Healthy soil is the basis for both sustainable farms and healthy ecosystems. Yet the majority of farms in the prairies are losing soil organic matter, are at risk of erosion, and have low year-round soil cover. We’re measuring a comprehensive array of physical, biological, and chemical attributes of soil, including aggregate stability, compaction, infiltration, organic matter, microbial respiration, and nutrient levels. We’re also putting these soil attributes into the context of field management technique s, including tillage frequency and intensity, cover cropping, and organic matter inputs.

Good rangeland management can enhance soil carbon sequestration and reduce the likelihood of the release of greenhouse gases. These management practices impose a significant impact on rangeland by altering water and nutrient cycles through defoliation and trampling. The aim is to work with producers to obtain detailed information on soil and site conditions, historical management practice and carbon information on the rangeland

MARA has been participating in the province-wide silage variety program since 2016. We are assessing agronomic performance and nutritional qualities of different forage barley, triticale, and their mixture with forage peas.

From a Beef Nutritionist viewpoint, the forage cocktail provides cattle with a diet that is nutritionally diverse. A mix may include species such as clover, a forage Brassica (i.e. turnip, radish), plantain, chicory etc. Each plant species may reach maturity at slightly different times, therefore providing green forage continuously through the growing season. The objective is to provide green forage during the “summer slump” when conventional forages are mature and quality is declining.

Evaluate annual and perennial forage species for their potential as stockpiled forages for overwintered beef cattle

This project features perennial grasses, legumes and legume-grass mixtures. Producers are increasingly interested in perennial forage varieties and mixtures. While some yield and agronomic data may be available on these varieties from seed companies, regional data specific to soil type and growing conditions have been limited due to very little participation in the Western Forage Variety Testing System in recent years.
The objectives of this study are (i) Provide unbiased, current and comprehensive regional data regarding the establishment, winter survival, yield, quality, and economics of specific species and varieties of perennial forage crops; (ii) To identify perennial crop species and varieties that demonstrate superior establishment, hardiness,
forage yield and nutritional quality characteristics in different eco-regions of Alberta.

MARA in collaboration with Organic Alberta developed this research trial. Agriculture lime and gypsum are the most two common soil amendment that can be used to improve soil conditions. Liming tends to be the most popular practice to ameliorate acidic soils for crop production. The objective of this trial is to determine the optimal liming rate and provide a comparison with gypsum.



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 fieldwork and data collection.


MARA in collaboration with the 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 Mackenzie County involves 4 organic producers plus a site at MARA. The objective is to develop cultivars relevant to farmers need by conducting selection in the farm environment. The project is supported by Grain Millers.

MARA in collaboration with Alberta Pulse Growers designed this variety trial program. Plant breeders have suggested that the varieties that perform best on organic farms may not be the same as
on conventional farms, and those organic farmers may benefit from using varieties bred specifically for organic systems. Variety trials can help growers identify alternative varieties with similar or superior qualities to dropped standard varieties by seed catalogs. In addition, variety trials as part of your annual farm plan can help to identify varieties well-suited to the agro-climatic conditions of Mackenzie County.