Smallest studies can lead to big changes in agriculture

Agassiz research station celebrates 125 years of science discoveries

Life as a scientist is a life of learning. There’s the constant research, the number crunching, the field studies, and the reading and re-reading of data.

And on Saturday, the researchers studying at the Pacific Agricultural Research Station in Agassiz were able to share their love of learning with the general public, through an open house.

Displays were set up throughout the facility, and visitors were able to interact with scientists, look at specimens through microscopes, and learn about topics varying from the life cycle of wireworms to the cultivation of hardy raspberry crops.

UVic co-op biology student Austin Eakin has been studying at the research station for the past few month, and spent Saturday explaining wireworms, whose larvae feed on farmers’ crops such as wheat and potatoes.

In the past, he explained, Thimet was used to control the pests. But that practice was banned in this province after the substance was finding its way out of farms. How that happened details the importance of finding environmentally friendly farming practices.

Thimet was “leaking” from farmers’ fields into nearby ponds, Eakin explained. From there, the ducks were ingesting the substance when scooping up dirt for grit. In turn, bald eagles were ingesting the Thimet when preying on ducks. And because an eagle knows to grab the duck’s throat, where it holds its meals, the birds were getting a full dose of Thimet.

Dr. Tom Forge was also on hand at the open house, explaining how scientists use a ‘minirhiztron’ observation tube to look at the roots of a plant without disturbing it.

A what?

A minirhiztron tube can hold a specialized camera, which can be pushed into the ground so scientists can study a ground sample without removing it. In Agassiz, that means they can plant test subjects and control subjects, insert the tubes and cause less disruption to the soil. It’s only one small part of the research going on at the station, but research into even the smallest molecules of science have evolved into big changes in the world of agriculture, Forge said.

Scientists have been studying at PARC in Agassiz for the past 125 years, and they celebrated that anniversary throughout the day Saturday.

news@ahobserver.com

 

 

 

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