Adjusting and making corrections due to the sometimes-unpredictable nature of the weather here in the province of Saskatchewan is something that every producer has to do, and that includes the crew out at the Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre (CSIDC) right by Outlook.
The theme of this year’s Field Day & Trade Show, held on Thursday, July 12, was ‘Adapting to a Variable Climate’ – doing research on what Mother Nature may intend to do day to day, knowing not to expect a predictable climate from season to season, and perhaps even moving towards the belief of a changing global climate due to life on the Prairies, where weather patterns and a sudden spike or drop in temperature and conditions can take place.
At CSIDC, facility specialists and crews are continually looking at practical strategies that are ‘climate smart’ such as drainage options, efficient irrigation technology, and new varieties of crops. Their belief is that while one may not be able to control the weather in the province, you can reduce some of the impacts if you plan ‘just right’.
The morning portion of the field day event included the trade show held on the tented lawn of the CSIDC facility, featuring a number of businesses and organizations both locally and province-wide aimed at networking with producers and irrigators. As well, a field tour in the morning offered people a look at what the centre has been doing in the areas of cereal agronomy, soybeans, the fertigation of canola and wheat, and nitrogen and water dynamics in potato rotation.
During the afternoon, there were two other options for people to take in. One was an off-site tour that included stops at three local farms and dealt with the topics of variable rate irrigation, soil moisture sensing technology, solid seeded vs wide row dry bean production, evaluating hemp varieties for irrigation production, and canola seed size and seeding rate.
The second tour, back at CSIDC, was a horticulture tour that included a look at drip vs pivot irrigation on vegetable crops, and based on her first observations, specialist Kate Congreves of the University of Saskatchewan said the plants seemed to be looking better on pivot irrigation.
The tour also included looks at the variety trials being done with baby carrots and garlic, which specialist Connie Achtymichuk says come with their own unique set of challenges and rewards.
“What we grow here is a much larger, more flavorful type of garlic,” she said, as opposed to what’s typically bought in stores.
CSIDC is getting 4-6 “huge cloves” out of its garlic, and planted 22 varieties last October; of those 22 varieties, 6 didn’t survive.
The ten varieties of baby carrots being grown carry “stringent requirements” when selling to retail; they can’t be larger than one inch in diameter and are no longer marketable when they reach lengths of 7-9 inches.
Other parts of the tour included a look at the positive effects of applying Prohexadione calcium – an inhibitor that can improve fruit quality – to strawberries, Saskatoon berries, raspberries and sour cherries.
Much like every year, the CSIDC Field Day put a spotlight on where irrigation is headed and the potential being explored for new and existing crops.