Lacombe Research and Development Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
6000 C and E Trail
Beaverlodge Research Farm
The Lacombe Research and Development Centre was established in 1907 in Lacombe, Alberta. It is located in one of the most dense and diverse livestock production regions in Canada.
The Centre is associated with one satellite location: Beaverlodge Research Farm.
The Centre's main research is focused in three areas:
- Integrated meat science and production systems: bioactive lipids and nutritional quality;
- Microbiological safety and storage stability of meat;
- Northern and Parkland agriculture focusing on integrated crop, forage, pest, and honey bee management strategies.
Facilities at the Lacombe Research and Development Centre
- Centre located near the central Alberta town of Lacombe on 808 hectares
- The Beaverlodge Research Farm located near the northwestern Alberta town of Beaverlodge with modern laboratories on 360 acres
- 400-head beef herd and research feedlot; a 100-sow farrow-finish swine unit
- Federally inspected Research abattoir
- Kitchen and taste panel area for sensory analysis
- Research greenhouses and controlled climate growth chambers
Current research activities
Food safety and quality first
- Evaluating and controlling variations in the composition and quality of carcasses and meat
- Conducting research on the ways in which meat and meat products are processed, produced, packaged and distributed, and how these factors influence consumer acceptance for taste, flavour and appearance
- Applying advanced techniques in molecular biology to improve meat quality and safety
- Developing strategies to improve the safety and extend the storage life of meat
- Devising new ways to estimate carcass yields and grading
- Conducting research and implementing ways to prevent meat contamination during processing and distribution
- Studying ways to reduce livestock stress and the resulting effects on the quality and yield of meat and meat products
Making crop production systems more efficient
- Identifying crop and soil management practices that conserve soil organic matter, and effectively using and recycling plant nutrients
- Evaluating crop production systems for short-season environments in northwestern Canada
- Developing new technologies for seed production in grasses
- Developing and evaluating new oat and barley varieties for resistance to disease
- Improving the efficiency of forage-based beef production in the prairie parkland vegetation zone of Canada
- Management strategies and methods for the Canadian honey bee industry
Results of our research
Forages and beef; dairy, pork, poultry, and other livestock
- Created a beef genomic research centre with the University of Alberta.
- Developed feeding strategies to: enrich omega-3 in beef and pork; feed dried distillers grains (bioethanol by-product) to beef and pork
- Provided data to mitigate the impact on accumulation of beef over thirty months of age during the 2003 USA border closure.
- Developed swath grazing techniques (adopted by 35-50 per cent of Alberta beef producers): reduce overwintering costs (40-50 per cent) and fossil fuel use (50 per cent).
- Established ways to reduce the environmental footprint and the contribution of forage-beef management to carbon sequestration and nitrous oxide emission.
- Detected and managed American foulbrood disease: improved diagnostic, monitoring, cultural mitigation strategies, registered alternative antibiotics.
- Developed strategies to control, Nosema ceranae, a new honey bee parasite.
- Discovered genomic tools to breed honey bees for improved resistance to Varroa destructor (parasitic mite) and brood diseases.
- Created the National Bee Diagnostic Centre in Beaverlodge, with industry partners.
- Conducted national beef plant and quality audits; developed/improved carcass and meat quality assessment; improved meat and carcass grading systems (beef, lamb, bison) and quality standards (pork); assessed grading instruments.
- Assessed decontaminating treatments at beef packing plants; developed methods to identify and count live E. coli following decontamination; identified sources of E. coli on beef; provided advice to Health Canada to develop recommendations for cooking non-intact steaks.
- Developed and transferred to the meat sector an effective solution to the costly quality defect of vacuum-packaged beef known as "blown pack spoilage".
- Tracked transmission, survival and risks to humans of new food-borne viruses; developed methods to extract viruses from saliva, manure, carcass swabs, and meat samples.
Cereal and pulses; oilseeds; agro-ecosystem productivity and health
- Integrated agronomic and genetic factors to enhance malt barley quality; assessed the economic impact of crop and pest management strategies.
- Developed management practices for canola production (reduce nitrogen use; mitigate impacts of canola diseases).
- Partnered with Province and industry to register eight Minor Use herbicides for forage seed production.
- Released pea varieties for export markets adapted to parkland and black soil.
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