Ag Forum 2019 held in Wetaskiwin Nov. 21

Topics included college programs, club root, plastic recycling

The Joint Economic Development Initiative’s annual Ag Forum offered the community plenty of up to date farm and ranch information at the Best Western Hotel Nov. 21.

The forum was opened by welcoming remarks from County of Wetaskiwin deputy reeve Josh Bishop.

The forum also enjoyed the attendance of two provincial cabinet ministers, Maskwacis Wetaskiwin MLA and Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshan.

Wilson stated he was a County of Wetaskiwin councilor when JEDI was formed, and it was created in the spirit of cooperation. “I’m glad it’s still operating,” said Wilson.

Dreeshan said he was happy to see an unpopular farm bill, Bill 6, passed by the NDP government repealed. He said the bill made no sense and the provincial government doesn’t see a problem with giving farm families exemptions. “There’s no need for unions on farms,” said Dreeshan.

The session began with a presentation by Olds College representative Jason Bradley, who not only works at the college but manages a cow/calf operation as well. He discussed olds College SmartFarm 2019 and Beyond.

He said the program sought to combine agriculture with the latest technology. One of the examples mentioned included a real-time soil nutrient sensor.

Melissa Downing, fifth generation family farmer, then presented on VBP+ program, focused on sustainability and demand for sustainable beef.

She said the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef has 110 members and helps define what sustainable beef means.

The VBP+ is voluntary and provides training and certification. It’s producer developed and owned. Downing noted the beef industry has keen interest in sustainable farming products, including beef.

Then guests enjoyed a detailed presentation on club root by Dr. Michael Harding. Harding said club root was first identified around Edmonton in the 1970’s, showed up in surveys in 2003 and has been spreading ever since.

He noted club root is a disease caused by a microorganism that lives in soil and attacks certain plants through their roots. Canola is a prime target and club root can devastate a canola field.

However, club root can be managed, and some of the strategies include resistant crops, cleaning equipment, scouting for early detection and crop rotation.

The topic of recycling agriculture plastics was next. Tammy Shields, representing Cleanfarms, spoke about that organization’s recycling centers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The most common items recycled by farmers include grain bags and twine. Shields said there are a few rules for recycling through Cleanfarms, including keeping grain bags free of water and putting piles of twine in bags, not net wrap.

She noted a Cleanfarms facility is located in the Camrose area.

The afternoon sessions included information on plant protein, hemp and “How We Feed the Future.”

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