Featured photo: Last week’s panel discussion at the CrossRoads Crop Conference featured Alberta Seed Guide Editor Marc Zienkiewicz (far left) as moderator and panelists Morgan Webb, Greg Stamp, Chelsea Tomlinson, Sheri Strydhorst and Jeff Jackson.
A profound shift is needed in Alberta — a shift toward embracing the potential of cutting-edge genetics to propel farming into a new era of success and sustainability.
At last week’s CrossRoads Crop Conference in Calgary, Alberta, seed community leaders came together to champion this transformation, highlighting the pivotal role farmers play in shaping the future of agriculture.
Alberta Seed Guide editor Marc Zienkiewicz was joined by panelists Sheri Strydhorst (Sheri’s Ag Consulting), Jeff Jackson (SeedNet), Greg Stamp (Stamp Seeds), Chelsea Tomlinson (True Seeds) and Morgan Webb (Seed Check) to talk about the seed value chain and how it contributes to sustainability. The discussion emphasized the importance of investing in new genetics in order to ensure a steady stream of new seed varieties to ensure growers’ success.
Jackson, general manager of SeedNet, delivered a call to action, emphasizing the need for collective responsibility in driving innovation. He stressed that while government funding has historically played a role in variety development, it’s time for stakeholders across the agricultural spectrum, including farmers, to take ownership of this vital aspect of agriculture.
“It’s imperative that we transition away from heavy reliance on external funding and take charge of our own destiny,” Jackson said to the 500 people in attendance. “By doing so, we safeguard stability and continuity, ensuring a future where agricultural innovation thrives irrespective of external influences.”
Joining Jackson were esteemed voices from Alberta’s agricultural community, including farmers/seed growers Sheri Strydhorst of Sheri’s Ag Consulting; Greg Stamp of Stamp Seeds and Chelsea Tomlinson of True Seeds Ltd.; and seed analyst Morgan Webb, president of Seed Check.
Together, they emphasized the profound impact of investing in new genetics on the sustainability and prosperity of farming operations.
Tomlinson, a prominent figure in the seed grower sphere, highlighted the vital role of plant breeders in addressing the ever-evolving challenges posed by nature. From combating pests to enhancing drought resistance, plant breeders are the unsung heroes of agriculture, tirelessly innovating to ensure farmers’ success.
Strydhorst echoed these sentiments, expressing concern over the strain facing essential trials due to funding uncertainties. She urged the farming community to unite in advocating for the preservation of vital variety development processes, emphasizing the need for innovative funding models to sustain progress.
Stamp, a winner of the annual Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers competition for 2023, emphasized the importance of aligning funding structures with long-term industry interests. He underscored the necessity for collective action in ensuring robust support for breeding and research initiatives, critical pillars of agricultural advancement.
Webb shed light on the critical importance of maintaining genetic purity in seed production. He highlighted the risks associated with deviating from pedigreed seed systems, stressing the need for adherence to standards to safeguard crop integrity.
The panel’s insights underscored the imperative for farmers to understand and support Canada’s seed system. Jackson reinforced the significance of respecting laws governing seed acquisition, urging farmers to utilize proper channels to acquire seed and ensure fair compensation for developers.