Wednesday, 28 March 2018 11:45

CARA lining up details for 2018 field program

Written by  Dianne Westerlund
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Aerial of Perennial Forage Trial Aerial of Perennial Forage Trial Contributed

This past year has provided a great illustration of the evolution of CARA. What began back in 1979 with a few field demo projects has grown over the years to become a broad based program targeting many aspects of crop and forage production as well as improving the environmental footprint of agriculture.

Information shared with local producers now includes business management and marketing strategies in addition to a wide range of production dynamics. 
Key Highlights of 2017:
CARA’s Soil Health Lab Initiative, finally becoming a reality during the past year, is expanding CARA’s role and impact within our agricultural community. The ability to measure and monitor soil biological and physical components (the base of all production) will provide farmers and ranchers with information which can help guide future management practices. Dr. Yamily Zavala, CARA’s Soil Health and Crop Management Specialist, has presented to over 2500 producers and industry participants as she responded to requests to attend conferences across western Canada during the past couple months.
We were all excited at the June 2017 arrival of a new WinterSteiger combine which made the 2017 harvest very manageable. The addition of the bright green member of our team has removed some of the stress typically involved with harvest.
Involvement with the ‘sold out’ Western Canada Conference on Soil Health and Grazing was another huge accomplishment in 2017. Dr. Yamily Zavala was one of the keynote speakers for the conference and CARA managed the administrative duties.
Several very successful events in 2018 have already passed. CARA partnered with the Big Country, Buffalo and Neutral Hills Ag Societies in hosting Curtis Weber, amputee and electrical accident survivor, at our Cooperator Appreciation night in January.  He also visited the Youngstown, Prairieview, Oyen Public, Oyen Assumption, Warren Peers, Jenner, Consort and Altario School students delivering a strong safety message.
A Winter Grazing Field Day drew 45 producers to Consort to discuss winter feeding options in January. Staff have been busy meeting with producers to update EFP’s. 
"Response to EFP workshops in February and March has been very strong. To date, CARA’s staff have met with 60 producers during five workshops and have followed up with several on an individual basis. Many of the attendees are renewing plans completed over 10 years ago, but several were beginning new plans," said Dianne Westerlund, CARA manager.
In addition to an update on CARA’s research and demonstration program, 25 producers discussed keeping their farms safe with Constables Day and Beaton at CARA’s Annual Projects Review in February. Over 100 women enjoyed a night of learning and living at the Ladies Calving Clinic in Consort. Young Farmers and Ranchers came together in Consort to learn about markets and new technologies in both crops and cattle. 
Looking Ahead
CARA staff are currently sorting through details for our 2018 field program. A few new projects on the slate include quinoa trials, a multi-crop rotation study, an intercropping demonstration, demonstration of various soil amendments and more.

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Staff will continue to provide information for the provincial regional variety testing, perennial forage evaluation and pest survey programs.  Watch for more info on these and other projects and events.
CARA’s program reflects production concerns of local producers and includes many long-term projects, but also has the flexibility to react to current issues. Staff gather project ideas from many sources, including members of the research community (Ag Canada, Alberta Ag, the universities and private industry), other applied research and forage associations and from producer requests. CARA’s reputation and our connection with the agricultural industry, as well as our local farmers and ranchers, have resulted in requests for custom research from several corporations.

A decision to take on custom trials is based on the net gain to the local producers CARA serves. Whether the trial information is proprietary (ie. cannot be shared) is taken into account, and if so, does the revenue generated contribute to the rest of the program?  If the info can be shared, then it should have some value to our producers. CARA’s involvement in provincial initiatives is based on importance of the topic to our local farming community.
"Once the Staff has gathered project ideas, they are discussed with the CARA Board for feedback. An annual presentation is made to the Special Areas Advisory Council and the MD of Acadia Council for program review. The program is also discussed regularly with the local Ag Service Boards. General member input is obtained during CARA’s annual Project Review meeting as well," said Westerlund.
CARA Staff: 
Dianne Westerlund, Manager
Dr. Yamily Zavala, Soil Health and Crop Management Specialist
Olivia Sederberg, Conservation and Extension Specialist
Lacey Gould, Conservation Agronomist
Shelley Norris, Office Manager
Technicians:  Karen Raynard, Jerry Pratt, Dan Rude

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