How Do Your Field Peas Grow? - PulseResearch
April 25, 2017
Study aims to help farmers determine which inputs have largest impact on yield and economic return
While extensive research has been conducted on the impact individual inputs have on pea production, relatively little is known about how the combination of multiple inputs can interact and affect yields. It begs the question, do they complement one another, can they be antagonistic to each other, or can one compensate for another?
“Recent research in the region examined how inputs interacted in canola and barley cropping systems,” says Stewart Brandt, Research Manager with the Northeast Agricultural Research Foundation in Melfort, Saskatchewan. “Results indicated that there was potential for growers to increase yield while reducing yield variability of these crops by managing combinations of inputs more effectively.”
Agronomists in the region, as well as key grower stakeholders, and the Board of Directors at Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG), questioned whether similar benefits could be generated when managing inputs for field pea production. To investigate this, they initiated the Field Pea Input Study with funding from SPG and Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers.
Brandt was one of the investigators of the study, which was led by Laryssa Grenkow, the former research manager with Western Applied Research Corporation. The study involved examining a range of inputs used for field pea production either alone or in combination.
The researchers wanted to determine which individual agronomic inputs contributed most to pea seed yield and which combination produced the highest seed yield and economic return. The project also examined how plant population, leaf and stem disease, crop maturity, grain yield, and quality were affected by input interactions.
“The objective was to determine which made the greatest and most consistent contributions to yield and economic return when growing a field pea crop,” Brandt says.
This involved conducting replicated field trials over a three-year period between 2012 and 2014 at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Farms in Scott, Swift Current, Melfort, and Indian Head. A fifth site in Minto, Manitoba, was added in 2014.
“By conducting the trials over several years at a broad range of locations we expected that results would be broadly applicable,” Brandt says.
The research identified three inputs – seeding rate, granular inoculant, and foliar fungicides – that consistently improved yield under high yield conditions, namely when pea yield exceeded 40 bushels per acre.
Seeding rates compared were 60 versus 120 seeds per square metre; inoculant comparisons were in furrow granular versus liquid on seed; and foliar fungicides were compared with no foliar fungicides.
“This suggested growers should focus on these inputs when growing conditions are favourable,” Brandt says. “Where yields were less than 40 bushels per acre, only seed rate had a significant and consistent impact on yield.”
Other inputs examined were 30 kilograms per hectare of fertilizer nitrogen or fungicidal seed treatments.
Moving forward, the researchers hope to further refine how the inputs are utilized. “For example, what is needed to ensure that every viable seed that is planted survives and contributes to yield?” Brandt says. “In this study, only 75 to 80 per cent of seeds planted survived.”
SPG Investment: $163,095
Project Length: 3 years
Co-Funder: Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers $3,230
Laryssa Grenkow - Former Research Manager with Western Applied Research Corporation
Dr. Anne Kirk - Western Applied Research Corporation