Unpredictable weather conditions: Battle River Research Group 

Figure #1: Growing seasons Temperature in Celsius at BRRG sites from 2019-2021
Written by ECA Review

Alberta weather has always been unpredictable; it can go from a freezing snowstorm to a warm sunny day in just a matter of days. 

Farmers of Alberta are no strangers to these drastic weather changes; however, they must depend on it for their livelihood. 

The weather decides the soil moisture levels, which is responsible for producing good quality crops; when not ideal, it can have enormous agricultural and economic consequences. 

In 2021, the weather changes affected farmers’ fields and research sites. The weather changes affected our research sites in 2020 and 2021 in two different ways. 

2020 was wet at Battle River Research Group (BRRG) sites due to excess moisture, hail, and diseases such as fusarium and root rot. However, in 2021 when the group was prepared to control the disease, we experienced high heatwaves. The higher temperature left the crops physiologically stressed and under unstable growth conditions. 

The pulses matured earlier than average and started to shatter. As seen in Figures #1 and #2, soil moisture levels have depleted drastically since the ideal 2019 season at BRRG sites.” 

Figure #1: Growing seasons Temperature in Celsius at BRRG sites from 2019-2021

The moisture from 2020 did give an excellent start to the crops in the springtime, but with heatwave followed by a dry fall in 2021, Alberta farmlands will need twice the precipitation in 2022 to recover from last year’s drought.

BRRG is dedicated to developing solutions to help Alberta farmers cope with these weather changes. 

The organization is starting three new projects in 2022 to address the drought issue funded by Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR). The organization is also receiving a lot of support from surrounding municipalities.  

Figure #2: The yield of some local spring wheat varieties in BRRG multiple-year research trials from 2019 -to 2021.

1). The inclusion of cover crops in traditional cropping systems to retain soil moisture and enhance carbon sequestration.

2). Winter and fall cereals for silage use to deal with forage shortage. 

3). Performance of nine wheat varieties about topography and temperature variations. 

BRRG will be using spatial variable mapping and drone sensors technology to collect data from their research sites.

Although we cannot control the weather conditions, Battle River Research Group hopes to find some answers to the one question every Alberta farmer is asking this year “how do I put up with this weather?”

 

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