Research and Development Centre Forage Tour
On June 26th Swift Current Research and Development Centre hosted a tour for the Saskatchewan Forage Council (SFC) and interested producers. Participants spent the afternoon interacting with scientists and inspecting current forage research projects at the centre.
Dr. Mike Schellenberg, Plant Ecologist, introduced his native forage species breeding program, including purple and white prairie clovers, and plains rough fescue. Here the discussion focussed on the benefits that native forage species provide in a forage production system and the importance of having native forage specie cultivars that are adapted to the Canadian climate. “It is as important to show what doesn’t work as what does” says Dr. Schellenberg as participants looked at a bluebunch wheatgrass variety trial, that clearly indicated that forage varieties developed for the Canadian climate outperform hose developed in other climates. Dr. Alan Iwaasa, Grazing Management and Ruminant Nutritionist, showcased his research on the development of best management practices for costeffective and successful establishment of AC Saltlander, a saline tolerant forage for western Canada, and the potential roles for this forage specie to play in the management of marginal lands and provide excellent forage production and weed control over foxtail barley. Dr. Iwaasa also toured the participants through research focussing on different legume and grass mixtures. These mixtures included legume species such as purple and white prairie clovers, several different sainfoin cultivars and Russian wildrye cultivars, yellowhead alfalfa and grass species such as, meadow and hybrid bromegrasses.
Dr. Jillian Bainard, Eco-physiologist, lead the discussion on polycultures with her first stop focussing on developing best management practices for the incorporation of forage polycultures into annual cereal cropping rotations. The purpose of this study is to look at the effects of residue and fertility management of polycultures on soil fertility and the production of following cereal crops. Dr. Bainard also gave the participants a brief glance at a potential new forage, Galega. Galega is a legume that has the production potential of alfalfa, high nutritive value, and a reduced risk of causing bloat.
With the effects of this year’s drought participantswere able to see for themselves, how forage species performed under stress. As Dr. Schellenberg indicated, seeing how species perform under drought and stressed conditions is very important for forage production in the semi-arid prairie region. Any species can perform well under moist conditions, but forage species that are adapted to periods of drought, which is more common than not in southwest Saskatchewan, can still provide the much needed forage supply in dry conditions.
Dr. Bainard showcasing her new research in developing best management practices for annual polycultures.