More than $5.7 million will be invested by Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) to fund Alberta Applied Research Associations (ARAs) research programs.
To date, eight ARA research projects have been approved for funding through RDAR’s new Accelerating Agricultural Innovations (AAI) program, with more proposals expected to be assessed, reviewed, and funded in the coming weeks.
“There is a real excitement surrounding these ARA proposals. We are starting to fund projects that will bring research information directly to producers. We are at the beginning stages, and we are keeping the momentum moving by making sure that researchers have the support they need to accelerate Alberta’s agriculture industry,” said Clinton Dobson, RDAR Director of Research.
RDAR recognizes the Importance of funding ARA projects. Collaboration among these Associations will drive competitiveness and profitability in Alberta’s agriculture Industry. RDAR works with all 12 ARAs to effectively and harmoniously coordinate extension and research activities. In Alberta, the ARAs are unique agriculture research organizations that directly serve the needs of producers in their associated regions. Such local coverage is essential in helping producers access relevant and practical agriculture research solutions to become more competitive globally.
“Across Alberta, applied research associations are conducting the on-the-ground research, and extension farmers and ranchers need to grow and remain competitive. This funding will go a long way to ensuring farmer-led research continues to build our industry," said Devin Dreeshen, Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
RDAR funding supports research that drives real benefits to Alberta Producers. Foothills Forage and Grazing Association, in partnership with 9 other regional ARAs, is conducting research that will tackle a vital producer concern: how to balance high population food demands with limited land base and natural resources. This research project brings the provincial expertise of the collaborating ARAs to demonstrate solutions that help producers address the challenges and demands of operating a modern agricultural operation.
“This project benefits forage and livestock producers across the province by providing information on innovative, regenerative agriculture practices that protect, preserve, and regenerate healthy soils, water cycles, water resources, pastures, and native range. This increases production, profitability, competitiveness of farms, and improves biodiversity and healthy landscapes for future generations," said Laura Gibney, Manager with the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association.
RDAR funding will also enable ARAs such as the Peace County Beef and Forage Association to conduct necessary climate change research that will directly help benefit livestock and crop producers. Warming, drought and increasing climate variability are all issues to which modern agriculture operations must adapt. This research will provide producers with new information on how producers can reap economic benefits while adapting to climate change. This project will show farmers and ranchers how to improve spring snowmelt infiltration methods, enhance nutrient cycling, reduce erosion, and develop locally applicable practices to decrease their carbon footprint.
“Funding and partnership with RDAR for this research will directly benefit producers by providing information on climate-smart management practices for increasing yield, improving soil health, and increasing farm profits, at no risk to the producers,” said Liisa Jeffrey, Executive Director of the Peace Country Beef and Forage Association.
Demonstrating ARA collaboration, Battle River Research Group and 3 other Alberta ARAs have been awarded funding for research that can help producers save upwards of $100/acre through increased soil amendments. Soil acidity and fertilizer inefficiencies affect up to 20 Million acres in Western Canada alone and affect producers’ bottom line due to lost production. This critical soil research will help producers adjust their soils to fit their Individual environmental zones. Understanding and using amendments such as lime or biochar in the soil will determine the return on investment and provide valuable advice on when and where to use different products.
“Understanding and Implementing these amendments can be critical for the economic viability and health of producer operations," said Dr. Khalil Ahmed, Manager, Battle River Research Group.
Within the full $5.7M amount invested to date, $4 Million ($2 million per year for 2 years) will be distributed across all 12 ARAs to fund daily operational costs and provides resources to implement new methods of increasing efficiencies and streamlining business practices.
RDAR is a not-for-profit organization that will continually consult with Alberta’s crop and livestock producers to set research priorities and distribute funds. Its mandate is: to support results driven agriculture research priorities and programs that will increase the competitiveness and profitability of Alberta’s agriculture industry. Arm’s length from the provincial government, RDAR is funded by two sources: The Government of Alberta, the Government of Canada, and Alberta’s Government through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership program.