What will the future of ag research look like?— a LIVE! Q&A with Kelvin Heppner and Kara Oosterhuis


Recent cuts in Alberta government funded agriculture research has prompted the question: What’s the future of government funded ag research in Canada? Joining host Shaun Haney for this RealAg LIVE! are Kelvin Heppner and Kara Oosterhuis, RealAg’s own field editors from Manitoba and Alberta, respectively.

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  • The trend has been happening for the past few decades in other provinces. The large cuts by Alberta Ag this week is a major shake-up of how research is going to be done.
  • Man., Ont., Sask., maybe haven’t had the same research clout as Alberta had.
  • 247 Alberta Agriculture employees laid off this week
  • Expected? It was announced back in February (number then was about 277)
  • Hand-off to universities and university-run facilities
  • Commodity organizations have taken a much larger role in ag research when government steps back, a trend likely to continue
  • Upcoming interview with Dr. David Chalack, interim leader with RDAR
  • Kara’s always speaking to researchers, it’ll be odd not having extension specialists to speak with
  • Three-legged stool: public, private, colleges/universities. Check-off dollars being used, farmer networks doing on-farm research
  • Software is enabling better on-farm research
  • Who will do the higher level research?
  • Alberta was known for the on-the-ground research
  • Lots of pressure for extension being pushed onto private companies
  • Large universities in the states take on a large amount of research, Alberta maybe following their model?
  • More check-off dollars from commodity groups going towards research
  • Where does the research money need to go? Are farmers the best individuals to know where the research dollars should go in each province? Research results need to trickle down to farmers instead of being left in a book on a shelf.
  • Communications in science can be difficult
  • Not everyone is interested in research and extension, but those that are: who will deliver those scientific results without trying to sell something at the same time?
  • Communication is one part of extension.
  • Convincing commodity groups that the proposed research is worth investing in, will become tricky for researchers going forward?
  • Taking a serious note on what communication is and how important it is to everyone in the ag industry.
  • People who can dedicate their life to one insect, one weed, one concept? Shaun could not, Lara did.
  • Every researcher getting an outgoing communications buddy? That’s what RealAgriculture is, kind of, isn’t it?
  • Farmer directed mantra, will it mean quicker or more relevant? Not necessarily.
  • Accountability? Approval of projects?
  • Need more explanation, politics is playing into this
  • Chicken before the egg with research concepts being adopted on-farm?
  • Farmers: stay engaged

Related: Alberta government “getting out of” agriculture research with latest staff cuts: former researcher

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