Skip to content

Ken Lopetinsky Honoured with APG’s 2016 Alberta Pulse Industry Innovator Award (PCN Spring 2016) MAR 29 2017 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Pulse Crop News.

The Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) selected esteemed pulse researcher Ken Lopetinsky as the winner of the second annual Alberta Pulse Industry Innovator Award.

“Each year APG recognizes a person whose progressive thinking and tireless efforts helped build Alberta’s pulse industry into the flourishing industry that it is today,” said Rick Mueller, Zone 3 Chair. “I cannot think of a more deserving recipient for the award to be bestowed upon during the International Year of Pulses than Ken Lopetinsky. He is considered one of the fathers of Western Canada’s modern day field pea industry, and influenced many of the researchers who continue to develop improved pulse genetics.”

Lopetinsky was raised on a mixed livestock and grain farm near Star, AB. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with distinction in 1973 at the University of Alberta, he joined Alberta Agriculture as a District Agriculturist, and later as Forage and Special Crops Specialist, Pulse and Special Crops Specialist, and Pulse Research Agronomist until his retirement in 2008. In 1976, Lopetinsky received education leave and completed his Master of Agriculture (soil science) in 1977.

In 1983, Lopetinsky became involved with the Alberta Pulse Growers Association, which later became the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission. Throughout his career, Lopetinsky worked closely with producers, industry representatives and other researchers on applied research projects including field pea and faba bean variety development, fertilization, herbicides, seeding depth, land rolling, crop rotations, direct seeding, and the value of pulse crops in rotation. He co-authored and co-edited the publication “Pulse Crops in Alberta,” which was awarded a certificate of excellence by the American Society of Agronomy. Lopetinsky mentored numerous agrologists over the course of his career, and many still work in the industry today.

Lopetinsky said that he was honoured to learn that he was chosen as the recipient of the second annual Industry Innovator Award sponsored by ATB Financial.

“I am surprised and humbled to receive this award,” Lopetinsky said. “I have to give a lot of credit to the team over the years because it has been said that ‘you’re only as good as your team’. The pulse industry came through with full support, and that was very, very rewarding.”

Sheri Strydhorst, an Agronomy Research Scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, considers herself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Lopetinsky.

“Ken was one of the founding members of Alberta’s pulse industry,” she said. “He screened pea, faba bean and lupin genetics from around the world to find the best cultivars for Alberta farmers. He knew what struggles farmers faced and conducted meticulous research to find solutions to their pulse production challenges. The best example I can think of is the Ascochyta scoring card (which is still being used today) to help producers make decisions about when fungicide applications are beneficial in pea crops. Ken’s pulse production knowledge, meticulous research, and connection to the farm has formed the foundation of Alberta’s successful pulse industry. I am incredibly fortunate to have been trained by such a knowledgeable and passionate individual. Ken, you truly are a Pulse Industry Innovator. Thank you for your countless contributions to this great industry.”

Lopetinsky recalled the early days of pulse production in Alberta when he accepted the Innovator Award at the Alberta Pulse Growers’ AGM on Jan. 27.

“The Pulse Growers Commission is a very integral part of any success,” he noted. “As I reminisce about my career, I always think of the directors of the commission and all the time volunteered to discuss issues was fantastic.”

Lopetinsky also credited his wife Vivian with being essential to his success.

“Thank you to my wife,” he said, noting that he put in long days at the research plots. “Now we have a cell phone, but back in those days we didn’t even have a computer. A lot of calls came to the house and my wife, Vivian, kept track.”

In retirement, the couple still enjoy growing over 1,000 orchids together, some of which are sold at the Orchid Society of Alberta annual show and sale at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert on April 1-3, 2016. The hobby started over 30 years ago with Blue Heron Orchids.

“I always loved to grow things and still do, hence the orchids,” Lopetinsky said.

He expressed his delight at having the United Nations designate 2016 as International Year of Pulses.

“I was very happy to hear that and I hope it’s not just a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said. “I hope that there are more opportunities for people to talk about pulse crops. Please take full advantage of International Year of Pulses. It’s a great opportunity.”