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Research plots dot the Prairie landscape and provide farmers a glimpse of what may come from new crop varieties in yield, disease resistance, standability and more. About the size of a pickup truck and just as numerous across Alberta, these plots are an inescapable component of agricultural research. However, dimensions and conditions continually leave something to be desired. Highly manicured and cared for by research scientists in specialized environments, the plots don’t simulate real life and that’s a real problem for farmers who farm sections, not square centimetres.

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The tight farm financial picture that has evolved over the last three crop years has many farmers adjusting capital, operational and agronomic practices. The aim is to push up the profit margin while cutting costs. GrainsWest spoke with three agricultural advisors about such dollar-saving tactics.

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The websites of specialty fertilizer companies now often resemble a love letter to the periodic table of elements. Boron, zinc, manganese, oh my! Each shiny product is designed to sell farmers a nutrient they either didn’t know they needed or simply cannot live without.

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Blood dripped from Liz Roberts’s hand. She needed help but her cell phone showed no service. She stepped away from the fence stretcher that had gashed her hand. Driving to get medical help, she stopped several times to phone for assistance without success. From her family’s farm south of Cereal, Roberts arrived 30 minutes later in Oyen, a town of 1,000 hardy souls perched just south of Highway 9 in southeast Alberta, relieved to have remained conscious long enough to find a doctor and stitches for her wound.

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The world’s food demand is increasing, but its supply of agricultural land is not. The challenge faced by the farming industry is to increase productivity, improve food security and boost farm income on a land base that is fixed, or in some cases, shrinking. One of the best strategies to address all these related demands is to encourage innovative scientific research.

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Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have been awarded major funding in support of cutting-edge crop research geared to ultimately improve characteristics such as yield and disease resistance in wheat. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and National Research Council Canada scientists as well as collaborators in Canada and the United States will also work on the project.

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BY STAN BLADE, P. Ag. 2019 is the year we in the University of Alberta’s faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (ALES) celebrate a century of teaching and research in soil science. It is also our good fortune that this is the 90th anniversary of the Breton Plots. The ongoing long-term crop rotation experiment […]

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