What is GRO???

I mentioned in a previous article the importance of agricultural associations in our farming communities. I think that it is so important to become involved, get to know the people in your area and share the massive amount of knowledge that you have with your local agricultural community. At conferences and seminars, I truly believe that a large part of knowledge gained comes from the other producers that I have the opportunity to network with.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to Gateway Research Organization (GRO), a non-profit agricultural research association for the Westlock region. We originally started as the Pembina Forage Association back in 1975 and made the decision to change our name in 1994 as we began to include crop research to our existing forage, pasture and livestock research.  At GRO we feel that it is so incredibly important for producers to have unbiased localized research to base their decisions on. Because all of our trials are right here in the Westlock area; our plots are subject to the same temperatures, weather conditions, soil conditions, weed and disease pressure as the pastures, forages, and crops of our supporting neighbors. What this means from a practical perspective is that the information that we gather through our research on plants, products, rotations, and practices can actually be used to help make informed decisions on your farm without risking the investment that some of these things can require.

So what exactly do we do? Throughout the summer we take care of the many cereal, as well as oilseed crops, cover crops, silages, legumes and grass forage trials that we run. We also have a heifer pasture that we manage throughout the summer season, where we can experiment with different types of rotations, watering methods, fencing products, and corral setups. All of these studies would be useless without meeting and getting to know our neighboring farmers, so from an extension aspect we spend a lot of time planning and putting on events. Agriculture is nothing without community and events such as our crop walk, the fusarium head blight demo, our pasture walk, the bus trip to Canolapalooza and so much more, gives us the chance to bring the community together. Our winters are generally spent analyzing the research data and hosting events within our community while planning for the next plot trial season.

With so much going on at Gateway Research Organization we need a good team to keep everything running smoothly. Throughout the summer we usually employ two or three students. This year we had a great group; Sami Siegle returned to us for a second summer, Lilly Artemenko and Fito Zamudio all helped out greatly with the day to day operations. These three terrific students were led by Rick Tarasuik who is our Crop Field Technician and ensures that our trials and all of our field work runs smoothly. For the harvest season we have been very grateful to have Avery Tarasuik helping with the plots, she has been a great asset during such a busy time of year. Amber Kenyon is new to our team this year and works in the capacity of Farm Energy Outreach Officer, she also helps run our social media and website. Sandeep Nain is the General Manager here at GRO, he is the visionary and implements the new trials each year. He also does a great job of keeping us all on track. Directing the entire operation is our terrific group of directors. Each of the eleven directors brings a completely different, forward-thinking, agricultural perspective and background to the table. We feel that this is so important and necessary to keep our operations truly unbiased and practical right down to the roots.

I know what you are thinking… How can I become involved with such a fascinating organization? The first step is to sign up for a membership. With membership renewals coming up in January, this is the perfect time to sign up and get involved. Membership gives you access to our annual report (that features all of the results from the year’s fieldwork), quarterly newsletter, as well as discounted admission fees to the events that we host. Our AGM is a great place to come and meet the team, get some great information and network with other outstanding producers. We are also always happy to give tours of our plots and answer questions by phone or e-mail at (780)345-4546 or grohome@telus.net. We look forward to hearing from you!

Amber Kenyon
Gateway Research Organization