Irrigation & Soil Management Symposium

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Creston Hotel & Suites

1418 Canyon Street

Creston, BC V0B 1G4


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Event description
Learn about results from field research on irrigation and soil management that applies to Kootenay-Boundary farming conditions.

About this Event

This one-day symposium, hosted by the Kootenay Boundary Farm Advisors, BC Agricultural Climate Adaptation Research Network and Climate Action Initiative, is an opportunity to learn about results from field research on irrigation and soil management relevant to Kootenay-Boundary farming conditions. The morning sessions will focus on optimizing irrigation in row crops to use less water while maintaining crop health. The afternoon will include a hands-on session on soil management practices for improved nutrient and water management. This is a chance to discuss your practices and challenges with researchers and fellow producers as well as learn about new field research studies now taking place in the Kootenay-Boundary region.


9:30 - Registration opens with refreshments

10:00 - Welcome & introduction

10:15 - Results from the Erickson water demand study in the Creston Valley

Presented by: Uli Wolf, General Manager of Environmental Services, Regional District of Central Kootenay

10:35 - Mulching and post harvest deficit irrigation to optimize water use in Okanagan cherry orchards

Presented by: Dr. Louise Nelson, Professor in Biology, UBC Okanagan

Cherry production is expanding northward and to higher elevations. Expansion of agricultural capacity requires more efficient water use and consideration of potential for frost damage. Dr. Louise Nelson will be sharing results from her research on orchard floor management and Post-harvest Deficit Irrigation (PDI) in the Okanagan to increase the efficiency of water use.

11:05- Break

11:15 - Kootenay-Boundary on-farm research project for optimizing water use through mulching, a Creston orchard demonstration

Presented by: Don Low, Quiet Valley Farms & Catherine Tarasoff, Agrowest Consulting

Water use issues associated with cherry production from a Producer’s perspective. Overview of the on-farm research program underway in the Province with a focus on the development of Grab and Go Research Templates for water conservation, improved soil health, and increased yields. Preliminary results from Season 1 will be presented.

11:45 - Discussion on irrigation practices & challenges

12:15 - New project in the Kootenay-Boundary: Tools & Resources for Water Optimization

Presented by: Andrew Bennett, Living Lands Agroecological Consulting & Harmony Bjarnson, Climate Action Initiative

This two-year project aims to improve the quality and availability of tools and resources that support local producer’s efforts to increase their agricultural water efficiency. We will conduct on-farm demonstrations to address locally important issues in irrigation and water management, and share the result.

12:35 - Lunch (provided)

1:15 - Improving Soil Management in Organic Vegetable Production to Meet Multiple Objectives

Presented by: Dr. Sean Smukler, Associate Professor in Applied Biology & Soil Science, UBC; Kira Borden, PhD, UBC & Raelani Kesler, UBC

Managing soil amendments to meet crop demand can be particularly challenging for organic vegetable farmers. Nutrient values of amendments can be highly variable and often do not meet the nutrient ratios required of mixed plantings, cover crops are challenging to establish, and fertilizer costs are high. Since 2015, UBC has been trialling various nutrient management strategies and evaluating them for their impact on crop production as well as their impact on the environment and soil health. Results from UBC Farm and 18 other farms in southwest BC will be shared. We will also describe our new nutrient management trials in the Kootenay-Boundary region that look at soil management and changes in water availability resulting from climate change .

1:45 - Applying Nutrient Management Practices to Your Farm

Presented by: Dr. Sean Smukler, Associate Professor in Applied Biology & Soil Science, UBC; Kira Borden, PhD, UBC & Raelani Kesler, UBC

A hands-on session designed to help farmers take what is being learned through BC research results and apply it in their own fields, including soil testing and nutrient management planning tools. We will be working through nutrient management calculations if you can bring a laptop that would be helpful, otherwise, we will be working from worksheets.

2:45 - Event evaluation & closing notes

3:00 - Event ends

Speaker Bios

Dr. Louise Nelson is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Biology, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus. She is a soil microbiologist with more than 30 years experience working in the agricultural sector in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Her research has focused on plant-microbe interactions, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria, biological control of plant fungal pathogens and nitrogen cycling in agricultural soils. She recently led a FAIP study to identify sustainable orchard floor management practices and water delivery systems to optimize water use efficiency and soil health in cherry production as it expands northward in the Okanagan with climate change.

Dr. Sean Smukler is an Associate Professor in the Applied Biology & Soil Science program at UBC (Vancouver) and the Chair in Agriculture and the Environment. He is the principal investigator of the Sustainable Agricultural Landscape Lab and his climate change research is primarily based on adaptation approaches for agriculture and soils management.

Dr. Catherine Tarasoff (P.Ag) is a research scientist with over 15 years of research experience and 10 years of experience as a University educator (Faculty and Sessional). She is the author of the Guide to On-farm Demonstration Research, published by the BC Forage Council in 2016. Catherine has been working directly with producers since 2016 to encourage the implementation of The Guide through an assortment of 1-day workshops, conferences and field day presentations.

Don Low is a partner in Quiet Valley Farms cherry orchard in the Creston valley. Don has also worked with the Ministry of Agriculture as the Industry Specialist/Economist in the Industry Competitiveness Branch, the BC Pork Industry Specialist and the District Agriculturalist in Creston. Prior to his starting with the BC Ministry of Agriculture in 1989, Don owned and operated a pig farm, worked as an agricultural lender and farm financial management instructor in Alberta, and managed a cocoa plantation in Papua New Guinea.

Andrew Bennett (P. Ag) is the principal of Living Lands Agroecological Consulting and partner in Moon Gravity Farms. He is an Environmental Farm Plan Advisor and program developer for the new Regional Agricultural Liaison Services program in the Kootenays. He applies principles of ecological dynamics to design diverse agricultural ecosystems and to regenerate damaged landscapes with experience in mountain agriculture (range management, livestock, horticulture, agroforestry, irrigation, soil and land conservation) and habitat creation (bio-engineering, water resources, riparian management).

Funding for this workshop has been provided in part by the governments of Canada and British Columbia under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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Creston Hotel & Suites

1418 Canyon Street

Creston, BC V0B 1G4


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