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RDAR invests in barley breeding and research

April 8, 2024  By Top Crop Manager

RDAR is investing $2 million to relaunch the Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC) as a new not-for-profit corporation, named Western Crop Innovations (WCI). WCI will focus on barley breeding and agronomy research.

“It’s an exciting time for crop research in Alberta,” says RJ Sigurdson, minister of Agriculture and Irrigation. “Western Crop Innovations will carry on the Field Crop Development Centre’s substantial legacy, ensuring its work is addressing in a timely manner the issues farmers are facing in the fields.”

WCI will form partnerships with industry in crop and livestock sectors to ensure the production of field-proven crop varieties with the greatest potential to benefit the industry and the Alberta economy.


“This is RDAR’s largest award to date, to a single organization. Before completing this investment, RDAR conducted its full project technical review and risk assessment processes,” says David Chalack, RDAR board chair.  “We recognized that WCI will be a cornerstone of Alberta crop research and will support and advance RDAR’s investments in Regional Variety Trials (RVTs) and agronomic projects. From a producer’s perspective, WCI will develop a new approach to advancing barley varieties and establish collaborations to benefit Alberta’s crop and livestock sectors. This is an essential investment that will strengthen the agriculture sector in Alberta for generations.”

Under the new leadership, WCI will preserve the legacy of FCDC while revitalizing the organization, promoting a renewed vision, and better positioning Alberta to meet the agriculture industry’s needs. Jason Lenz was nominated as chair of the interim board.

“Western Crop Innovations has been established to further advance crop research that will benefit producers in Alberta and across Western Canada,” says Jason Lenz, chair, Wester Crop Innovations. “With stakeholder input to a new blueprint, WCI will seek new research partnerships with those in the crop and livestock industry to ensure that the needs of producers are met. The results of this research will result in increased productivity, profitability and competitiveness on our farms. WCI is grateful to receive this funding from RDAR after meeting the rigour of their full project review and see RDAR as a highly valued research funding partner now and into the future.”

An interim board has been appointed and their first action is to recruit an interim executive director to manage the transitioning operations from FCDC to WCI. Funding of $3.5 million is being provided to the new organization comprised of $1.2 million from Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation, $2 million from RDAR and the balance from industry partners.


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