September 20th, 2019

Lethbridge College, potato growers to partner for irrigation study


By Kalinowski, Tim on August 23, 2019.

Lethbridge Herald

Lethbridge College announced on Thursday it will be partnering with local potato growers to study irrigation and watering methods in the region.

The four-year research project is a partnership between Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Potato Growers of Alberta. It is made possible through a grant from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The $397,595 grant allows for the study of five different potato fields throughout southern Alberta. The watering practices of two producers near Vauxhall, as well as farms near Bow Island, Chin and Taber, are being monitored. The diversity of fields allows researchers to study a variety of different soil types and topographies, which will give a holistic look at how moisture reacts with and affects potato crops. The research team will record how producers use their existing irrigation and available water sources and the outcome it has on crops in different parts of their fields.

The partnership will also support two masters-level projects in conjunction with the University of Saskatchewan. One will look at the irrigation decision-making process of producers, while the other will focus on studying the physical attributes of the land. As well, three students from Lethbridge College’s School of Environmental Sciences have been hired to conduct the research this summer.

“It’s definitely a broad introduction to applied research for the students,” says Willemijn Appels, Lethbridge College’s Mueller Applied Research Chair in Irrigation Science. “They’ll have been exposed to methods to determine soil texture. But now they’re asked to do that from a perspective of looking at how does that texture influence how plants grow and use water? And they are also more involved in seeing how data is collected, and trying to shape that all into something that you can interpret and hopefully understand some new information from.”

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