When people think of Atlantic Canada, they often think of the abundant potatoes grown in the area.
While there’s a reason this comes to mind, as potatoes are a key crop, there are several other crops grown in rotation to ensure soil health and overall crop health.
This is one of the messages the Atlantic Grains Council (AGC) explained at their research meeting held at Summerside, P.E.I., this week.
Roy Culberson, chair of the AGC, and Alan Miller, science coordinator with AGC, sat down with RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney to discuss some of the agronomic challenges producers face on the eastern end of the country.
As Miller explains, soil health is one of the top priorities for the organization.
“We’re collecting data on soils and rotations on every experiment that we’re doing. And we’re able to actually analyze that far beyond what the experiment was actually about,” he explains, adding due to the Maritime climate, disease management is the other top priority. (Story continues below interview)
“Fusarium head blight is an issue in our cereals. We’re getting ready to launch a regional fusarium head blight forecasting system. So that’s really going to help producers in the area on how to improve the quality of the produce, how to become a better suppliers to people who want to use [our] grains and oilseeds.”
As Culberson notes, the one thing he finds is on every farmers mind today is sustainable farming, whether they are ready for it or not.
“We’ve got to maintain it and hold it. We’ve got to keep it forever. And on our farm that’s the one thing on our mind — more rotation, better rotations, and make money with rotations — but mainly to keep our area [sustainable],” says Culberson. “Our leading processor wants our soils all kept great — and some people have a negative attitude toward that, but on our farm I think it’s great because the greener we can keep it, the less erosion. We may have farms for many generations….which we need.”
Due to these aforementioned climate conditions, cover crops have really taken a hold in the area in the last few years — and this is something that is growing exponentially.
“Land is the most precious asset that you could have. Food [will always] be important,” says Miller.