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Dr. Ronald J. Howard: A Short Summary of 39 Amazing Years (PCN Spring 2014) MAY 5 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Dr. Ron Howard started his agricultural career by taking an active part in helping run his family’s 1440 acre mixed farm in Saskatchewan. He began his formal education in agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan where he received a B.S.A. with Honours in Crop Science (1969) and a M.Sc. in Plant Pathology (1971). Dr. Howard traveled to the University of Wisconsin, Madison for his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology (1975). With his doctorate in hand, Dr. Howard began his career with Alberta Agriculture and Food at the Crop Diversification Centre South (CDCS) that same year. During his stellar career, he has been key to the development of viable crop options for not just Albertan but Canadian Farmers.

A life-time of learning

Over the span of his professional life, Dr. Howard has worked on over 50 types of crops and plants including wheat, rye, alfalfa, sainfoin, dry beans, dry peas, soybeans, lentils, faba beans, chickpeas, potatoes, greenhouse vegetables and ornamentals, turf and forage grasses, field vegetables, shade and shelter belt trees, black currants, saskatoons, interiorscape plants, chicory, turfgrass, monarda, corn, mint, safflower, essential oil crops, medicinal plants and several minor speciality crops.

Because of this extensive crop list, Dr. Howard has been a life-long learner, studying the biology and optimal growing conditions for these plants, naturally occurring disease and pest problems in their countries/areas of origin, and the existence of pest management programs.

Focus on extension – truly a friend to farmers

Sharing the information has been vital in Ron’s career. Not only has he published over 1000 articles, Dr.. Howard initiated the Crop Protection newsletter which was the first of its kind in Alberta, was the senior editor and contributor Diseases and Pests of Vegetable Crops in Canada, a 554- page color-illustrated book describing the major diseases and insect pests of the major vegetable crops grown in Canada. Published in 1994, it has sold thousands of copies in Canada and worldwide.

Dr. Howard has an approachability and a humility despite numerous and prestigious awards amongst the scientific community. His presentations at crop walks, field schools, and producer conferences have built a reputation such that he is the “go-to” person for help when it comes to plant diseases that threaten the livelihood of Alberta producers. His work has raised the profile of agriculture in the province. Dr. Howard’s writing, speaking, research and extension skills have resulted in a rich legacy of enriching the agriculture sector.

“Ron is an authority on many topics and keeps a work pace that few could match. But [I} soon found that these attributes were also balanced with patience, humility and compassion. In spite of his busy schedule, Ron always appears eager to help an employee with details of a protocol, or a student working on a research project or manuscript, or a producer or industry contact needing a diagnosis. He is a meticulous and ethical researcher, a skilled leader, and a true ambassador of Alberta producers.” —Dr. Michael Harding

Congratulations to you, Dr. Howard, the Alberta Pulse Growers celebrate with you and wish you the very best. The pulse industry in Alberta has benefited greatly from your passion for agriculture, your contributions are rooted deep in our successes and in the knowledge we have gained. For all of this please accept our heartfelt thanks.

With thanks to Dr. Michael Harding for his contributions