Sunday, April 6

Forage Selection Made Easy With New CD

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Saskatchewan Forage Council (SFC) has developed a new forage management tool that is available free of charge to producers, agrologists, conservationists and any other interested parties.

The "Dryland Forage Species Adaptation" CD provides valuable technical information to assist in planning the use of forages.

According to SFC Executive Director Janice Bruynooghe, the CD was developed to assist users in selecting the forage species best suited to their land. "It's an interactive tool that enables them to access comprehensive data on different forage species in order to choose the best one for their particular needs."

Information on 45 forage species, both tame and native, legume and grass, has been compiled in the CD. Photos and a detailed description of each species are provided, including yields, recommended stocking rates and other management information.

The data is organized to allow producers to input specific factors related to the type of soil in which the forage will be seeded and the purpose for which it is intended. This may include soil zone, soil texture, soil pH, salinity, moisture conditions, desired use, expected timing of use, stand longevity and many other variables.

"They can basically enter their criteria, and this tool will sort through the huge database of information that's built in on the back-end and identify the species that would best suit their specific conditions," Bruynooghe said.

The tool can also be used in reverse. Users looking for information on any particular forage species can simply click on its name, and the CD will display all the details, including an overview of nutritional feed quality, if available.

According to Bruynooghe, among the most useful features incorporated in the CD are seeding rate and cost calculators for producers. Users are able to select specific forage species or mixtures and input information such as germination or purity percentages. A program then automatically calculates the number of pounds per acre they would need to seed in order to produce an optimal stand. When costs are subsequently entered, the tool will also calculate the cost-per-acre of seeding a specific mixture.

"It's a common question that producers often have. Working through those calculations [on paper] is a bit cumbersome at times, and this is just a really slick, quick way to go in and determine seeding rates and cost-per-acre," Bruynooghe said.

"Everything comes down to economics, and a key to this information is that it can help producers through that decision-making process on the financial side."

Above all, Bruynooghe says the greatest advantage offered by the CD is convenience. "Much of this information is currently available, but it is very scattered. Producers often have to talk to extension agrologists or cross-reference many fact sheets to get what they need," she stated.

"What this tool provides is a nice, neat compilation of information. It's very user-friendly and easy to navigate."

Funding to undertake the project was provided by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Greencover Canada Program. Project partners include AAFC, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation.

Anyone interested in obtaining a free copy of the "Dryland Forage Species Adaptation" CD can contact the SFC by phone at (306) 966-2148 or by e-mail at jbruynooghe@saskforage.ca. The material is also available on the SFC website at http://www.saskforage.ca/ in both high-speed and dial-up versions.

For more information, contact:
Janice Bruynooghe, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Forage Council
Phone : (306) 966-2148
E-mail : jbruynooghe@saskforage.ca
Website: http://www.saskforage.ca/
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