Re­search and Devel­op­ment Cen­tre Forage Tour

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Farm News - BY KERRY LAFORGE

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.

Photo con­tributed

Dr. Bainard show­cas­ing her new re­search in de­vel­op­ing best man­age­ment prac­tices for an­nual poly­cul­tures.

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