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BREWERS, BARLEY AND A NEW ECONOMIC ENGINE

BY IAN DOIG • PHOTO COURTESY OF TOUCHWOOD EDITIONS Craft beer has been a wildly effective liquid ambassador for Alberta’s malting barley. The province’s craft beer industry has become emblematic of the high-quality barley grown in this province. Edmonton writer Scott Messenger’s new book Tapping the West examines the factors behind Alberta’s craft beer explosion […]

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PROGRAM PARTNERS STUDENTS WITH INNOVATORS

Introducing students to new technology has been part of the Olds College mandate since its inception in 1913. On its Smart Farm, launched in 2018, students continue to utilize the latest in operational farm technology. Given its fully digital infrastructure, the facility is a logical place for students and ag tech startups to collaborate and prove the value of new agricultural technology to farmers.

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BLAST THE PARTY CRASHER

If harvest is a party, then Fusarium head blight (FHB) is best left off the guest list. When it comes to malt barley production, an outbreak of FHB can cost a farmer malt status due to kernel discoloration, microbial load and the presence of even a low level of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON).

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TECH NEWS SHORTS

GrainsWest spoke with Schuler grain farmer and Cropland Canada territory manager Travis Albrecht this spring as he was installing a WEEDit system on a farm near Taber. Having just sold six units, pre-sales were already booked until midway through the summer.

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CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF

Crop breeders test thousands of plant lines every year in small, individual test plots. Assessing these plants involves both quantitative and qualitative analysis, but new software aims to substantially refine the process. PlotVision is a new software service that collects data using unmanned aerial imagery (UAI) captured by drones. The data may help researchers predict harvest yield and assess disease resistance, accelerate the plant breeding process and the production of new crop varieties.

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CULTIVATING RESEARCH

The ability of legumes to self-fertilize by fixing nitrogen from the air is well-known. Developing this ability in grains, however, could radically change Canadian cereal crop production. Such an innovation has the potential to diminish input costs and decrease environmental impact, but making it happen is a complex and challenging task. Alicja Ziemienowicz, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, is working to solve this tricky biological puzzle. While her research began in 2014, and has yielded impressive results, it could be more than a decade from now until we see nitrogen-fixing grains blowing in the wind.

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EXPERT INSIGHT

If you thought being the new kid in school was a lot of pressure, try being the new research chair at a place of higher learning. With the support of industry groups, three agricultural chairs recently appointed by western educational institutions are tasked with prioritizing and planning research efforts. As they take a seat at the farm research table, they aim to contribute to the betterment of the Prairie grain industry.

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DIGITAL INFORMATION AND OBSERVATION

The digital realm is rich with information resources of practical interest to agriculture professionals. We have collected a variety of such interesting and informative apps, websites and newsletters. The area of ag research is particularly well served in this selection. Of course, information can flow both directions, as it does in the case of the citizen science app and insect-themed social media account we’ve included here.

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