Crop cocktails popular in High Prairie area

An agricultural research plot tour in High Prairie by Peace Country Beef and Forage Association is led by research co-ordinator Dr. Akim Omokanye, middle.

Richard Froese
For The Express

Cocktail cover crops were the order of the day at a plot tour in High Prairie on Aug. 6 hosted by the Peace Country Beef and Forage Association (PCBFA).

About 30 people were updated at the research plots at the site on Highway 749 just north of town.

“Cocktails have recently become more popular in the High Prairie region,” PCBFA research co-ordinator Dr. Akim Omokanye says.

He led the tour of the research plots, including alternative cereals and legumes for forage production, cover crop cocktails and perennial forage mixtures.

Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association (ARDA), based in Falher, updated it’s research variety trials for wheat and oats.

Big Lakes County is another major partner in the project and tour.

Cocktail cover crops are a mix varieties of crops.

“Producers need information on the performance of individual crops that can be added as well as those cocktails mixtures to implement successful production operations,” Omokanye says.

Studies by PCBFA in parts of the Peace Country region show that cocktails could increase forage yield and quality and improve soil moisture water.

They also provide a substantial amount of savings in fertility when grown in rotation with cash crops.

The goal is to select the right crop varieties for forage under local conditions to help minimize risk, Omokanye says.

Some of the new crop varieties in 2019 include AB Advantage barley, AB Cattlelac barley (semi-smooth awned), AAC Kongsore oat (an organic milling oat variety), CDC Arborg oat and AAC Delight spring triticale.

“So far, visually, all these new crops have showed some great potential for forage in the High Prairie area,” Omokanye says.

Wet and rainy weather conditions have not hurt crops badly, he says.

“For those who could not seed as early as possible in May, we noticed that the earlier dry soil moisture conditions caused non-uniform plant growth in some of our plots in the High Prairie strs,” Omokanye says.

Some plants came up later than others.

“Overall, the moisture received so far has generally stabilized crop growth,” Omokanye says.

“Forage production would be good this year, provided we have the right conditions for cutting and the heat needed for drying down our hay and geenfeed crops.”

The site for PCBFA includes 15 different cover crop mixtures (cocktails) to compare to CDC Haymaker oats for forage production and quality.

Another demonstration shows growth and forage potential of five different broadleaf crops to use in crop cocktails.

PCBFA is also testing 25 different cereals and 19 different legumes for growth and forage potential.

Onokanye notes the project plots are designed in multiple lines of plots seeded together.

Lines are known as replicates.

“To ensure we get unbiased accurate results across the project, we need to ensure that the same variety and seeding rate are not seeded next to itself,” Omokanye says.

“That helps to take the risk out of our data.”

Plots can still be saved for research in some drastic cases.

“If an area of our research block drowns or somehow gets destroyed, we should still have enough data in the remainder of the block to draw conclusions,” Omokanye says.

For more information, visit the website at peacecountrybeef.ca.

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