2024 Research Showcase

Thank you for joining us for RDAR’s second annual Research Showcase. This event has now passed.

Event Highlights

Watch the Video

CEO Dr. Mark Redmond and Board Chair Dr. David Chalack explain how RDAR, and events like this one, are driving change in the agriculture industry.

Check out the Research Passport

The Passport has the day's agenda, speaker details, and project information.

Showcase researchers

View the posters that were on display at this year's Showcase.

Dr. Abby Redman

Nutrient and mineral composition of Alberta pasture grass over the grazing period

Mineral content of pasture can change dramatically based on grass species, soil type, surrounding oil and gas activity, and history of the land — of which there is great variability within the province of Alberta.

Mineral deficiencies will undoubtedly result in reduced production and profitability for producers. Based on compiled data, this research aims to provide recommendations for supplementation of each mineral for different regions across the province, for early, mid, and late grazing seasons.

Dr. Brenda Ralston

Scratching the surface: investigating the prevalence, nature, and potential causes of itchy cattle

Depending on the year, during the winter months, cattle begin to rub bare patches on their skin due to pruritus, which leads to concern from cattle producers — especially purebred breeders. Upon further investigation by veterinarians, lice is not always the cause. This research aims to find out what is.

Dr. Nick Allan

Adaptation and development of the anesthetic elastrator band for use in the Canadian lamb industry

Chinook Contract Research Inc. (CCR) has developed a novel anesthetic delivering elastration ligation band. The LidoBand™ can be used with all current elastrator tools.

The LidoBand™ has been designed to deliver a clinically relevant therapeutic dose of anesthetic for the duration of its application(s). This project aims to provide the beef cattle industry with an inexpensive and efficient way to deliver anesthesia during castration.

Dr. John Basarab

Turning genomic data into information: supporting decision making on-farm

The uptake of genomic tools in the commercial beef sector is only around 20%, with some of the barriers being high cost for the low perceived value and lack of support in implementation.

The “gold standard” for genomic improvement is to test individual replacement heifer, with an alternative being to test pooled DNA samples from a group of heifers.

There’s a very strong relationship between individual genotype and DNA pooling for breed composition and hybrid vigour. This research aims to provide producers with herd-level genomic information for a fraction of the cost.

cows in field

Dr. Merle Olson

Assessment of a neonatal supplement to improve health in cattle

Neonates are at risk of nutrient deficiencies as a result of maternal deficiences, low body stores at birth, and low nutritional intake. The pre-ruminating calf relies solely on milk for adequate immunity and nutritions until they begin ingesting forage.

Insufficiencies can lead to increased morbidity and mortality. However, deficiencies in the cow are common due to variation in management, feeding, and health protocols. Environmental challenges are decreasing feed availability and altering nutritional quality, which may necessitate supplementation in newborn calves. This research aims to enhance health and welfare, antimicrobial stewardship, and producer profitability.

cows at feeding trough

Dr. Karin Orsel

The impact of commingling preconditioned and auction-derived calves on health, performance, and behaviours in first 40 days in the feedlot

Despite the known benefits of preconditioning (PC) on calves’ health and performance, adoption of PC is low.

This can be due to the unknown impacts of commingling of PC and auction-derived (AD) calves in feedlot pens on calves’ morbidity, mortality, and ADG. This research aims to evaluate the impact of PC on performance, health, and welfare of calves in the feedlot when commingles with different proportions of conventionally raised calves.

Dr. Kim Stanford

Work on ergot and shiga toxin-producing E. coli

Shiga toxins can be produced through external stressors that lead E. coli cells to produce the toxin as a stress response. 

This research aims to benefit all segments of Alberta’s beef industry through student training, attracting both internal and external collaborators, and contributing to the sustainability of Alberta beef. 

Dr. Laio Sobrinho

Assessing the accuracy of on-farm rapid testing kits for nitrate-n concentration in forage

Ruminants, particularly cattle, are at risk of nitrate toxicity when forage nitrate levels are high — a concern in Alberta due to factors like excessive fertilization and environmental stressors.

Traditional lab-based nitrate testing methods are accurate but costly and time-consuming. This research aims to evaluate the efficacy of a commercially available quick-test kit by comparing its results against those obtained through standard laboratory methods.


Dr. Burim Ametaj

Alternative approaches to prevent or treat mastitis in dairy cows/Non-antibiotic Approaches to Control Mastitis in Dairy Cows

Mastitis significantly impacts the dairy industry by adversely affecting milk quality, cow health, and farm profitability.

Rising antibiotic resistance calls for new, non-antibiotic treatment alternatives. This research aims to identify alternative approaches to prevent or treat mastitis, benefiting Alberta’s dairy industry.

Dr. Jeroen De Buck

Novel phages to protect dairy calves against Johne’s disease

Johne’s disease (JD) is a chronic, infectious enteritis, which affects wild and domestic ruminants.

There is no cure nor effective prevention and current vaccines have substantial limitations leaving this disease widespread in all substantial dairy industries causing economic, animal welfare and public health implications. This research aims to provide a novel prevention method to combat JD in dairy calves.

Dr. Anne Laarman

Managing gut inflammation during weaning in young calves

Calf health and mortality remain an on-going concern on Alberta dairies and are a major driver of antibiotic use on-farm.

Calf mortality remains high and approximately 25% of dairy calves suffer from scouring prior to weaning. This research aims to investigate how commonly-used weaning practices affect gut inflammation in young calves.

Dr. Linda Gorim & Dr. Rebecca Enesi

Assessing the impact of soil pH on exchangeable cations and crop yields: a spatial analysis

Productive soils are essential for sustaining high yields, but challenges with soil degradation such as acidification are aggravated by intensive management practices and environmental conditions.

This research aims to benefit producers by analyzing soil pH variability, its effects on crop yields and exchangeable cations on-farm.

Dr. Michele Konschuh

Using agronomy, biocontrol and outreach to reduce blackleg of potato

Numerous seed-borne diseases have been identified in potato production world-wide that are of concern to Albertan growers if they become established within the province.

One such disease is blackleg, which is a particularly aggressive emerging pathogen in North America. This research aims to develop best management practices that growers and storage managers can use to eliminate blackleg from the seed production system.

Dr. Rezvan Karimi

The effects of bedding preparation time and irrigation management on yield, soil nutrient management and GHG emissions in irrigated potato productions in Southern Alberta

Fall bedding is a common practice in potato production in southern Alberta. The practice, which involves irrigation, broadcasting of fertilizer, plowing, and the formation of beds, aims to provide favourable soil structure conditions in the spring. However, these practice may have effects on soil fertility and crop nutrient availability.

This research aims to quantify the impact of bedding choices and timing and their interaction with irrigation practices on potato production and soil health.

close up of wheat leaf with stripe rust

Dr. Reem Aboukhaddour

Stripe rust in Canada: genetic analysis and virulence

Stripe rust of wheat is one of the most damaging wheat diseases worldwide. Stripe rust has become a significant threat to wheat production in Canada due to the emergence of more virulent races that were able to cause infection at a higher temperature than previous races.

This research aims to generate a tool to track rust changes in Canada and identify resistance in already genotypes elite lines.

close up of green wheat crop

Dr. Harpinder Randhawa

Implementing Genomic Selection for Development of Next Generation CPSR Wheat

Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) wheat class was established in the mid-1980's as a lower protein alternative to Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat.

CPSR is very desirable in that it has a hard kernel texture, strong dough properties, good agronomics, and good milling performance. This research aims to use genomic selection to breed for desirable traits like grain yield, disease resistance, and early maturity.


Dr. Sheu-Fang Hwang

Understanding Fusarium wilt and root rot of hybrid canola: occurrence, host range, disease development, resistance and yield losses

High seed costs of new canola cultivars make it important to efficiently achieve target plant populations. However, over 20% of canola fields in central Alberta have poor seedling establishment and root rot, most often caused by Fusarium spp.

This disease hampers establishment of target plant populations and leave affected areas subject to weed growth, resulting in yield loss and loss in seed quality.

This research aims to investigate the increasingly widespread and severe seedling blight and root rot in Alberta.

aerial view of hemp pulse crops

Dr. Breanne Tidemann

Leaning into lupins: investigating herbicide options to support adoption in the Canadian prairies

Pulse crops are a desirable component of a crop rotation, improving things like nitrogen fixation and soil structure.

However, in order for lupin to be adopted as a rotational crop in the Prairies, an effective weed management strategy is needed. This research tests herbicide products, both pre- and post-emergent, on both narrow leaf blue lupin.

This research aims to identify products that provide high levels of lupin tolerance along with high levels of weed control.

Dr. Shabeg Briar

Efficacy of a novel entomopathogenic nematode isolate for control of canola insect pests

Subterranean pests, such as cutworms and cabbage root maggots pose a substantial threat to vital cash crops like canola and peas, causing severe damage in the form of wilting, lodging, and significant yield losses.

Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) have demonstrated promise in combating soil-dwelling insect pests. This research aims to provide a sustainable pest management approach for Western Canadian growers.

Dr. Debbie McKenzie

Detection of chronic wasting disease prions on vegetation and in soils

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal, transmissible prion disease affecting free ranging and farmed cervids.

CWD prions are exceptionally stable and persistent in the environment, resulting in CWD contamination of Alberta crops. This research aims to examine the ability of CWD to bind to a variety of Alberta crops.

Dr. Stephen Strelkov

Clubroot resistance gene function based on whole genome sequences, genome editing and resistance phenotypes

Clubroot is one of the most important disease issues in Canadian canola. The deployment of genetically resistant cultivars is the most effective and widely used strategy to manage this disease.

Unfortunately, new pathogens have emerged that can overcome host resistance. This research aims to contribute to the sustainable long-term management of clubroot in canola.

Dr. Lingyun Chen

Development of health food products by combining proteins and dietary fibers from oats and pulse

Low moisture extrusion analogues like texturized vegetable protein (TVP) are traditionally produced from wheat and soy proteins.

Alternative proteins from pulses grown in Canada such as pea and faba bean are more sustainable due to their nitrogen fixing properties, are hypoallergenic, and high in protein content. However, novel sources of TVP require research to understand how extrusion parameters can affect pulse protein molecular interactions and the final TVP quality. This research aims to study the effects of protein content and moisture level on pea and faba bean protein structure and functional properties.

Dr. Nick Savidov

Optimizing yield, quality, and power consumption with full spectrum LED lights in greenhouse production systems

Supplemental light is a critical factor in greenhouse crop productivity, especially during winter in the northern hemisphere when Daily Light Integral (DLI) is low.

Despite the obvious need for supplemental light, only a relatively small fraction of the greenhouse operators in North America uses supplemental light due to the high capital investment and significant operational cost. This research aims to identify best practices for supplemental lighting when producing three of the most popular greenhouse-grown crops in Canada: cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.

Dr. Michael Gänzle

Novel sanitation technologies for improve control of bacterial communities in meat processing plants for improved product shelf life and safety

Biofilms are three-dimensional structures that are colonized by diverse bacteria and resist cleaning and sanitation. They are present in meat processing plants and contribute to meat spoilage.

The meat industry aims to control biofilm formation by hygenic design of processing equipment and facilities; however, these efforts fail to fully control the problem and spoilage microbes likely persist permanently in food processing facilities.

This research aims to assess the efficacy of novel sanitation methods for biofilm control, product contact surfaces, and for decontamination of primal cuts.

Dr. Anastasia Elias

Bio-based and biodegradeable plastics for agricultural applications

Due to growing concerns about the environmental effects of plastic waste, there is an increasing consumer-driven demand for plastics that can degrade into benign products at the end of their lifetime.

Large quantities of plastic are used in agricultural applications such as bale wrap, silage covers, and mulch films. Implementing biodegradable materials that can fulfill the same functions as conventional plastic remains a challenge. This research aims to develop biopolymer blends for agricultural application that can be safely released into soil at the end of the polymer lifetime.

Dr. Renata Labuschagne

Mass storage of summer-mated Queens in the winter in Alberta

Beekeepers in Alberta have sustained an average 26% winter colony loss since 2006, with “poor queens” being one of the top causes of colony mortality.

To enhance production and industry sustainability, the availability of high-quality local queens is essential. This research aims to provide proof-of-concept that honey bee queens can be overwintered en masse in Alberta, with an ultimate goal of developing queen management best practices for the Alberta beekeeping industry.

Dr. Shelley Hoover

The Royal Treatment: Improving honey bee queen health as the basis of colony health

Honey bees live in colonies headed by a single queen. This queen is the sole reproductive female, and the long-term survival of the colony depends on her ability to produce health offspring.

This project aims to examine the linkages between queen health and colony success, methods of requeening and storing locally-bred queens, and will also provide beekeepers with specific queen management recommendations.

Dr. Jie Chen

Passive on-site detection of avian influenza in poultry birds

Avian influenza has had a significant impact on the health of chickens and turkeys. Some avian influenza viruses (AIV) are zoonotic.

There is an urgent need for low-cost, portable, and rapid screening tools to detect avian influenza infection and prevent major outbreaks. While serological testing is the most appropriate method to detect the presence of avian influenza in poultry, it’s a costly and lengthy process.

This research aims to extend existing point-of-care impedance-based technology to diagnose avian influenza infection within 20 minutes for less than $20 per test.

Dr. Doug Korver

Expanding opportunities for Western Canaidan faba bean as a feedstuff for broiler chickens and laying hens

Faba bean is a leguminous pulse crop that is particularly well adapted to the cooler, wetter growing conditions characteristic of the northern crop-growing regions of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

There is considerable interest among poultry producers to identify novel or under-utilized feedstuffs that can help manage feed costs in the face of increasing global feed commodity prices. This research aims to answer practical questions about the role faba beans can play in managing feed costs, displacing imported soybean meals from rations, and reducing the GHG intensity of poultry production.

Dr. Graham Plastow

Livestock Gentec: Putting science into practice for pig producers

Gentec is an Alberta centre of excellence focused on applied research aligned with industry-identified priorities to validate, demonstrate, and adopt transformative genomic solutions to improve the global competitiveness (economic, social, and environmental) of the Canadian livestock sector.

This research is a collaborative initiative to work with industry partners to improve genetic transfer at the production level of the pork industry.

two wild boar

Dr. Mathieu Pruvot

Invasive wild pigs and the potential spread of infectious diseases across Alberta: getting prepared for a game-changer

The spread of wild pigs across Canada is significantly changing the epidemiological context and previously understood risks related to reportable and emerging diseases.

This raises critical questions, like how are wild pigs changing the permeability of Canada to disease spread, and how may wild pigs change the outcomes of sporadic introductions of diseases into Alberta?

This research aims to protect the livestock industries from biosecurity threats, maintain disease-free status requirements for live animal and meat product exports, and secure economic opportunities for producers.

Dr. Eduardo Cobo

A multi-platform for testing and validating non-antibiotic tools to mitigate diarrhea in pigs

Diarrhea in grower-finisher pigs is a major threat to the swine industry because it affects pig growth and causes death when complicated. Diarrheas caused by infectious diseases such as swine, dysentery, and salmonellosis are the most common ones.

Current treatments with antibiotics are only partially effective and may lead to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria that outpace the development of new antibiotics.

This research aims to provide unique tools in pork industry to generate alternatives to antimicrobials that can mitigate diarrhea and health monitoring strategies for gut wellness.