Evaluating Field Pea and Cereal Mixtures For High Protein Organic Feed
Dr. Derek Lynch, Claude Berthélémé, and Dr. Hans
Meeting the farm's requirement for high protein feeds continues to be
one of the biggest challenges for organic livestock production. Peas are
an option as a protein source on organic farms, and when grown for livestock
feed can be grown alone or in combination with cereal crops. Growing field
peas in mixtures may have certain agronomic advantages such as improved
pest and weed control, improved use of nutrients, light, and water, and
reduced lodging in comparison to peas grown in monocrop.
However, in Atlantic Canada there are currently no recommended pea varieties,
since peas have largely been replaced by soybeans, which remain difficult
to produce organically.
In 2003 and 2004, oats (Nova), barley (Westech), two pea varieties (Carrera,
Miami) and a line (746-3) selected at NSAC, were grown in small plot trials
in monocrop or in two- or three-way intercrop mixtures at the OACC/NSAC
site in Brookside, NS and the AAFC site in Harrington, PEI. In mixed crop
treatments, peas represented an average of 12%, 22% and 42% of the seeds
present at seeding. A subset of the mixtures and two additional pea varieties
(Mozart, Lenca) were evaluated on six Maritime farms in both years.
At Brookside and Harrington, barley and oat monocrops yielded between
2 to 3 t ha-1, whereas the yields of peas alone or in mixtures ranged
from 3-4 t ha-1. Weeds were effectively managed through pre- or post emergent
Among pea monocrops, there was a trend for greater protein content (~25%)
and lower lodging for line 746-3 compared to Miami and Carrera. While
oats or barley moncrops contained less than 12% protein, mixed crops protein
content ranged from 15% (3-way mixture, 12% as peas at seeding) to over
20% (2-way mixture; 22-40% as peas at seeding). However, lodging was consistently
severe when peas were present at 22% or greater at seeding.
In on-farm trials, protein benefits from pea mixtures (>15% protein)
were obtained when the target pea content of stand (15%) was achieved.
Failures to consistently achieve this target, however, was linked to challenges
related to seedbed preparation and seeding.
Derek Lynch, OACC, Department of Plant and Animal Sciences, NSAC, Email
Hans Nass, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Charlottetown, PEI
Claude Berthélémé, NB Department of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Aquaculture
F.Jopp, Franks Agricultural Ltd., Sussex, NB; B. Martin, Anbar Farms,
Rexton; NB D. Bunnett, Bunnett Family Farms, Havelock, NB; S. Fleishaker,
Woodstock, NB; C. Gillis, Melville, PEI; T. Boyle, Antigonish, NS.
Funding for this project was provided by the NB Department of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Aquaculture, the PEI Department of Agriculture and Forestry,
and the NS Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.