What’s new at SARDA in 2018?

Khalil Ahmed
Research Coordinator

Every season brings new production challenges for farmers and SARDA Ag Research always keeps those new issues at top priority. This year we are conducting over seventy research trials at six different locations in the M.D of Smoky River, M.D of Greenview and Rycroft area. Like every year, we are running our variety testing program. Fababeans, wheat, barley, oats, flax, yellow pea, green pea canola and silages are included in our research program.

Following are the latest highlights of our research trials:

SARDA Local Wheat and Peas Variety Trials
In response to producers’ requests, last year SARDA Ag Research started local wheat and peas variety trials that were tested at three locations in the MD of Smoky River, Big Lakes County, and MD of Spirit River. A huge amount of interest was observed among the farming community and many people visited our research plots throughout the season. We also received many phone calls from farmers requesting the results so they could make an informed decision for a wheat variety to choose for next season. Wheat variety results were very popular and numerous hits were observed on the SARDA’s website and social media.

Wheat Protein Studies
Producers often ask how to increase protein as they receive premium pay for higher protein content in wheat. Urea, ESN and UAN fertilizers are the major elements to maximize the protein content in wheat. This study is aimed to identify the nitrogen fertilizers combination for maximizing the protein content in spring wheat.

Deep Banding of Crop-Inputs
This project will evaluate the potential of periodic deep banding of immobile nutrients to improve the efficiency inputs and sustainability of production on direct seeded fields. SARDA is partnering with Farming Smarter and InnoTech Alberta, to conduct this research at different growing conditions across Alberta (Falher, Vegreville, and Lethbridge).
One-time deep banding (5-6”) of P, K and Cu at 3X rates will be compared to their annual shallow banding (<2”) at 1X rate and a check rate based on soil tests. Canola, pea and wheat will be grown each year in a pea - wheat- canola rotation. Relatively immobile nutrient are accumulating near the soil surface due to adoption of zero-tillage and shallow banding. The study hopes to provide an economically and agronomically viable solution to achieve potential yields and increased return on investment.
Fababeans Trials
We have been doing four different types of research studies on fababeans that includes herbicide damage, fungicide application against chocolate spot disease, and nutrient response in fababeans. This study is aimed to generate basic agronomic information about growing fabas in the Peace region.

Hail Simulated Trials
Since 2016 SARDA has been doing hail simulated studies on canola, wheat, and peas. Crops are being damaged at various growth stages with a rotating chain header passing over them.
Last year, we observed that after receiving simulated hail damage at the early stage canola has a high tendency to regrow and no adverse effects were observed on yield. Results of this study will be very useful for hail insurance providers and provide information on the efficacy of plant protection products for hail recovery.

Soybeans are mostly growing in irrigated areas located in the southern part of the Province but due to the recent development of shorter season varieties, they might be suitable to grow in Peace Region of Alberta.
This year SARDA is testing and generating basic agronomic information for new soybean varieties. We are hoping that this new varieties will perform very well to fit into our crop rotations.

Hemp Trials
Alberta is always looking to bring new crops into rotations and hemp is a promising option for it.
Since 2014, SARDA has been conducting research on hemp and this will be continued this year as well. Two types of hemp varieties, grain and dual purpose (Fiber and Seed) will be tested and agronomic performance will be recorded.

Quinoa Trials
Quinoa is considered the most nutritious “super food crop” with diverse uses in the food and feed industries. Quinoa seeds are gluten-free and hold a niche market globally. Producers are always looking at bringing new crops into rotation in the prairies and quinoa is a promising option for them. SARDA’s research is pivotal to generate basic agronomic information on quinoa in the Peace Region.

Novel Crop Sequence Trials
The addition of high value special crops in rotations is a sustainable strategy to diversify agriculture in the Peace.
This year we are starting a new research trail that includes the crop sequence of cereals, flax, pulses, canola, quinoa and hemp.
This study will help producers to make decisions on where to fit the crops they grow into their crop rotations.

Crop Sequence Trial to Manage FHB
Addition of non-host crops in the rotation is the best strategy to manage fusarium head blight (FHB) in cereals.
This year Prairie wide research is being conducted to determine the impact of preceding crop choices on FHB.
SARDA has a site in the Peace Region that includes the crop sequence of cereals, flax, pulses, canola and corn.
The outcomes of this research will help producers to plan the best crop sequence decisions that minimize FHB in cereals.

Our research plots are open to public, please visit our website at www.sarda.ca and follow us on Twitter @sarda6.


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