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LARA releases research at AGM

The future for canola producers in Alberta looks very bright as prices remain strong, while numerous options to extend the grazing season for area cattle farmers seem to be working.

The future for canola producers in Alberta looks very bright as prices remain strong, while numerous options to extend the grazing season for area cattle farmers seem to be working.

Those were two of the highlights as the Lakeland Agricultural Research Association (LARA) released its latest research data at its annual general meeting (AGM) Feb. 23 at Craigend Hall.

“We had close to 40 producers from the area attend the AGM and we’re very pleased with those numbers,” said Meghan Elsen, forage and livestock manager with LARA.

The AGM’s main focus is to release research data gathered by LARA staff over the past 12 months, said Elsen.

“It’s basically an opportunity for area producers to come and listen to the results of our testing and research from the previous year,” she said. “We also release our official annual report.”

The biggest focus of her research over the past year concentrated on different options and methods to extend the grazing season, including trial results for corn, swath, bail and stockpile grazing, said Elsen.

“The goal is to inform the producers about the options that are out there and options that might work for your personal tool kit on their land,” she said.

After several years of exceptionally dry conditions across most parts of Alberta, Mother Nature co-operated during the spring, summer and fall of 2010 with plenty of rain falling, which was much needed and appreciated by farmers in the Lakeland region, said Elsen.

“Overall it was a very good year for most producers,” she said. “The weather finally co-operated and we had a lot of rain. One good summer of rain won’t allow us to get back to historical levels of moisture, but it had been very dry for five to seven years and we really needed a good summer of rain and thankfully we had one.”

Conducting agricultural trials helps create valuable information for area producers and the work done by LARA researchers is respected and well-used by local farmers, she said.

“Our hope is they take the information we have accumulated and it helps them in processing information they need to help their operations,” she said.

Keith Kornelsen, LARA’s cropping program manager, said the focus of his presentation at the AGM related to information gathered from the program’s Canola Diagnostic School.

Research data was shared on seeding rates, herbicide damage and new seeding methods being tried by canola producers, he said.

The price for canola across Alberta is “very strong right now,” which is leading to more and more farmers planting this particular crop with each passing year, said Kornelsen.

“Because there is such a good price for canola the past few years, we’re finding out a lot more about it and conducting more and more trials,” he said.

The Canola Council of Canada and Alberta Canola Producers Commission is continually publishing data and sharing information, which LARA staff continue to access and pass on to area producers, he said.

A couple of keys to ensuring quality production as a canola producer are to continually scour your crops for signs of pest damage, said Kornelsen.

It’s also crucial to regularly rotate your crop as research shows you will not get a solid harvest if you grow the crop for several successive years, he said.

“You have to have regular rotation with canola,” he said. “Land used to grow canola can easily grow cereals like wheat, barley or oats and field peas and these should be used in a regular rotation.”

Canola is also very susceptible to the annoying problem of clubroot if regular rotation of crops doesn’t happen, he said.

Another research project he worked on confirmed alternative seeding trials using different equipment than traditional seeders indicates farmers can save between 60 and 70 per cent in fuel costs, he said.

“Traditional tillers use 16 litres of fuel per acre … no till seeding systems use three to four litres per acre,” he said.

Copies of LARA’s 2010 Annual Report are now available at the head office near Fort Kent or by calling 780-826-7260. You can also access information online at

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