A cross-border initiative between the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), Michigan State University, Michigan Wheat Program, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), and the University of Guelph will see the creation of a Great Lakes Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) for wheat growers.

Announced June 9, the Great Lakes YEN is part of the global group of Yield Enhancement Networks, first initiated nine years ago by ADAS, an independent agricultural and environmental consultancy, and provider of rural development and policy advice in the United Kingdom.

Through the collaboration of agricultural stakeholders in the Great Lakes region in the U.S. and Ontario, the Great Lakes YEN will connect farmers, agronomists, academics, extension specialists, agriculture organizations, and more, to analyze, measure, and understand yield potential and the actual yield of a given field.

See more: Yield enhancement networks ramping up in Canada

Beginning with a focus on winter wheat, the Great Lakes YEN will also build greater understanding of the growing regions around the Great Lakes, identify opportunities for change and betterment from a yield perspective, and potentially more about the environmental and economic benefits of current practices, GFO says.

YENs encourage farmers to try new things and learn from data that are comparable across a region, using estimated yield potential as a guide. YEN looks at factors that impact yield potential such as rainfall, sunlight, soil water holding capacity and nutrient levels, plus the inputs used, and timing of application.

Every farm involved in the Great Lakes YEN will share soil, tissue, and whole plant analysis for comparison and benchmarking, which will allow the Great Lakes YEN team to offer better insight into each field‘s performance. Farmers will learn more about how their wheat crop develops and produces yield and how they compare to their peers.

“We are excited about the collaboration through this project and what it could mean for farmers,” says Paul Hoekstra, vice president, strategic development, at GFO. “Collaborating with groups such as Michigan State University, Michigan Wheat Program, OMAFRA, and the University of Guelph will give us greater insight into factors limiting wheat yields across the region and will be able to directly help farmers identify how to achieve more of their estimated yield potential.”

Once harvest is complete, data will be compiled and reported back to each participant via a field-specific written report as well as through a regional event. Individual farm data will be specific to each grower, GFO says.

Applications for the 2021-2022 Great Lakes YEN will be accepted as of July 5, 2021. For more information on the Great Lakes YEN project visit https://www.GreatLakesYEN.com or look for the hashtag #GreatLakesYEN on social media.

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