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Gateway Research Organization (GRO) is a not-for-profit, producer driven applied research organization which serves the Agricultural Industry in Alberta by working with producers and industry stakeholders to meet the ever-changing demands of Agriculture in this province.  GRO aims to improve yield and efficiency for producers in the areas of forage, livestock, and crops, in an environmentally sustainable, economical manner, while at the same time meeting consumer demands for premium quality product. 

Balancing Producer and Consumer Demand

·         GRO designs projects which keep in mind consumers’ environmental conservation and sustainability concerns, while at the same time meeting producers’ needs for practical and affordable farming practices. 

·         GRO reduces risk to producers, by (for instance) growing new cultivars, or trying new grazing methodologies first; producers are able to view preliminary results before deciding to incorporate these into their own farming practices.

Education and Community Involvement

·         GRO organizes and supports conferences and field tours, which are open to the farming community and the general public, working to maintain good relations between the agricultural industry and the general public.    

·         The public gains insight and assurance that it’s environmental and quality concerns are being met by producers.

·         Producers view current cultivar growth and management results.

Government Support

·         The Alberta Government’s financial and technical support allows GRO to carry out projects of greater magnitude and scope than membership support alone could maintain.

·         Through the Government’s support GRO is able to offer support to producers regarding which cultivars suit their growing conditions the best. 

·         Producers are able to optimize the growth and quality of their crops, leading to increased and greater quality product for consumers. 

Region of Coverage

The province of Alberta is characterized by many different soil types and microclimates; producers need to know which varieties and farming practices will best suit their area. The results produced by GRO’s research, also benefit other provinces in areas where climate and soil structure is similar. The areas served by GRO include:

Westlock           Barrhead            Parkland County          Athabasca         Lesser Slave River

Microclimates

 

County

Crop land (acres)

Land in Pasture (acres)

Soil Types

Av. Annual Precipitation

(mm)

Av.Temperature (°C)

Westlock

398 000

163 000

Black-Dark Grey Wooded

Grey

Solonetzic

272

Min.  -40.5

Max.  30.6

Barrhead

272 000

150 000

Black-Dark Grey Wooded

Grey

Thin Black

364

Min. -41.7

Max. 32.3

Parkland

185 000

174 000

Black-Dark Grey Wooded

Grey

Thin Black

332

Min. -34.7

Max. 30.9

Athabasca

288 000

230 000

Dark Grey-Grey

N/A

N/A

Lesser Slave River

47 000

59 000

Thin Black

424

Min. -36.3

Max. 29

* Land data from Statistics Canada

**Weather data from Weather Network; five year averages (2007-2012)

Thin Black soils

“Soil moisture reserves and summer precipitation have a major influence on yields and fertilizer response. The southern portion of this zone receives more rainfall, but the rate of evaporation is higher than in the northern portion. Rainfall is quite variable in this area. Increased production can be realized from adjusting crop rotations and fertilizer rates to match soil moisture reserves. Soil moisture reserves may be increased with reduced tillage.” ~ Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development 

Black and Dark Gray Wooded soils

“Moisture is less limiting to crop production in this area than in areas to the south and east. There is little need for fallowing to store soil moisture. Good yields can be obtained under continuous cereal cropping systems with adequate fertilization. Rotations that include grasses and legumes and the application of manure are recommended to help maintain soil organic matter and tilth.”  ~ Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development

Gray Wooded soils

“Gray Wooded soils were developed under cool, humid conditions, and the surface layer is leached of clay and plant nutrients. Soil and organic matter is low and crusting often reduces seedling emergence. Crop rotations that include legumes and grasses help to increase soil organic matter, fertility and reduce crusting. Summerfallow and removal of cereal crop residues should be minimized. The application of manure is also very effective for increasing the productivity of Gray Wooded soils. Moisture is not as limiting as elsewhere in Alberta, but the

growing season is shorter. Nitrogen is often the major limiting factor to high crop yields on Gray Wooded soils. Many Gray Wooded and some Dark Gray Wooded soils are deficient in sulphur.” ~ Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development

Solonetzic soils

“Solonetzic soils are characterized by a hard-pan layer 5 to 25 cm from the surface. These soils occur in association with normal soils and often cause a typical uneven pattern of crop growth. This wavy growth pattern is particularly noticeable in years when moderate to severe moisture stress occurs because the rooting depth of the crop is restricted. Response to fertilizer on Solonetzic soils is also more variable than on associated normal soils because crop yields are decreased more by moisture stress. Therefore, the rate of nitrogen fertilizer should be reduced to 70 to 80 per cent of the rate used on normal soils. Banded applications of nitrogen are often more effective than broadcast applications on Solonetzic soils.” ~ Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development 

Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development. 2004. Agri-Facts: Alberta Fertilizer Guide. [Online]. Available from: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex3894/$file/541-1.pdf?OpenElement

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