Blog: The Wheat Sheaf

Darcy's FarmTech 2016 experience sponsored by AWC

Darcy Bemister was one of 5 Alberta Wheat Commission-sponsored graduate students to attend FarmTech™ 2016 from January 26th to 28th. Darcy has just begun his MSc program at the University and will be completing a thesis in the area of wheat breeding with Dr. Dean Spaner. Below is Darcy’s impression of his experience at FarmTech™:

I want to thank the Alberta Wheat Commission for providing me with the opportunity to attend FarmTech™ 2016. This conference allowed me to reconnect with friends I completed my undergraduate degree with, and also experience unique seminars that were educational and thought provoking. The conference has proven to be a valuable resource for producers, researchers and members of the industry by connecting the agricultural community and offering many chances for open discussion and knowledge sharing.

I immensely enjoyed Dr. Ralph Cartar’s seminar on native bees, and look forward to further educating myself on the ecological importance of healthy native bee populations and the beneficial impact for Canadian agriculture. I was mistakenly under the impression that the introduction of honeybee colonies would be an adequate solution for declining native bee populations, but the seminar showcased recent research revealing that native pollinators are more efficient than managed honeybees (Garibaldi et al., Science 2013, Vol. 339, Issue 6127). Dr. Cartar’s seminar was a refreshing change of pace full of recent research and data introducing many interesting facts such as the vast biodiversity offered by native bees, with over 300 species located in the prairies alone. Also, he was a charismatic speaker who captivated the attention of the audience, and it became obvious early on that he is passionate about the province’s native bees. The protection and sustainability of native pollinators such as the bees should be a concern for anyone who values our environment, but I believe their future is in good hands with the help of passionate researchers such as Ralph Cartar.

I also found Charlie Arnot’s seminar on transparency and consumers interesting, because he suggested a new way of addressing the many concerns that consumers may have about their food (such as genetically modified organisms, and animal welfare). The previous method of educating the consumer, and providing scientific data has proven largely unsuccessful, but the seminar spoke of using "shared values", and finding a common ground with the consumer. For example, animal safety is a concern for consumers, but also producers – this is a value shared amongst the differing groups, and this common value can open up effective dialogue.

FarmTech™2016 has proven to have something for everyone, regardless of your profession within the agricultural industry. The FarmTech™ education committee was successful in organizing many unique seminars, and this diversity of seminars allowed for participants to further cement their existing knowledge, or experience something completely unfamiliar. As I walk away from FarmTech™2016, I can confidently say the conference has successfully inspired myself, and I amalready looking for opportunities to expand on the knowledge FarmTech™ has provided.

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