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by Anny Kowarschik, Agri-Trade County News Reporter Grand Prize Scholarship WinnerGoing into Agri-Trade 2016 I did not know what to expect considering that I have never lived on a farm. At first it was difficult to find a point of interest. However, something I have always been drawn to is plants and the scientific background that goes along with them. So I made it my mission to find out how crop sciences impact farmers in Alberta. Once I found somewhere to start I learned that there are plenty of benefits available for Alberta farmers that result from crop sciences.The first booth I visited was the Pioneer booth where I met with Greg Pavanich. He told me that one of many ways crop science assists farmers is by allowing them to utilize genetically modified seeds that make their products more immune to the unpredictable Alberta climate. Genetic modification allows producers to grow exotic crops, such as canola, corn, soybean and alfalfa, that aren’t native to our province. This modification process also allows us to adapt the growing time of the crops, so that farmers may harvest them before temperatures drop to dangerous levels.Another way growers benefit from crop science is by seed testing. At the Biovision Seedlabs booth, I met Holly Gelech who told me, “Seeds have to be tested to make sure they germinate and to see how they react and survive in various situations to ensure a good quality crop is delivered to customers. An example of one of these tests is vigor testing.” What is vigor testing? A vigor test is used to reveal the ability of a seed lot to withstand a variety of stress factors. The products are also tested to make sure they are free of seed born diseases. This ensures that seeds such as vegetables or melons, will produce a good quality crop for the farmers.Crop science enables producers to test the soil for fertility and to see what nutrients are available in the soil and which area of land is lacking necessary requirements. The components that are tested for include urea, potash, phosphorus or sulfur. This benefits growers by letting them know which nutrients are needed for the season. This information helps save time and money by reusing what was left over in the soil from past seasons as well as using only what is needed.My experience at Agri-Trade helped me reflect on the importance of crop sciences and the impacts that it has on Alberta farmers. Whether it be through genetic modification, seed testing or soil testing, crop sciences benefit our local farmers daily.Anny Kowarschik is a grade 12 student at Delburne School. Moving to Canada at the age of four has opened up endless opportunities for her. She is very interested in plants, which is why she plans to go to Olds College to study horticulture.