BC Forage Council Climate Change Adaptation Project 2014-2017 (2016 Update)

  • Kale as a winter feed source
  • Late season grasses as winter feed and the effect of passive fertilization
  • Forage quality, yield and maturity rates of 6 alfalfa varieties
  • Determine optimum alfalfa seeding rate and seed mix

Kale as a winter feed source. Last year, the farmer grew one variety of kale (late maturing). We found that the kale grew very well and kept its nutritional qualities till late in the season (December 17 – Relative Feed Value of 425). This year, the farmer is growing both an early and a late maturing variety to see if he can increase utilization by feeding early and late in the season. He will also measure yields to see if feeding 2 times in the season results in greater forage utilization rather than waiting till the end of the season.

Late season grasses as winter feed as well as the effect of passive fertilization. Last year, the farmer seeded 5 species of grasses (crested wheatgrass, creeping red fescue, western wheatgrass, meadow brome and Russian wildrye) in an area where he winter fed his cows for the past 10 years (passive fertilization) versus an area where the cows did not feed. Last year was an establishment year and with most of the grasses the passive fertilization appears to have improved establishment rates. However, early monitoring this year indicates that western wheatgrass did not survive the winter conditions. Survival will be measured this summer. As well, the farmer will measure forage quality into the winter months as well as yields.

Forage quality, yield and maturity rates of 6 varieties of alfalfa. Last year, the farmer seeded 6 varieties (Stealth, Hybrid 2410, WL 319 HQ, TopHand, Dalton, and Leader) in an irrigated field. In year 1, WL319 HQ had the best combination of establishment, protein and relative feed value. Because it was an establishment year, the germination was inconsistent. However, in Year 2, we have been able to better track maturity rates. We sampled forage quality of each of the varieties at each stage of maturation and the forage samples have been sent for analysis. We also have yield measurements taken at first cut.

Determine optimal seeding rate and seed mix of alfalfa. Last year, the farmer divided his field into half and seeded one half with 12 pds/acre of Vision versus 12 pds/acre of a 5 variety mix. On the other half of the field he seeded 25 pds/acre Vision versus 25 pds/acre of the 5 variety mix. The higher seeding rate resulted in twice the germination rates and twice the establishment rates. As well, at both the low and high seeding rates, the 5 way blend resulted in better germination and establishment. This year, the farmer will measure yields and final establishment rates.

Link to complete Summer 2016 Update

Link to Project Report Page in the 'Research' Section of the Farmwest Library.

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