CSBE-SCGAB Annual Technical Conference and AGM
The CSBE-SCGAB Conference for Interdisciplinary Engineering in Agriculture and Biosystems is quickly approaching! Plan to be in Saskatoon July 7-10 to attend this conference that will
showcase collaborations among engineering disciplines and between academia and industry. If you cannot attend the entire conference, you are welcome to sign up for the workshops and tours to earn professional development credits!
Workshops (July 7)
Workshop 1: Sharpening your Technical Communication Skills, presented by the Graham Centre for the Study of Communication
Workshop 2: Modeling Crop & Soil Flow Using Discrete Element Method, presented by CNH Canada and DEM Solutions
Workshop 3: Renewable Energy: Solar PV and Solar Thermal Systems, presented by Rob Baron, Centre for Sustainable Innovation at Lakeland College
Workshop 4: Renewable Energy: Biomass, presented by four speaker:
1. Alok Dhungana, Lakeland College, "Pyrolysis 101"
2. Jason Praski, Titan Clean Energy Solutions, "Large scale pyrolysis and it's industry applications"
3. Ben Voss, Meadow Lake Tribal Council, "Biomass combustion"
4. Mojgan Kovoosi, BECii, "Synergies of manure biogas, ethanol production and alage production
Tours (July 9)
Tour 1: Gardiner Dam-Lake Diefenbaker, Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Development Centre, Irrigation Farms
Tour 2: PoundMaker Feedlot and Ethanol Plant, Western Beef Development Centre (solid state anaerobic digester), Cargill Canola Crushing Plant
Tour 3: Canadian Light Source, CNH Saskatoon Plant, U of S Dairy Barn
You may pre-register online or register in person (workshops and tours are first come, first served).
For more information or to pre-register, visit the conference website: http://www.csbe-scgab.ca/saskatoon2013
Call for Abstracts: Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering Science, Trades & Technology
Letter from a Concerned Member
What percentage of the advances in Prairie agriculture has resulted from engineering research and development? Few would argue against an answer stating that at least one-third or more of today’s agricultural progress stems from advances in agricultural and biological engineering research. Despite recognition of these contributions, future engineering research and development within Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada stands to be seriously curtailed, because engineering is often viewed as support activity and primarily the responsibility of industry.
From the beginning, agricultural engineering played a lead role in federal agricultural research, especially at Swift Current. Today’s research facility in southwest Saskatchewan, the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre (SPARC), began in 1920 as the Dominion Experimental Farm at Swift Current with the objective “to discover suitable cultural methods and cropping systems for the dry areas of Saskatchewan and Alberta.” Its work included the evaluation of new farm machinery and engineering-based soil and water dryland research. Many of the earliest soil and crop management methods and implements were conceived, designed, and influenced by engineering work conducted at Swift Current: the first test combine, stubble mulching, harrow packing, soil listing, rod-weeding, cereal and forage research plot seeders and harvesters, openers for zero- and minimum-till drills, various crop harvesters for wind, snow, and biomass management, etc. Engineering designs for soil sampling, fertilizer placement, Prairie dam construction, irrigation works and projects, salinity control, community pastures, and the like were also initiated. In fact, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) received its major start at the Swift Current Research Farm.
SPARC continues today as the only federal research centre in the Brown soil zone within the “Palliser Triangle.” With time, research programs for breeding semiarid plant crops, developing dryland agronomy, and promoting irrigated and non-irrigated forage production were added to the initial engineering research programs at the “Farm” during the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies. In 1982, the Engineering Section consisted of eight engineers; two in machine design, one in tillage, one in irrigation, one in salinity, two in energy conservation and renewable energy, and one in Soil and Water (also the section head). This Engineering Section lasted for ten years, until, upon the loss of two engineering positions, it amalgamated with the Soils Section to form the Soils and Environment Section. By 1998, two more engineering positions were eliminated with a third in 2002, as retiring engineers were not replaced. This left only three engineering positions still existing from the eight that functioned 20 years earlier.
During the last two years, these three engineering research programs at SPARC have been or are closing: the Soil and Water, the Dryland Salinity, and the Engineering Design Research Programs. The engineers serving these programs have transferred to other research programs or have been asked to retire or resign. Soil and Water Engineer Brian McConkey is now a Strategic Coordinator for the Agricultural-Ecological Systems and Health Program; Harold Steppuhn has retired into a Honorary Scientist role (unpaid) to document 50 years of federal and provincial research in controlling dryland salinity; and Mark Stumborg has been asked to wind-down the Engineering Design and Biomass Development (Engineering) Programs.