SPOTLIGHT – SARDA holds its 30th Annual General Meeting and extension event

Participants of the 2016 Sarda Annual General Meeting and Extension Event held on February  25, 2016.
Participants of the 2016 Sarda Annual General Meeting and Extension Event held on February 25, 2016.

SARDA members, Directors, staff and associates joined the 30th Annual General Meeting and Extension Event at Falher on February 25, 2016. The day started off with a welcome on behalf of the SARDA Board and staff delivered by Audrey Gall, Master of Ceremony. The first order of business was the Annual General Meeting. The membership elected Charles Turcotte as Chairman for the meeting and Shelleen Gerbig as Secretary.

Charles Turcotte presented the SARDA Board Chairman’s Report of activities and accomplishments of SARDA in 2015. First and foremost, he acknowledged the outgoing directors, Rhonda Clarke Gauthier and Bernadette Levesque. He highlighted how the Board had focussed on moving forward with their newly developed Strategic Plan and Vision. This included garnering increased core funding to ensure the Association is able to thrive, not just survive. The logo was retooled to give it a “clean, fresh” look for ease of recognition and branding. The final goal receiving dedicated attention was working towards the purchase of land to guarantee the longevity and integrity of SARDA’s quality research.

The Smoky River Agricultural Trade Show was a huge success again this year, contributing to the overall financial success of SARDA in 2015. Connections with the producers groups; Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Barley Growers, and Alberta Canola Producers’ Commissions, are coveted. With their support, SARDA is able to host many extension events for members, producers and agricultural industry professionals. The website continues to be successful and is a portal of information for producers. It contains information on SARDA activities and projects, links to producer groups, government websites, commodity prices, pest forecast maps and other useful agronomic information. SARDA has achieved a great deal of success in 2015 and is poised to accept future opportunities and challenges.

Vance Yaremko presented the Managers Report. SARDA participated in 65 different trials or 3000 plots in the municipalities of Big Lakes County and Smoky River. The extension program hosted a number of events and crop walks as well as successfully distributing more than 21,000 newsletters. Through the extension program, SARDA has also developed a devoted readership on the website. In 2015, JP Pettyjohn moved on to another job. Victor Gauthier, Khalil Ahmed, Ph.D. and Nasima Junejo, Ph.D. joined our team. A special grant allowed SARDA to purchase new vehicles, and AV equipment as well as equipment upgrades in 2015.

Jean Sylvain, of Sylvain & Company, presented the audited Financial Statements. Explanations ensued on the restricted reserves for capital replacement funds, human resources retention and training funds, and tradeshow startup funds. Statements of financial position, operations, change in assets, cash flows, and deferred contributions were also reviewed.

What does all this mean? SARDA had a good year in 2015.

Audrey Gall and Brianne Matula were elected to serve as Directors for their second 3 year term. Luc Levesque was elected to serve for his first 3 year term. One position on the SARDA Board remains vacant. The Board will attempt to fill this position during the next year. This concluded the business portion of our event.

Ken Handford and Peter Papez, from AFSC, gave a presentation on crop insurance programs. AFSC is offering some new insurance products and enhancements for 2016. One of the new enhancements is the change to the PDQ site for the fall insurance price source for canola, wheat and peas. This will affect the producers that use crop insurance. Other new products will offer the ability to insure barley as a malt crop and bee overwintering insurance is moving towards individual coverage. Coverage levels for field peas have also been amended. Enquiries about how these changes may affect your farm should be made to your local AFSC Office.

Rawlin Thangaraj, from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, gave a presentation on the AgriProfit$ Program. This program is available to all producers. Producers enrolled learn to evaluate common tracking numbers and see how they compare to the typical farm in their area. They look at costs of production, returns per acre, and risk, to name a few. Rawlin Thangaraj specializes in crop production economics. AgriProfit$ group also includes a livestock economics specialist. This program is free, individualized and confidential.

SARDA staff was fortunate in being able to convince Scott Meers, from Brooks, Alberta, to attend our event. Scott Meers is the Insect Management Specialist for the Province of Alberta and is responsible for coordinating insect surveys throughout the province. Scott reviewed the insect forecasts for 2016, as related to the Peace Region. He discussed which insects could potentially inhibit production and quality and how weather patterns could influence these populations. Populations of wheat midge, bertha armyworms, grasshoppers, diamond backs and cutworms have the potential to explode in 2016. Some will be detrimentally affected by a wet spring while others will flourish. Early spring winds from the south, may introduce other pests. SARDA plans to continue to host and monitor traps for the different insect pests. Trap results should further indicate potential insect problems developing during the season. Trap results are posted weekly on the Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring site.

The day finished with SARDA’s Dr. Kabal Gill presenting the results of the Sub soiling Trial and the long term Crop Rotation Trial preformed by SARDA. Full reports of these trials will be available in the “2015 Research Results” which will be published in April.

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