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

Case Study 1 – Testing an Idea Before Betting the Farm on It – Vanderhoof, BC cattle producer Butch Ruiter has always had a short-term goal to grow his feedlot operations but knew that he’d need to increase days on pasture in the fall. Keeping his cattle on pasture later would allow him to have more empty pens in his feedlot that could be filled. In order to increase pasture days, Butch first needed to research alternative, high quality, feed options.

Case Study 2 – Using Science to Guide Decision Making – There are dozens of forage varieties available on the market today, each advertised as better than the next. How does one decide what to seed? Longtime Vanderhoof, BC hay producer, Traugott Klein, decided to use science instead of guesswork or popularity to guide his variety decisions.

Case Study 3 – Detailed Measurements Show What Your Eyes Can’t See – For farmer Wayne Ray, on-farm variety and seeding rate research proves well worth the effort. 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.

Case Study 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.