Activity 7

Optimizing yield and resilience of organically grown milling oat


Milling quality oats are a mainstay of organic crop production in western Canada and currently occupy 21% of organic prairie field crop area (Canada Organic Trade Association, 2014). High quality organic oat is in demand for use in products such as cereals and energy bars. To meet this demand, production must increase, by improving the viability of growing oats under organic production. Techniques that increase crop competition and control weeds with mechanical weed control can result in good weed control in oat. However, since the time of our last study into organic oat production, there have been several technological advances in organic weed control including rotary hoeing, inter-row and crop clipping. None of these techniques have been investigated in organic oat production.

The soil nutrient supply rate under organic crop production may also be limiting yields. Part of the reason for the relatively low yield of oat may be that oat responds well to soil nitrogen fertility. Thus, utilizing a green manure crop before growing organic oat may result in much higher yields because of increased N availability which facilitates higher yields and increased competition with weeds. The economics of organic cereal production techniques must also be considered.

The objective of this research project is to develop an organic oat production system that optimizes yield, quality and profit. To achieve this the following sub-objectives will be tested: 1) Identify most effective combinations of weed control practices for organic oat, 2) Identify the optimum nutrient management system for organic oat and 3) Optimize weed control and nutrient management practices

This project will be comprised of three field studies. The first study will optimize weed control practices for organically grown oat, and the second study will optimize nitrogen management in organic oat. The final study will determine the optimum system for production of high quality organic milling oat. We believe that the practices proposed will allow organic oat to be grown on long term organic land, as this research addresses both weed populations and reduced soil nutrients associated with organic production.

Activity researchers

Name Affilliation
Steve Shirtliffe (Activity Leader) University of Saskatchewan
Lena Syrovy University of Saskatchewan
Diane Knight University of Saskatchewan