Testing the cover crop hypothesis across Prairie Canada

Crop Dry Bean, Pea, Soybean
Start Date2018
End Date2021
Principal InvestigatorLawley, Yvonne, University of Manitoba
MPSG Financial Support$40,000
External Funding PartnersWGRF

Research Objectives

  1. Quantify the potential for cover crop growth across a range of cover crop windows and growing environments in Prairie Canada.
  2. Evaluate the reliability of cover crop establishment within annual crop rotations  across a range of growing environments in Prairie Canada
  3. Evaluate the impact of cover crops in crop rotations on crop yield and quality across a range of growing environments in Prairie Canada
  4. Evaluate the impact of cover crops on soil health across a range of growing environments in Prairie Canada
  5. Quantify the environmental impact of cover crops on N2O fluxes in three growing environments in Prairie Canada
  6. Evaluate the economic costs and benefits to including cover crops in annual crop rotations across growing environments in Prairie Canada

Project Description

Farmers that are early adopters are already growing cover crops in the Canadian Prairies, but many questions remain unanswered about their viability, impact, and benefits. Central to the expanded interest in cover crops is their impact on soil and environmental health and the ability to grow high yielding crops with reduced inputs.

Several of the potential benefits of cover crops also intersect with factors that increase cropping system resilience to a changing climate or have the potential for climate change mitigation. This project will evaluate cover crops in crop rotations in MB, SK, and AB over a four-year period. This project will provide information to better answer the following questions:

1) Are cover crops a viable option across the range of crop rotations and growing environments in Prairie Canada?

2) Do crops grown in rotation with cover crops have the same or different yields compared to those grown in rotation without cover crops consistently over time?

3) What are the potential agronomic, environmental, and economic benefits or drawbacks of including cover crops in crop rotations in Prairie Canada?