Members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry have moved to Alberta on their fact-finding mission as part of the new study on Soil Health in Canada.
The group spent two days in Saskatchewan visiting the Discovery Farm at Langham, met with professors and students from the U of S College of Agriculture and Biosciences, and toured some of their research plots. They met with representatives in agriculture and technology and visited the Environmental Material Science Lab to learn about the technology for monitoring soil contents, conditions, and strategies farmers can use to get optimal value out of their soil.
Saskatchewan Senator Brent Cotter says it was very inspiring.
"The potential for technology to monitor and identify ways in which the health of soil can be improved, so it can be sustained and we can continue to see advances in crop yields. Ways in which for example, government policy might be able to facilitate the adoption of these technologies for farmers and ranchers."
He notes it was important to bring the committee out to see what's happening here.
"We have nearly half of the arable land in the country in Saskatchewan. So, that means that soil health and strategies to facilitate greater production and sustainability of the condition of soil is more critical in Saskatchewan than anywhere else. And it's important for Senators from across the country who populate this committee to really get a chance to understand and appreciate that, and I think they did. I think the two days we've spent here has been an eye-opener for them. And I hope it will contribute to a really good report with recommendations to how to make things better or roles that governments can play in industry to make things better going forward."
Cotter says they've heard from about 100 witnesses on this topic already, but it really makes an impact if you're right here on the ground.
"Seeing the ways in which achievements are being interpreted by scientists and new ideas coming to the floor. That's been as much as anything enriching for me to see, but also to see my colleagues captivated by it. Seeing ways in which we can craft a report that is responsive to the national needs and the needs of trying to feed the world, but also to be respectful of and recognizing the work that producers (including particularly our farmers in Saskatchewan) have already contributed to that."
The Committee is in Alberta today and tomorrow and will have a chance to see some of the research that is happening there, the visit includes a stop at Old's College where Senators will get a first-hand look at some of the work being done in the area of autonomous technology in agriculture.