Chickpea-flax intercropping gaining recognition

Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

WILLISTON- Intercropping will be the focus of a Jan. 26 workshop held at North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) Williston Research Extension Center (REC).

Intercropping is the practice of growing two crops together in the same field at the same time.

“Many farmers may be familiar with this practice in forages, for example, oat and pea or alfalfa and grass grown together for hay,” says Clair Keene, NDSU agronomist. “However, there are an increasing number of acres in North Dakota, Montana and the Canadian prairie provinces on which intercropping is practiced for production of grain crops.”

Chickpeas and flax are grown in alternating rows.

The workshop will discuss in detail two of the most-studied and widely practiced combinations, chickpea-flax and canola-pea. Speakers include researchers and farmers with experience in both small plot trials and on-farm practices.

Mike Ostlie research agronomist at NDSU’s Carrington REC and Keene will share results from small-plot trials investigating different aspects of chickpea-flax intercropping.

“Chickpea-flax intercropping is gaining recognition as a way to manage Ascochyta blight in chickpea, a potentially devastating foliar fungal pathogen,” says Audrey Kalil, a plant pathologist at Williston REC.

Kalil will discuss Ascochyta biology and the importance of Ascochyta management in successful chickpea production.

Additional speakers include Lana Shaw, research director of the South East Research Farm located near Redvers, Saskatchewan, who will share her extensive experience with intercropping in both research trials and working with Canadian farmers who have adopted this practice at a production scale, and Justin Jacobs, WREC irrigation research specialist, who will share results of his trials evaluating canola-pea intercropping mixes in both research and on-farm settings.

The workshop program includes a panel of local farmers who are intercropping on their own farms. North Dakota farmers Greg Busch and Morgan Jacobs will join Jacobs and Shaw to discuss implementing intercropping on their farms, and the pros and cons they have observed.

The program will conclude with a tour of the new Williston REC seed cleaning plant which is set up to separate intercropped grains post-harvest. Kyle Dragseth, Williston REC farm manager, will lead the tour.

This workshop is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided. A virtual attendance option is available via Zoom.

Please pre-register online for in-person or online attendance at or by calling the Williston REC at 701-774-4315. To attend virtually, you must fill out the online form to receive the link to the meeting. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. CST on Jan. 26 for registration and refreshments, and the program runs 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.