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Field of Excellence

The addition of large-scale crop trials to the Ag in Motion site northwest of Saskatoon is an important expansion for the event, one that highlights the synergies that are required from seeding through to harvest in order to have a successful agriculture operation.

With the 2018 purchase of 320 acres adjacent to the show site and the creation of a functional research farm named Field of Excellence, Ag in Motion is one step closer to its long-term goal—national and international recognition as a centre of excellence for the Canadian agriculture industry. The additional land on the site allows Ag in Motion, which is owned and operated by Glacier FarmMedia, to work with industry partners on demonstrations and trials that are conducted under real farm conditions and that are large enough to produce meaningful results.

This year, the Field of Excellence program includes an oilseed agronomy trial and a wheat fertility trial, says Blake Weiseth, Director of Research and Demonstration with Ag in Motion. Both are being carried out with partners positioned at various points in the crop-production cycle including seed suppliers, equipment manufacturers and crop protection companies.

“There are a number of components to each of the trials,” says Weiseth, “and we’ll be collecting data through to the end of the growing season that will highlight the advantages of both the products and equipment involved. It’s the kind of information that will allow producers to make direct comparisons and informed decisions for their particular operation.”

The oilseed agronomy trial underway this season recognizes farmers’ interest in soybeans and the need for them to consider the pros and cons of investing in a row-crop planter versus using a conventional air drill. There is also interest in knowing if the precise placement of the row planter will allow producers to reduce the canola seeding rate compared to target rates for an air drill without sacrificing plant population or canopy closure.

To make the comparison in a side-by-side trial, half of a 140 acres field of canola was seeded with a row planter provided by Horsch and the other half using a Morris air drill. Morris seeded an additional 80 acres of soybeans.

The seeding was done at “high” and “low” rates, says Weiseth. Morris seeded canola at a low rate of 220,000 seeds per acre (/ac) and a high rate of 435,000 seeds/ac while the Horsch low rate was 190,000 seeds/ac and the high rate was 220,000 seeds/ac. The soybean low rate was 180,000 seeds/ac and the high rate was 220,000 seeds/ac. The list of variables that will be measured includes yield, germination rate and canopy closure.

An additional 80 acres of wheat was seeded at a single recommended rate in order to evaluate nutritional products emerging on the market.

“Across all three crops we’re testing two products brought to market to address the particularly harsh spring conditions we can see on the prairies,” Weiseth says. Both are supplied by Nutrien Ag Solutions, which also provided the seed.

Atlas XC is impregnated on dry fertilizer blends and applied at the time of seeding and designed to make nutrients more readily available to plants, he explains. The other product—Radiate—is applied at herbicide timing to stimulate root growth. One half of each of the crops will receive the treatments while the second half will be left as an untreated control. In the case of the wheat crop, yield will be the key factor assessed in the trial. Ag in Motion partnered with Equipment Technologies, Salford Group and Alpine for the necessary equipment and fertilizer.

AGI has come on board to provide grain handling and storage equipment. MacDon and Canada West Harvest Centre (CLAAS) will be providing harvesting equipment.

Weiseth says information flowing from the trials will be collected using data management technology provided by Echelon, and will be shared widely, particularly through other Glacier FarmMedia platforms.

Finally, Glacier FarmMedia has invested in a number of IoT solutions for demonstrating Digital or Smart farm ROI applications.  This includes a Pessl weather station to monitor temperature, precipitation, relative humidity and other variables, 12 infield devices for precipitation and soil probes for soil moisture, temperature and VIC, iSCOUT insect traps, CropView cameras for zoom and wide angle images. This data will be observed and analyzed for each replicate throughout the growing season, and be used to analyze the project outcomes after harvest.

“There are very strong linkages between Ag in Motion and the Farm Forum Event that will be held Dec. 3-5, 2019 in Saskatoon. Farmers can see the trials going on in July at Ag in Motion, and then learn about the results and talk to the experts in December at the Farm Forum Event. We’ll also be seeing some reporting on this through our channels like The Western Producer and other publications.”

In addition to all of the trial partners participating in crop trials, the Field of Excellence includes space for three demonstration partners—Federated Co-op, Precision AI and Stoller Enterprises. These companies have access to the land year-round for training and replicated research projects as well as crop and equipment demonstrations.

The Field of Excellence brings enormous value by demonstrating how all the components of a farming system interact. It also provides the opportunity for Ag in Motion to respond directly to producer needs by showcasing and testing the latest innovations in both products and machinery, all in a setting that is familiar to farmers—the middle of a field.

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