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Innovative Farm Research Boosted by New Equipment at CARA

By Jean-Paul McDonald

The Chinook Applied Research Association (CARA) in Oyen, Alberta, has recently taken a significant step in agricultural research thanks to a substantial investment in new equipment. This advancement promises to bring innovative and profitable farming practices to the forefront in local communities. 

A $267,000 grant from the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) Capacity Initiative enabled CARA to acquire a suite of modern agricultural tools. This includes a plot combine, tractor, pickup truck, GPS unit, cargo trailer, and a mower tractor. These additions have notably enhanced CARA's small plot adaptive research trials, as explained by CARA manager and forage agronomist Dianne Westerlund. 

The equipment upgrade has not only improved the quality and efficiency of research trials but has also allowed for budget reallocation. This strategic shift has resulted in adding more field technicians, increasing the capacity for more extensive and varied trials.  

The team has expanded, adding 1.5 field technicians and two to three summer technicians, marking a 25% increase in plot work over the last five years. 

One significant benefit of the new equipment is the ability to harvest more trials promptly. The dedicated new tractor for seeding and the existing tractor for spraying have streamlined operations, enhancing overall efficiency. 

CARA crop agronomist, Braeden Peers, highlights the role of the new truck and trailer in improving logistical efficiency, enabling faster transportation of equipment and personnel. This modernization is crucial for keeping CARA's research relevant and aligned with current agricultural practices. 

The equipment upgrades have also bolstered the confidence among the research team, facilitating the collection and analysis of higher quality data. This is particularly important given CARA's mission to adapt agricultural technologies to the unique semi-arid conditions and challenging soils of east-central Alberta. 

CARA's current focus encompasses a variety of trials in cereals, pulses, and forages, alongside private industry product trials aimed at soil health. The results are disseminated through tours, field days, and newsletters, ensuring that the agricultural community stays informed and benefits from the latest research findings. 

This story of technological advancement and commitment to agricultural research exemplifies CARA's dedication to enhancing farming practices in Alberta. The organization's efforts are a testament to the importance of continuous innovation in the agricultural sector. 

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