Ridgetown Campus, University of Guelph, Ontario – 6th July 2015

After a week in Manitoba I flew from Winnipeg to Toronto on Saturday. I had a quick look around the city on Sunday and then drove down to SW Ontario to Chatham, Kent, near London. Yep, you can fly for eight hours and land near somewhere the same name as your home. Very imaginative the early settlers! My host for a few days was Woody Van Arkel a farmer who farms Wheat, Soya beans and Corn and also has Hogs. He was someone who I knew through Twitter. He lives in Dresden with his wife and twins Laura and Ian. He kicked Laura outside into the trailer so I had a bed, I guess I should have felt guilty?

Monday morning Woody had organised a visit to Ridgetown Campus, which is part of the University of Guelph. We first met Dr Dave Hooker. He had corn interseeded with ARG

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Also red clover

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Also a mix of the two. They are studying their effects and the biomass of the companion crop at maturity, soil aggregate stability and N cycling. They are also looking at yield in the following Soyabans. When they compared broadcast versus drilled of the companion crop they found 50% less germination in the broadcast.

They also gave a long term trial there with different rotations, tillage, N rates, with it without red clover . They have found that the soil takes 12 years to stabilise and acclimatise to whichever treatment. They have found that corn on corn even though they put a lot of N on is still N hungry and short of N. When they added wheat to the corn/ Soyabean rotation they got 6bu more soya and 15bu more corn. They have found that corn after wheat they can reduce N rate by 50kg/ha compared to corn/ soya and when wheat us undersown with red clover you can reduce even more. The wheat increases the soil health. They have found no till treatment has more organic matter than tillage. Also increasing the N application increases the OM as you get more biomass.

We then spoke to Anne Verhallen.

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Anne is a cover crop expert. She was getting her demo plots ready for an open day. She has a pollination mix and a standard cover crop mix. She likes Phacelia in a mix as it is leaky in terms of N. She has also done a study comparing wheat volunteers as a cover crop compared to a planted mix and found the volunteers to be a poor cover crop.

Than you for Dave and Anne for their time.