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Nuffield scholarship brings the learning home

Farming Smarter executive director, Ken Coles hosted a fellow 2022 Nuffield Scholar from Iowa for a week in June.

Ruth McCabe, Heartland Cooperative Conservation Agronomist, spent June 24 – 30 with Ken and family while touring farms and southern Alberta sights.

Ruth McCabe and Ken Coles in Waterton Park, June 2022.

“I live in East Central Iowa, which is in the real heart of the US Midwest,” explained McCabe. I’m researching conservation, farming, adoption in other major grain producing countries.” She explained her Nuffield Scholarship research will take her to western Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina.

“These are all places that use a lot of conservation farming practices for various reasons. I’m going to look at how innovation started, who is adopting it and what sorts of practices are being done?”

Ruth met Ken when they both attended the Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars Conference in Norfolk, England. Ken invited her to visit Lethbridge and she took him up on it.

“He’s got a ton of connections in the industry in Lethbridge and has connected me with a lot of different farmers and professionals who have different perspectives on conservation adoption,” McCabe said.

She particularly enjoyed learning about irrigation practices related to conservation. “It’s been fascinating to specifically understand the complications with irrigation and conservation farming practices when you’ve got an irrigated system.”

Ken said he noticed he also learned from visiting local farms with Ruth. Taking her to visit local innovative farms meant he got pulled from behind his desk and out into the fields where innovation takes place.

They didn’t stick completely to work. Ken and family took Ruth hiking in Waterton Park, Writing on Stone provincial park  and for a tour of Crowfoot Crossing.

“I think a great thing about having a guest is you go places and do things that you wouldn’t do otherwise and I get value out of that too.”

Also, Ken now has a friend to visit in Iowa. “I have found that I love to travel to see people and now I have a reason to go to Iowa!”