Cover crops are a balance between reward and risk

Cover crops, also referred to as polycrops or cocktail crops, are receiving a lot of media hype for their potential for grazing and claims related to reduced inputs and improved soil health. Jillian Bainard, PhD, has been studying cover crop parameters like productivity, soil health, grazing nutrition, and weed control, through her research at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Swift Current, SK. “A lot of people are trying cover crops so we want to understand from a research perspective what’s happening, and whether we can pinpoint some of these benefits that have been suggested,” Bainard explained during a recent webinar presentation.

Cover crops can address many problems, however they require thought and planning to optimize their potential.

Producers often look to cover crops to improve productivity. Bainard’s research demonstrated that some cover crop mixes had greater production compared to single-species crops (ie. monocultures) even under stressful conditions. Different functional groups, such as cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses, legumes, or brassicas, also had a positive effect on production; as the number of groups in a mix increased, production did as well. Bainard did caution that extreme moisture fluctuations will impact plant growth accordingly and that real-world field variables may reduce productivity. For example, a cover crop mix may yield well on lowland areas yet perform poorly on uplands within the same field. “Not all mixtures will perform the same, and success will depend a lot on how well each crop does in a specific soil and environment,” Bainard added.

Lowland and upland performance of same cover crop mixture. Photo credit Charlotte Ward, Saskatchewan Agriculture
Continue reading

Cover Crops Webinar March 26


Photo courtesy of Agriculture Agri-Food Canda

Cover crops can have many benefits including improving soil health and prolonging the grazing season. Join this webinar to learn about some of the best practices for growing cover crops.



Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete.

When
Tuesday, March 26 at 7:00 pm MT

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB and SK
  • 8:00pm in MB
  • 9:00pm in ON and QC
  • 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI

Interested but aren’t available that evening?
Register anyway! This webinar will be recorded and posted online at a later date. All registrants will receive a link to the recording and additional learning resources. By attending the live broadcast, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and ask questions too.

Duration
Approximately 1 hour.

Jillian Bainard
, Ph.D., is a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Swift Current Research and Development Centre (SCRDC). As a Forage Ecophysiologist, Jillian’s research involves studying forage crops and the interface between plants and their environment. She works with forage breeders, ecologists, and animal scientists to develop forages that are beneficial nutritionally, environmentally, and economically. Jillian completed her PhD in Botany at the University of Guelph in 2011, followed by a postdoc at SCRDC where she studied the use of annual forage polycultures.

 

Cost
BCRC webinars are available and free of charge thanks to guest speakers who volunteer their time and expertise to support advancements in the Canadian beef industry, and through the Technology Transfer project funded by the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster.

What is a webinar?

Webinars are just like attending a workshop or conference, but from the comfort of your own home or office. We bring the presentation right to you. They’re easy to join and participate in. A reliable, high-speed internet connection is required.

All you need to do is register beforehand, and about 5-10 minutes before the webinar is scheduled to begin, click the link you were provided when you registered. Then turn up your computer speakers or call the phone number provided. That’s it! Sit back and enjoy.

As a participant, you can anonymously answer polls and surveys, and will have the opportunity to ask questions near the end of the webinar.

You can find more beef research-related webinars hosted by other organizations on our events calendar.

Don’t have high-speed internet? Consider calling a neighbor that does and watch the webinar together, or call your regional ag office to ask whether arranging a group viewing is possible.

Visit our Webinars page to find other upcoming BCRC webinars and the recordings of our past sessions.



Click here to subscribe to the BCRC Blog and receive email notifications when new content is posted.

The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is welcome and encouraged. Please provide acknowledgement to the Beef Cattle Research Council, list the website address, www.BeefResearch.ca, and let us know you chose to share the article by emailing us at info@beefresearch.ca.

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Contact us directly or generate public discussion by posting your thoughts below.

Announcing the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program 2018-2019 participants

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is pleased to announce the participants in the 2018-19 Beef Researcher Mentorship program. Following an open application process, four researchers have been selected. Each has been paired with notable leaders in the Canadian beef industry and given a travel budget for the coming year, which will provide valuable opportunities for greater engagement with Canada’s beef industry. Continue reading