The Field Crop Development Centre will mark its 50th anniversary during its field day event on Aug. 2.
Two popular annual events are joining forces to bring the wonders of Alberta plant breeding to an even bigger audience.
Showcasing the importance of plant breeding to the world of farming and agriculture in general is at the heart of the upcoming Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC) Field Day, taking place for the first time as part of AgSmart, a must-see educational expo hosted by Olds College and focused on data and technology across the agriculture industry.
AgSmart takes place Aug. 1 to 2 on the grounds of Olds College, with this year’s FCDC Field Day taking place Aug. 2. In past years, the field day was held in Lacombe, Alta. where the FCDC is located, but organizers have decided to make it part of AgSmart this year to bring the FCDC’s breeding innovations to a wider audience.
“At our previous field day events, we always had a great turnout of primary producers, consultants and retailers that were interested in new varieties and the research behind them. I believe the AgSmart audience will also include these stakeholders, and as AgSmart has a unique focus on technology, will also attract people who are passionate about the latest technology,” says Dana Bajema, operations coordinator for the FCDC.
It’s important to note that plant breeding and new crop varieties are the most fundamental forms of new agricultural technology.”
By harnessing the power of genetics, plant breeders create crops that can withstand environmental stresses, including the effects of climate change, and ensure food security for the growing global population.
“The seed value chain plays a critical role in the agricultural ecosystem by encompassing the entire process of producing, processing, and distributing seeds to farmers. It ensures that farmers have access to high-quality seeds, particularly those developed through plant breeding programs, to boost agricultural productivity and promote environmental sustainability,” adds Erin Collier, business development officer at the FCDC.
“High-quality seeds, a result of the efforts in plant breeding, significantly contribute to increased agricultural productivity. These seeds carry desirable traits that lead to better crop performance, higher yields, and overall improved farm productivity.”
The power of those seeds will be on full display during the FCDC Field Day at AgSmart. Three presentations throughout the day on Aug. 2 will shed light on plant breeding innovation at the FCDC.
- Mazen Aljarrah, a triticale breeder, will speak about the potential of triticale as a crop in Western Canada. Since 2018, Aljarrah has registered twospring and four winter triticale lines in Western Canada.
- Barley breeder Yadeta Kabeta will speak about next-generation feed and forage barley. He’s responsible for developing barley varieties suitable for the Prairies. Kabeta has strong research collaboration with other public and private breeding programs here in Canada and around the world. Also speaking during this session will be Jennifer Zantinge, FCDC biotechnology scientist, who is applying molecular breeding techniques to look at plant DNA to predict how plants will look in the field.
- Kabeta will join quality scientist Lori Oatway to talk about opportunities in malting barley. Over the last 30 years, Oatway has expanded her quality program to include feed, forage, food and malting characteristics. They’ll be joined by Alberta Grains Agronomy Research Extension Manager Jeremy Boychyn, who connects valued research findings to Alberta’s wheat and barley growers.
The day will finish off with a panel discussion hosted by Alberta Seed Guide Associate Editor Marc Zienkiewicz and featuring four panelists: Sheri Strydhorst (one of the province’s best-known agronomy researchers); Chelsea Tomlinson (a seed grower and Canadian Seed Growers’ Association board member); Jeff Jackson (general manager of SeedNet); and Greg Stamp (a seed grower and 2023 Germination magazine Next-Gen Leader). They’ll discuss the importance of plant breeding and the seed value chain to agricultural sustainability.
FCDC Celebrates 50 Years
The event will also serve as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Lacombe-based Field Crop Development Centre, whose history is closely tied to the development and advancement of agriculture in Alberta. The centre was established in 1973 with the primary objective of conducting research on field crops to enhance crop yields, develop disease-resistant varieties, and provide farmers with better crop options suitable for the region’s climate and soil conditions. The FCDC focuses heavily on barley.
The researchers and scientists at the FCDC work in collaboration with other agricultural institutions, universities, and industry stakeholders to address the challenges faced by farmers and develop innovative solutions for crop production. Through their efforts, the FCDC has contributed significantly to the advancement of agriculture in Alberta and has helped establish the province as a leading producer of various field crops.