It's a living laboratory—home to more than 2,000 cattle, sheep, and swine—and it's growing. The Edmonton Research Station-or University Farm as it is more commonly known—is undergoing improvements that will give the University of Alberta some of the best agricultural research facilities in North America, says John Kennelly, '80 PhD, chair of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences.
The upgrades to expand and modernize key facilities at the ERS will allow the University to build on its research strengths and teaching programs, says Kennelly. "It will also allow us to do more cutting-edge research in animal science as well as expanding our research in the areas of environmental sustainability, nutrient recycling, and manure management."
Construction, which began in November 2000, will improve four facilities at the ERS: the Sinclair Swine Research Centre, the Dairy Research and Technology Centre, the Laird W. McElroy Environmental and Metabolism Research Centre, and the compost facility.
New developments at the ERS include consolidating all the swine operations into one building. The new Sinclair Swine Research Centre will have a bio-secure working environment as well as improved ventilation and odour control systems—an environmental bonus for the centre's researchers, staff, and more than 1,500 pigs and piglets. (Not to mention those who work or live by the ERS.)
The Dairy Research and Technology Centre is being expanded to include additional facilities for lactating cows and improve animal handling and milking systems, which will reduce stress on the cows as well as enhancing efficiency. Other upgrades include a metabolic facility, an expanded laboratory area anc a processing facility and will allow for greater emphasis on lactation as well as value-added dairy product research.
A new beef cattle metabolism laboratory in the Laird W. McElroy Environmental and Metabolism Research Centre will support and further research on energy and protein metabolism. Another addition is the new compostirg facility that will treat the manure from cattle and swine indoors. This will eliminate the outdoor compost pile, which relied on anerobic decomposition that produced offensive odors.
The ERS, an integrated site located two-kilometeres south of the main campus, has the advantage of proximity. Kennelly says the central location of the ERS facilitates more intensive research and a higher level of collaboration between labs at the ERS and on the main campus. Plus, its easy access reduces travelling time for both students and researchers. The new and improved facilities at the ERS are scheduled to be completed by this fall.
Published Spring/Summer 2001.