Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is providing just over $1.25 million to Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), three Prairie province winter wheat producer commissions and its funding partners to increase winter wheat acres across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“Improved varieties and good management by producers have made winter wheat one of the most profitable crops over the past few years,” says Paul Thoroughgood, regional agrologist for DUC.
“This funding will allow us to focus on providing farmers with the tools they need to plan and manage their winter wheat crops to maximize productivity and profitability. ”
Nine studies will be undertaken in which AAFC scientists will evaluate a number of integrated crop management strategies ranging from nutrient management, weed, disease and insect issues, and stubble, crop residue and crop rotation management, which will all lead to improved winter wheat plant health.
“Time management is an issue because when winter wheat needs to be seeded, farmers are often busy with their spring crop harvest,” said Brian Beres, biologist and principal investigator, integrated crop management systems at the Lethbridge research station. “Our research is going to focus on developing better production methods that will ultimately result in improved winter survival, crop yield, and yield and grade stability across the Prairies.”
DUC has been working to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and their associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl since 1938. Winter wheat provides ideal undisturbed nesting sites for waterfowl providing a longer, more productive nesting period.
“Ducks that choose to nest in winter wheat are 10 times more likely to successfully hatch as those that nest in spring-seeded cereals,” says Thoroughgood. “This is particularly beneficial to northern pintails, a species that has declined since the late ‘70s.”
This research project builds on a long-standing relationship between DUC and winter wheat producer commissions across the Prairies. Winter wheat producer groups in each of the Prairie provinces such as the Alberta Winter Wheat Producers Commission, Saskatchewan Winter Cereals Development Commission and Winter Cereals Manitoba Inc. give farmers an excellent opportunity to direct and participate in the research.
Industry partners such as Agrium, Canadian Wheat Board and Agrotain International L. L. C. complete a very diverse group of partners investing in this project.