Current Projects

MARA conducts applied agriculture and environmental research to support the agriculture industry in Alberta, with focus on the largest County in the province, Mackenzie County. The list below is current (2016) projects. The list excludes contract research or any privately funded research. For more information about MARA’s current and past projects, please contact us using the contact form available on this website.

Aerial view of research plots

Aerial view of MARA research plots

Canola and wheat irrigation trial
Project objective: With the support of Alberta Canola Producers (ACPC) and Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), MARA is examining the effects of irrigation on canola and wheat. The method of application is drip. The number of replications is 4

Wheat and canola nutrition research
Nitrogen is the most important nutrient element required by plants. The unit cost of nitrogen is generally higher than that of other nutrient elements. Some of the nitrogen applied is however lost through leaching or volatilization. The use of enhanced N fertilizers may however minimize N losses.
Project objective: This trial will assess the impact of different nitrogen-fertilizer types on wheat and canola yield, plant biomass, nitrogen movement within the soil and grain quality. The N fertilizers are Urea, Agrotain (banded & broadcast), ESN and Super U (banded and broadcast). The canola component of the project (supported by ACPC) is in the third year while 2016 marks the first year for wheat (supported by AWC). Additional support for this project is provided by Koch Agronomic Inc. and Agrium Inc. This is a five-year project.

Cereals Regional Variety (RVT) trials
The Cereals Regional Variety Trial (RVT) is conducted throughout the province and in Northern BC. In 2016, MARA is participating in CWPS, CPSR and CWRS wheat, two & six row barley, Oats and triticale. The objective of the trial is to evaluate the performance of the different cultivars of the various species across the province. Data from the Cereal RVTs are published in the Alberta Seed Guide. The Cereal RVTs are sponsored by the Alberta government and the cereal industry.

Green and Yellow Peas variety testing
The green and yellow peas are part of the Pulse Regional Variety testing program which is supported by the Alberta and federal government and private industry. MARA is assessing the growth and yield of different green and yellow peas cultivars.

Regional variety trials field peas

Green peas at early flowing stage

Flax variety testing
Similar to the RVT cereals and pulses, MARA is evaluating the field performance of 11 flax cultivars in northern Alberta. Variables to be analyzed include stand percentage, height, days to flowering, days to maturity, disease rating and yield. The data is used in the publication of the Alberta Seed Guide.

Peace Region Grain & Silage corn variety testing
MARA is evaluating the suitability of 23 corn varieties for their grain and silage potential in the Peace Region. The same trial is also being carried out by Peace Country Beef and Forage Association (PCBFA-Fairview) and North Peace Applied Research Association (NPARA). The project features conventional, Liberty Link and Roundup Ready cultivars. Different growth parameters, silage nutritional quality and grain yield would be assessed.
Evaluating the suitability of different corn varieties for grain and silage
MARA started a medium term (5 years) corn variety trial in 2014. We are in the third year of the project. There are 25 corn varieties in the project and 4 replications. Seed for this project is provided by DuPont Pioneer, Brett Young, PickSeed. All the varieties have corn heat unit of 2400 or less. Based on the 2014 and 2015 results, the top 5 varieties (based on silage qualities and maturity) are being irrigated through drip.

Participatory Organic Oats and wheat breeding project

Organic farming in northern Alberta

Participatory organic oats and wheat breeding trial

 In collaboration with University of Manitoba, Prairie Organic Grain Initiative (POGI) and Organic Alberta, and local producers, MARA is leading local producers to participate in organic oat and wheat breeding. The project is spread throughout the Mackenzie County involves 4 organic producers plus a site at MARA. The objective is to develop cultivars relevant to farmers needs by conducting selection in the farm environment. The project is supported by Grain Millers. 

Regional Silage Variety Testing
MARA is participating in the province-wide silage variety program for the first time in 2016. We are assessing agronomic performance and nutritional qualities of different forage barley, triticale, and their mixture with forage peas.

Organic Oats variety testing
MARA is evaluating the growth, yield and yield quality of 25 oat cultivars (3 replications) under organic conditions. This is a federal government program and MARA is only responsible for the field work and data collection.

Organic farming in northern Alberta

BORG-Federal organic oats breeding project

Effects of seeding date on different industrial hemp
In 2015, MARA tested the effects of seeding rate and seeding date on 6 industrial hemp cultivars. Currently (2016), 8 hemp cultivars are seeded to evaluate their suitability for grain and fibre qualities in Northern Alberta. Alberta Innovates Technology Futures is supporting this project.

Effects of tillage radish as preceding crop on organic oats and wheat
Tillage radish was seeded at three seeding dates in 2015 under organic conditions. In 2016, MARA is evaluating the effects of tillage radish as preceding crop on the yield of wheat and oats under organic conditions.

Tracking changes in soil conditions and organic crop yield on a nearly cleared boreal forest There is some conversion of forest to agriculture useIn the Mackenzie County. MARA is working with a producer to track the changes that is occurring: changes in soil properties, crop growth and yield. Flax, soybean, fababean, and oats are the crops grown in 2016. This is a long term project. Partners, particularly, educational institutions are welcome to join MARA on this project.

Other MARA projects

  • Cover Crops: the use of faba beans, red clover, sweet clover, and crimson clover and tillage raddish as cover crops.
  • Perennial forage project: This project features perennial grasses, legumes and legume-grass mixtures
  • Evaluating agronomic qualities of different soybean cultivars
  • Sainfoin/Alfalfa Trials: To compare yield and feed quality of AC Mountainview sainfoin, Nova sainfoin, and sainfoin/alfalfa mixtures.
  • Effects of stimulated grazing on organic tillage radish regrowth and below ground biomass
  • Field scale effects of different fungicide on wheat and barley
  • Assessing the effects of Quickroots, Jumpstart and their combination on field scale wheat roots, growth and yield
  • Provincial Pest Survey: MARA is actively participating in the provincial pest survey: collect population data on Diamondback month, Bertha army worm, alfalfa weevils and wheat midge. We are also actively scouting fields for different diseases including blackleg in canola.