Alfalfa is a key forage crop producers rely on to capture and fix carbon, return nutrients to the soil and improve soil health. It is also an important ingredient that feeds many other agriculture sectors in Canada.
The Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) currently has two alfalfa management projects underway that will provide forage producers with valuable decision-support tools to help alfalfa crops thrive. Funded through the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP), these projects began in 2020 and will conclude in 2024.
The first tool will focus on optimizing yield and forage nutritive value from alfalfa fields using artificial intelligence; identifying potential agronomic, climatic and soil-related factors affecting alfalfa yield and predicting potential yield and nutritive value loss through soil nutrient analysis and health diagnostics.
The second tool will assess and improve alfalfa winter survival rates and persistency by combining scouting data and remote imagery with artificial intelligence; predict and assess winter survival; identify the factors and field zones leading to poor alfalfa winter survival and provide predictions of the impact of alternative management practices in survival rates and persistency.
Both projects will help farmers better understand alfalfa growth while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
CASPP supports the Canadian agricultural sector’s participation in the Government of Canada’s growth and policy objectives by investing in the sector’s design, development and implementation of tools and strategies to respond to and seize opportunities created by these objectives. These projects include a network of 40 agronomists and 225 farms for collecting the data.