For hammock-swinging city folk, there’s the summer reading list.
But for farmers, it’s the long winter months that are best spent curled up with a good book near the wood stove.
For agriculture-related additions to the off-season reading list, Guy Lafond, a research scientist at AAFC Indian Head, has recently uploaded a fifth volume to the Prairie Soils and Crops website at www.prairie soilsand crops.ca.
This edition’s theme is composed of the summarized results of all current long-term studies in Western Canada, which includes crop rotations, soil erosion, the effects of various manure treatments, pesticide trials and more.
“We put out a volume every year on different themes. We’re currently on No. 5, and working on No. 6,” said Lafond, who hopes that more farmers will make use of the educational resource available for free or online or as a pdf download that can be read on a tablet computer or printed out.
The goal of the website is to provide a wide range of general information on Prairie agriculture research.
While last year’s theme was based on research into insect infestations and plant disease threats in general, farmers who find themselves driven to insomnia by an acute outbreak of pests or pestilence may gain insights — and relief — by delving into the literature.
The website takes a Reader’s Digest condensed books approach, offering up the latest and best information. Each article is introduced with a Cole’s Notes-style summary, which can then be followed up via another link that serves up more information.
“If you’re in lygus bug or fusarium season, you can just read the articles to find out a little bit more about it,” said Lafond.
“We’re trying to create a forum for bringing research information to the masses.”
Volume five provides the first update on long-term crop rotation information since the last bulletin was published in 1990. To make the volume as thorough as possible, all the old crop rotation bulletins going back to 1928 were also added.
For academics researching specific topics, a bibliography of scientific publications is available on the website as well as a searchable database.
It’s not all about grain farming. Ranchers might be interested to know about research into re-establishing native grassland, or what happens when manure is applied at various rates up to 180 tonnes per acre on the same land for 25 years.