Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action
Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action is a joint research and education initiative developed by Crop Science, a division of Bayer and Ducks Unlimited that promotes improving agricultural productivity while maintaining habitat for wildlife by increasing winter wheat acres in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. The Prairie Pothole Region is the most important area for waterfowl in North America. More than 70 percent of the continent’s waterfowl population breeds there, and the region is rich with productive agricultural land.
A multi-pronged program, the Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action initiative includes:
- Working with regional universities to develop new winter wheat varieties and research best management practices
- Providing regional agronomists to help producers through technical assistance, research/demonstration plots, field tours, and educational materials
- Research on waterfowl nesting success in winter wheat
Why Winter Wheat?
Winter wheat can improve a producer’s operation by increasing profitability while spreading out workload for labor and equipment. At the same time, the fall-planted crop provides great nesting cover for waterfowl during their critical nesting season. In fact, studies have shown waterfowl have a 24 times higher chance of having hatched nests in winter cereals than in spring-planted cereals. (Source: www.ducks.org/agronomy)
Winter wheat, however, has some issues to overcome. Growers tell us that improved varieties would make them more likely to grow winter wheat. They’d like to see greater winter hardiness, higher yields, disease resistance, improved grain quality and shorter straw. The Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action (WCSIA) initiative has entered into agreements with South Dakota State University, North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota to develop new winter wheat varieties that would contain these traits and possibly others.