Yield enhancement networks (YEN) for wheat have taken root in Canada and could play an important role in helping increase yields for the cereal crop.

Many Ontario growers were first exposed to YEN in 2020 at the SouthWest Agricultural Conference (SWAC). These networks are the brainchild of the research scientists at ADAS, a UK-based independent agricultural and environmental consultancy. “It’s kind of a competition, but the main focus is sharing information between farmers and learning from one another,” ADAS crop researcher Ruth Wade told RealAgriculture’s Peter Johnson in this SWAC interview.

The first YEN in Canada was established in Prince Edward Island and a group of Ontario wheat growers also embraced the concept for a pilot project in 2020. On this episode of Wheat School, Joanna Follings, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs cereals specialist, reports on the findings of the first Ontario pilot project and discusses future plans for network activity.

“The goal is to identify the specific areas of management that may need to be improved or tweaked in each field,” says Follings. “Part of the project will be a modelling component where we determine yield potential across a specific field and help growers close the gap between their actual yield and yield potential.”

Follings notes interesting findings in the pilot YEN conducted by AGRIS Co-operative senior agronomist Dale Cowan and growers he works with in southwestern Ontario. Cowan and his group noted that nitrogen rates were not highly correlated with yield. However, there was a strong link between yield and higher plant populations. (Story continues after the video.)

For 2021, Follings says plans are in place to work with 20 locations in Ontario and 10 in Michigan. The YEN concept could be extended further across the province and potentially to other states in the fall.

“Growers will be competing to get higher yields and there will be an awards ceremony in the fall to identify those growers with the highest yield,” adds Follings. As well, growers who harvest the highest amount of their yield potential will be recognized.  Follings also notes growing enthusiasm for the project with excellent collaboration between OMAFRA, Grain Farmers of Ontario, University of Guelph and Michigan State.

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