28 Years of SARDA and Counting (PCN Spring 2015) MAR 25 2015 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.
SARDA was incorporated in 1986 as a non-profit group directed by agricultural producers in the MD of Smoky River. The goal was to test new technologies and practices, locally, and speed up the flow of information between industry, research and farmers through demonstrations, displays, seminars and workshops, which has remained foremost in all SARDA endeavors.
SARDA now covers the municipalities of Smoky River, Big Lakes, Greenview, Northern Sunrise, Grande Prairie and Clear Hills. SARDA partners with the Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley Commission, universities, colleges, agricultural industries, federal and provincial governments and other research associations.
The first Board Members of Smoky River Agricultural Research and Demonstration Association (SARDA) had no idea that the group would still exist in 2015, and would become one of the leading applied research groups in Alberta. With prudent financial management, strong partnerships, reputation for excellence in research and demonstration, and connection to agricultural producers, SARDA is poised to continue as a leading edge organization.
In 28 years, SARDA has field tested over 3,600 crop varieties, and accomplished over 1,000 field trials on seeding systems, levels, methods and placements of macro and micro nutrients, wood ash, manure, lime, growth regulators, crop rotations, diurnal time for pesticide sprays, legume plow down, and much more.
One example of SARDA’s influence in the community can be seen in the adoption of Zero (ZT) and Reduced (RT) tillage practices. In 1988, SARDA established ZT and RT plots. In conjunction with the Smoky River ASB and the Canada/Alberta Soil Conservation Initiative, a ZT drill was purchased in 1990 and made available to municipal ratepayers to seed 1,300 acres under ZT in more than 25 sites. As a result of this project, and information from other projects and changing agricultural conditions, producers confidently adopted this practice.
SARDA has demonstrated traditional methods for improving water quality, such as liming, and more natural treatment methods like testing survivability and effectiveness of the triploid grass carp and the silver carp. Currently, SARDA provides assistance to producers to test their water sources, and tests samples from three water bodies for biologicals, nutrients and pesticides. This information is being used to establish a baseline water quality.
Since 1991, we have published 60 issues of the Back Forty newsletter. The newsletters are mailed and electronically sent to 3,500 producers throughout the prairies. The annual report has grown from a hand-typed comb-bound document done in house to between 130 and 150 pages of professionally printed and bound reports on SARDA’s projects following scientific formats. SARDA also hosts the biannual Smoky River Agricultural Trade Show, a premiere event in the Peace Region drawing exhibitors from Canada wide and visitors from the entire Peace Region.
SARDA is committed to a long-term program that promotes sustainable production and profit for producers, and facilitates the transfer of information and technology between researchers, industry and producers. We strive for excellence in local, unbiased research and demonstrations.