The southern Alberta agriculture industry gained a powerful ally when two innovative organizations agreed to expand their mutually beneficial collaboration.
Farming Smarter and Lethbridge College have long worked collaboratively on a wide variety of projects. Now, they formalized and expanded their partnership as they signed a 15-year “memorandum of understanding” (MOU). The agreement allows the college and Farming Smarter to lead and transform agriculture research in southern Alberta.
The agreement means the two sides will actively pursue opportunities that will support the entire agriculture industry in southern Alberta and throughout the province. The MOU has three core pillars – applied research and innovation; education, training and knowledge transfer; and communication and branding.
“This is an exciting opportunity to really look at the strengths of both the college and Farming Smarter and how we can leverage those strengths into new opportunities,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “Our two organizations have worked together in the past on innovative and important projects that support agricultural research, education and student success. We look forward to new opportunities that will be possible because of this agreement.”
Highlighting the pre-existing long-term partnership between Farming Smarter and Lethbridge College is that Farming Smarter’s headquarters and some field operations are actually located on farm land owned by Lethbridge College.
Farming Smarter’s focus is applied research that helps southern Alberta crop producers make informed choices around inputs, technology and management practices for their operations. Lethbridge College frequently collaborates on those research projects, and students and classes from the college often visit Farming Smarter’s fields and operations for active learning experiences that help prepare them to enter industry. In addition, Farming Smarter provides practicum placements and summer jobs to Lethbridge College students from several programs.
"The agriculture industry is a huge part of southern Alberta’s economy and employs a lot of people in the region,” says Ken Coles, Farming Smarter Executive Director. “Farming Smarter supports innovation, entrepreneurship and the practical application of science and technology in the industry and particularly on-farm. This partnership will keep farmers, ag business and graduates competitive, connected and thriving.”
The MOU will encourage and clear pathways for further collaboration between the college and Farming Smarter, including the sharing of projects, equipment, technology and resources. Farming Smarter and Lethbridge College will work together to find mutual funding opportunities, co-host educational and networking events, and create research projects that can use the expertise of agricultural research scientists, educators and students from both organizations.
Farming Smarter exists to develop and disseminate scientifically sound, unbiased research and information to assist specialists and farmers adopt technologies to increase the profitability and sustainability of all innovative and progressive grain, forage, special crops and livestock producers in southern Alberta.
Lethbridge College’s Collaborative Centre of Excellence in Agriculture is fast becoming a hub for agricultural research and innovation. The college is a proven player in the industry, with faculty, staff and partners who are resourceful, understand farming, embrace innovation, focus on the college’s vision and lead the way with data-driven agriculture. The college’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region that brings together community organizations, researchers and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications.