An agreement with the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will help Lethbridge College build upon its strengths as an applied research institution. The $2 million agreement adds established infrastructure and experienced staff members to the college’s applied research team and resources, increasing the college’s research capacity while benefitting all Albertans in the agriculture industry.
The agreement, announced Thursday at Lethbridge College, will see management of the Alberta Irrigation Technology Centre (AITC) and the Brooks Greenhouse transfer to the college as part of its Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE). The AITC and Brooks Greenhouse offer scientists opportunities to conduct research at a scale Alberta’s farmers can then apply to their operations.
“We thank the Government of Alberta for its commitment to applied agriculture research in southern Alberta and its confidence in Lethbridge College’s ability to lead these operations,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “This agreement will allow our Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship to build on its strengths and expand its work and relationships with the local agriculture industry, creating new and innovative solutions that drive the industry forward and contribute to Alberta’s economic growth.”
Lethbridge College will operate the facilities as workspace for agriculture researchers from across the industry — including post-secondary institutions, private industry and more.
“I’m happy to see Lethbridge College recognize the importance of this work,” says Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. “This agreement will create practical outcomes for Alberta’s agriculture industry. With the kind of innovation resulting from this research, Alberta will continue to attract food processing investment that will help lead our economic recovery.”
This agreement is a part of the Alberta government’s focus on having farmers and ranchers lead agriculture research priorities, not government. One of the government’s first steps in making sure research funding priorities were led by producers was to create Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR), an arm’s-length, non-profit corporation. Over the long term, RDAR will assume ongoing responsibility for the funding agreement with Lethbridge College.
“RDAR is excited to support results-driven agriculture research priorities and programs that will increase competitiveness and profitability of Alberta's agricultural industry, as we collaborate with our many industry partners,” says Dr. David Chalack, RDAR’s interim board chair. “RDAR is where big ideas grow.”
Under this new model, agricultural research in Alberta will lead to tangible benefits for farmers, including higher profits, a more abundant food supply at lower cost for consumers and ultimately a higher quality of life in rural communities.
The new facilities and support personnel will enhance agriculture research activities already underway within CARIE, including the new Integrated Agriculture Technology Centre, the Mueller Applied Research Chair in Irrigation Science, the Applied Research Chair in Agricultural Engineering and Technology, and the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence.
“We’re extremely proud that our 30-year research history has been recognized,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Lethbridge College Associate Vice President – Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “The addition of these facilities is relevant for our current areas of expertise, supporting greenhouse and field crop production, including irrigation and post-harvest technology.”
“This new agreement will strengthen Lethbridge College’s research efforts, while providing a new way for students, researchers and industry to work together on the AITC and CARIE facilities. This new environment will strengthen learning and research while also providing real-world instruction and research opportunities for Alberta’s agricultural industry.”
-Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Educuation
“As a hub for the agri-food industry in Alberta, I am thrilled that Lethbridge College will be home to more of the important research that supports producers not just in Lethbridge but across the province. Alberta’s government looks forward to continuing to grow and support the agriculture industry in this province. “
-Nathan Neudorf, MLA for Lethbridge-East
- Located just east of Lethbridge, the AITC supports improved irrigation water conservation, efficiency and productivity with a focus on adoption of technologies and agronomic practices.
- The facility is on 200 acres with three pivots and a total of 125 acres is under irrigation.
- The Brooks Greenhouse gives Alberta scientists the space to test crops and the newest technology on a commercial scale.
- The facility makes it possible to collaborate with scientists doing greenhouse research in Canada and internationally.
- It opens up another avenue for Alberta researchers to supplement their regular field programs with some added greenhouse projects.
- Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region. It brings together researchers, community organizations and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications.
- Lethbridge College was named one of Canada’s top 50 research colleges in 2019.
- CARIE earned a Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) national gold award for recognizing the “extraordinary contributions” of CARIE for improving the productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises and community partners by developing new and improved products, processes and services as well as by providing students and graduates with real-world innovation experience.
- Hon. Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
- Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO