Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) hosted its inaugural Agricultural Summit Nov. 3, bringing together researchers, elected officials, and industry representatives to explore farming challenges and opportunities in the Surrey area.
The day-long summit included presentations from researchers from KPU and Simon Fraser University (SFU), along with input from more than 20 area farmers.
“Innovative research is underway at KPU that will benefit growers and communities,” says Dr. Amit Shukla, Associate Vice-President of Research and Innovation at KPU. “This summit continues the collaboration between academic researchers, industry, and government that is key to improving outcomes in the field and creating new opportunities to enhance food security.”
The summit heard from researchers at KPU’s three state-of-the-art research facilities — the Applied Genomics Centre, the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, and the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems — and how their work is advancing ag-tech solutions.
“We wanted to bring together local farmers, elected officials, and researchers to discuss how we can advance agriculture technology and support sustainable regional food systems in B.C. and beyond,” says Randall Heidt, Vice-President of External Affairs at KPU. “Long-term, sustainable food production is more important than ever and these are the key people who can make that happen.”
Also part of the summit was a presentation from the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation, which brings together academia, government, and industry partners to create more productive, diverse, and resilient food-supply chains. The centre is based at SFU’s Surrey campus and utilizes skills of experts from several post-secondary institutions, including KPU.
City of Surrey Councillors Mike Bose and Linda Annis also participated in the summit, hosted at the KPU Tech campus in Cloverdale.
"It is vital that the agricultural industry connects with post-secondary institutions like KPU and SFU, which are tirelessly researching and working towards future innovations that will allow Surrey farmers to produce affordable, high-quality food in this changing environment," says Bose.
The KPU Agricultural Summit also offered tours of three Surrey farm operations — Evergreen Herbs Ltd., Heppell's Potato Corporation, and Burnaby Lake Greenhouses — and heard from representatives from KPU’s three research centres.
Supporting agricultural innovation and sustainability through applied research is a key focus of the Applied Genomics Centre, based at KPU Surrey. Its research projects include the areas of bovine production, sustainable crop production, hops innovation, equine health, aquatic health, and greenhouse production.
Providing innovative biological and technological solutions for use in agriculture is KPU’s Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, based at the Langley campus. One of its major projects has researchers innovating a sustainable method of growing berries out of season in Canada, as part of the $33-million Homegrown Innovation Challenge.
In Richmond, KPU’s Institute for Sustainable Food Systems investigates and supports regional food systems as key elements of sustainable communities. Its researchers focus on the potential of regional food systems in terms of agriculture and food, economics, community health, policy, and environmental integrity.