Measuring the impact of winter vs. spring cereals on profitability, soil health, and pesticide use

Marc-Olivier Gasser, researcher

Marc-Olivier Gasser

Researcher, agr., Ph.D.

418 643-2380
ext 650

Contact Marc-Olivier Gasser

Caroline Côté

Researcher, agr., Ph.D.

450 653-7368
ext 310

Contact Caroline Côté

Luc Belzile

Description

In comparison to spring cereals, winter cereals produce higher yields and can be harvested earlier, which allows for the sowing of green manure legume crops. This means greater profitability can be achieved with both winter cereals and subsequent crops. Earlier soil cover during the spring reduces erosion risks, weed pressure, and the need for herbicide and fungicide applications. For this study, ten test sites will operate over a two-year period on farms spread over ten Québec regions (Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Mauricie, Centre-du-Québec, Montérégie Ouest, Montérégie Est, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Chaudière-Appalaches, Lanaudière, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Outaouais). The sites—some conventional and others organic—will be used to compare the performance of winter and spring cereals. In a follow-up phase, we will check to see if the greater soil cover and improved soil structure that comes with the denser root system characteristic of winter cereals result in a reduction in springtime topsoil erosion. In addition, an on-site economic analysis will be conducted to demonstrate how winter cereals are more profitable than spring cereals. On two experimental farms, during demonstration days organized for farmers, we will compare a broader selection of winter and spring cereals, and highlight some specific advantages of the former.

Objective(s)

  • Promote the planting of winter cereals by farmers in ten Québec agricultural regions by demonstrating productivity and economic gains, soil health benefits, and reduced weed pressure and pesticide use.

From 2019 to 2022

Project duration

Field crops

Activity areas

Soil health, Pest, weed, and disease control, Organic farming

Services

Winter cereals provide a 25% to 40% boost in yields over spring cereals.

Partners

Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation – Prime-Vert Program, 10 agri-environmental advisory clubs, 10 farms from ten Québec regions 

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