Capacity funding expands and improves Indian Head ag research programs

Western Grains Research Foundation

An investment in infrastructure and equipment has allowed the Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation (IHARF) to make many positive advancements – improved efficiency, team growth and program expansion.

IHARF received a $727,470 investment from the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) Capacity Initiative in 2021 and used the funds to purchase a plot combine, front wheel assist tractor, a variety of sample processing equipment and a drying shed.

Now, they’re reaping the benefits.

“This equipment has definitely made our small plot trials far more efficient and it has really allowed us to expand the on-farm field-scale research that we do,” explains Danny Petty, executive manager.

The most significant purchase was the WIntersteiger Quantum plot combine, which Petty says has had a big impact on harvest operations. The combine’s technology allows researchers to collect and analyze yield data faster than ever before. It has also been a welcome upgrade for the field team as it’s the first time the organization has had a combine with a cab.

The new sample processing assets, which includes grain cleaning equipment, dryer ovens, dust collection systems and a protein analyzer, has streamlined post-harvest processes. Since some of this equipment was previously shared and some of the analysis work outsourced, the ability to complete all processing in-house means researchers can determine results much faster and at a lower cost.

“The drying facilities we had were too small for the size of the farm and were being fully utilized,” explains Petty. “Now that we have built a new drying shed from a shipping container, we can dry samples a lot faster and at the appropriate times.”

An indirect result of the investment has been the expansion of the IHARF staff. One new full-time technician position and one additional summer student position have been added, which has allowed the team to take on more projects and partner with provincial commodity organizations and individual growers on new trials.

Petty adds that expanding the IHARF’s extension program is also on his radar. He has started working with the other Agriculture Applied Research Management (AgriARM) organizations in Saskatchewan to create one location where research publications can be viewed and downloaded.

“There is constant interest in the work that we’re doing and both growers and agronomists are benefitting from the results,” he says. “We’ve had full crowds at our events and new farmers and agronomists are coming to sit on our board of directors, so that tells us that we’re doing something right.”

The IHARF is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote profitable and sustainable agriculture by facilitating research and technology transfer activities for the benefit of the agricultural community. The organization manages a small-plot research and demonstration program as well as a field-scale program on 1,200 acres of land.

The WGRF is a farmer-funded and farmer-directed non-profit organization investing in agricultural research that benefits western Canadian producers. To date, more than $229 million has been invested to support diverse crop research projects.

The WGRF has committed $32 million to the Accelerating Capacity Initiative to expand crop research capacity.