Plots in the cover crop study with flowering mustard plants.

Early adopters are growing cover crops in Prairie Canada, but questions about their viability, impact, and benefits remain. This project will evaluate cover crops in rotations in MB, SK, and AB over a four-year period, which will help to determine:

  • If cover crops grow reliably across a range of cover crop windows and growing environments in Prairie Canada.
  • If crops grown in rotation with and without cover crops had the same yields or not, with identical inputs.
  • The potential agronomic, environmental, and economic benefits and drawbacks of including cover crops in rotations.
  • If cover crops can increase soil microbial activity, nitrogen cycling, soil carbon, or reduce N2O fluxes in the short to medium term.
  • If the benefits of cover crops outweigh the cost of seed and establishment over the short and medium-term.

The Experiment

This experiment has sites in Glenlea and Carman in Manitoba, Redvers and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, and Lethbridge in Alberta. The study is a randomized complete block design that is fully phased, which means that all crops are grown every year.

The crops in the rotation differ between study sites. The information below is from the U of M run sites in Manitoba.

Row of small radish plants between rows of soybeans.

Four-year rotation

The 4-year rotation is grown with and without cover crops:
wheat(clover) - canola(barley/pea mix) - oat(rye) - soybean(brassica)

Plots in the cover crop study with flowering mustard plants.

Two-year rotation

This 2-year short rotation (wheat-canola) is a reference which we can compare the 4 year rotation to.

Four-year perennial rotation

This rotation has four years of alfalfa and also serves as a reference for the other rotations.

Arial view of Glenlea site. Each plot is a square with a different colour green depending on crop type.

Glenlea Site

The study site in Glenlea, Manitoba.

Staff and Students

  • Dr. Yvonne Lawley

    Principal Investigator

  • Stephanie Dheilly


  • Codi Hennan


  • Callum Morrison

    PhD Student

Contact Us

Faculty of Plant Science
66 Dafoe Rd.
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3T 5V6 Canada