Agriculture and Agriculture Canada (AAFC) and Maritime Beef Council co-hosted an Atlantic forage field day this summer at the AAFC Nappan Research Farm, located near Amherst, Nova Scotia. This was the third year that the event was co-hosted, and it proved to be the biggest turnout yet with 120 farmers, agriculture advisors, academics and government staff in attendance.
The group visited two collaborative projects funded under the Beef Cattle Research Council. AAFC scientists Dr. Kathleen Glover and Dr. Yousef Papadopoulos explained their research project on the winter survival of sod and frost seeded forage legumes. The first two field seasons are showing that there are measurable differences in alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil performance depending on the cultivar chosen and the scientists are excited to have a closer look at the data over the winter. They are also seeing very promising results using low-cost frost seeding. AAFC biologist John Duynisveld also discussed preliminary results from a grazing management project, also funded by Beef Cattle Research Council. Cattle are grazing pastures at varying intensities, and the research team is monitoring both cattle and pasture performance. Stay tuned for more results as this project continues.
The attendees also got to see a project on companion crops to improve the establishment and long-term persistence of alfalfa. This project is in collaboration with AAFC scientists in Quebec, and is funded through the Dairy Research Cluster.
Bill Thomas of BT Agronomy led an interactive discussion on the quality and yield of forages. Thomas had participants guess the weights of round bales. This led to a discussion on the importance of knowing how much your hay bales weigh and the value of feed testing. Sonny Murray of Perennia and Jason Wells of the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture joined in to answer many questions from the audience covering pH, soil fertility and cutting times.
Cedric MacLeod of MacLeod Agronomics and John Duynisveld also led discussions around two demonstration projects on cover or “service” crops and their benefits to soil health, the environment and as sources of livestock feed. Ellen Crane with the Beef Cattle Research Council went over some newly released tools that are on the www.beefresearch.ca website including a very producer-friendly forage analysis calculator used to decipher a lab analysis.
The Maritime Beef Council also updated attendees on the projects that are in development for the upcoming year. The Atlantic Beef School launches at Nappan, N.S., in early November. The pasture feeding module is slated for November 1, while the feeding and nutrition management module runs November 2. Registration is open from September 24 to October 26. One module costs $100, while both come in at $175. For more information, visit www.maritimebeef.ca.
Many thanks to the sponsors of the day, AAFC Nappan farm services crew, technical staff and students who helped make the day very successful. We are already planning for next year!