This report details the process and findings from a three-year applied research project that studied ways to improve forage yield and quality under current conditions and future climate change scenarios. The study took place in Agassiz, in the Fraser Valley, developing and evaluating approaches for optimizing the balance of summer annual, winter annual (cover crops) and perennial crops. The intention was to maximize use of seasonal growing degree days and moisture patterns while using irrigation effectively and efficiently.
This report focuses on the optimization of irrigation water, which evaluated applying water to maximize forage yield while minimizing nutrient losses during typically dry summers in the Lower Fraser Valley. The study examined four combinations of water application on an orchard grass crop planted in 2015:
Frequent and light
Frequent and heavy
Infrequent and light
Infrequent and heavy
In 2016 and 2017, soil moisture sensors were installed at three depths and used as a guide for water applications for three watering treatments. The fourth watering treatment used evapotranspiration data to determine timing of water application.