Friday October 31, 2014

Plotting crops for local region

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Bill May, right, with Agriculture Canada talks canary seed at a recent agricultural tour, as researcher Mike Hall looks on.

 - Researcher Mike Hall stands in a soybean plot south of the city. -

Researcher Mike Hall stands in a soybean plot south of the city.

Parkland College and the East Central Research Foundation held their second annual field day July 29.

The tour, which attracted a number of area producers, provided a look at a dozen research projects underway at two locations adjacent to the city.

The research plots, while growing well, were still weeks from being harvested, at which time the meaningful data will be collected, and reports written, said researcher Mike Hall.

The final data is what most producers will be seeking, and Hall said it will be made readily available.

“We’re in the process of building a website (connected to the College site). The results will be available there.” He added by the time the plots are harvested, the data analyzed and the results combined into written reports it will likely be early 2015 before they are posted online.

Researchers are testing soybean varieties by seeding date, canary seed fertility, oat varieties by nitrogen rate, wheat and canola with Environmentally Smart Nitrogen technology, wheat fungicide timing and cereal forage.

So how were the 12 research projects selected?

Hall said ideas come from various sources.

“Some were my  ideas,” he said.

Hall then noted the East Central Research Foundation (ECRF) is one of eight producer-directed research and demonstration groups in Saskatchewan making up the Agriculture – Applied Research Management (Agri-ARM) network. As part of the network the groups often share research ideas, and replicate projects to provide more broadly-based results for relevance over a larger area of the province.

“The groups share ideas,” said Hall.

In other instances, an idea can come from the ECRF Board, which includes local area farmers, who seek to see research into specific crops and systems which relate directly to local farming, offered Hall.

“Projects are supposed to be farmer driven,” he said.

In that respect the 12 projects carried out in 2014 will all provide data which can be related back to production on farms in East Central Saskatchewan.

As for the partnership between Parkland College and the ECRF, Hall said it has been a good one which officially began with the signing of a memorandum of understanding last year leading to the collaborative work on agriculture applied research projects.

Hall said the College has helped bring expertise like himself, to the project, and also opens the doors to additional research funding sources than those the ECRF can access itself.

The plots also give the college access to what is essentially a living classroom, said Hall. He said he has taken students out to the plots to look at things such as weed identification, to look for evidence in field crop diseases and similar learning experiences.

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