The year 2017 began with an air of excitement and enthusiasm. Booth sales for the Smoky River Ag Research Agricultural Trade Show were strong, ensuring a great show and SARDA Ag Research was planning on moving forward on Phase I of the development of the Research Centre of Excellence. The Association was planning to build a cold storage facility during the summer months.
The first few months of the year were dedicated to finishing reports from 2016 trials, and planning for 2017. Many of the grant applications and reports are also due during this time period. This is one of the busiest times of the year for the Directors as they deal with committee work, budgets, meeting with funding partners and the annual members meeting. Staff and Directors also find time during this period to learn what is new in the industry by attending various workshops, meetings and seminars.
SARDA seeded over 70 trials which was close to 4000 plots. We had trials established near High Prairie, Donnelly and Rycroft. The newest trial in our repertoire was SAARDA’s Regional Variety Trials replicated in 3 locations, which compared 20 wheat varieties and 7 pea varieties currently grown in the Peace Region. This trial garnered a large amount of interest from local producers and we are planning to continue this trial in 2018. Other projects included the Provincial Variety Trials, 3 projects on Industrial Hemp, 5 projects on faba beans, quinoa, simulated hail, fertility projects, seed treatment projects, forages and seeding date trials. Unfortunately, cutworms and “REAL” hail damaged some of the trials and we were unable to complete them successfully. Other crops like Industrial hemp, although damaged by the REAL hail, were able to recover somewhat and data was collected.
In addition, SARDA has been involved in numerous producer events, workshops, and tours in 2017, as well as preparing bimonthly newsletters, more than 70 electronic notices, maintaining the website, 35 newspaper articles and advertisements, twitter, Facebook and preparing the 2016 Annual Projects Report. When clubroot was confirmed present in the Peace Region, SARDA was quickly able to pull together well-attended Information sessions on the disease, its implications for individual producers and the industry in the Peace Region. Annual extension events such as the AGM and Extension Event, the Summer Field School and the SARDA Ag Research Agricultural Trade Show were highlights. SARDA staff worked closely with municipal partners to ensure their extension event needs are met. We cohosted and arranged crop seedling id sessions for municipal weed inspectors, and shelterbelt tours for producers. The 2017 Trade Show, managed by SARDA staff and Directors, successfully hosted, 200 exhibitors’ booths, 13 information seminars, and 2 pancake breakfasts, the Exhibitor’s Appreciation Event, the Farmers’ Appreciation Event, and the Rural Family Safety Day. The next Trade Show will be held March 2019.
Special visitors and speakers continue to support SARDA’s programs and events with their attendance and willingness to interact with producers and industry in the Peace Region. SARDA was host to Shelley Barkley (AAF), Robyne Bowness(AAF), Calvin Yoder (AAF), Jan Slaski (AB InnoTech), Ralph Carter (U of C), Jack Wyne (AFSC), Liliane Trudeau (AFSC), Clair Langlois (AAF), Jesse Meyer (Canterra), Brian Kennedy (AWC), Sheri Strydhorst (AAF), Ken Coles (Farming Smarter), Rob Harlan (Solar Power Energy Society of Alberta), Marg McCuaig-Boyd (Minister of Energy), Todd Loewen (MLA – Grande Prairie Smoky), Debbie Jabbour (MLA - Peace River), Danielle Larivee (Minister of Children Services), Quentin Bochar (AF – Greenview), Dave Berry ( Assistant AF – Greenview), Liisa Vihvelin (PCBFA), Norm Boulet (AF – Smoky River), Sheila Kaus (AF – County of Big Lakes), Sebastien Dutrisac (AF – Northern Sunrise County), Kale Scarff (GRO), Allan Effefel (AAF), Linda Hunt (AAF), Denis Guindoin (ACPC), Michael Harding (AAF), and Gregory Sekulic (CCC).
SARDA’s new Vision in the strategic business plan, states that SARDA will be a “Research Centre of Excellence”. Progress was highly visible in 2017 as phase 1 in establishing this vision was completed. The lots owned by SARDA in Falher were landscaped for buildings and a cold storage shed was erected behind the current SARDA shop. SARDA Directors are planning Phase 2 and 3 for the future.
Visit SARDA’s website (www.sarda.ca) to keep abreast of our activities and projects and learn about agronomy, programs and techniques. Plan on attending our events and workshops. Sign up for our notification program by supplying your email address to receive timely notices of agriculture news and follow us on twitter and Facebook.