cows in pen

Press Releases

Small school tackling big challenges: RDAR delivers $199,000 to Altario school to explore sustainable cattle feed solutions amidst drought

May 2, 2024 - Edmonton, Alberta - As drought conditions persist, Altario school, an agricultural academy school of excellence nestled right on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, is spearheading an initiative to answer if an indoor hydroponic system can provide consistent, year-round, affordable and nutrient-rich feed for cattle.

The K-12 school will receive $199,000 from RDAR under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, funded by the Federal and Alberta governments. The school is partnering with local members in the agriculture industry, hydroponic system manufacturers, nutritionists, accountants, and college research teams to collaborate on this project, a combined effort of eight organizations. 

“It’s wonderful to see students from Altario School working to find innovative solutions to growing challenges, like the effects of drought. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and projects like this show that the future of Canada’s agriculture sector is in good hands.” 
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 

“As Alberta prepares for what could be another challenging growing season, this government will look to innovators of all ages to find ways to support our agricultural sector. Altario school’s student-led farm is already an impressive operation, so I am excited to see this project strengthen local food security and create more opportunities for students to get involved in agriculture. 
Hon RJ Sigurdson, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation 

In July of 2023, Special Areas—an expanse of land located in southeastern Alberta—declared an agricultural disaster as prolonged drought conditions have created significant challenges for Alberta producers, leading many to sell part or all their herds to afford sufficient feed. Not only are these challenges concerning, but they also raise questions about food security for cattle and consumers alike. Creating a reliable source of cattle feed in semi-arid areas is essential to the resurgence of local farms and ranches — and the students of Altario want to help. 

“The fodder research project is just another step in growing an agriculture program at Altario School that encourages career pathways in agriculture, embraces and works with the local agriculture industry, and promotes and grows rural education!” 
Kevin Van Lagen, Altario school Principal 

“This unique collaboration has tremendous benefits for agriculture research. I had the opportunity to recently visit the Altario school and see their impressive student-led farm and various ag initiatives. I have no doubt that this collaborative work will engage and extend the fodder project far beyond school hallways, and I am thrilled that RDAR has a hand in supporting this work.” 
Josie Van Lent, RDAR Board Director 

What started in 2016 as a small student-assisted community garden has blossomed into a student-run farm with numerous livestock being looked after including cattle, sheep, chickens, and bees. Students of all ages learn how to care for, interact with, and manage livestock on the farm, gaining an appreciation for the various careers available to them in the industry.  

“Altario school believes it has an awesome opportunity to grow an appreciation for agriculture and education throughout our province … starting with our own kids.” 
Nate Horner, MLA Drumheller-Stettler 

The outcomes of this project will be shared with local producers through field tours and demonstrations. Additional information will be shared through workshops. Because of the project’s collaborative nature, the community is behind and is eager to hear about the study.  

About RDAR 
RDAR's mandate is to target strategic investments in producer-led, results-driven agriculture research to power the profitability, productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability of Agriculture in Alberta. A not-for-profit corporation, RDAR's funding comes from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. 

About Altario School 
Altario School is a K-12 educational institution located in the hamlet of Altario, Alberta, dedicated to providing hands-on, authentic, and relevant learning experiences that celebrate and advance agriculture. 

About the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership 
The Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) is a five-year, $3.5-billion investment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada's agri-food and agri-products sectors. This includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and a $2.5 billion commitment that is cost-shared 60 percent federally and 40 percent provincially/territorially for programs designed and delivered by provinces and territories.