Tight rotations threaten management possibilities in Saskatchewan

Data collected between 2008 and 2015 by Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp suggests many farmers in the province are using tight rotations, or no rotation at all (coyly referred to as a “canola-snow” rotation).

“The tight rotations that we are talking about — canola, wheat, canola, wheat — are in the northeast of the province and the northwest of the province,” says Patrick Mooleki, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). “We see a little bit of a diversified rotation in the southwest, as well as in the southeast.”

Patrick Mooleki, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, speaks with RealAgriculture on Saskatchewan’s rotations, the benefits of lengthening the time between similar crops, and touches on some specific diseases in regions of little diversity.

Mooleki says wheat appears to be dominant in rotations across the province, with southern regions seeing lentils-wheat-lentils-wheat, where northern regions are more likely to alternate wheat with canola.

Tight rotations increase the risks of weed and disease pressure while also decreasing options for pesticides, leading to resistance challenges.

“So, in the short-term it may look like it’s economically okay, because you are growing a crop that gives you the highest returns at the time, but in the long run you are building inoculum in your system that will…cause decline in yields for most of the crops you are relying on at the time.”

Mooleki says if this continues, in severe situations, growers may lose the option to grow specific crops entirely.

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