Alberta Barley

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Development of alternative, sustainable, reduced-input strategies for crop and pest management and their impact on silage quality and feed value

Project lead:
Dr. T. Kelly Turkington
Research Scientist
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Timeline: April 2013 – March 2018


Alberta Barley funding: $58,275
Total funding from other partners: $331,900

Benefits for barley farmers
The project could lead to integrated disease and crop-management strategies that help to limit the negative impact of barley leaf diseases, while ensuring that input costs are kept at a minimum and that fungicides are used when needed and where they will provide a benefit.

The project aims to 1) determine and contrast the effects of monocultures, mixtures, intercropping and rotational diversity on crop health, disease levels, productivity and quality in a cereal silage production system; 2) assess the impact of disease accumulation and disease avoidance management strategies on the ensiling properties and feed value of barley silage using laboratory techniques and in experiments using small ruminants; and 3) assess the impact of variety and fungicide use on inoculum carryover and disease risk in barley.

Recent developments
Results from the second study indicated that leaf disease levels were reduced either by applying a fungicide or growing a resistant variety. Leaf disease severity was especially reduced for the susceptible variety (Sundre), smaller reductions were observed for the more resistant variety (Chigwell). At Lacombe in 2015, fungicide or variety did not affect wet or dry silage yields, but at Lethbridge wet and dry silage yields were affected by variety, and the interaction of variety and fungicide, but not fungicide alone. There was a 21% increase in wet or dry silage tonnage at Lethbridge with the resistant variety Chigwell compared with Sundre. Wet silage yields were highest for Chigwell and did not increase following fungicide application for this variety. Sundre with no fungicide applied had the lowest yields, while fungicide application on Sundre resulted in higher yields that were similar to those of Chigwell, with or without fungicide. Similar trends were observed for dry silage yields.

Objectives for the upcoming year
Objectives will remain the same for next year. Two studies will be conducted each at Lacombe and Lethbridge in 2016 to address these objectives.

Read more: 
Low-Cost Crop Input Alternatives (July 23, 2014)