2019 BC Agricultural Climate Adaptation Research Workshop

2019 BC Agricultural Climate Adaptation Research Workshop

Kelowna, BC
2nd December 2019

Thanks to everyone who made the ACARN Provincial workshop a success! We had a record breaking 100 registrants, 30 presenters and many excellent discussions.

View the workshop proceedings here.

December 2 – 3, 2019 at the Four Points Conference Centre in Kelowna, BC.  This ACARN’s 4th provincial workshop and our biggest annual event.  Join us for:

  • An afternoon of producer-focused sessions with BC researchers and producers discussing practices they have been testing in the field to improve soil health, store carbon, reduce the impacts of pests and disease, and adapt to increasingly variable weather. Sessions are geared to tree fruit and wine grape production.
  • Featured keynote speaker: Dr. Lee Kalcsits, a tree fruit physiologist leading apple research at Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research & Extension Centre in Wenatchee.
  • A banquet dinner following the keynote presentations for networking.
  • A full day focused on collaborative strategies needed to support agricultural adaptation, including extension, data sharing and future research directions.

Workshop materials

Registration Details

Producer registration - Complementary
Student registration - $50 (scholarships available)
General registration - $100
Banquet dinner (Dec. 2) - $35

All registrants are welcome to attend one or both days

Register now


Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna Airport
5505 Airport Way, Kelowna, BC, V1V 3C3

Workshop attendees requiring accommodation can book rooms at the Four Points using the UBCO Faculty rate or UBCO family & friends rate. Government rates also available.

A block of rooms has not been reserved, so we encourage you to book your room now.

Book accommodation


For those travelling to the workshop from the Lower Mainland you may want to consider carpooling or the bus service option below.

Ebus schedules & tickets

Workshop Schedule

December 2, 2019

11 am – 12:30 pm
(FULL) Focus group discussion: Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation in the Okanagan Agriculture Sector
Read more about the project

1 pm – 4 pm
Applied research for wine grape and tree fruit growers
Two rooms: tree fruit and wine grape streams


  • Changing climate, shifting cropsfuture crop suitability modelling to inform future crop choices (Kirsten Hannam, AAFC SuRDC)
  • Importance of crop drive-rows in soil carbon storage in woody perennial crops; a regional study along the Okanagan Valley (Andrew Midwood, UBCO)
  • Use of technology and data for adaptation in the tree fruit sector
    • How ready are we for innovative agricultural practices and to adapt to climate challenges?(Svan Lembke & Lee Cartier, Okanagan College)
    • Discussion: How can we leap-frog the big data revolution in agriculture for BC tree fruits?  (Svan Lembke & Youry Khmelevsky, Okanagan College)
  • Managing fire blight and scab with the BC Decision Aid System for Integrated Pest Management
    (Molly Thurston, Claremont Ranch Organics)
  • Postharvest deficit irrigation for improved resilience of cherry to climate change (Louise Nelson, UBCO, Gayle Krahn, Jealous Fruits and Bart Fieten, Carcajou Fruit Co.)
  • Resources for Okanagan growers for water supply information, wildfire & invasive species
    (Kellie Garcia, Okanagan Basin Water Board & Harmony Bjarnason, BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative)


  • Building resilient vineyards through cultivar diversity (Elizabeth Wolkovich, UBC)
  • Managing emerging diseases in an emerging grape-growing region (Jose Ramon Úrbez Torres, AAFC SuRDC)
  • The effect of deficit irrigation on fruit quality in wine grape production (Simone Castellerin, UBC)
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of agrothermal heat treatment to increase yield and reduce disease in wine grapes (Chad Douglas, Quails’ Gate Estate)
  • Organic amendments and cover crops can enhance yield stability and agricultural resilience in Canadian vineyards (Mehdi Sharifi, AAFC Summerland Research & Development Centre)
  • Quantifying Change with Sustainable Winegrowing BC Standards (Katie Pease, Sustainable Winegrowing BC)
  • Resources for Okanagan growers for water supply information, wildfire & invasive species
    Kellie Garcia, Okanagan Basin Water Board & Harmony Bjarnason, BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative)

4 pm – 5 pm
Research poster presentations & refreshment break with cash bar

  • Examining soil quality in the Fraser River delta following 3-year grassland set-asides, Teresa Porter, UBC
  • Climate Change Adaptation Pathways: Supporting Sustainable Local Food in B.C., Anna Stemberger, BC Ministry of Agriculture
  • The Effects of 3,4-Dimethylpyrazole Phosphate Nitrification Inhibitor on Nitrification and Denitrification Microbial Genes Abundances and Nitrous Oxide Emissions, Katherine Faye Jansen, UBC, Okanagan
  • Determining the effect of agro-thermal heat treatment on vine performance and crown gall disease in grapevines, Portiaa McGonigal, UBC, Okanagan
  • Consequences of Elevated Carbon Dioxide on Plant-insect Interactions, Jimmy Kyu Baik, UBC
  • Influence of Postharvest Deficit Irrigation on Sweet Cherry Cold Hardiness, Elizabeth Houghton, UBC, Okanagan and AAFC SuRDC
  • Greenhouse gas exchange above potato and pea crops in the Lower Fraser Valley, Delta, BC, Ningyu Quan, UBC
  • Agricultural field and landscape scale assessment of changes in soil organic carbon in the Lower Fraser Valley for enhanced climate change adaptation and mitigation, Lyndsey Dowell, UBC

5 pm – 6 pm

Welcome & keynote presentations

Increasing Agriculture Resiliency in Response to a Changing Climate

Developing Resilient Orchards, Dr. Lee Kalcsits, tree fruit physiology specialist, Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research & Extension Centre in Wenatchee, WA

Increased volatility in temperatures are creating less predictable snow packs, hotter summers, and changes to seasonal patterns that will affect orchard productivity and quality. High yields and reduced losses to disorders will be required to maintain profitability and to increase the sustainability of production under these changing environments. Irrigated regions of the Western North America rely on a steady supply of water from melting snowpack in nearby mountain regions. In these areas, decreased summer water flows will require the development of water conservation practices that do not negatively impact productivity or quality. Earlier bud break and later frosts will change dormancy and chilling patterns and change frost risk for most apple production regions in the country. Lastly, higher summer temperatures and earlier fruit maturity will increase the risk of sun-related damage. All of these impacts will require changes to management practices that conserve resources while still maintaining quality and productivity. Here, we highlight several strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change and conserve water resources. These include the use of protective netting to optimize the light environment to reduce heat related losses while also conserving water through reduced evapotranspiration and reduced evaporative cooling. Other strategies include irrigation management to reduce postharvest losses due to heat and nutrient imbalances in susceptible cultivars. Lastly, we highlight the need for more research to develop cultivars that can better withstand changing environmental pressures. These combined strategies will better guide mitigation and adaptation strategies that will help maintain apple production in the future. 

Approaches from California’s Wine Grape Sector, Dr. Ann Thrupp, wine grape sustainability consultant and former manager at Fetzer, Bonterra Vineyards and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

This presentation will include a summary of innovative initiatives, programs, and practices being used by winegrape growers and wineries in California to address climate change, and to improve sustainability and resilience to climate-related challenges. It will highlight policy measures, proactive steps to improve energy efficiency and adoption of renewable energy technology to reduce GHG emissions, as well as soil health practices to increase carbon sequestration and water conservation methods. Research projects and measurement protocols to assess GHG emissions and carbon storage will also be mentioned.  Dr. Thrupp will identify lessons learned, stressing the importance of fostering innovation, proactive leadership, and diversity to enhance resilience and sustainability.    

6 pm – 9 pm 

Banquet dinner with cash bar (tickets sales have closed)

December 3, 2019

6 am – 7 am

Morning run with Dr. John Janmaat – 9km route leaving from the venue 

7 am – 8:30 am

Breakfast & registration

8:30 – 8:45 am

Opening & welcome, Dr. Sean Smukler, ACARN Chair

8:45 – 10:15 am

Session 1: Agricultural extension – better utilizing existing resources & networks to support climate adaptation

Session description:
Climate change presents unprecedented challenges for the B.C. agriculture sector making investment in research and extension increasingly critical. This session will provide an introduction to some of the agricultural extension resources that exist in the province and highlight B.C. Ministry of Agriculture programs. The break out sessions will give participants a chance to contribute to strategies to make the most of existing resources and identify opportunities for improved extension initiatives, including how ACARN can play a stronger role in extension

Framing presentations: 

  • Applying extension resources to support climate adaptation in BC agriculture (S. MacKinnon, ACARN) 
  • Ministry of Agriculture agrologist network system & industry specialists (Jason Lussier, Ministry of Agriculture)

Break out sessions:

  • Mapping BC’s extension initiatives
  • Building the BC Food Web
  • Researcher perspectives on extensions needs & current extension deliverables
  • AAFC Living Labs for knowledge and technology transfer
  • We wish ACARN could…? Idea generation for how ACARN can support extension collaboration
  • Open tables 

10:15 – 10:30 am

Coffee break

10:30 – 12:15 pm

Session 2: Improving data sharing and data access

Session description: 

This session will explore initiatives and opportunities to improve the baseline data that is needed to support adaptation to climate change in the BC agriculture sector. The presenters will share current projects underway to improve data access and data sharing as well as highlight existing gaps. Following the presentations a series of break out sessions will provide space for discussion on specific data needs and opportunities for collaboration.   

Framing presentations:

  • The value of collaboration & ACARN’s data sharing infrastructure (Sean Smukler, UBC)
  • Cross-agency collaboration through the Climate Related Monitoring Program (Ted Weick, B.C. Ministry of Environment)  
  • Data gaps & agricultural adaptation (Emily MacNair, Climate Action Initiative)

Break out sessions
Strategies to improve data sharing and data access

  • Agricultural weather data sharing 
  • Soils data sharing 
  • Forage data sharing  
  • Pest data sharing 
  • Remote monitoring possibilities
  • Water-related data needs and data sharing
  • Other data sharing needs for agricultural adaptation
  • Open tables 

12:15 – 1:15 pm


Lunch presentation:
Provincial Government Climate Risk Assessment (Anna Stemberger, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture)

1:15 – 3:15 pm

Session 3: Integrating across data sets & disciplines to better guide agricultural adaptation

Session description: 

This session will set the stage for discussing future directions for collaborative research to support agricultural adaptation in BC. The first two presenters will provide examples of tools that have been developed through collaboration and integration of climate data with agricultural information to guide decision making. The next two presenters will discuss cross-cutting issues related to water management and social benefits.  Following the presentations you will have a chance to discuss research priorities and opportunities in break out sessions focused on specific aspects of agriculture adaptation. 

Framing presentations:

  • The Northwest ClimateToolbox (Katherine Hegewisch, U. of Idaho)
  • The BC Decision Aid System for Integrated Pest Management (Molly Thurston,  Claremont Ranch Organics)
  • Water research priorities to support agricultural adaptation to climate change (Natalya Melnychuk, Ministry of Agriculture)
  • Who cares about what? Social benefits of farm-scale restoration and adaptation projects (John Janmaat, UBCO)

Break out sessions:
Discussion on collaborative research, future tools & directions 

  • Future crop suitability modelling in BC 
  • Applying a multi-loop learning approach in assessing agricultural climate capability in a non-stationary climate
  • Water research priorities for agricultural adaptation 
  • Building community support for agricultural adaptation
  • Open tables

3:15 – 3:30 pm

Wrap up & closing, Dr. Sean Smukler, ACARN Chair

Our Speakers


Dr. Lee Kalcsits, Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center
Dr. Lee Kalcsits is an assistant professor of tree fruit physiology in the Department of Horticulture at the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, Washington, USA. He completed a BSA in Horticulture and a MS in tree physiology at the University of Saskatchewan and a PhD in Forestry and Tree Physiology at UBC. He has been at WSU since 2014. His research works towards understanding the interactions between environment, horticultural management and genetics of tree fruit. Specifically, his work is focused understanding heat and water relations in apple and developing strategies to mitigate those problems.

Dr. Ann Thrupp, Down to Earth Innovations
Ann Thrupp has extensive experience as a pioneer and leader in sustainable and regenerative food systems. From 2003-2013, Ann was the Manager of Sustainability and Organic Management at Fetzer and Bonterra Vineyards, where she coordinated and led a diversity of initiatives to implement sustainable practices in the winery and vineyards, and developed partnerships and outreach to stakeholders about sustainable business practices. At Fetzer she also provided education and technical assistance to growers, and assisted hundreds of growers and wineries in the transition to organic and sustainable practices. Ann also served as the Managing Director and consultant for the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) in 2005-2007.


Lee Cartier, P. Ag., Okanagan College
Lee Cartier is a Professor Emeritus at the Okanagan School of Business at the Okanagan College in BC, Canada. His research interests are in the areas of rural entrepreneurship and industry competitiveness.

Chad Douglas, Quails’ Gate Estate Winery
Chad Douglas, Viticulturist at Quails’ Gate Estate Winery, holds a Masters’ of Science degree in Geography from the University of Otago, New Zealand. He has been managing vineyards for the past 15 years in New Zealand, Oregon and now in the Okanagan Valley. Sustainability and innovative vineyard practices have always been central to his management philosophy.

Kellie Garcia, Okanagan Basin Water Board
Ms. Garcia is the Policy Planning Specialist at the Okanagan Basin Water Board, with 15 years of experience in project management, environmental planning, and extension and communication. She is a Professional Agrologist and was manager of the BC Wine Grape Council’s Sustainable Winegrowing British Columbia program for more than a decade. Her current work at the OBWB focuses on advancing drought and flood planning in the Okanagan by promoting best practices, leading technical studies, and improving communication and collaboration. In her spare time, Kellie enjoys hiking, camping, biking, drinking wine and eating local food.

Dr. Kirsten Hanaam, AAFC SuRDC
Kirsten is an agro-ecologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Summerland Research and Development Centre. She studies water, carbon and nutrient dynamics within agro-ecosystems at a range of spatial scales.

Dr. Svan Lembke, Okanagan College
Svan Lembke holds a PhD from the University of Auckland, NZ, and is a professor at the Okanagan School of Business at the Okanagan College in BC, Canada. Her research focuses on technology innovation and business strategy.

Dr. Youry Khmelevsky, Okanagan College
Youry Khmelevsky is a professor in Computer Science at Okanagan College.

Dr. Andrew Midwood, UBC
Andrew Midwood is a research associate at UBC, and has a background in studying soil C cycling in both managed and natural ecosystems. He is currently working on a 5 year federally funded ‘Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Project’ aimed at studying the effects of irrigation on the soils of the Okanagan Valley. He has expertise in the analysis and use of stable isotopes and was originally based in the UK before moving to Canada a few years ago. Andrew has over 20 years of research experience and has collaborated with colleagues from a number of countries including the US, New Zealand, Australia and across Europe.

Dr. Louise Nelson, UBC Okanagan
Dr. Louise Nelson is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Biology, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus. She is a soil microbiologist with more than 30 years experience working in the agricultural sector in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Her research has focused on plant-microbe interactions, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria, biological control of plant fungal pathogens and nitrogen cycling in agricultural soils. She recently led a FAIP study to identify sustainable orchard floor management practices and water delivery systems to optimize water use efficiency and soil health in cherry production as it expands northward in the Okanagan with climate change.

Dr. Mehdi Sharifi, AAFC SuRDC
Dr. Mehdi Sharifi is a research scientist at Summerland Research and Development Centre, BC since 2016. Most recently, for 5 years Dr. Sharifi was Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Agriculture and an Assistant Professor at Trent University’s School of Environment. From 2010 to 2012, he served as the Nutrient Management Research Chair and Assistant Professor at the Environmental Sciences Department of the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University (formerly the Nova Scotia Agricultural College). Prior to that he did a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada in Truro, NS, (2008-2010) and a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at AAFC’s Fredericton Research and Development Centre, NB, (2005-2008). Dr. Sharifi’s research activities are focused on sustainable nutrient management for perennial horticultural crops including grapes, apples and cherries. His interests extend to the use and management of cover crops, and soil amendments in horticultural crops.

Dr. Jos̩e Ramon Urbez-Torres, AAFC SuRDC
Dr. Jos̩e Ramon Urbez-Torres is the plant pathologist at Summerland Research & Development Centre.

Dr. Elizabeth Wolkovich, UBC
Elizabeth Wolkovich is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, where she holds the Canada Research Chair in Temporal Ecology. Her research focuses on how phenology shapes plants and plant communities in forest and crop systems. She is particularly interested in how climate change will affect different winegrape varieties, and how shifting varieties may help growers adapt to warming. Winegrape projects in her lab draw on collaborations and data from France, Switzerland, New Zealand, California and British Columbia.


Dr. Katherine Hegewisch, University of Idaho
Dr. Katherine Hegewisch is currently a research scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, working with climatologist Dr. John Abatzoglou.  She holds a PhD in Physics from Washington State University in Pullman, WA and as well as several other degrees in Applied Mathematics and Statistics. At the University of Idaho, she is a climate data provider, climate data analyst and a web developer of tools for visualizing climate and remote sensing datasets. Specifically, she is the lead developer of both the Northwest Climate Toolbox and Climate Engine. Today, she will be talking about the Northwest Climate Toolbox.

Dr. John Janmaat, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
Dr. John Janmaat is an Associate Professor of Economics at UBC (Okanagan). His climate change research is focused on incentive-based policies for water management, water resource governance and management approaches for climate change.

Jason Lussier, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture
Jason Lussier is the Coastal Team Lead for the Regional Development Services Unit with the BC Ministry of Agriculture. This cross-province unit provides frontline support on various programs and services offered by the provincial government, including regional climate change adaptation and mitigation. Before joining the Ministry, he was the coordinator of the BC Agricultural Climate Adaptation Research Network from 2017-2019 and is now an active member of the Steering Committee.

Shauna MacKinnon, Agricultural Climate Adaptation Research Network
Shauna MacKinnon is the Coordinator for the ACARN network as well as the Climate Action Initiative’s Farm Adaptation Innovator Program. Shauna holds a MA in Geography from the University of Guelph and brings experience in participatory research, on-farm trials, extension and economic research to ACARN.

Emily MacNair,  BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative
Emily MacNair has coordinated and managed the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative since 2008. Her work has included the development of the BC Agriculture & Climate Change Action Plan, leading projects to evaluate the agriculture sector’s risk and opportunities related to climate change, and the development and delivery of current adaptation programming for the sector in BC.

Natalya Melnychuk, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture
Natalya Melnychuk is this year’s Science Policy Fellow with the BC Ministry of Agriculture. In this role, she is helping to advance agricultural water policy concerns in response to climate change.  She comes to this work as a consultant and academic specializing in water policy and governance. Before the fellowship, Natalya delivered projects such as the 2018 water quantity management framework review for the Ontario Ministry of Environment and a cross country provincial scan on environmental flow needs policy. Natalya holds a PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability and resides in the Shuswap where she sits on her regions Advisory Planning Commission and the Shuswap Watershed Council.

Sean Smukler,University of British Columbia
Dr. Sean Smukler is an Associate Professor in the Applied Biology & Soil Science program at UBC (Vancouver) and the Chair in Agriculture and the Environment. He is the principal investigator of the Sustainable Agricultural Landscape Lab and his climate change research is primarily based on adaptation approaches for agriculture and soils management.

Molly Thurston, Claremont Ranch Organics
Molly is a Horticulturist and organic tree fruit producer in Lake Country, BC.  Her educational background includes a BSc. in Agriculture Science from the University of Guelph and a MSc. in Biology from UBC Okanagan. Molly is a Professional Agrologist and has worked with tree fruit growers in the Okanagan Valley for the past 14 years. She has recently started her own agricultural consulting practice, focused on promoting innovation and providing agronomic support to fruit growers and packers. 

Ted Weick, B.C. Ministry of Environment
Ted completed his undergraduate at SFU and his graduate work at McMaster studying microclimatology in the Hudson Bay Lowlands.  Working in the BC public service since 1989, he led the development and support of computer systems and tools for avalanche technicians and highways maintenance contractors.  In 2009, he moved to the Ministry of Environment (and Climate Change Strategy) to coordinate efforts between meteorological networks to improve the provincial data available for climate change analysis. Ted is still coordinating this work, in addition to managing the Provincial Snow Program for collecting and reporting snow pack information for flood forecasting, and ensuring that ambient air quality data is available to public and federal partners.

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