Good Edges Equal Good Canola

By Ken Bailey

An article in the November, 2023 issue of The Canola Digest supports Pheasants Forever Canada’s Save the Edges campaign.

The article summarizes two research projects evaluating the impacts of natural habitat on adjacent canola fields. In the first study, researchers explored whether natural habitats serve as insect reservoirs and whether or not they contribute to canola yield. The key result of the research indicates that non-crop areas within or near to canola fields can serve as both a source and a destination for insects beneficial to canola production. These uncultivated areas can harbour reservoirs of insects that provide services to canola such as pest control and pollination. 

A correlating study in Alberta of 60 million acres of canola showed that counties where fields have the highest levels of non-cropped area have slightly higher canola yields. One suggested reason for this is that non-cropped areas serve as hotspots for beneficial insects that spill over into canola fields, increasing visitations to canola flowers.

A second research project still underway is examining the relationship between the diversity and abundance of beneficial insects and canola production in western Canada. It’s specifically looking at the role of natural habitats near canola fields as reservoirs for pollinators and natural enemies of canola pests, and the subsequent effect on canola yield.

Early results appear to show that these natural areas do, indeed, function as reservoirs, and therefore may help control populations of natural canola pests.

The primary objective of our Save the Edges campaign is to increase awareness of trespass farming, which eliminates these natural non-cropped areas, specifically in roadside ditches and undeveloped right-of-ways. The results of the research described above reinforce the belief that, when left intact, these linear strips of habitat provide a broad suite of societal benefits. 

Save the Edges is bringing awareness of the issues of trespass farming and the values of intact roadside ditches and undeveloped public right-of-ways to southern Alberta’s landowners.

Bevy of Benefits – View the Infographic