Ted Poyser Lecture in Soil Health 2024

Depth of a plow: sharing soil health knowledge and education resources with First Nations in the Prairies

Wednesday, March 13, 2024
12:00 noon to 1:00 pm (pre-reception at 11:30 am)
Richardson International Auditorium
172 Agriculture Building – 66 Dafoe Road, Winnipeg
University of Manitoba or via Zoom

Dr. Melissa Arcand, Associate Professor, Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan

First Nations across the prairies promised to share the land to a depth of the plough as part of the Treaties signed with the Crown in the 1870s. Since then, the agricultural promises outlined in the Treaties were not realized for First Nations, while the agricultural industry flourished across western Canada. Despite the historical marginalization of First Nations from the agricultural sector, First Nations in the prairies have a strong relationship to agriculture, primarily through relationships with local farmers who currently lease First Nations reserve land. A strong foundation in the soil sciences and agronomy is therefore important for First Nations land managers who are managing large swaths of agricultural land, yet Indigenous students are underrepresented in these disciplines. I will highlight on-going projects that are aimed to increase access to soil science and agriculture training designed for First Nations audiences. We are partnering with First Nations across the prairies to establish soil health learning circles to share knowledge on soil health and beneficial management practices that respect Indigenous values and incorporate Indigenous knowledge to foster soil health, biodiversity, and resiliency to climate change for First Nations agroecosystems.

Dr. Melissa Arcand is an Associate Professor in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Saskatchewan and is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6. She researches soil health, carbon storage, and nutrient cycling in agroecosystems. Her more recent interdisciplinary research focuses on Indigenous agriculture in the Prairies and included hosting a SSHRC Connections Grant-funded Forum on Indigenous Agriculture in Saskatchewan and collaborating with First Nations’ lands departments to assess soils on agricultural lands through projects funded through the New Frontiers in Research Fund – Explorations Grant and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Agricultural Climate Solutions Living Labs. Her team is developing and delivering outreach activities in soil health and agricultural beneficial management practices to First Nations through a Weston Family Foundation Soil Health Initiative project. In addition to her research and service work, she teaches and is the academic advisor for students in the Kanawayihetaytan Askiy ("Let us take care of the land" in Plains Cree) Indigenous land and resource management certificate program and is the Academic Lead for the kihci-okâwîmâw askiy Knowledge Centre at the University of Saskatchewan.

Three ways to attend:

  1. Join us in-person in Room 172 Agriculture Building.
  2. Via Zoom  Register for Zoom link  
  3. As part of the free Sustainability of Canadian Agriculture virtual conference   Register for SCA conference

About the Poyser Lecture

With funding from the Ted Poyser Plant Ideas Fund, this annual lecture series focuses on soil health.  Each year an invited lecturer, recognized in the field of soil health, will deliver the lecture at the University of Manitoba, hosted by the Department of Soil Science. Lecture topics may consider how to scale up soil health principles and practices to farm field and farm scales.  

Ted Poyser Plant Ideas Fund

Established in 2021 with a $100,000 contribution from many donors, this fund recognizes the legacy of Edward A. (Ted) Poyser to soil science and landscape conservation programming. A graduate of the University of Manitoba in the 1950s, Ted Poyser went on to become a major contributor to Manitoba’s soil survey.

Later, he developed and/or managed many important agricultural and landscape conservation and initiatives, including Manitoba's watershed conservation district program, the Funds for Rural Economic Development (FRED) program, the Canada Land Inventory and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in Manitoba. Ted also made fundamental contributions to the development of Manitoba’s Crop Insurance program. A common theme was ensuring that all conservation programming included soil conservation and agricultural producer interests as bedrock considerations.

The Ted Poyser Plant Ideas Fund is held at The Winnipeg Foundation and administered by The Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, a registered charitable organization with a mandate to conserve, restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat. For over three decades, MHHC has worked exclusively in Agro Manitoba. Ted Poyser was chair of the board through the 1990s, establishing the corporate fundamentals from which MHHC continues operate today.