Field Day grows knowledge of Alberta agritech

31 Jul 2015

AITF staff and partners hosted Field Day 2015 on July 29 in Vegreville. With over 70 participants in the mix, experts showcased various agricultural technologies that are bringing added value to our province’s Food & Fibre sector.

Thanks to everyone who helped organize this event, and thanks to all members of the community and stakeholders from near and far who showed up to help make it a success!

See the photos below to learn more.

Senior Researcher Don Harfield (L) had a chance to catch up with newly elected Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville MLA Jessica Littlewood (R).
Senior Researcher Jan Slaski began the tour with an overview of AITF flax research. AITF has the largest flax research capacity in Alberta, with over 260 plots. While flax is a long-time prairie staple, it’s mostly grown in south, where conditions are favourable. But there is hope for flax on the central and northern prairies, thanks to work by AITF and partner, the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission (SaskFlax).
Syngenta representative showcased a number of canola varieties that are commercially available and under development.
Participants thumb soybean plants also under development by Syngenta.
(From L to R) Ecosystems and Plant Sciences Functional Manager J.P. Tetreau , Food & Fibre Executive Director Anthony Anyia, and SaskFlax Executive Director Wayne Thompson have a chance to discuss business.
Jan moved participants over to the industrial hemp plot, to have a look at the different varieties AITF has to offer. Taller plants with thicker, more fibrous stems are desired by the textile and construction industries, while shorter plants with softer flesh are desired by the food and medical industries. While much of Alberta’s hemp is grown in the Lethbridge area, new research is showing that the increased hours of daylight in the Peace Region may open new doors for growers.
The stems of tall hemp plants are tougher to tear apart than they appear!
AITF Vegreville Farm Manager Byron James explains the hemp harvesting process and the challenges that must be overcome in comparison to other crops.
Plant Pathologist Ralph Lange hoists a blackleg-infected canola plant to demonstrate research performed using AITF’s Blackleg of Canola Nursery.
Participants took a break for lunch, where they were treated to beef on a bun, salads, beverages, and desserts.
Technologist Dane Koster, with the help of a young assistant, drew names for door prizes.
Senior Technologist Jeff Newman gave an overview of collaborative work performed by AITF in the herbicide space. Many of the industry’s largest players including Bayer, BASF, and DuPont have taken advantage of AITF’s unique position to provide applied research support.
An Australia-based Nufarm representative holds up a dead volunteer canola plant, demonstrating NuFarm’s Enforcer series effectiveness.
Likewise, a DuPont representative and summer students scoured a barley plot to find a victim of its Travallas broadleaf weed herbicide.
Senior Technologist Rod Werezuk explains how AITF “makes it rain” (or hail) to simulate crop damage of 25, 50, 75, and 100 percent loss. The simulated damage, according to insurance adjusters, is often indistinguishable from actual hail damage. The simulation involves the unsophisticated yet surprisingly accurate effect of being whipped with a dog chain.
Jan next led the group to a fava bean plot. While field peas and lentils are familiar to many pulse growers in Canada, the fava bean is gaining ground, thanks to controlled observations by AITF researchers.
Ludovic Capo-chichi related his personal experience as an immigrant from Benin (where it’s warm year-round) coming to Canada and experiencing winter for the first time to that of the barley plant, which must undergo many stresses in its life, including frost and drought.
Earlier in the day, French-fluent Ludovic and his work were the subject of a T.V. and radio interview by CBC videographer Geneviève Tardif (pictured) and reporter Virginie Bouchard, who covered the story for CBC Edmonton’s French syndicate. Read the online story.

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