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Yield Enhancement Network grows to new heights in second year

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Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Not even a worldwide pandemic could stop Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Atlantic Grains Council (AGC) and grain producers in the Maritimes from participating in the second year of the highly successful Yield Enhancement Network (YEN). After new partnerships formed in its first year in 2019, the YEN expanded its reach to an additional 25 producers in Prince Edward Island (PEI), now 42 total, and into the rest of the Maritimes, where 10 producers in Nova Scotia and seven in New Brunswick joined the network.

“The fact that we have added more than 40 new producers shows the value of the YEN model, and the strength of producers working together to achieve higher yields by sharing expertise.”
- Dr. Aaron Mills, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The YEN model was developed seven years ago by the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS), the United Kingdom’s largest independent provider of agricultural and environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advice. YEN helps researchers and farmers work more closely together in pursuit of higher yields by efficiently using the resources they have available (considering the amount of rain and sunlight they receive each season). YEN encourages farmers to target their crop’s needs at specific plant-growth stages to help them to reach full yield potential on their farms. The network also encourages participants to share their ideas and experiences for the maximum benefit of all participants.

The type of survey data gathered through the YEN is a first of its kind for grain farmers in the Maritimes. It enables researchers to capture on-farm innovation and helps farmers to understand how the management decisions they make contribute to their overall yield. Dr. Mills notes that the YEN is helping to create “one of the most comprehensive on-farm management datasets in Canada, and will help us to understand the variations in yield across all the farms in the network.”

For the 2020 growing season, grain producers and researchers continued to collect data to assess soil health, soil nutrients, and grain measurements to evaluate what was driving yields. Producers competed for bragging rights to see who could achieve the highest crop yields while sharing on-farm experiences with their neighbours.

“Everyone was happy to see that yields were higher in year two and we also expanded the network to include barley,” said Heather Russell, Executive Director, Atlantic Grains Council.

“Producers were interested in barley as it’s such a big crop for the Maritimes, it doesn’t require as much farm management as wheat, and it attracted the interest of more producers into the project.”

In March, the network held its second annual conference and awards ceremony virtually to share successes of the second growing season and to find out who would take home the top honours for highest total yield and highest percentage of potential yield. This year, the network distributed awards by crop (barley, spring wheat and winter wheat).

This year’s winners were:

Highest total yield – Barley

Highest percentage of potential yield – Barley (calculated by comparing the actual crop yield to the calculated potential yield based on the amount of rain and sunlight)

Highest total yield – Spring wheat

Highest percentage of potential yield – Spring wheat (calculated by comparing the actual crop yield to the calculated potential yield based on the amount of rain and sunlight)

Highest total yield – Winter wheat

Highest percentage of potential yield – Winter wheat (calculated by comparing the actual crop yield to the calculated potential yield based on the amount of rain and sunlight)

“The comprehensive reporting and information sharing from 2019 really helped the network to boost yields in 2020. We appreciate the work of AAFC, AGC and ADAS and I’m very pleased to be a part of YEN as a grower.”
- Eric Richter, Rollo Bay (PEI) Producer and YEN participant

During the virtual conference, the winners also participated in a panel discussion. They discussed their approach in achieving their yields and fielded questions from other producers and researchers involved in the network. In the end, the network will make winners of all participating producers through knowledge sharing and friendly competition.

In 2021, the YEN is hoping to add new participants and will be adding oats to the competition. The YEN was originally a three-year initiative to end in 2021, but due to its enormous success, the network plans to continue into 2022.

Key Discoveries/Benefits:

Photo gallery

Fours scientists standing side by side

Aaron Mills (middle) and Atlantic Grains Council researcher coordinator Alan Miller (right) are joined by ADAS researchers Roger Sylvester-Bradley (left) and Ruth Wade in March 2019.

 A map of PEI, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia including participating farms indicated by blue location markers.

In its second year, the YEN expanded to include grain producers across the Maritimes.

Barley plants in a field
Popular crops, spring and winter barley, were added to the mix in 2020.


Aaron Mills, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Heather Russell, Atlantic Grains Council
506-380 -9663

Eric Richter, Syngenta Territory Sales and Producer

For more information, or to set up an interview:
Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, ON

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