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AARD takes over Alta. variety tests

Alberta’s agriculture and rural development department will again directly oversee the provincial Regional Variety Testing (RVT) program for cereals, pulses and flax starting this year.

The Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA) had co-ordinated the RVT program since 2005, but that responsibility reverts back to the province on March 1, the council said on its website.

The province said in a release Wednesday that it will “once again assume the role of co-ordinating the program by providing in-kind support to its public and private sector partners.

“With many stakeholders concerned about the future of the RVT program, the Alberta government’s direct involvement will ensure that it continues to have a strong foundation into the future,” the province said.

A joint industry-government initiative until ARECA took it over in 2005, RVT is described as an applied research tool that provides Alberta farmers with regional crop performance information on newer crop varieties, compared to well-established, widely grown varieties.

Under the RVT program, up to 100 varieties of pulses, cereal grains and flax were grown on 25 test sites throughout the province to determine which thrives best in different agro-climactic zones, the province said.

“Building and sustaining a viable farm operation can be a challenge, and that is even more true in the present financial climate,” ARECA executive director Dee Ann Benard said in the province’s release.

“We are pleased that this innovative research — an essential tool for crop producers — will continue to be conducted and the results made available throughout Alberta.”

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