The past year has been a difficult year for Agriculture in Mackenzie County and the province of Alberta. Starting with the boycotts in China that resulted in depressed prices of major crops and progressing to major weather extremes in the province the past season will be remembered. Our region was effected dramatically. Early and late frosts resulted in delayed maturity, loss of yield, (dramatic in some cases) and lower grades in others. Another summer of low rainfall resulted in low yields while rainfall in September downgraded many crops and made for a difficult harvest. Though we were more fortunate than many regions of the Province in that in the end the majority of the crops were harvested…



  • A soil quality card is a simple, non-technical method to assess soil quality in the field.
  • It uses sensible, farm level indicators and descriptions that qualitatively measure soil quality.
  • It allows soil quality to be assessed without the use of technical or laboratory equipment.
  • It is a tool to raise awareness of soil quality and increase the working knowledge of soil.


  • Assessing soil quality is important to the development, performance and evaluation of sustainable land and soil management systems.
  • Regular (every 1 to 5 years) use allows assessment of current soil quality conditions, records changes in soil quality over time, identifies potential problem areas, and provides a measure of soil quality to compare fields and management practices.
  • The soil quality card can be used to make informed management decisions.

Black, hard, seed-like fungal bodies that can be found in cereal grains and forage grasses is a sign of concern. This is ergot, a fungal disease that affects all cereal crops as well as many forage grass species. Ergot bodies, also called sclerotia, produce mycotoxins that are extremely harmful to both livestock and humans. Their appearance in some feed grains for cattle warrants a better understanding with how ergot affects plants and livestock as well as the best management practices around feeding contaminated grains.


Autumn is here and harvest is well underway for most areas. Harvest for second-cut hay has been behind this year due to a hot dry summer for most parts of Alberta, and there is still concern as to when to cut to prevent risk of winterkill.

Alfalfa typically requires a critical growing period between August 1st and the first killing frost, which normally occurs around September 15th. However, since we are well past that point, cutting can happen at any time, with little risk for winterkill. With the cold nights and cool days, and since many areas of Alberta have already received damaging and killing frosts, these plants have been forced into dormancy. Regrowth will have been limited or halted entirely. The plants will not be pulling stored root reserves for regrowth; instead, these stores will remain for regrowth next spring.


Assumptions: 1400 pound cow in late pregnancy consuming 20 pounds of straw, 13 pounds of barley grain and 1 pound of 32% beef supplement as the base ration. Cows are in good condition.

Addition of 70 to 100 pounds of 32% molasses (MolMix) to a 1000 pound bale of straw.

Prices: $0.25 per pound for MolMix, straw – 5 cents per pound, barley 10 cents per pound, 32% supplement 25 cents per pound.


What are Wetlands?

Quite simply, wetlands are lands that are wet. They are low-lying areas where enough water collects to support water-loving plants. Wetlands include the area covered by water and the adjacent area of lush water-loving plants – the riparian area. Wetlands are generally shallower than lakes, but both include the riparian area that separates them from the surrounding drier uplands. Wetlands are often called sloughs, ponds or potholes, but also include bogs and muskeg areas…

Published by cowsandfish.org