Perennial Grain & Soil Health Workshop
June 20th, 2019 – Breton, AB

On June 20, 1929, the Breton research plots were established to “find a system of farming suitable for the wooded soil belt” and because farmers and researchers of the day believed the best agricultural system was a continuous forage system grown to feed cattle on a mixed farm. Fast forward to 90 years later, and we know they were on the right track! Perennial crops and well-managed forage play an important role in building healthy soil, increasing yield and crop quality, building resistance to drought and flood, and in mitigating climate change.

Date: June 20, 2019; 10am–4pm
Location: Breton Community Hall (morning) and Breton Plots (afternoon)
Register: the link to registration form will be available soon.

We will meet at the hall in the morning to hear from University of Alberta researchers and soil scientist Dr. Kristine Nichols. They will share practical information on the importance of soil health to yields and productivity and how to keep your soil resilient and thriving.

After lunch at the community hall, we will head outside to tour the Breton Plots and learn about their rich history. Researchers will present on how perennial cereal grain can be produced with minimal spraying and no tillage to keep soil healthy and productive.

We’ll see the Classical Plots (established 1929),which are the only continuous, long-term plots on Gray Luvisols in Canada and possibly in the world. They are used to assess the interaction among global environment, crop productivity, and soil quality. They are a part of the North American Great Plains Network and the Global Change and Terrestrial Environment Soil Organic Matter Network.

This is one of the few spots in the Prairies, let alone Alberta, where you can see perennial cereal grain production in action. Save the date!

Rural Routes to Climate Solutions is excited to be working with Food Water Wellness Foundation and the Breton Plots’ University of Alberta research team to bring you this one of a kind workshop.

Other highlights you’ll see during the workshop: The Hendrigan Plots (established 1980) include three cropping systems: continuous barley with straw returned to the plots after harvest, continuous forage (fescue grass and white clover), and an eight-year “Agroecological” rotation of barley-fababeans-barley-fababeans-barley-forage-forage-forage, where the forage is a mixture of bromegrass and red clover. While summer fallow is used to control weeds in the Classical Plots, the continuous forage system maintains itself and the soil remains mostly undisturbed. It is interesting to see the changes in the soil that result from different agricultural practices in this wide range of cropping systems.

Want to learn more? Listen to our Organic No-Till podcast episode and learn how crop producers can build soil health.

Rural Routes to Climate Solutions (#RR2CS) is a program of the Stettler Adult Learning Centre. We empower agricultural producers in Alberta with climate solutions that benefit farms and ranches. Our partners include Food Water Wellness Foundation, Young Agrarians, Organic Alberta and many producers across the province!

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