Alberta’s barley program moving to Olds College

L-R: Leona Staples, MLA Nathan Cooper, Stuart Cullum, Minster Dreeshen, Minister Nicolaides and Dr. Joy Agnew.

An initial $10.5-million grant over three years will fund the program at Olds College. The college will take ownership of the program, providing it the capacity to support more world-leading research.

“Olds has long been the centre of agriculture research innovation, so it was a natural fit. From practical on-farm applications to advanced technical training, the college has helped build modern agriculture in Alberta. Tremendous barley varieties have been developed under Alberta’s barley breeding program and a more farmer-focused research program under Olds College, will just make a good thing better.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Alberta’s barley breeding program has successfully developed and introduced several new varieties of barley to both domestic and international markets. Some examples include:

  • AB Advantage, AB Wrangler and AB Tofield, and a highly sought after (but yet unnamed) variety, which are for feeding domestic livestock
  • AB Lowe and AB Brewnet, which are now used for the growing craft brewing market

“Olds College sits in the heartland of central Alberta’s agriculture belt and is a leader in agriculture education in our province. This new research mandate significantly increases the college’s research capacity, adding to an already forward-thinking agriculture research program and leading to more opportunities for students and measureable benefits for Alberta farmers.”

Nathan Cooper, MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills

This announcement helps Alberta’s agriculture industry build upon its track record of global applied research collaboration. It will enhance learning opportunities for students, supporting skills for jobs.

Since 1973, the program has been developing enhanced cereal varieties for feed, malt, food and bio-industrial uses, bringing more economic opportunities to Alberta’s agriculture industry.

“This program transfer builds on the strengths of Olds College and will help expand the institution’s overall research capacity. With the barley breeding program at Olds, we will see researchers, producers and industry all at the table to find real-life solutions that will benefit farmers, Alberta consumers and our economy.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

This agreement is part of the Alberta government’s commitment to ensuring farmers and ranchers lead agriculture research priorities - not government. Establishing Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR), an arm’s-length, non-profit corporation, is a first step in making sure research funding priorities are producer-led. Over the long term, RDAR will assume ongoing responsibility for the funding agreement with Olds College.

“Olds College welcomes the addition of the Barley/Triticale Research Program to our applied research portfolio. Olds College is focused on delivering research programming that is centred on the needs of producers and industry partners and we are committed to collaborating with key stakeholders throughout the sector in order to sustainably position and grow barley/triticale research here in Alberta.”

Stuart Cullum, president, Olds College

“Barley is an important crop in Alberta for both the livestock sector and the brewing industry. We are pleased to see the continuation of a barley breeding centre in our province where over half of Canada’s barley is grown and look forward to working with Olds College in bringing new varieties to market that improve the bottom lines of Alberta farmers.”

Dave Bishop, chair, Alberta Barley Commission

Under this new model, agricultural research in Alberta will lead to tangible benefits for farmers, including higher profits, a more abundant food supply at lower cost for Albertans and ultimately a higher quality of life in rural communities.

“RDAR is excited to support the ongoing barley/triticale research at Olds College. The results of this research will directly benefit producers’ competitiveness and profitability as new economic opportunity is discovered. RDAR is where big ideas grow.”

Dr. David Chalack, interim board chair, Results Driven Agriculture Research

Quick facts

  • The Barley/Triticale Research Program comprises breeding, pathology and biotechnology activities in relation to barley and triticale.
  • Agriculture and Forestry has reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to transition its Barley/Triticale Research Program to Olds College.