Farm less. Make more.
The Marginal Areas Program (MAP) increases your profits while farming fewer acres. You can receive $150 per acre to seed hard-to-access or poorly producing areas to perennial forages.
In addition to the financial incentive, MAP provides many other benefits:
- improves profitability
- increases pollinator habitat and biodiversity
- reduces herbicide-resistant weeds
- creates a buffer zone to meet product label guidelines
- manages clubroot issues.
Am I eligible?
Connect with DUC about program eligibility:
MAP: your solution to unproductive acres.
DUC Tips for Forage Success in Marginal Areas.
- Seed early –get the forage in the ground before the end of May to take advantage of cool, moist growing conditions. Summer heat and fewer rain events can cause soil crusting and bake emerging seedlings. Seeding later than June 25 is not recommended unless sufficient rains are expected.
- Dormant seeding – a viable option around sloughs that hold water early in the spring. Seed when soil temperatures are below 5 degrees C, generally around Halloween.
- Apply Phosphate (P) – normally, it is good practice to plant forages with phosphate fertilizer. However, marginal areas may develop an excessive fertilizer bank when inputs are applied year after year with few plants growing to use the fertilizer. In saline areas, it is best practice to soil test but fertilizer application is often not necessary.
- Seed is important – seed multiple species to ensure at least one type of plant will grow in all areas. For saline, choose species suited to those conditions. Seed certification helps ensure good germination and minimal weeds.
- Don’t seed too deep – the maximum depth at which forages should be seeded is ¾”, especially in heavier soils. Anything deeper will reduce plant counts. Canola depth on the seed drill is ideal.
- Use an air seeder/seed drill whenever possible – seed-to-soil contact is critical for crop success. Broadcast seeding is quick and convenient but exposes seed to hotter conditions at the soil’s surface, especially in dry conditions. You run the risk of the crop failing to establish.
- Say ‘no’ to companion crops – forage can be negatively impacted by companion crops. If a companion crop is used, seed at 1/3 to 1/4 of normal to reduce competition with the forage. For marginal areas, barley is the best cereal companion crop because it has higher salinity tolerance. With no cover crop, weeds are likely but easily managed through haying or mowing.
- Cut your forage crop early – this prevents weeds from setting seed and removes competition if you are using a cover crop. To improve winter survivability, don’t cut the forage crop shorter than 4”-6”.
- Seed heavy – it is cheap insurance when seeding in difficult soil conditions. Seeding at 15 lbs per acre allows for losses from excess heat/moisture, winterkill and other issues. Increase your seeding rate by 30 percent when dormant seeding or broadcast seeding.
- Don’t be conservative – seed one drill width past your decent crop stubble to help forage establish in marginal areas. Crop yields are not only compromised in areas with bare ground and saline rings. A buffer zone increases overall forage success.
- Do not graze new forage – in the year of establishment, the root system is developing and may not fully anchor the plant. Grazing animals can uproot new forage plants, thinning the stand and decreasing longevity.
- Be patient – it can be difficult to establish forages in marginal areas. Saline tolerant plants can take two to three years to properly establish. But if the soil is left undisturbed, blank areas will be filled over time with creeping, rooted plants.
- Carefully manage blank spots – remedial seeding in areas with high salinity can disrupt establishing plants. Best options are sod seeding with a no-till drill, scratching in with an air seeder or broadcast/harrowing overtop of existing forage.
- Leave the forage intact – even if you see reduced salinity, DUC recommends maintaining forage. Soil problems will probably return once the forage is removed.
- Salinity is a water problem, not a soil problem – in wet years, the water table rises and salts are carried to the soil surface by evaporation. The surface salt negatively impacts plant establishment, vigor and growth.
- Insure your crop – buy Forage Establishment Insurance (FEI). Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) offers FEI and the application deadline is March 31 of the seeding year.