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Lakeland College expands agriculture research with federal and provincial funding

Lakeland College is receiving $1.9 million in grants from both Alberta and the federal government to expand some of their agricultural research programs.

The college signed a three-year agreement to take over two research programs, pulse agronomy and beef production systems, in Alberta. Pulse agronomy is a mix of extension and pulse research projects used to grow the agriculture and food industry as well as enhance rural sustainability. Beef production systems focus on livestock disease and pathogens, pain mitigation strategies and production efficiency such as beef forage and feed rations and genetics.

The agreement is split between the Canadian Agricultural Partnership who is providing $1,428,000 and Alberta pitched in $476,000 through the Strategic Research and Development Program. Josie Van Lent, Dean of Agriculture Technology and Applied Research, says with the new funding they will be able continue advancing agricultural innovation and productivity.

“Overnight, we’ve added quite a bit of capacity into our research programs and it’s going to allow us to do what we need to be doing to meet the research strategies in agriculture for the province and for the country. Moving forward we’ll continue to build on that.”

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She adds the two programs in particular will benefit greatly from Lakeland’s location and infrastructure.

“Pulse, specifically peas, are an important crop in our area and we are one of the significant areas of the province that grows pulse. To be able to specialize more in that area of research is great for our region and province. It fits really well in our academic programming, particularly in our crop technology program where we teach a lot about all of the crops and we have a pulse curriculum as well.”

She adds the beef production system program fits within the strategic priorities already in place. Van Lent also says their research programs help the local economy by bringing in new students to the area as well as connecting them to nearby employment opportunities.

“We have a robust agriculture industry in this region and to be able to bring in students to showcase that and link them to employment in our region and key industry people that are involved at the leadership levels and making those connections with our students on behalf of our community is really significant.”

Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) will be responsible for overseeing the funding agreement. RDAR is a non-profit corporation that works with partners across Alberta to accelerate the impact of agriculture research.

“It’s about identifying strategies to the province and then funding those strategies. Lakeland has sat through those complicated processes and we’re on the advisory committee for RDAR. They’re going to be important to link with and have a strong relationship with. We need to implement some of those strategies at the research level and if we’re implementing the right strategies that they’ve identified then we’ll receive funding.”

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment from the federal, provincial and territorial governments which aims to strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector throughout the country.  Alberta’s government has also committed $370 million to agriculture research over the next 10 years.

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