Canola and crop production experts provided area producers and agronomists with a one-day, hands-on workshop last week, providing an opportunity to sharpen their production practices for the coming growing season.
“We hope that workshops like this will assist the province’s producers and agronomists as they look for ways to innovate and meet market demands. A major driver being the Canola Council of Canada’s goal to reach sustainable yields of 52 bushels per acre by 2026,” said Roberta Galbraith, member relations co-ordinator with the Manitoba Canola Growers Association.
CanoLAB was hosted over two days, offering eight concurrent stations for four groups per day.
The workshop focused around recent research and best practices in canola production, touching on genetics and seed production, pod abortion, canola nutrition, harvest management, insect scouting, grading and storage, diseases and understanding herbicide resistance.
“We have run this workshop for the past three years and received great feedback from those who have participated previously. This year’s workshop was sold out,” said Galbraith.
Brandon’s Assiniboine Community College housed the event and the college’s agribusiness students hosted participates and observed the various stations.
“This is really a great opportunity for my students to meet and network with industry members as well as take in the information, see some of the hands-on exercises as well as learn about some of the issues happening right now in the canola sector,” said ACC agribusiness instructor Danielle Tichit.
One of the eight stations was focused on canola nutrition, soil tests and types. MAFRD soil fertility specialist John Heard fashioned a “nutrient management casino” exercise to demonstrate how producers can maximize the odds of success despite unpredicted obstacles.
“We wanted flexible case studies where we deal cards, including wild cards, to take advantage of tuning into a specific situation with different people who have varying levels of knowledge and experiences in order to come up with an interesting solution to a challenging situation,” said Heard.
In the casino exercise, groups were given a typical scenario that depicted soil type, nutrient levels and yield goals. While determining the growing season and fertility plan, groups were handed varying obstacles.
“These agronomists that are here, besides their intellect, have a suite of different fertilizers or services, so they can design programs that will work in various situations. This is a great exercise to see people’s ability to react and compensate, through placing things differently or applying at different times,” said Heard.
Throughout the exercise, participants were handed various challenges such as changes in markets, the environment and labour availability.
“If a farmer understands the principles behind fertilizer application, timing, rates, and source, they can modify their recipe because they understand how to alter practices in light of changing circumstances,” Heard said.
Other workshops at the event included equipment demonstrations, pest and insect displays, disease identification exercises and insight into the importance of storage management.
“So much management is put into growing crops but that management has to continue in storage as well to avoid spoilage and loss,” said Joy Agnew, project manager with the Prairie Agriculture Machinery Institute. “Today we looked at management strategies with the temperature cables, what could be going on inside of these bins, how to best manage aeration and different factors to keep the conditions as favourable as possible for as long as possible.”
Agnew demonstrated the importance of diligence when monitoring storage bins, as monitors can show acceptable temperatures while hot spots can be centimetres away and still go unrecorded.
“We had the participants place their hands in a demonstration grain bin to feel a hot spot right next to the sensor that was going undetected. That hot spot would have to grow and damage more grain before being detected by the sensor, unless the producer is diligent to take multiple bin readings,” said Agnew.
The workshop hosted approximately 120 participants over the course of the two-day program.
“This is my second year at the workshop and I really enjoy it as the hands-on aspect keeps you involved,” said Amanda DeSpiegelaere, participant and agronomist with Redferns in Brandon. “A number of the speakers are the same as last year but the topics are different. Last year clubroot was a hot topic but this year they have touched on blackleg. The organizers seem to be staying current with things that may impact the coming growing season.”