munchy
This year, we saw major drought situations across southern Alberta and a biblical invasion of grasshopper. We saw our plots significantly limited by the drought. The onslaught of grasshoppers thankfully spared our pulse trials. But that wasn't enough to keep them safe from other critters.
"Grasshoppers didn't feed on the plots as they tend to prefer cereals that are nearby, but other pests like rabbits do like to munch off all the yummy pods," says Mike Gretzinger, Research Coordinator at Farming Smarter. "We've had particular trouble with the soybeans being eaten, but no real explanation or signs of what's doing it."
For moisture, Taber had the lowest levels this year, dramatically lower than Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. Medicine Hat, while typically hotter and dryer, say timely rainfalls that led to a decent yield. While Lethbridge was similar to Medicine Hat, crops at all three locations had smaller yields than previous years due to the stress of the drought.
Here's hoping next year will bring more moisture!
If you would like to read more about these trials, our Perfectly Placed project is a great place to start.
Watch some videos on our Perfectly Placed Pulses trial to see the latest updates!