After a couple of hours in the car I arrived with Scott in Melita. Scott works for WADO which is a government funded research organisation which does the research agribusiness aren’t interested in, as they won’t make a buck!
I was was intersted in meeting Scott as he has done a lot of trial work on pea and canola intercrop.
When we first arrived we looked around his workshop. Scott has lots of trial plot machinery
This planter had been donated by the Manitoba corn Growers Organisation so he can trial corn (because the world doesn’t have enough corn!) it is all very computerised and almost drives itself.
Then we went to his plot site. The first plot was looking at the effect of residue on soyabeans.
Manitoba farmers are still allowed to burn crops, which I found hard to believe as the country is currently alight with forest fires, I would have thought the last thing they would want to do is burn the fields too! They do it because the residue is supposed to keep the ground cool in the spring. Though Scott thinks this practice will be banned and they need to learn how to deal with residue.
Scott had a plot of Rye and Hairy vetch which he was wanting to save vetch seed from.
He also had some peas and canola plots which he was planning to look into the effect of phosphate on them. Phosphate is a problem here as the soils are very alkali so it is locked up. The problem is his intern used the wrong herbicide and has pretty well killed all the Canola!
He also had some trials on sunflower and vetch together. They have found that the companion crop increases soil organic matter by 0.25% more than the control in one year which is a lot.
We then went out to a farmer who had planted sunflower for the first time this year and decided to companion crop with vetch too. Going in with two feet first!
It seems to have worked well! About 25kg/ha was broadcast after planting with some fertiliser
It will be interesting at harvest. I hope he can get his header high enough! Scott has found no yield deficit from Sunflower/vetch. It though improved weed control by over 80% over the control. The problem of growing sunflowers and canola in the same rotation is schlerotinia, though Scott thinks the mat of vetch my deflect the spores preventing them becoming airborne.
The same farmer had also planted vetch with his corn.
The farmer had given the corn three doses of glyphosate and it had killed all the weeds but not the vetch. It was struggling but was going to recover. He has found Round Up ready Vetch. Monsanto will be patenting that tomorrow!
It was a interesting first day with Scott.