A regional organization presents agricultural research to producers in Saint-Paul

An agricultural knowledge day was offered on August 4, when LARA held its summer field day in St. Paul.

ST. PAUL-The Lakeland Agricultural Research Association (LARA) invited local growers Aug. 4 to discuss its latest agricultural research for St. Paul Summer Field Day.

Amanda Mathiot, LARA’s Cultivation Program Manager, said more than 25 growers showed up, which is a positive result, considering LARA hasn’t been able to hold the annual event for the past few years due to the pandemic.

“We are happy that the producers are coming out, especially for their mental health,” Mathiot said. “It gives them the opportunity to hang out, talk to producers, and just learn what’s new.”

Agricultural research and trials

Mathiot explained that LARA, in conjunction with other organizations, is conducting regional variety trials on crops across the province. The trials study how different crops grow in different types of soil.

She said it helps growers understand which crop is best to plant in different areas, as crops can grow differently depending on the type of soil. The trial results will be published in the Alberta Seed Guide for growers to use in their operations.

“We are trying to improve grower operations and find ways to benefit them,” Mathiot said, explaining that ongoing trials include analyzing the effect of Environmentally Smart Nitrogen (ESN).

Among the presenters of the research and trials presented at St. Paul’s Summer Field Day was Dr. Obioha Durunna, a livestock research scientist at Lakeland College. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science.

Durunna introduced an ascending swath grazing system that uses forage mixtures while comparing it to a “conventional system” using cereal monocultures.

He added that one of the goals is to assess how much body gain young calves could benefit from oat monoculture or forage blending, and which system would benefit producers the most in terms of forage yield and risk of production during the winter.

“We are particularly mindful of winter because it is the longest season, which does not support forage production, which increases costs for producers,” Durunna told Lakeland This Week Aug. 4. He said research on forage mixtures aims to identify and communicate alternative systems. that will improve the “profit” of growers in winter, in addition to providing information on the new production system that will help them make informed decisions

Additionally, the research also aims to provide and compare numbers to help understand the costs of each system. He said: “The cost of each system depends on the dominant elements and their costs influence the expenses of each system, but these expenses alone do not tell the whole story.”

“So, does (the emerging system) reduce production risks for producers? Does the forage mixture offer (producers) a better alternative to reduce their production risk in the event of drought or too much rain? he says of his research.

Durunna also hopes to conduct a survey to understand the proportion of producers who adapt to the practice of swath grazing. Swath grazing is a management practice used to extend the grazing season and reduce feed, labor and manure handling costs for cattle producers. Durunna said it’s a cost-effective system if done right.

“We want to know how many producers use it and which ones don’t. What are their motivations and their obstacles? Why don’t they use it? he said, explaining that answering these questions will help reduce production costs.

On-Farm Climate Action Fund

The Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) announced on July 29 that it would begin taking applications for the On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF) from August 4.

Kellie Nichiporik, environmental program manager for LARA, told Lakeland this week that the On-Farm Climate Action Fund will help create a lot of change, including allowing growers to add more species to their crops. that they can underseed, and get more diversity. and increase carbon sequestration on land.

“They can also improve their grazing management,” she said, adding that OFCAF could potentially help producers install more cross-fencing, so they can do more rotational grazing to help improve pasture conditions.

Nichiporik also said producers could create offsite watering systems with the funding to improve pasture utilization and rotations. She added that the funding will also help growers reduce nitrous oxide, which means doing more by using “less fertilizer.”

“With the drought last year, a lot of people had to sell their cows, the pastures got really depleted, everyone was exhausted with their hay fields and their feed supplies,” Nichiporik said, explaining the low yields in the region last year. “So (OFCAF) will help reclaim some of that land through improved soil health and help ‘bring diversity back.’

Additionally, Nichiporik said the funding would help mitigate the risk of experimenting with new practices for farmers to be more sustainable and improve production. She said: “No one wants to just go out and try something and then have it fail, so that will help mitigate some of the costs where they can go out and try and see if it will work for them or not.”

LARA encourages producers to get in touch to learn more about funding.

Lana T. Arthur