30 Dec Report: Atlantic Agrology Workshop
Members of the Prince Edward Island Institute of Agrologists organized the 2019 Island Agrology Workshop with a theme of building resiliency in Maritime agriculture. The agenda largely focused on exploring the effect of a changing climate on agriculture in Eastern Canada as well as how farmers and agrologists can respond to these changes.
The event started with a hospitality suite at the Stanley Bridge Resort on the evening of August 18th, featuring a variety of Prince Edward Island-produced food and drink and fiddle tunes by PEIIA member Thomas Harrington.
The Workshop formally opened the morning of August 19th with welcoming remarks by Hon. Bloyce Thompson, PEI Minister of Agriculture & Land as well as Hon. Brad Trivers, PEI Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change. The morning session then featured the following presentations:
- Dr. Judith Nyiraneza, AAFC Charlottetown, presenting on the current status of Maritime soils;
Stephanie Arnold, UPEI Climate Lab, presenting on dynamic climate change adaptation for potato production in PEI;
- Jamie Hewitt, AAFC Ottawa, providing an overview of climate change adaptation taking place in the Canadian agriculture sector;
- Dr. Phil Haygarth, Lancaster University, discussing building soil and watershed resilience in a changing climate, with particular reference to the phosphorus cycle;
- Dr. David Burton, Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture, discussing changes in nitrogen management in response to a changing climate, including research with farm partners in Atlantic Canada;
- Dr. Josh Faulkner, University of Vermont, discussing on-farm climate adaptation projects in New England agriculture
This opening session provided a wide-ranging overview of both the current challenges facing agriculture due to a changing climate as well as look at some of the ways that agricultural sectors in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada are adapting to survive and thrive.
Following the morning speakers, the group headed out on an agricultural tour, taking advantage of a beautiful Prince Edward Island summer day. Stops included a progressive family-owned dairy farm (Abelaine Holsteins), a craft cheesemaker (Glasgow Glen Gouda), a private agricultural research farm (Atlantic Agri-Tech), and a sustainability-focused potato and cash crop farm (Sommerset Farms). At these stops and on the buses, attendees got a good taste of Island agriculture as well as exploring how the industry is already adapting production to build resiliency.
On the morning of August 20th, the workshop concluded with a morning speaker session featuring speakers exploring opportunities for on-farm adaptation. Speakers included:
- Michelle Cortens, Perennia, discussing adaptations in the Nova Scotia fruit industry;
- Dr. Claude Caldwell, Field to Fork Agrisystems, exploring crop diversification and new crop opportunities in Atlantic Canada;
- Evan MacDonald, PEI Department of Agriculture & Land, demonstrating some new tools in soil conservation and sustainability;
- Candace Vinke, Viresco Solutions, discussing opportunities in the carbon economy for agricultural producers;
- A panel featuring Dr. Phil Haygarth, Dr. Josh Faulkner, Matt Ramsay (potato and cash crop farmer from PEI) and Cedric MacLeod (agronomist and cash crop grower from New Brunswick). The farmers on the panel discussed how a changing climate is necessitating adaptations on their farms, while Drs. Haygarth and Faulkner discussed how agriculture is adapting in their regions.
Presentations from the Atlantic Agrology Workshop are available on the PEIIA website at https://peiia.ca/events/. The organizing committee would like to thank all of the agrologists from across the Maritimes who attended our event, as well as our generous sponsors for helping to defray some of the cost of holding the workshop. Special thanks to the PEI Department of Agriculture & Land for funding assistance under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership framework for financial assistance that helped to make this event a success.
Workshop attendees at Stanley Bridge Resort
Tour stop at Sommerset Farms in Maple Plains to talk about erosion control structures and alternative crop rotations.
A slide from Dr. Josh Faulkner summarizing some of the changes we can expect to see in crops due to a changing climate.