BCFC "A Guide to On-Farm Demonstration Research" ~ Case Studies (2017)

  1. Detailed Measurements Show What Your Eyes Can't See

    In spring and summer, it's no longer raining at the same time of year or in the same gentle, frequent way it used to.  In 2015, Ray decided to test whether a mixed (five-way) alfalfa blend might fare better than a single variety in these challenging conditions.  And, since he'd heard countless different opinions on optimal seeding rate, he also decied to test wheter a heavier seeding rate would prove benefical or a waste of money.

    “Our climate has changed quite a bit over the years. It’s harder to establish crops and harder to get good production,” says Ray. “I though a blend might help. When you plant a blend, the varieties all have different characteristics so they don’t compete with each other as much. And, a blend means you’ve got a better chance that one or two of the varieties will excel in whatever conditions get thrown at you.” 

  2. Testing an Idea Before Betting the Farm on It

  3. Using Science to Guide Decision Making

  4. Even Inconclusive Forage Trail Findings Offer Benefits

    Because winter feeding is his largest annual cost, Burns Lake, BC rancher Jon Solecki dreams of extending his grazing season. However, in his harsh, northern climate, the feed value of the forages he routinely grows drops to near zero by mid-fall. In 2015, he decided to test the establishment and productivity of five new-to-him perennial grasses in hopes of finding at least one that would remain nutritious into fall in his growing conditions. Further, he decide to study whether the acres he uses annually to overwinter his cattle, which thereby receive many months’ worth of passively spread manure, might enhance his trial forages’ success.

    Solecki conducted his on-farm study in a single field, half of which he’d used annually as an overwintering area for his cattle herd. On each half, he seeded five 60 by 700 foot strips at 20 lbs/ac to one of creeping red fescue, crested wheatgrass, Russian wildrye, western wheatgrass, and meadow brome. He then hoped to analyze forage establishment, quality and yield over two years.

    Creeping red fescue held it’s crude protein content high enough to support a lactating cow in the late summer through fall; and, showed a strong response to the passive fertilization. The relative feed values of fescue also reflect potential as a winter forage species.