The third generation Middlesex County dairy farmer, who farms with his wife, daughter and son-in-law near Putnam, has been named the 2018 Soil Champion by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). The award is handed out annually to recognize leaders in sustainable soil management.
Breen had just bought the 100-acre family farm from his parents in late 1989 when he faced a major decision: replace the operation’s worn-out tillage equipment or come up with a different strategy.
A chance encounter introduced him to an emerging new cropping system—and in spring 1990, Breen made his first attempt at no-till, planting 40 acres of corn with a used two-row planter he’d modified. He’s been gradually growing his farming business ever since, today farming 300 owned and 500 rented acres.
“I treat the rented acres like the ones I own and that’s crucial. It’s all about stewardship so whether you own or rent, you have the responsibility to do the best things you can,” he says. “Nature is in balance and we mess up that balance with excessive tillage, taking out too many nutrients, or not providing biodiversity, so we need to provide a stable environment as we go about our farming practices.”
His typical rotation involves corn, soybeans, wheat, and cover crops, which he started planting 12 years ago. About 100 acres are rotated through alfalfa and manure is spread between crops when favourable soil and weather conditions allow.
“The only acreage that doesn’t have year-round living and growing crop is grain corn ground. I try to keep everything green and growing all the time and never have bare ground,” he says, following the motto, keep it covered, keep it green, keep it growing.
According to Breen, no single activity will result in healthy soil and there’s no set recipe for farmers to follow due to the variability of soil type, topography and climate. Instead, it’s important to consider what crop is being grown, what it needs, and what the nutrient levels and biological activity of the soil are.
“A true no-till system is more than just not tilling, it is biodiversity, water retention, and nutrient cycling,” he says. “When I first started no-till, it was just to eliminate tillage, now it is to build a whole nutrient system—cover crops weren’t even on the radar when I started farming.”
One of the pillars of his soil success over the years has been a willingness to try new things—as long as they support the goal of building stronger, more stable soil—and adapting to what a growing season brings.
To other farmers considering a switch to no-till, Breen recommends perseverance to keep going when success looks doubtful, strength to resist naysayers, and starting the transition gradually, such as with no-till soybeans after corn, and then no-till wheat after soybeans.
“It’s a considerable honour and it’s humbling to win this award. It’s not something I was looking to achieve—I do what I do because I love it,” he says. “As a farmer, I’ve had an opportunity to be a caretaker of this land, but I only have tenure for a blip in history. I hope I leave it in better shape than when I found it—and I hope my daughter and son-in-law will do the same thing.”
The awards are for the BalerAssist feature on the large square balers and the Plus2 Bale Accumulator for large round balers, both introduced in late 2017. The AE50 Award highlights the year’s 50 most innovative designs in product engineering in the food and agriculture industry, as chosen by a panel of international engineering experts.
The BalerAssist option on the L331 and L341 Series Large Square Balers was recognized for allowing the operator to more quickly and easily clear plugs between the baler pickup and rotor, without leaving the tractor cab.
“This significantly reduces downtime and increases bale-making productivity, especially in tough crop conditions,” says Travis Roe, senior marketing representative for large square balers. “In addition, this feature makes it easier for operators to access service points inside the baler and improve overall operational control and maintenance.”
Also receiving an award are the A520R and A420R Plus2 Round Bale Accumulators, which give customers the ability to carry up to two round bales behind the baler while making a third bale in the chamber. The Plus2 Accumulators are fully integrated into the design of the balers and can be used with 6-foot (1.82 m) diameter John Deere 7, 8, 9 and 0 Series Round Balers.
“These accumulators allow operators to strategically place the bales where they can be removed from the field most efficiently,” says Nick Weinrich, product marketing manager for pull-type hay tools. “This dramatically reduces the damage to crop regrowth from excessive field travel, as well as fuel and labor associated with collecting individual bales scattered across the field.”
ASABE is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food and biological systems. The awards will be presented at the ASABE Agricultural Equipment Technology Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, in February. Information on all award winners will be included in the January/February 2018 ASABE’s Resource magazine and on the ASABE website. Further information on the Society can be obtained by visiting www.asabe.org/.
Lamothe left a 10-year career in the aviation industry to return to be the sixth generation on the family farm near Peterborough. At the encouragement of a neighbouring farmer, Lamothe bought his first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone in 2015. He had a small group of area farmers already signed up to have a block of acres viewed by the new technology and help share the investment risk.
"We quickly identified the opportunity for farmers to save money and increase their crop yields by mapping their fields to identify areas of stress," says Lamothe.
Word spread and Lamothe was soon looking to expand across Ontario when a chance meeting with David MacMillan took his fledgling UAV imagery business to much higher heights. MacMillan was with a mining company called Deveron, looking to expand into the drone business.
The two created Deveron UAS, a new Ontario-based company dedicated to UAV imagery in the agriculture sector across North America. With 15 pilots and their UAVs, the company is providing aerial crop scouting to farmers from Alberta to the Maritimes, and some parts of the U.S.
For the first time, growers can make in-season decisions about their crop by using UAV imaging.
"We can scout 100 acres in 20 minutes, providing more accurate information than just walking the rows because we see the entire field," says Lamothe. "We measure plant stress using multispectral imaging and are able to see things we just can't see with the naked eye."
Information from the UAV images arms on-the-ground agronomists and scouts to zero in on areas of higher plant stress to make recommendations and adjustments on fertility, pest and decision pressure, or even water usage.
The technology lends itself to variable rate fertilizer application, and that's where Lamothe says customers are seeing the biggest return on investment in corn and wheat.
"We fly a field, take an image and a prescription is written based on the images captured," he says.
The grower then applies nitrogen to fit just what's required for various areas of the field. In high value vegetable crops, the return on investment is similar for fertility, as well as detecting pest and disease infestations.
"The technology is proving its worth through increased yield and decreased input costs - because inputs are matched and used optimally to match the stresses in the field," says Lamothe.
Deveron has recently partnered with The Climate Corp to provide growers with a new option for how and where they store on-farm data generated by UAV imagery.
"Efficiency is going to be a necessity on farms as they get larger and personnel is more difficult to find and retain," says Lamothe. "UAV technology has a big role to play, providing insights to make decisions that will help us grow more food on less acres."
Join Top Crop Manager Feb. 27 and 28 in Saskatoon, Sask., for the 2018 Herbicide Resistance Summit - Register now!
Using 360° cameras and virtual reality technology, the FarmFood360° website gives Canadians the chance to tour real, working farms and food processing plants, without having to put on workboots or biosecurity clothing. It’s the latest version of the highly successful Virtual Farm Tours initiative, which was first launched by Farm & Food Care in 2007.
Farm & Food Care teams in both Ontario and Saskatchewan partnered with Gray Ridge Eggs, CropLife Canada, Ontario Sheep Farmers and the Canada Mink Breeders Association to publish new virtual tours of a sheep farm, an enriched housing egg farm, an egg processing facility, a western Canadian grain farm and a mink farm. Visitors can access these tours on tablets and desktop computers, as well as through mobile phones and VR (Virtual Reality) viewers. Interviews with the farmers and plant employees have also been added.
“We know from experience that bringing Canadians to the farm is a highly effective way to connect people with their food and those who produce it. The same certainly goes for food processors. But unfortunately, many Canadians never have the chance to visit either a farm or a food processing facility. Utilizing this new camera technology helps us take this tried-and-true outreach method to a much wider audience,” says Kelly Daynard, executive director of Farm & Food Care Ontario. The website now gets almost a million visitors a year, enabling many more Canadians to visit farms from the comfort of their own home.
These new additions – as well as three dairy farm and food processing tours published earlier in 2017 – were launched as part of an interactive exhibit at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. More tours will be filmed and added to the FarmFood360° library in 2018.
“So many Canadian farmers grow grain. Touring a Saskatchewan farm that grows crops like canola and wheat showcases the technology and innovation that farmers use every day on their farms,” says Nadine Sisk, vice-president of communications and member services for CropLife Canada. She added, “The videos also highlight the care that grain farmers put into their work, and the food they produce while at the same time ensuring that they take care of the environment.”
Farm & Food Care is a coalition of farmers, agriculture and food partners proactively working together to earn public trust and confidence in food and farming. Find out more at www.FarmFood360.ca or www.FarmFoodCare.org.
The OYF program begins each year with the nomination of farmers at the local level. Any organization or any person can nominate a young farmer or couple for the regional recognition award as long as the nominee meets the following program eligibility requirements:
- Must be between the ages of 18 and 39
- Be farm operators
- Derive a minimum of two-thirds of their income from farming
For more information and to nominate, visit: http://www.oyfontario.ca/nominations.html
Darrell is the founder of Farm Life Financial Planning Group, which helps clients across Ontario find stability on their farm and ensure the farm can live on for future generations to come.
Darrell grew up on his family farm in southern Ontario. His father, like so many farmers today, didn't take the time to plan for the "what ifs" with his professional team, and didn't communicate his intentions to the rest of the farm family. With his sudden passing at the age of 65, there was no way to continue the family farm business. Darrell joined the financial services industry where he now dedicates his time to helping other family-owned farms implement customized farm transition plans. His mission is to ensure no other family experiences a loss like his family did.
He is certified through the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors and recently became a certified Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA), making him one of Ontario's only CAFA (Canadian Association of Farm Advisors) certified advisors with this designation. They now live on a farm east of Peterborough.
Wilson Loree personally presented the award to Darrell at the Agricultural Excellence Conference. "Many of our award recipients have been at the end of their careers, but as this is the 25th anniversary of Farm Management Canada, it seems very fitting to recognize someone who is making a significant impact in an area of business management early in their career who has many more years to continue to position farmers for success," said Wilson. "It's great to see that there are new folks entering the farm business management family - a sign of renewal and continuity for a prosperous future for Canadian agriculture."
"It is truly an honour to be recognized by Wilson and Farm Management Canada for the work we are doing in educating farm families on the importance of continuity planning," Wade said. "Farm families today are making a commitment to protect their legacy and educate the next generation. I am humbled to be a part of their process."
Wilson Loree retired as Branch Head of Agriculture Business Management after 27 years with Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. Wilson is cited as "an individual who exemplifies innovation, wisdom, and a constant focus on the farm manager and the farm family." Currently Wilson resides in Calgary, Alberta.
CTEAM (Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management) is managed by Agri-Food Management Excellence (AME). During the program, farmers learn detailed financial, marketing and human relations management skills, using their own operation as a case study.
Doug and Joan’s involvement in OYF began in 1995 when they were selected as honourees for the Ontario region, and have since held virtually every executive position in the program both provincially and nationally. Joan was the program manager for Canada’s OYF program for thirteen years and Doug served on the national board for eight years. They have served on numerous Ontario hosting committees and were instrumental in attaining AAFC sponsorship of the program. Doug and Joan think of the OYF as their second family and treasure the many friendships gained over the last 22 years.
Besides operating a dairy farm, they also sell sweet corn at a roadside market and have a six horse hitch they have shown across North America. They have sold cattle and embryos to many countries around the world. Doug has judged many horse shows and they have hosted over 10,000 visitors since building their compost pack barn.
They are now happy to have their son working with them on the farm so they can enjoy some much deserved time away from the farm and their many volunteer activities such as their local fair board, Holstein, Milk, and Clydesdale committees.
Ontario alumni members nominated Doug and Joan because they feel the program has benefitted greatly from their dedication, hard work and enthusiasm. They go on to say Doug and Joan’s generous donation of time and leadership has provided a positive platform to celebrate and recognize progress and excellence in agriculture.
Dr. Motherwell, the namesake of the W.R. Motherwell Award, was born near Perth, Ontario in 1860. His leadership in Canadian agriculture spanned more than 50 years and he is regarded by many as the "grand old man of Canadian agriculture." His career highlights include minister of agriculture in Saskatchewan's first provincial government, and minister of agriculture for Canada in the 1920s. Having attended agricultural college in Guelph, Ontario, his move to Saskatchewan resulted in his instrumental role in establishing the agriculture facility at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Motherwell died in 1943 at the age of 83.
On the 25th anniversary of the OYF program, the W.R. Motherwell Award was established. The award is presented annually, on behalf of OYF alumni across Canada, to an individual or couple who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and dedication to both the OYF program and Canadian agriculture.
More information about the OYF W.R. Motherwell Award is available at www.oyfcanada.com under Nominations. The deadline for nominations for the 2018 award is March 31, 2018.
Meeru Dhalwala, one of the three judges, commented, “In addition to judging such amazing farms as businesses, I was personally enriched by learning in greater depth how their farms work and how important so many family members of different generations are to the success of current and future farms of Canada.”
Both families assessed the challenges they face in farming and found new and innovative ways to address them, one taking over a generational farm and the other starting from scratch.
“Once again, the seven regional finalists exceeded our expectations as innovative, forward thinking, young agricultural leaders. The judging process of evaluating their applications, presentations, and interviews was not easy. The National Winners are strong role models and oozed with everything positive in their agricultural operations,” said OYF past president, Luanne Lynn.
Understanding that high inputs and timely rains were not always sustainable on a southern Saskatchewan grain farm, Axten Farms began to research their soil food web and soil biology. Their motto became “soil is our most valuable resource so how can we improve its health” and, the microscope became their best soil health tool. With cost of production and the soil’s health as their key focus, they have now incorporated intercrops (seeding one or more crops together), cover crops, controlled traffic farming (using same track for all operations), compost extract and compost teas into their operation. It is a real change in mindset for a Saskatchewan farmer.
Working with a human resource specialist, Véronique & François developed an employee guide that has helped to minimize the employee challenges that comes with their vegetable industry. They feel that enjoying your work, humour, a sense of achievement, and positive feedback all contribute to job satisfaction for their local employees. Aux petits oignons is fully organically certified, and offers weekly subscriptions for vegetable baskets as well as produce through their farm and local markets. They want to recreate the bond between urban residents and farmers while building confidence in authenticity, quality and freshness of their product.
Every year this event brings recognition to outstanding farmers in Canada between 18 and 39 years of age who have exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations. Axten’s and Bouchard/Handfield were chosen from seven regional finalists, including the following honourees from the other five regions:
- Gary & Marie Baars - Chilliwack, B.C.
- Marc & Hinke Therrien - Redwater, Atla.
- Brent & Kirsty Oswald – Steinbach, Man.
- Dusty Zamecnik- Langton, Ont.
- Lauchie & Jolene MacEachern- Debert, N.S.
Celebrating 37 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
In early November, Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, as well as the Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Centre, commemorated the importance of James Fletcher as a person of national historic significance.
Through his extensive travels across Canada, Fletcher collected plant and insect specimens for identification and established a national network of farmers and gardeners who reported on harmful weeds and insects in their region. For the full story, click here.
His efforts have earned him the 2017 Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) Soil Champion Award, which is handed out annually to recognize leaders in sustainable soil management.
“There is no one practice that defines conservation farming, it’s a management system and every component has a part to play,” says Kaiser, who has a civil engineering degree from the Royal Military College. “Sustainability has many components, but the preservation of top soil must be the final result.”
Kaiser bought his first 300 acres in 1969; today, the now-1,300 acre Kaiser Lake Farms is owned by his youngest son Max. It’s on the shores of the Bay of Quinte and Hay Bay recreational area that is also the drinking water source for the Kaisers and their non-farming neighbors.
The farm’s heavy soils don’t drain water well naturally, so Kaiser has spent decades minimizing soil erosion by installing diversion berms, dams and surface inlets to control surface water and direct it into the underground tile system. Using a map he keeps track of all the agronomic information he’s gathered on the farm since 1986, including soil tests, and pH, organic matter and phosphorous levels.
“We’re egg farmers so we have manure to spread, which comes with big soil compaction concerns if we travel on fields with heavy equipment,” Kaiser says, adding that’s why he built laneways and grass waterways throughout the farm long before this became a recommended Best Management Practice.
Kaiser farmed conventionally until the mid-1980s, which meant regularly working the soil, but became an early Ontario adopter of no-till production to reduce erosion risk and maintain soil health – seeding his crops directly into the stubble of last year’s plants without plowing the soil.
He has also experimented with many different cover crop varieties for more than 30 years, ultimately settling on a few that do well on their land, like barley, sorghum, tillage radish, oats, peas and sunflowers. Cover crops improve soil health by boosting its organic matter and nitrogen levels.
Constant change, too, is part of Kaiser’s approach to farming; for example, there’s not a single piece of equipment on the farm that hasn’t been modified and improved somehow to be better suited to the unique needs of their land.
“We never do the same thing every year, but we do the things we think are important for this farm,” says Kaiser. “We hope to keep this place sustainable in the future; we need to be more productive so we need to be more sustainable.”
The award recognizes the contributions of Canadian farmers in protecting and creating environments where pollinators can thrive.
John has also been active in spreading awareness of pollinator health and encouraging practices to support biodiversity. He hosts both private and public farm tours, and also hosted a television show on the FoodTV channel for several years. In addition to carrots and leeks, his fields and greenhouses yield at least 50 different organic vegetables used primarily for gourmet salad mixes. The farm supplies produce to restaurants, markets and homes, both locally and in the Greater Toronto Area.
It is difficult to single out a single project that earned the award for John, as the entire Soiled Reputation farm is based around one main crop, which he would tell you is "biodiversity". Aspects of the farm that help attract pollinators include:
- Huge flower gardens and plantings interspersed through crops to provide pollen and nectar
- 30-foot buffer strips seeded with legumes that are allowed to flower around a 40-acre field
- A two-acre meadow that is home to over 20 beehives
Over $2 billion of Canadian produce sold annually is reliant on pollinators, including staples like apples, berries, squash, melons and much more. These species are integral to the continued health of both the environment and agriculture sector, and Canadian farmers like Antony John are integral to ensuring that our environment will be healthy for generations to come.
Planet is an integrated aerospace and data platform company that operates the world’s largest fleet of earth imaging satellites, collecting the largest quantity of earth imagery. Farmers Edge is now a sole distributor for Planet in key agricultural regions, with the right to use and distribute high-resolution, high-frequency imagery from Planet’s three flagship satellite constellations.
Through this multimillion-dollar, multi-year global distribution agreement, Farmers Edge and Planet are significantly expanding their existing partnership. The companies will deliver the vanguard of remote sensing driven and analytics-based agronomy services to growers worldwide.
Farmers Edge customers will be among the first to take advantage of field-centric, consistent, and accurate insights from satellite imagery. While traditional imagery products provide only a partial, delayed, or inconsistent view of fields, this partnership equips Farmers Edge growers with comprehensive, high-quality field imagery more frequently updated than any other company in the industry.
“Until now, the challenge with satellite imagery was the data was simply not frequent enough to react to crop stress in a timely manner,” said Wade Barnes, President and CEO of Farmers Edge. “At Farmers Edge, providing our customers with the most concise, comprehensive, and consistent data is at the core of what we do. We understand the need for more image frequency, that’s why we are partnering with Planet. Daily imagery is a game-changer in the digital ag space.”
The combination of Planet’s unprecedented data set and Farmers Edge state-of-the-art image processing technology allows for early crop monitoring and gives growers the best opportunity to correct factors that could limit crop performance and compromise yield potential.
Growers will now have a wealth of field-centric data updated throughout the growing season, including early monitoring of crop stand, detection of pest and weed pressure, drainage issues, hail damage, herbicide injuries, nutrient deficiencies, yield prediction and more.
“Farmers Edge is consistently at the cutting edge of innovation in agricultural technology, and we’re proud to expand our partnership with them as we work to improve profitability, sustainability, and efficiency for the world’s producers,” said Will Marshall, CEO of Planet. “The challenges faced by the agriculture industry are complex in nature and global in scale, and we believe our data is uniquely positioned to solve agricultural challenges.”
“Retailers, co-ops, equipment dealers, agronomists, and all other important advisors to the farmer can now partner with Farmers Edge and leverage this industry changing capability within their business,” said Ron Osborne, Chief Strategy Officer of Farmers Edge. “We're pleased to be able to help so many in our industry manage risks, in near real-time. This is great for our customers, our partners, and agriculture.”
In 2016, Planet awarded Farmers Edge its Agriculture Award, recognizing the company’s pioneering work with ag-based analytics, Variable Rate Technology and field-centric data management.
Hou was born in China and his research took him through several countries before he settled in Morden, which is located just north of the U.S. border. Geography is not insignificant here. Hou and his team develop crop varieties specifically suited to grow and grow well in the unique soil and weather conditions in Manitoba and Western Canada. For the full story, click here.
Rick and Angela Van Laecke started the company in 2006 when they transitioned from growing tobacco. Horizon Seeds produces, processes and packages all seed at its Courtland location. They primarily produce seed corn but also produce seed soybeans and seed rye. Fifteen local growers are contracted to produce seed. The company started with one employee Steve Gubesch who is Horizon Seeds production manager plus the Van Laeckes.
“Looking back 15 to 20 years, it’s clear that you never know where time will take you," says RickVan Laeke. "I’m sure I speak for Ang as well, as former tobacco farmers I can honestly say that we never dreamt we would be hosting an event like this in our lifetime. Celebrating a tenth anniversary of a Canadian, independent, family owned seed company is a great milestone.”
“I saw a quote not so long ago that said, ‘if you want to go fast, go it alone, if you want to go far, do it together’," Van Laeke adds. "I realized this is very true for Horizon Seeds.”
Rick thanked their growers for their work to grow a good quality seed; their suppliers whose service and products are essential to processing, and their customers for supporting their business. He also thanked the Horizon staff.
The Van Laeckes continue to grow their business, which employs 27 people from Norfolk, Oxford, Elgin, Brant, Middlesex and Waterloo Counties. This includes their son Curtis who is head of research and product advancement.
Sales include both wholesale and retail across Ontario, Manitoba and Wisconsin.
Horizon Seeds is a CFIA-registered seed establishment and an accredited organic handler with a bulk storage facility.
Improvements to the facility include a 14,000 sq. ft. expansion, a larger pathology lab, a new quality assurance lab, ventilated seed preparation room and high efficiency LED lighting throughout the facility, with UV repelling windows.
“The new facility will allow Cargill to showcase the research and innovations within our specialty canola business,” says Mark Christiansen, managing director, Cargill Global Edible Oil Solutions.
Cargill says Saskatchewan continues to be an important province for the company to invest in, saying that 26 per cent of its Canadian investment is in the province.
Sustainable soil management practices may be defined as those that:
- Make the most efficient use of nutrients
- Support systems with no net loss of organic matter and soil aggregate ability
- Build the population and diversity of soil organisms
- Effectively manages surface water to support reduced tillage systems
Click here to retrieve a nomination form.
The deadline for all nominations and supporting documents is September 1, 2016.
June 17, 2016 - Farm Management Canada (FMC) and the Canadian Association of Diploma in Agriculture Programs (CADAP) have announced the selection of the winners of the 2015-2016 Excellence Award for Ag Students Competition. Congratulations to the three winners.
FMC and CADAP collected submissions from agricultural students across Canada and selected three winners who will receive scholarships towards furthering their education in agriculture. First place won $1,500!The award is designed to help students develop their communication skills by having the opportunity to voice their opinion on a on a subject related to farm management.
Students were asked to submit a multimedia presentation, a video, a Twitter chat, a blog or a Wiki, responding to the following question:
What top 3 priorities should Canada's agricultural industry focus on in order to be a leading agricultural body going forward? How will you, as a new graduate, positively contribute to these priorities?
This year's winners are:
- Tomina Jackson, University of Saskatchewan, SK: View the winning entry
- Jessica Thompson, Maryfield School, SK: View the winning entry
- Laurie Laliberté, Université Laval, QC: View the winning entry
Visit www.fmc-gac.com for more details on the winners and their competition entries.
Photo courtesy of Ag-West Bio.
May 25, 2016 - Richard Keith Downey, O.C., F.R.S.C., received the 2016 Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the province's highest honour, in a ceremony May 24, 2016 in Saskatoon.
Born in Saskatoon, Dr. Keith Downey earned degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and Cornell University. He joined the Agriculture Canada Research Station at Lethbridge as an alfalfa breeder, producing the world's first winter hardy, wilt resistant alfalfa variety before returning to the Saskatoon Research Station in 1958 to direct the oilseed breeding program. It was there Dr. Downey earned a world‐wide reputation as one of the "Fathers of Canola" for converting rapeseed into nutritionally superior canola.
As a plant breeder, he is associated with the release of 13 rapeseed/canola varieties and five condiment mustard varieties. His work with canola has resulted in the acreage expanding from only a few thousand in the 1950-60s to more than 20 million in 2014 and into a multi‐billion dollar industry for Saskatchewan and Canada. Equally important, canola oil is a significant factor in improving health and reducing health care costs due to its positive effect on cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Downey's expertise and contributions to scientific research are recognized and in demand world‐wide. He has held numerous professional and administrative positions with a broad range of organizations. He is an inductee in the Saskatchewan and the Canadian Agricultural Halls of Fame. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Agriculture Institute of Canada; and holds Honorary Doctorates in Science from the
University of Saskatchewan and Law from the University of Lethbridge.
Established in 1985, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit recognizes excellence, achievement and contributions to the social, cultural and economic well-being of the province and its people. It acknowledges individuals who have made their mark in the arts, agriculture, business, industry, community leadership, occupations, professions, public service, research and volunteer service.
Read more about Dr. Keith Downey and the development of canola in Canada.
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Alberta canolaPALOOZAWed Jun 27, 2018 @ 9:30AM - 03:30PM
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Manitoba crops-a-PALOOZAWed Jul 25, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM