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PEI Potato Industry Partners Launch Enhanced Agronomy Initiative

(Charlottetown – August 9, 2016)  The Prince Edward Island Potato Board, Cavendish Farms, and the PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries are excited to announce the creation of the Enhanced Agronomy Initiative.  This Initiative has a goal of improving marketable yields of processing potatoes and profitability of potato growers in PEI while also improving environmental sustainability of the industry.
 
To meet these goals, three Working Groups have been established, with membership of both farmers and industry resource personnel.  These Working Groups will be looking at priorities in the key areas of Soil Health, Seed Management, and Science and Technology and will work to establish both research and extension projects that address these priorities.
 
Coordinating these efforts as Project Lead is Ryan Barrett.  Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture and a Master of Science degree from the University of Guelph.  After seven years specializing in publications and communications with Jersey Canada, a national dairy breed association, Ryan returned to Prince Edward Island and began working with the PEI Potato Board in June 2012.  Ryan has worked as Communications Officer for the Board before adding Research Coordination to his portfolio.  With this new position as Project Lead, Ryan will retain his responsibilities as Research Coordinator for the Prince Edward Island Potato Board.
 
Greg Donald, General Manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, notes that “This initiative is focused on listening to growers and working with them to enhance the productivity and profitability of their farms.  We plan to access the latest information in agricultural research and technology and to find new and better ways to provide this information to our growers.  Through collaboration, we feel that there is significant potential for improvement.”
 
The Enhanced Agronomy Initiative is a collaborative program that will be jointly funded by Cavendish processing potato growers, Cavendish Farms, and the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The growers are contributing via a special check-off on their processing contracts.  These partners, together with representatives from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada and the Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture, are represented on a Steering Committee for the Initiative.  
 
The Initiative began work in early May 2016, and Prince Edward Island processing potato growers were consulted through the spring and early summer to solicit their ideas and needs in agronomy and research extension.  Some research and extension projects are already underway, while other will be developed later this year.