October 3, 2016
By Brandi Cowen
Within days of starting in my new role at Top Crop Manager, one thing became apparent: individuals in this industry are deeply committed to stewardship of the resources that contribute to Canada’s success in agriculture.
In the short time I’ve been with the Top Crop Manager team, my inbox has filled up with media releases, newsletters and event invitations highlighting the hard work poured into preserving and improving the country’s agricultural productivity – and with good reason. Agriculture is an important sector of the national economy. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), in 2014 the industry employed more than 2.1 million Canadians and accounted for one in eight jobs. It’s little wonder growers, researchers, governments and companies of all sizes are exploring best practices that will allow producers to farm profitably while safeguarding precious natural resources, such as soil and water, for future generations.
For farming families, stewardship stretches beyond the more common parameters of environmental concerns to encompass family tradition as well. For these producers, agriculture is both a livelihood and a lifestyle – one that many hope to pass on to their children and grandchildren.
On Feb. 16, 2017, individuals, families, companies, academics and all levels of government will have a unique platform to share stories of their stewardship efforts with Canadians. The industry has declared this date “Canada’s Agriculture Day” and, according to a press release, it will be “a time to celebrate and draw a closer connection between Canadians, our food and the people who produce it.” What better time to boast about successful projects and innovative trials aimed at growing crops as efficiently, profitably and sustainably as possible?
This edition of Top Crop Manager does just that, rounding up some of the latest research on stewardship issues confronting Western Canadian producers.
On page 6, University of Alberta plant breeder Habibur Rahman and Crop Production Services Canada’s senior plant breeder, Andy Andrahennadi, explain how breeding multiple resistance genes into canola hybrids may help producers manage clubroot in their fields. The PV 580 GC multigenic clubroot-resistant variety was released on a limited basis this year, but, Andrahennadi warns, good stewardship of its traits is necessary to slow clubroot’s ability to evolve and overcome this resistance.
Also in this issue, AAFC research scientist Reynald Lemke shares preliminary results from a four-year project underway in Saskatchewan that’s trying to improve nitrogen and carbon estimates in cropping systems (see page 26). The project – being run in collaboration with researchers from the University of Saskatchewan – compares lentil, field pea, chickpea and fababean in rotation with wheat. Researchers hope the data will lead to better estimates of the nitrogen credits available to future crops and more accurate calculations of their carbon footprints. The end goal is to help farmers use fertilizer more efficiently, improve the economics of their cropping rotations, and sequence crops to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
And on page 36, AAFC research scientist Chantal Hamel shares findings from several projects that are uncovering links between microbial diversity in soils, crop productivity, nutrient efficiency and disease. Ongoing research with wheat and canola crops is exploring microbial diversity, in the hopes of developing new practices that can increase beneficial interactions between soil and crops.
As you flip through this issue, take some time to reflect on stewardship in your own operations and new practices that may enable you to work more effectively, more efficiently, and more sustainably. I hope to meet many of you in the months ahead and I look forward to hearing your ideas.