Cover Crops on the Prairie

by Mike Gretzinger

fall rye winter pea
Rotational plots for Dr. Yvonne Lawley (U of Manitoba ) cover crop trial.

We’re working on the rotational plots for Dr. Yvonne Lawley (UofManitoba). This trial is a 4-year fully phased rotational trial (each year has each part of the rotation sequence) looking at the effect of cover crops on viability, yield and soil health. 

The rotations include a wheat-canola-wheat-canola, a wheat-canola-durum-pea, and an identical rotation (with cover crops): wheat (clover)-canola (lentil)-durum (radish)-pea(fall rye/winter pea).  This is the third of four years.

We did a spring burn down to terminate the fall rye/winter pea cover crop. Then we continued planting year three in the rotation. Alfalfa plots will serve as a check for soil health comparing plots with and without cover crops.  

alfalfa stand dryland
Alfalfa plots will serve as a check for soil health comparing plots with and without cover crops in Dr. Yvonne Lawley’s cover crop project.

Due to drought years, we’ve had difficulty establishing cover crops in the fall season, but you can see the fall rye established nicely last year. We are looking at alternative ways to plant the cover crops before harvest to get a nicer stand over the winter months.

Visit the project page Cover Crops Across the Prairies to read more and keep up to date on this project.