Dry year not all bad at research station

From one extreme to the next.
That’s what Kim Jo Bliss, technician at the agricultural research station in Emo, has experienced the last two years—with 2005 being extremely wet and this past summer resulting in drought conditions.
“It’s been a long time since we could say ‘Wow, what a dry year,’” Bliss noted in her year-end summary. “And I know that this has caused many struggles, but I really have to say I enjoyed it.”
The research station closed for the season last week—two weeks later than usual.
Staff there recorded just 276 mm of rainfall between May and October compared to the Environment Canada norm of 493.9 mm. At the other extreme, the station recorded 701.6 mm in 2005.
“[Because it was dry], we able to do more jobs outside and finish projects that we have always struggled with in our flood years,” Bliss said, adding when it was wet, it was sometimes difficult to collect all the data for the cereal trials.
“The yields were low, but not as bad as in flood years,” she remarked.
“We needed more moisture, especially for our forage crops,” Bliss continued. “[But] we did end up with more rain here at the station than some of the surrounding areas.”
She did note rabbits are eating and killing some of the trees at the station, and other sites also are struggling.
“It seems the califibre retains moisture. . . . I guess that is why they call it research.”
Besides the dry conditions, Bliss said there also were other problems to contend with during 2006.
“We are still having some drainage problems,” she noted. “I hope we can get this fixed up next year. We had some areas that were still wet at the end of May and we hadn’t had much rain then.”
She and her students this year—Steph Strachan and Noreen Hartlin—also had a few machinery breakdowns.
“It seemed we could never just go ahead and start anything without something needing some welding or adjustments,” Bliss recalled. “For example, we ended up cutting all our grain plots with scissors.
“Yes, all and yes, scissors.”
Another piece of equipment needed a new motor, which had to come from Japan—resulting in a big hold-up.
“We did end up finding a used motor and we were able to use it for our soybeans, which were a pretty small bunch of plots compared to our grain plots,” Bliss said.
She noted the dry year didn’t produce any outstanding results, either negatively or positively, but added she’s looking forward to next year.
The research station will re-open April 2.