South Peace News
Cocktails were the specialty on the menu at a plot tour in High Prairie on July 24 hosted by the Peace Country Beef and Forage Association.
Actually, it was cocktail cover crops that were the main focus of the tour on the site on Highway 749 just north of town.
“We had about 35 people, most from the Big Lakes area, and some from as far away as Worsley,” says Monika Benoit, High Prairie office extension co-ordi- nator.
“Lots of people asked questions and said there was a lot to look at.”
Various ingredients are required to produce healthier soil and cocktail cover crops, she says.
“To improve the health of the soil, you need diversity, and a living root in the soil at all times,” Benoit says.
“As cocktails improve your soil, water infiltration rates increase, making your soil more resilient to heavy rainfall and drought.”
Annual cocktails are also an excellent feed source with protein and improve energy values in feed tests, Benoit says.
Cocktail cover crops are a growing trend in the industry.
“There has been an increasing interest and excitement around cocktail cover crops in the Peace Country over the past couple of years,” says research co-ordinator Dr. Akim Omokanye.
“Producers in the area have been growing some excellent quality forages for green feed, grazing, silage and hay while helping improve the overall health of their soil.”
“Cocktails will give you better quality of feed that will be able to meet the requirements of most beef categories.”
He says the practice produces many benefits that include but not limited to breaking up soil compaction, capturing and increasing soil available nutrients, increasing soil organic matter, increasing soil diversity and creating ground cover.
Crop covers can range from only a few species to very complex mixes with several species, he says, all determined by the producer’s end goal.
Nutrient cycling and erosion are also potential reasons for growing a cover crop, Omokanye says.
Other partners in the project and tour are Big Lakes County, Smoky Research and Demonstration Association and Cover Crop Production Services.