by Gloria Welton
Dr. Judith Nyiraneza is a Soil Scientist and Nutrient Management Specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at the Charlottetown Research and Development Centre. She moved to PEI with her family in 2012.
AAFC has office and laboratory space in Charlottetown and a research farm in Harrington, PEI, where it conducts agriculture science research to enhance soil health and water quality, develop sustainable cropping systems and crop rotations, manage plant diseases, pests and weeds, improve various crop species, and develop new bioresources.
“I grew up in central east Africa, where crops grow all year round. When I was in high school, I was very interested in sciences, but I wanted my studies linked to something practical.”
“The study of agriculture is important for many reasons. The population is growing, and we need to feed the world. Therefore, managing the land properly is very important.”
Her areas of expertise include the following:
- Identification of best nutrient management practices to improve crop yield and quality, and to minimize the impact on the environment
- Identification of agricultural practices to enhance soil organic matter
- Assessment of the impact of environmental conditions and agricultural practices on nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics.
One project she is presently co-leading is called Living Lab- Atlantic. She works with farmers, the PEI Department of Agriculture and Land, and various environmental and watershed groups across PEI.
“The Living Laboratory approach allows scientists and stakeholders to work together on research activities from the beginning to the end. Together we identify local agricultural and environmental issues to tackle, identify strategies to address them, work closely during the research implementation, meet frequently to evaluate progress, and make adjustments as needed.
“This initiative is being undertaken in the USA and Europe, and Canada is one of the leaders, so we can learn from each other.”
An activity she is working on under the Living Lab-Atlantic initiative is evaluating how different crop rotations used prior to planting potatoes impact soil properties, nutrient cycling, and potato yield and quality.
Telling youth about the many opportunities in agriculture
She says one of the mandates of AAFC is to train the next generation. “We hire about 40 students for the summer months. The pay and experience gained is very good.
“We need to talk to youth about opportunities in this sector to give them a chance to be informed. Agriculture employment makes up 12 percent of the labour force, and with agriculture being an economically important activity, there are lots of opportunities to explore.”
Exploring a career in agriculture
At AgCareers.com, career profiles showcase a great variety of opportunities in agriculture and food production.
The website features agriculture career options and pathways in the following areas:
- Agricultural Business
- Agricultural Mechanics
- Animal Science
- Environmental Services
- Food Science
- Natural Resources
- Plant Science.
Descriptions include an overview, job responsibilities, required education, recommended high school courses, potential employers, job outlook, and professional organizations to join. Current career opportunities related to each career profile are also listed.
For more information visit www.agcareers.com/career-profiles
For more information about a career in agriculture on PEI, contact Laurie Loane at PEI Agriculture Sector Council, 902-892-1091.