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Manitoba Agriculture is losing its field crop pathologist

Commodity groups are hoping the position will be filled quickly

Field crop pathologist Holly Derksen is leaving Manitoba Agriculture Sept. 14 to join Arysta LifeScience Oct. 1 as its technical support specialist for Manitoba.

“Obviously I like pathology and that’s what I went to school for, but I didn’t want to lose the general agronomy knowledge that I have,” Derksen said in an interview Aug. 30. “In this position I only really get to practise pathology. I really want to make an effort to learn more about general agronomy. This will be an opportunity to make sure I have a more broad base of knowledge… in terms of agronomy. I’ll be able to do a lot of stuff with weeds, insects and things like that.”

Derksen said she’ll be working out of her home giving her more flexibility. Part of her new job is providing technical support to Arysta’s sales team and running field-scale product development trials.

Derksen, who has an undergraduate degree in botany from the University of Manitoba and a master in plant pathology, started with Manitoba Agriculture in May 2011, working on diseases affecting cereals, oilseeds, pulses and forages — everything from fusarium head blight and phytophthora root rot to sclerotinia and blackleg

“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I enjoyed all the people I got to meet and speaking at events. Hopefully I’ll still be able to do some of that in my new job. The people here (at Manitoba Agriculture) are great.”

Derksen, who was based at Manitoba Agriculture’s Carman office grew up at Snowflake and went to elementary and high school in Manitou.

A number of Manitoba commodity groups have written Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler asking him to quickly hire a new field crop pathologist.

The department was relatively quick filling the cereal, oilseed and weed specialists’ positions when they became vacant last year.

Industry sources say Man­itoba Agriculture sees the field crop pathologist position as important. However, no one from the department was available to comment by press time how quickly the position will get filled.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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