B.Sc. Biochemistry, CCA, Pesticide Applicator
If you’ve ever seen things exploding in an agriculture research presentation, you were probably watching a presentation by Mike Gretzinger, Farming Smarter Research Coordinator.
“I like the practical research we do and I like sharing what I know,” says Mike. He adds that having a decade of experience with both presentations and projects helps him because he can draw on everything he’s learned working at Farming Smarter. He borrows ideas from popular culture to make presentations more interesting, but he’s also found ways to keep them more focused on project objectives.
Mike is one of the original Farming Smarter crew. He was searching for something that would get him involved in agriculture research yet still use his skill set in lab settings, quality assurance and field work. In 2010 during a wander around AgExpo, he found it.
“I came across a little booth way at the back of AgExpo where I had a good chat with Ken Coles and Chris Procyk,” Mike explains. He followed up a few days later and started his first season under a Career Focus federal grant for the Southern Applied Research Association. He wistfully recalls running a few trials with a skeleton crew that first year.
“We’ve grown exponentially as a company,” he says as his eyes widen at the realization of just how much growth he took part in over the years. Farming Smarter grew from working a few hundred dryland acres east of Lethbridge to its present capacity on dryland and irrigated land in several southern Alberta locations. It also grew in staff, partnerships, research areas and types of research.
“We’ve reached a point where our network is large and includes post-secondary institutions across the prairies and other research organizations such as Innotech. My role changed from labourer to trainer to manager over the years.”
Mike had to evolve a way to manage more projects and people to ensure all the data collection takes place and gets recorded for all the projects all season long.
This is understandable considering the summer crew is typically about 15-20 people working over 500 trials with three on-site project managers for agronomic, contract and field scale projects.
“Personally, my strategy is to keep it as simple as possible and make sure you have all the important details there. I build in my own redundancies into the process without feeling like I’m adding extra work,” he says.