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Cover Crop Mixtures (Cocktails) for Forage: Forage Yield & Quality in High Prairie

Project Site: Bill Fevang's Farm - High Prairie

Research Program Manager: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2018 Annual Report

A mixture of two annual crops involving cereal-legume intercrops (e.g. barley & peas) for forage production has widely been tested by applied research associations in Alberta. Such intercrops are used by producers for greenfeed or silage. Growing multi-species annual crop mixtures (e.g. 4, 6 or even greater) may often be considered as a practical application of ecological principles based on biodiversity, plant interactions and other natural regulation mechanisms (Malézieux et al. 2007). Such mixtures could increase forage production (BCRC 2016; Davies et al. 2015; Wortman et al. 2012), improve water and soil quality, nutrient cycling, moisture conservation, and crop productivity when used in crop rotation systems (Chu et al. 2017; Hobbs et al. 2008). A multispecies annual crop mixture can be selected from a diversity of crop groups (e.g. grasses, legumes and brassicas). Each crop species in a mixture may reach maturity at slightly different times, therefore providing green forage continuously through the growing season (BCRC 2016). In 2018, a field trial was done in High Prairie to test annual crop mixtures with 4-8 crops versus monoculture CDC Haymaker oats for forage yield and quality.


The study site was at Bill Fevang’s farm in High Prairie. The site had canola the year before and it was sprayed with a pre-seed burnoff before seeding the cocktails in 2018. Soil tests from 0-6” showed an organic matter of 10.3%, a pH of 5.9 and an electrical conductivity of 1.0 dS/m. The soil had 27 lbs N/acre, 23 lbs P/ac, 496 lbs K/ac and 19 lbs S/ac. The cover crop treatments tested are provided below in Table 1.

· Seeding date: June 7th