ATRF Research and Olds College Campus Updates

by Jason Pick

As we enter the last month of the 2021/22 fiscal year, we are pleased to share our performance at the research foundation and center. The ATRF saw a surge in lab diagnostics during the summer of 2021, with increased consulting,  project opportunities and service contracting.

Memberships are holding steady at 52, with growth in the corporate sector, as distributors are adding paid diagnostic services for their customers throughout Western Canada.  Special thanks to Brett Young, Nutrien, Evergro, and BCGSA for promoting this added value incentive!  With our foundation’s annual investment yet to be made, we are in a strong financial position to contribute to multiple projects in 2022. 

This fall we prepared for three different snow mold protection tests, for three major suppliers. Combined, we treated 264 X 2m² (5280m²) of treated plots on USGA spec bent, to fill all available space on the USGA surface. Testing various products, rates, and environmental conditions, illustrating the PTRC continues to be a hub for snow mold studies in Western Canada.  

As you see in the image above, the PTRC expects our weather in the prairies to be unpredictable, and prepares for it.  To ensure snow mold products can be tested effectively, and to minimize external variables, we’ll typically install snow fencing (right). This technique blocks the wind and traps snow on the surface for adequate insulation, keeping temperatures between -2 & 0C.  Although Central Alberta is seeing only a skiff right now, the depth on our plots is  a respectable 21.5”, illustrating its value.  The snow fences provide adequate cover to prevent desiccation, insulate from expected -25C trends (like we saw over Christmas), and also ensure the surface remains dormant despite occasional chinooks of +10C for days at a time!   

Four submissions have been made to the Canadian Turfgrass Research Foundation; Drone spraying feasibility study, Sporicide Efficacy Trial, Sportsfield Construction manual Revision, and a contributing partnership with Sportsturf Canada. Multiple organic amendment projects were pursued this summer, acknowledging a surge of new nutrient rich soil amendment alternatives entering the market - including a promising alfalfa amendment. Shout out to Bruce Klassen (retired) who motivated pursuit of that trial, from his experience and successes at Royal Regina Golf Club.  Given the spike in fertilizer costs due to supply chain issues, some timely additions to the organic fertilizer market. 

Our industry presentations were off to a great start in November, delivering CEU and educational seminars to the Sod Growers Commodity Group, Saskatchewan Turf Association, Alberta Golf Superintendents Association, and the British Columbia Golf Superintendents, before being shut down again due to Covid in January. We are planning to reschedule sessions with the Western Canada Turf association, and the Canadian in February - watch for those invites!  The ATRF will be hosting its AGM in February/March. Should you or someone you know be interested, please reach out to or call Jason at 403-556-8243 

The turf program diploma and degree programs are once again at capacity, with modified on & off campus format until we emerge from the COVID protocols.  Current diploma students are coming to campus for a compressed series of critical hands-on lab and activities. A 50% capacity for on-campus courses at diploma level is temporary, as we are committed to face to face diploma instruction.  The degree program (BASc) proceeded with a 100% online delivery in 2020/2021, and continues with full enrollment.  Industry feedback may soon determine if this format is preferred, and if a more permanent (online) model will endure. For more info, check our website