Conference Overview

Conservation tillage. Reduced tillage. No-till. Zero till. Direct seeding. By any name, it is one of Canadian agriculture’s most significant innovations and greatest success stories of the 20th century. For over forty years, seeding technologies that have reduced soil disturbance and addressed issues of moisture conservation, soil erosion, nutrient depletion and fuel use have evolved and become a mainstay in Northern Plains agriculture.

The impacts of this technology's development over time are many.

  • Improved soil and water conservation has increased productivity.
  • New technologies and practices have changed the prairie landscape.
  • New industriese and international markets have been created.
  • Opportunities for carbon sequestration have emerged.
  • Conservation groups and national networks have developed.

The Landscapes Transformed Conference examined the complex processes of knowledge creation and mobilization that brought about reduced tillage technology, reviewed the successes conservation tillages has achieved, and considered how we learn from the past to create opportunities for the future.

The need to understand the processes of knowledge creation and mobilization is especially critical in today’s agriculture. New technological developments today are increasingly likely to share the characteristics that made conservation tillage unique at the time it was developed – the need to involve a large number of players from many different industries and science backgrounds, strong opposition from defenders of the status quo, and a need to re-conceptualize the working of something that had been taken for granted. Better understanding these characteristics will be critical to the success of the agricultural industry, not only on the Canadian Prairies, but also around the world.

This 1.5 day conference was held March 24-25, 2009 in Saskatoon, SK at the Saskatoon Inn.

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Click here to download a pdf of the full agenda (132 KB).

Click on the presenter's name to be taken to their bio and presentation (where available).

Tuesday, March 24
7:30 am Registration & Continental Breakfast  
8:30 am - 8:35 am

Welcome from KIS

Opening Remarks from Conference Chairperson

Murray Fulton

Glen Hass
Session 1: Early Roots  
8:40 am- 9:10 am
Early Roots of Conservation Tillage: Recognizing the Need & First Steps Fred Fulton, U of S (Retired)
9:10 am - 10:00 am

Panel Discussion: Farmers with Foresight - Early Innovators on the Farm

Ike Lanier, AB Farmer
Jim Halford, SK Farmer
Bob McNabb, MB Farmer

10:00 am - 10:15 am
Networking Break
Session 2a: Making Dreams Reality - Engineering Advancements
10:15 am -10:35 am Eureka! Breakthroughs in Engineering the Technology Dr. Wayne Lindwall, AAFC (Retired)
10:35 am -11:15 am

Panel Session: Progress through Others' Eyes

Norbert Beaujot, SeedMaster
Ben Dyck, AAFC (Retired)
Garry Meier, Bourgault Industries
Phil Leduc, PAMI

Session 2b: Agronomic Champions of Conservation Tillage and Direct Seeding
11:15 am - 11:35 am 'Demystifying' CT - how myths were dispelled, and progress was made Guy Lafond , AAFC Indian Head
11:35 am - 12:00 pm Foundations for growth - the role of researchers and AAFC research stations Brian McConkey, AAFC-SPARC Swift Current
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00-1:50 pm

Getting Organized - The Role of Producer Groups

Manitoba-North Dakota Zero-Till Farmers Association - Bob Bradley
Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association - Blair McClinton
Alberta Reduced Tillage Linkages - Peter Gamache
Soil Conservation Council of Canada
- Doug McKell

1:50 pm - 2:10 pm An Agronomic-systems Approach to Innovation - the CT example Stewart Brandt, AAFC Scott
2:10 pm - 2:40 pm Overcoming Weed Concerns Bob Blackshaw, AAFC Lethbridge
Session 2c: People, Policies, Institutions and Economics
2:40 pm - 3:00 pm Policies that Drove Change Bernie Ward, PFRA
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm It All Makes Cents - Economic Rationale for CT Richard Gray, U of S
3:30 pm Networking Break
Session 3: What's Been Achieved Through Conservation Tillage and Direct Seeding?
3:50 pm - 4:30 pm Impact of CT in Landscape & Ecological Services - Challenges and Opportunities
Dan Wicklum , Environment Canada
4:30 pm - 5:00 pm International Success - Adoption Outside North America Rick Llewellyn, CSIRO, Adelaide, Australia
5:00 pm Wrap Up of Day 1  
Evening Banquet
6:00 pm Guest Speaker
"No Level Fields: Homesteading in Saskatchewan"
Bill Waiser, Department of History, U of S
End of Day 1    
Wednesday, March 25
7:30 am Hot Breakfast  
Session 4: Future Drivers for Conservation Tillage and Direct Seeding
8:45 am - 9:05 am International Development Opportunities - hot spots for future development
Adrian Johnston , Intl. Plant Nutrition Institute
9:05 am - 9:25 am Environmental Drivers for the Future - where CT may have a role in meeting environmental objectives Dr. Henry Janzen, AAFC Lethbridge
Session 5: Challenges and Opportunities of Applying Conservation Tillage
9:30 am - 9:50 am Charting the Path Forward in China Brant Kirychuk, AAFC
9:50 am - 10:15 am Criteria for Adoption of Conservation Agriculture and Zero Tillage in Developing Countries Julian Dumanski, AAFC (Retired)
10:15 am - 10:45 am Networking Break  
10:45 am - 11:15 am Building on Lessons Learned for Future Development Dr. Bernie Sonntag AAFC (Retired)
11:15 pm - 11:30 am Closing Remarks Murray Fulton
End of Conference  

Click here to download a pdf of the full agenda (132 KB).
Click here to download a conference brochure (472 KB).

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Speaker Presentations & Proceedings

During the conference, presentations were audio recorded.
Downloadable files with the slides synced to transition with the presenter's talk are now available. The files are streaming Quicktime videos. Depending on your internet connection speed it may take a minute or two for the video to start playing.

Full Conference Proceedings Download Now (1.8 MB)

Individual papers are available below. Please note, not all presenters were required to submit a paper.


Norbert Beaujot is the owner and inventor of the Seed Master drill. He is a professional Engineer and actively farms with his wife Dolores. They have three children, Cory, Ryan and Rochelle, who all work in the business and help on the farm.

The development of Norbert’s revolutionary seeding technology began in 1991. This technology is now familiar to all seed drill manufacturers in the Western World. Seed Master’s continued evolution has resulted in over 20 patents and patents pending in his name.

There are over 1,000 farmers in Western Canada using his technology. Today, all dry land regions of the world are gaining interest in his no-till equipment. The evolution of direct seeding has become his life mission and as you will see he lives it with a passion.

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Dr. Blackshaw has been a Weed Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Lethbridge, Alberta for 25 years. Bob’s research deals with integrated weed management in field crops and overall development of more sustainable agricultural systems. He has spent considerable effort on weed control in zero tillage systems and development of more diversified and economical cropping systems. His expertise has been utilized by the Canadian International Development Agency in developing sustainable dryland cropping systems in China and by FAO in setting appropriate environmental monitoring criteria for genetically modified crops in developing nations.

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Stewart Brandt grew up on a mixed grain and livestock farm near Regina, SK. He received his BSc and MSc degrees in plant science from the University of Saskatchewan. Mr Brandt began working for AAFC at Saskatoon in 1973 and moved to the Scott Research Farm in 1979 where he started research to develop cropping practices that maintain or enhance soil quality and productivity while providing adequate economic returns. This research focused on developing alternatives to summer-fallow and tillage. This research contributed to a more than 60% reduction in summer-fallow acreage in western Canada since 1987. Research in collaboration with other agronomists in the region led to development and widespread adoption of No Till and Conservation Tillage practices. These practices were instrumental in avoiding extensive soil erosion during the region’s severe drought during 2001-2003. Currently more than 70% of the prairie region is managed in No Till or Conservation Tillage systems.

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Julian Dumanski is a retired Senior Scientist from the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canada, and a retired long-term consultant from the World Bank. He received his education in agricultural and soil science from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Julian has published over 200 scientific and technical publications in the areas of land use research, land evaluation, local and global ecosystem management, environmental indicators, geographic information systems, and pedology. He has worked as a researcher, advisor and consultant on numerous national and international initiatives related to rural development and the environment. Currently he is an Honourary Research Associate with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, while continuing as an advisor to the World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility, and other international agencies.

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Ben Dyck was born and raised on a S.W. Saskatchewan farm. He received an MSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan in 1965. He was employed by AAFC from 1966 to 1994. During this time he: designed equipment for research, particularly seeding equipment for plant breeders and agronomists; participated in conservation tillage research and extension and provided engineering consulting services for CIDA-AAFC projects in India, Pakistan, Brazil and China. Following retirement from AAFC he consulted in matters of agricultural equipment, toured Western Australia and Victoria State speaking to farmers and conservation tillage associations about zero-till seeding equipment. In 1996 he was awarded an honorary lifetime membership in the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists in recognition of his work in conservation tillage research and development and promotion. Ben loved the farm and operated a 500 acre hobby farm for 40 years, demonstrating to his neighbours the benefits of conservation tillage.

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Fred Fulton was raised on a farm near Kincaid, Saskatchewan, and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a BSA in 1950 and a MCEd in 1972. From 1950 until 1993, Fred divided his time between instruction at the U of S School of Agriculture in the winter and farming in the summer. Fred retired from the University in 1993 but continues his farming career.

Fred has been active in a number of agriculture and community organizations. He was President of the Sask. Agricultural Graduates Association in 1976-77 and President of the Sask. Institute of Agrologists in 1982-83. He also volunteered his time in the church, both in Saskatoon and at Kincaid, serving on the board on numerous occasions. He is currently Past President of the U of S Alumni Association.

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Dr. Murray Fulton graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1977 with a B.S.A. in Agricultural Economics, receiving the Governor General's Gold Medal. After completing his M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M in 1978, Dr. Fulton attended Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. Upon receiving his B.A. from Oxford in 1980, he returned to Saskatoon and joined Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation as Director, Market Research. In 1982, he returned to university to begin his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Fulton graduated from Berkeley in 1985, at which time he joined the University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Fulton's research and teaching interests are focused in a number of areas, including industrial organization, agricultural industry analysis, co-operative theory, and community development. His recent efforts include the Knowledge Impact in Society project of which Murray is the Principal Investigator and the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the U of S.

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Peter Gamache is a graduate of the University of Alberta. He is team leader for the Alberta Reduced Tillage LINKAGES (RTL) program, a sustainable agriculture production initiative. The partners pool their expertise and resources to provide an extension program focused on improving the environmental and economic sustainability of farming in Alberta. No-till or direct seeding is the foundation of the organization.

Peter works with four reduced tillage agronomists to deliver extension information to Alberta farmers and agri-business. He assists the agronomists in developing and delivering programs for their areas.

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Richard Gray is a Professor in the Department of Bioresources Policy, Business and Economics at the University of Saskatchewan. His career began in 1981, working as market analyst with the provincial government while he also operated the family farm at Indian Head. He joined the University in 1990 after receiving a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. Since then, he has supervised over two dozen graduate students and has studied a wide range of agricultural policy issues. He is a network leader for the Canadian Agricultural Innovation Research Network and is the Outgoing President for the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society.

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Jim Halford Although trained as an economist (B.S.A. and M. Sc. in Agricultural Economics), Jim is a true innovator in the field of zero till. After having applied zero-till technology on his own farm since 1979, Jim conceived, developed, tested and manufactured the Conserva Pak Seeding System beginning in 1983, going to market with it in Canada in 1989, and into Australia and USA in 1993. In 2007, Jim’s company Vale Farms Ltd. Sold the technology to the John Deere Company.

Jim and his company have been extensively involved in the development of low-disturbance technology over the past few decades. Thanks to his dedication to this field, Jim has also received numerous awards and recognition, including Distinguished Graduate of the College of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, Distinguished Agrologist with the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists. the Manning Foundation Innovation Award (a multi-disciplinaryCanadian award) for conceiving and developing the Conserva Pak seeder, induction into Canada’s Conservation Hall of Fame and the L.B. Thomson Conservation Award (the P.F.R.A. Alumni Award) for outstanding achievements in the area of soil and water conservation practices.

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Glen Hass was born on a farm at Hanley Saskatchewan. He attended school there and then attended the University of Saskatchewan receiving degrees in agriculture, education and a graduate degree in adult education. Glen joined the faculty of the Extension Division at the university as a professor of agriculture extension.

Glen was involved with soil conservation throughout his career. He played a major role in the formation of the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association and served, as it’s first executive director. Glen was also involved at the national level in his role as the executive director of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada.

Glen has received many awards in recognition of his contribution to agriculture extension. These include induction into the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame and the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The conference organizers extend a huge thanks to Glen for chairing the conference.

Henry Janzen is a Soil Biochemist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, Alberta. He has studied how prairie lands respond to the way we manage them, and how our farmlands are linked to other ecosystems, globally. In exploring the links between farmlands and the global carbon cycle, he has participated in various national and international research activities related to climate change, including contributions to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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Adrian Johnston holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy, and both an MSc and PhD in Soil Science, all from the University of Saskatchewan.

Adrian served as an agronomist with Saskatchewan Agriculture Extension Service from 1981 to 1985, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Lethbridge and Melfort from 1991 to 1999.

Adrian now serves as the Asia & Oceania Program Coordinator for IPNI. In this role he provides administrative, technical and scientific support to IPNI staff working in China, India, SE Asia and Australia.

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Brant Kirychuk In December 2008, completed a 2 year term as Manager of the China-Canada Sustainable Agriculture Development Project based in Beijing, China. This was a joint project between the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) with funding provided by the Canadian International Development Agency. Currently the Manager of Pasture Planning with the PFRA Community Pasture Program.

Received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture majoring in Agronomy from the University of Saskatchewan and a Masters of Agriculture, specializing in Forage and Range Management from the University of Alberta.

Over the last 20+ years Brant has been employed in a number of extension and management positions both within Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food and AAFC. He has been involved in several collaborative agriculture development projects in China and Ukraine over the last 15 years.

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Dr. Guy Lafond, a native of St Jean, Manitoba, received his BesA from the College de St. Boniface in 1974, his BSc(hons) and MSc from the University of Manitoba in 1978 and 1980, respectively and his PhD from the University of Saskatchewan in 1984. From 1984 to 1985, he worked as a professional research associate at the Crop Development Centre in Saskatoon working on winter wheat and from 1985 to present, he has been employed as a Production Systems Agronomist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Indian Head Research Farm. Dr Lafond’s research focuses on the agronomy of direct seeding, cropping systems, precision farming, cereal, oilseed and pulse agronomy, soil, fertilizer and land management.

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Ike Lanier has operated NeverIdle Farms since 1955 and for the past 25 years has been practicing the minimum tillage system with son and co-owner Rod Lanier eight miles SE of Lethbridge, Alberta. Crops in rotation include winter wheat, durum, peas, flax, mustard and safflower grown on both dry land and irrigated acres. Equipment includes a disc drill for seeding and a stripper header for harvest. Ike has served on a number of committees including his role as a founding member of the Alberta Winter Wheat Producer’s Commission.

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Phil Leduc obtained his Bachelor in Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan. He put his mechanical engineering degree to work in a variety of industries and roles before joining PAMI in 1989. He is the Senior Manager, Research and Development, at PAMI. His connection to conservation tillage is that Phil was one of the authors, editors and project manager for the "Direct Seeding Manual" published in 1996. His work with soil openers ranges from direct seeding work to extensive work with manure application systems.

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Dr. C. Wayne Lindwall When Dr. Lindwall retired as Director General, AAFC Research Branch, he left as his legacy a renewed landscape. The farmlands of Canada have changed: by his research and leading, the plows and other implements of tillage have been gradually set aside, leaving the land less prone to erode, the air less dusty, and yields on dry land more certain. And the social landscape has changed too: through persistent efforts, Dr. Lindwall has shown how conserving soils is vital to us all, notably by helping to curtail emissions of CO2 which threaten to cause unpleasant change to climates. These changes to our lands, begun on small plots in southern Alberta, have extended across Canada and far beyond, to China, Brazil, and many other countries.

Dr. Lindwall leaves as legacy a transformed landscape. But perhaps his most lasting achievement is the example to those laboring in his wake. They may not quite achieve his illustrious prowess, but through the lingering influence of his vision, courage, and versatility, the landscapes will continue to evolve on a changing, greening earth.

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Rick Llewellyn is a Senior Research Scientist with CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems based in South Australia. He has an Agricultural Science degree from the University of Adelaide and received a PhD with Distinction from the School of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Western Australia for his research into herbicide resistance management decisions by grain growers. His research bridges farming systems research and understanding technology adoption. He currently leads national projects that include developing the role for perennials in future farming systems and approaches to evaluate the adoptability of agricultural innovations. He has recently completed a second national study of the adoption of conservation tillage in Australia.

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Blair McClinton grew up on a grain and dairy farm near Yellow Grass, SK. He attended the University of Saskatchewan where he received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1985. Blair has worked for the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association since 1990 and has been SSCA’s executive manager since 2000. He has played a key role in the development of direct seeding programs and was a co-author and editor of the SSCA-PAMI Direct Seeding Manual. Over the past 10 years, Blair has helped the SSCA develop its climate change and offset trading policies and has been active advancing these ideas at both the provincial and national level.

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Dr. Brian McConkey has been a research scientist in soil use and management with the Research Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada since 1986. He is stationed at the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Brian’s research has included developing improved conservation farming systems that provide maximum environmental and economic benefits. He has also been involved in extension of information of conservation agriculture within several countries in northern Asia.

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Doug McKell was born and raised on the family farm near Regina, and received a degree in Agricultural Economics from the U of S.

While operating the family farm near Regina and then Indian Head from 1979 till 1990, Doug also worked in the several capacities in the agricultural industry. In relation to zero tillage (which they incorporated on their farm in 1987), Doug spent six years as the Executive Manager Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association and was Executive Director of Soil Conservation Council of Canada from 2001 until 2008.

Doug has traveled extensively to the US, South America and Australia where I have seen various aspects of soil conservation and producer efforts to combat soil degradation.

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Bob McNabb Bob holds a BSc in Animal Science from the University of Manitoba. He began farming in 1976, has been no-tilling since 1978, and continues to do so on approximately 1,500 acres. Bob has been actively involved in both the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Association (past president) and the Manitoba Zero Tillage Research Association. Bob is also past president of Wildlife Habitat Canada, and member of both the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists and the Agricultural Institute of Canada.

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Garry Meier was born and raised on a mixed farm in the Ridgedale area of Saskatchewan. He attained a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan in 1976, and started farming in 1975 in partnership with his brother. Their 10,000 acre farm currently produces a variety of seed crops, specialty component crops, traditional crops as well as leafcutter bees.

Garry has been active in a number of farm related organizations that were dedicated to improving the viability of agriculture on the Canadian Prairies while at the same time improving the soil resource. He has served as the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation’s Regional Soil Conservation Specialist for Northeast Saskatchewan and, along with his brother Glen and their wives, were presented with the W.R. Motherwell award as one of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers. Garry is past chairman of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers association and Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ Alumni.

Garry joined Bourgault Industries as the company’s Corporate Agronomist in February of 2006.

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Dr. Bernie Sonntag is an agricultural economist who received his both BSc and Msc at the University of Saskatchewan, and his PhD at Purdue University. Dr. Sonntag spent a considerable part of his career as an economist in Agriculture and Agrifood Canada. He went on to become Director of several AAFC Research stations (Brandon, Swift Current and Lethbridge) before becoming Director General of the PFRA.

Dr. Sonntag worked a great deal in international development, primarily with the Canadian International Development Agency, bringing agricultural development to countries such as China, Brazil and Inner Mongolia.

Dr. Sonntag is still active in agricultural consultation as president of Sonntag Agricultural Services.

Bernie Ward got his basic education of Prairie agriculture on a mixed farm at Mortlach, Saskatchewan. Bernie has a B.S.A. (honours), 1972 and a M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics, 1974 from the University of Saskatchewan. He started work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 1974 at the Regional Office of Economics Branch in Regina Sask. Previous to coming to PFRA in 1991 he was the Acting Regional Director of Agriculture Development Branch, Saskatchewan Regional Office. He has held a number of management positions in PFRA over the last 18 years and is currently Special Advisor, Director Generals Office in Regina Sask.

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Dan Wicklum's first career was football, playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Calgary Stampeders, winning a Grey Cup with Winnipeg. After a Masters in ecotoxicology at the University of Calgary and a PhD and postdoc at the University of Montana, Dan joined the U of M faculty as an assistant professor. After returning to Canada, Dan was a Senior Policy Advisor to the Federal Minister of Natural Resources before becoming the Director of Strategic Alliances for Natural Resources Canada's Canadian Forest Service. Dan then became the Executive Director of the Canadian Forest Innovation Council for three years before landing in his current position of Director General of the Wildlife and Landscape Science Directorate in Environment Canada's S&T Branch.

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Registration Packages
Early Bird
After Feb 22
Full Registration $120* $150
One Day Registration $80 $100
Extra Banquet Ticket $30 $35


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This conference was held at the Saskatoon Inn in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Saskatoon Inn

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Sponsors (click on logos to go to sponsor websites)

Platinum Level Sponsors

Financial support for the conference and book on the history of conservation tillage and direct seeding has been provided by the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan through the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) program.
Funding for the ACAAFS program is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

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U of S Logo
Through the Conference Fund Program and Cyril Capling Trust Fund


Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration & Environment (Department Website)


Silver Level Sponsors


Monsanto Canada

Bayer CropScience

Dow Agro


Bronze Level Sponsors






Special Sponsors


SK Pulse Growers

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Conference Contact Information


Knowledge Impact in Society
Attn: Lynette Keyowski

University of Saskatchewan
1121 McCarthy Blvd.
Regina, SK S4T 7M7
Phone: (306) 545-1414

Fax: (306) 949-5509

Email Landscapes Transformed

Steering Committee:

Murray Fulton, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
Richard Gray, Dept. of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics
Henry Janzen, AAFC Lethbridge
Guy Lafond, AAFC Indian Head
Wayne Lindwall, AAFC Retired
Brian McConkey, AAFC Swift Current
Bernie Sonntag, AAFC Retired

Event Administrators:

Lynette Keyowski, Knowledge Impact in Society
Kathy Larson, Knowledge Impact in Society

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Knowledge Impact in Society (KIS), 51 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan,
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B8 Canada
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