Swath Grazing Poly Crops

Project Title

Evaluation of Polycrop Mixtures for Swath Grazing, Soil Health and Economics


Aklilu Alemu (AAFC Swift Current) aklilu.alemu@AGR.GC.CA

Alan Iwaasa (AAFC Swift Current) Dr. Jillian Bainard (Forage Ecophsiologist) - AAFC, Swift Current; 2. Dr. Herbert (Bart) Lardner (Beef and Forage Production), U of Saskatchewan; 3. Dr. Karen Beauchemin (Ruminant Nutrition) - AAFC, Lethbridge; 4. Dr. Emma Stephens (Bio-Economics) - AAFC, Lethbridge; 5. Dr. Tim McAllister (Ruminant Nutrition) - AAFC, Lethbridge; 6. Dr. Trevor Coates (Agricultural Meteorology), AAFC, Lethbridge.

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in August, 2024 FRG.04.21


Polycrop blends are useful in reaching a number of grazing goals including increasing productivity, improving soil health, providing grazing, and perhaps even reducing the need of inputs such as fertilizer. While polycrops for summer grazing have been studied throughout Canada, very little work has been done on using polycrops to extend the winter grazing period. This project wants to investigate the potential of polycrop blends for swath grazing.


  •  To explore the use of polycrop mixtures as an alternative feed source for Canadian beef cattle.

What they will do

Researchers will evaluate winter swath grazing of a control (forage oat), simple polycrop mix, (forage oat, hairy vetch, pea, brassica) or complex polycrop mix (forage oat, barley, pea, brassica, hairy vetch, milllett or sunflower, plantain, and chicory). Forages will be seeded at two sites, Swift Current and Clavet Saskatchewan,  in May or June depending on conditions and  will be swathed in late summer. The same forages will be grown on each plot two years in a row. Soil samples will be taken prior to seeding each year and after cows have grazed. Forage samples will be collected and evaluated for quality, as well as rate of nutrient degradation. Cattle will graze the swaths in winter and performance will be monitored and intake will be estimated. Economics will also be evaluated.


This project will help identify best management practices for using polycrop blends for winter swath grazing.