Crop Management

Lead researcher: Dr. Aaron Mills & Dr. Breanne Tidemann, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Timelines:  2018-2022 
Total Funding:  $450,000 
Funders: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC): $315,000 
  Alberta Barley: $68,000
  SaskBarley Development Commission: $47,000
  Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI): $20,000

Part of the challenge of growing malting barley is managing protein levels in the crop. Malt standards require a specific level of protein in the crop and protein levels can be affected by a number of factors including the use of nitrogen fertilizer and the soil.

To try to manage protein levels, producers will plant barley following canola rather than legume crops, such as field peas, which fix nitrogen and leave residual nitrogen in the soil. However, emerging research has shown that residual nitrogen from legumes does not increase protein levels as much as inorganic nitrogen applied at seeding.

This study aims to help give producers better guidelines for managing protein levels, by determining how to successfully grow malt barley after legume crops across Canada. The study, which will take place in 13 diverse locations across Canada, will span a diversity of agronomic practices as well as soil and environmental conditions to determine which legume crops in each region are more suitable as preceding crops to malt barley than others. It will also investigate whether split applications of nitrogen can increase malt barley yield while maintaining lower protein levels.

The resulting data will help Canadian barley producers make more informed choices regarding their cropping systems. It will also give them the ability to increase yield while maintaining malt quality, thereby increasing profits. It will also help develop practices to minimize nitrogen inputs, reducing the environmental impacts of growing malting barley.