Agronomy Update – March 4th

Hi everyone,

I bet everyone is happy that our 72 hour “lockdown” is over and that once again, PEI appears to be in a fortunate position with regards to COVID.

The province has moved to “circuit breaker” rules until March 14th, which put some restrictions on gathering sizes, building occupancy, etc.  However, the measures announced yesterday still permit small gatherings of up to 50 people, provided that folks can practice social distancing.  As such, our previously announced AIM Workshops for next Tuesday and Wednesday (March 9/10) will go ahead as planned.

As before, I will require growers to pre-register to attend one of these local workshops in Emerald, Mill River and St. Peters.  We will have a maximum number that can attend each meeting that is less than 50 people, depending on venue size.  Priority will be given to growers, but AIM industry partners can contact me and I’ll put you on the list and will only bump you if grower numbers necessitate it.  Masks will be required to be worn at all meetings.

Workshop Dates & Times:

Tues, March 9th:              9 am in Emerald, 1:30 in Mill River
Wed, March 10th:            9 am in St. Peters, 1:30 livestream on Zoom (contact Ryan for link)

We’ll be talking about Seed Management, with presentations by myself, Steve Watts of Genesis Crop Systems, and Mary Kay Sonier sharing updates on recent research trials, BMPs for successful seed management, and discussing biosecurity for seed potatoes, including an update on BRR.


AIM Webinars in March:

I have organized two other short webinars in March to share some additional research results with you from local researchers.  These will be 30 minutes webinars on two very interesting topics:

Fri, March 19th at 11:00 am         Using Soil Electroconductivity to Map Fields for Fertility and Compaction, with Dr. Aitazaz Farooque, UPEI

Thurs, March 25th at 11:00 am   Effect of Crop Diversity on Soil Health and Marketable Yield, with Dr. Aaron Mills, AAFC Charlottetown

Links for these two webinars will be circulated soon, but mark those dates on your calendar!

Cool Agronomy Stat of the Week:

We did a survey of PEI potato growers this winter with a pretty high response rate (Thank You!).  Did you know that approximately 45% of harvested potato acres were followed with a cover crop?  In addition, 45% of acres going into potatoes in this survey also had a cover crop applied…a big jump up from about 25% in 2019.  Cover cropping is rapidly becoming standard practice for a lot of PEI potato growers.

I’ve had the chance to a watch a bunch of cover crop webinars/presentations from all over this winter, and the message is pretty consistent:  over time, cover crops protect soil from erosion, build soil organic matter, fight soil compaction, and increase crop yields.  Definitely worth the investment.

Operation Pollinator:

Attached are some details on a new program being offered through the PEI Potato Board this year in partnership with Syngenta Canada.  It’s called Operation Pollinator, where farmers can apply to grow up to 2 acres of 6 species forage mix friendly to pollinator species on small parcels of land (wet spots, around the barns, grassed waterways, etc).

The Board will be accepting applications from up to 25 farms to participate this year.  Participating farms will have the seed supplied as well as a $200/acre payment to assist with establishment/maintenance of the pollinator refuge.  Participating farms will then have a site visit in the summer to document the establishment of the pollinator refuge, and we will present you with a small Operation Pollinator sign.

If interested in this program, contact me by March 15th with the anticipated size of your pollinator refuge site (up to 2 acres total).  First come, first served.  Seed will be delivered in April.

Hope to see many of you next week, either in person or virtually!