Alberta’s Field Crop Development Centre leaving Olds College; being re-branded as WCI

(Paige Holmquist/RealAgriculture)

The Field Crop Development Centre, established in the late ’70s, has a new home and a new name — Western Crop Innovations. The rebranded non-profit organization, with funding from the Alberta government, will be focused on agriculture research and crop development.

Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation says the new structure will “revitalize this organization, promote a renewed vision, and better position Alberta to meet the agriculture industry’s needs.”

Officially starting on April 1, WCI will carry on the FCDC’s research, including its barley breeding program. Its current programming will undergo a review, and where necessary, will be transitioned to ensure crop innovations support Alberta’s farmers’ needs now and into the future, says Alberta Ag.

In its first year, $3.2 million of WCI’s $3.5 million budget will be provided through the Alberta government.

The Field Crop Development Centre has been housed and run through Olds College since 2019.

“Olds College is pleased that funding for barley breeding in the province will continue and is proud of the part we have played in that important work as we led FCDC, now WCI, for the past three years,” says a spokesperson. “Under our leadership, FCDC has developed and released a number of high-performing varieties, just one example of the many successes we enjoyed together. Our new role is a temporary one—to assist WCI with administrative support during their development phase—but we anticipate a relationship with them for many years to come as we work together in the annual AgSmart event, applied research and other areas.”

WCI’s interim board, made up of representatives from government and industry, will lead the organization’s transition process. The new model will include integrated funding that connects government, industry, and post-secondary institutions.

Producer Jason Lenz has been named chair of the interim board. D’Arcy Hilgartner will serve as vice-chair, representing Results Driven Agriculture Research; Fred Lozeman, the former finance chair of Alberta Beef Producers, and John Conrad, assistant deputy minister, Agriculture and Irrigation, round out the board. Hear from John Conrad on WCI and what’s next for research and extension in Alberta:

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture