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It is a time of transformation for the Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC) in Lacombe. Owned and operated by the provincial government since its establishment in 1973, the facility is now managed by Olds College, where staff have been tasked with a reimagination of the Centre’s feed and forage barley, malting barley and triticale breeding programs.

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A research project now underway at the Field Crop Development Centre at Olds College employs next-generation genotyping technologies to accelerate the improvement of feed and forage barley varieties and triticale forages. The work will also produce a genetic database that will be used in future breeding work.

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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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