Top Crop Manager: Crop collaboration
It started as a small project led by Victoria Smelko, a master’s student in the University of Manitoba’s department of entomology. But within a few short months, the study has gained national attention, with research sites mushrooming in Ontario and potential partners from B.C. and Quebec expressing interest.
The project aims to look at the effects of a traditional “Three Sisters” cropping design on ecological systems, from yield to insect communities, including pest and beneficial insect populations.
The Three Sisters are maize (corn), beans and squash, with sunflower often considered a fourth Sister. Companion cropping these plants in mounds is a historical Indigenous strategy that respects the qualities of each plant, says Kyle Bobiwash, an assistant professor and Indigenous Scholar in the department of entomology, and Smelko’s supervisor.