Meet the Team

Expert Advisors

KBFA’s general farm advisors rely upon a large and expanding network of expert advisors to offer our producers the best available advice. Advisors include university professorsgovernment researchers,provincial agrologists, successful farmers and ranchers, and industry specialists.

The list below is evolving. Advisors and services will be added as the needs of sectors and geographic areas are identified, and as relationships are formed.

Industry Specialists

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Linda Gilkeson, PhD

Integrated Pest Management

Salt Spring Island, BC: Author of pest management government training manuals and published gardening books; Instructor for Master Gardener programs; Pest management and organic gardening workshops; Former President of the Entomological Society of Canada; Outstanding achievement award (2005) from the Professional Pest Management Association of BC.

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Jim Gerrish

Management Intensive Grazing

May, Idaho: Consults across North America in pasture improvement, grazing cell design, multispecies and year-round grazing, grass finishing, sustainable business structure and financial analysis; Formerly a researcher in beef-forage systems at University of Missouri (22 years); Author of “Management Intensive Grazing” and “Kick the Hay Habit”; Operates an 850 acre ranch.

 
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Greener Pastures Ranching Ltd.

Steve Kenyon

Rotational Grazing Management

Busby, AB: Consults across North America on profitable and sustainable ranching using grazing management focused on soil carbon, soil life, and productive pastures without synthetic inputs. Custom-grazes beef on 3000 acres of leased land, now also pasturing pigs and poultry. Regular contributor to “The Canadian Cattleman,” “The Stockman Grass Farmer,” and “The Blade.”

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Annette Suominen, PhD

Ruminant Nutrition

Red Deer, AB: Specialist in ruminant digestive physiology — PhD from University of Alberta (1997), diploma in animal nutrition engineering from Kiel University, Germany (1992); Feed nutritionist for the industry 1997 to 2010; Independent consultant in forage quality and ruminant nutrition since 2011; Owner of Jones Creek Livestock Consulting Ltd. and a ranch in Red Deer.

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Agrowest Consulting

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Catherine Tarasoff, PhD, PAg

Farm Trials, Forage and Range Management

Kamloops, BC: Adjunct Professor at Thompson Rivers University in range and weed management; Farmer-led research trials with the BC Forage Council, and developed the Guide to On-Farm Demonstration Research; Formerly a researcher in range and weed ecology projects with Oregon State University and Michigan Technological University; Owner of Agrowest Consulting.

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Pearl Agricultural Consulting Inc.

Molly Thurston, MSc, PAg

Tree Fruit & Pest Management

Kelowna, BC: Tree fruit horticulturist, food safety/GAP consultant, and organic tree fruit grower in Lake Country; BSc. from University of a Guelph and an MSc in soil microbiology from UBC-Okanagan; Specialties include: integrated pest management, decision aid systems, crop physiology and pruning, crop nutrition and fertilization, field research and product efficacy trials.

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Eric Gerbrandt, PhD

Small Fruit Production

Chilliwack, BC: Researcher with the BC berry industry since 2011 with the aim to increase profitability and competitiveness for berry growers; PhD research focused on Haskap breeding; Research Director for the BC Blueberry Council, Raspberry Industry Development Council and BC Strawberry Growers’ Association; Instructor in UFV’s Agriculture department since 2012.

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Oscar Somasco, MSc

Organic Transition and Production

Blewett, BC: Advisor to farmers transitioning to organic practices and approaches to soil conservation with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service; Inspector for Organic certification; Formerly a university researcher at the University of California in agronomy and range sciences; Owned and operated Blewett Mountain Gardens since 1997.

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Mike Malmberg, PAg

Rangeland Management and Economics

Fort Steele, BC: Fort Steele Farms since 1979; Production of forage crops and beef cattle; Soil and rangeland management; Farm business and economics; Consultant for BC Farm Business Advisory Services Program; Formerly a District Agriculturalist, Regional Agrologist, and Environmental Farm Plan Advisor for BC.

Farmquest Consulting Ltd.

Duane Holder, PAg

Horticultural Consultant

Creston, BC: Owner of Farmquest Consulting, an independent crop advisory and applied research firm specializing in tree fruit production and related production practices; Integrated pest management and pesticide application technology; Tree fruit nutrition; Irrigation management; Planting systems, tree training, pruning, and harvesting. Applied research and crop trials.

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Jo Castaneda Tobias

Soil Biology Testing and Analysis

Vancouver, BC: Soil FoodWeb consultant trained by Dr. Elaine Ingham; Laboratory for qualitative assessment of microbial diversity of soil, compost, compost tea, and extract; Determination of soil food web health for any scale of plant production; Production of biologically-diverse compost inoculants; Educator and consultant to improve soil health and increase plant resiliency.

Bill Chapman, PhD

Soil Science

Tarrys, BC: Soil biology and the relationship between healthy soils and healthy crops; Approaches to soil sampling and interpretation of soil analyses; Working with natural soil processes to manage difficult soils and improve soil structure; Crop selection based on soil type; Planting crops at northern limits; Mycorrhizae; Formerly a farm management consultant and research scientist.

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Caleb Willems

Market Garden Irrigation Management

Cranbrook, BC: Irrigation management for small farms and market gardens, including drip and microspray systems; 10 years’ experience managing garden centres; shrub and tree installations.

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Robin Annschild

Wetland Restoration

Salt Spring Island, BC: Wetland restoration to improve both farm and habitat values; Design permitting, project management, and construction supervision with Tom Biebighauser and the British Columbia Wildlife Federation; Funding from multiple sources; 290 designs and 212 builds in BC, Arizona, California, and South Carolina.

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Gillian Sanders

Grizzly Bear Solutions

Meadow Creek, BC: Working to improve grizzly bear/human coexistence through education, collaboration, and the use of practical tools. Has helped to install 200 electric fences to protect poultry, livestock, honeybees, crops and other agricultural attractants from black and grizzly bears. In some areas a 50/50 cost share may be available on the price of electric fencing supplies.

Farmers & Ranchers

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Hermann Bruns

Organic Vegetable Production

Mara, BC: 24 years of intensive Organic vegetable and herb production on a 25-acre family farm with 10 seasonal employees; 8000 sq.ft. storage and packing facility, and 26,000 sq.ft. of high tunnels; Innovative season extension, pest and weed techniques, marketing strategies; Former director of COABC and former president of the Organic Federation of Canada.

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Daniel Salatin

Integrated Multispecies Farm Business

Swoope, Virginia: Full-time since childhood, third generation farming salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey and forestry products sold to 3,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs; Manages all aspects of the farm including employees and interns. 

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Conrad Lindblom

Targeted Grazing

Red Deer, AB: Contract grazing throughout BC with herds of 500 to 2000 goats for silvicultural and invasive weed management; Portable large herd control with horses, guard dogs, herd dogs, corrals, and livestock trailers; Mentor for new entrants; Instructor in targeted grazing business and practice at Fraser Valley University and Thompson Rivers University.

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Patrick Steiner

Organic Seed Production

Kaslo, BC: 17 years growing organic vegetable seeds for commercial sale; Management and development of an organic seed company; Specialization in rare, locally adapted, heirloom varieties; Focus in biennial seed crop production, legumes, brassicas, and lettuce seed; Small scale organic techniques; Board member of BC Eco Seed Co-op. 

University Researchers and Instructors

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Thompson Rivers University

Kamloops, BC

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Lauchlan Fraser, PhD

Range Ecology and Climate Change

TRU, Kamloops, BC: Professor in range management, climate change, biodiversity, and ecosystem reclamation at Thompson Rivers University; Works with ranchers to do research trials on intensive grazing management impacts on soil carbon, biodiversity, productivity; Studies effects of climate change on range diversity and productivity, and potential to earn carbon credits for ranchers who use productive grazing and forage management approaches; 

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Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Richmond, BC

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Kent Mullinix, PhD, PAg

Small Farm Viability, Tree Fruits, Food Systems

KPU, Surrey, BC: Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems; Oversees applied research projects and two farm school programs; Ecological crop production; Agriculture education; Family-based agriculture revitalization; Pomology and fruit crop research; Orchard planning, establishment, and maintenance with extensive practical experience on family and demonstration orchards.

 
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Wallapak Polasub, PhD

Direct Marketing, Small Farm Economics, Cooperatives

KPU, Surrey, BC: Research Associate with Institute for Sustainable Food Systems; Economic impacts of local food; small-scale farming economics; Farm product direct marketing; Co-operatives and sustainable economic development.

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University of British Columbia

Vancouver, BC

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Hans Schreier, PhD

Mountain Agriculture, Watersheds, Climate Adaptation

Resource management and agriculture in BC, the Himalayas, and the Andes; Geomorphology; Soil and watershed management and land evaluation; Soil processes, water chemistry, and land-water interactions including pollution and sedimentation; Simulation models, aerial surveys, remote sensing, photogrammetry, and mapping.

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Les Lavkulich, PhD

Soils and Soil Chemistry

Soil identification, classification, surveying, genesis, colloidal properties; Environmental chemistry; Mine reclamation; Ecological services; Sustainable agricultural systems and land-water interactions; Founded UBC Fisheries Centre (1991); Established UBC Resource Management Science interdisciplinary program (1980).

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Sean Smukler, PhD

Soils, Agricultural Ecology, Watershed Management

Soil identification, classification, surveying, genesis, colloidal properties; Environmental chemistry; Mine reclamation; Ecological services; Sustainable agricultural systems and land-water interactions; Founded UBC Fisheries Centre (1991); Established UBC Resource Management Science interdisciplinary program (1980).

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University of British Columbia Okanagan

Kelowna, BC

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Louise Nelson, PhD

Fungal Pathogens, Microbial Innoculants

UBC Okanagan Soil Microbial Ecology Group; Detection and biological control of fungal pathogens; Plant-microbe interactions and rhizobacteria; Development of microbial inoculants in agriculture and horticulture to improve plant growth, root development, and to suppress fungal pathogens pre- and post-harvest.

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Melanie Jones, PhD

Orchard Soils, Mycorrhizae, Plant Physiology

Jones Research Lab; Ectomycorrhizae impacts on nutrient uptake and carbon allocation by woody plants; Orchard soil management to retain soil carbon; Tree root physiology and fine root growth; Soil nutrient cycling in perennial and forest systems; Effects of irrigation water delivery, compost, and mulch on orchard soils.

 
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Nathan Pelletier, PhD

Sustainability Management

PRISM Laboratory (Priority Research for Integrated Sustainability Management); Canadian egg industry sustainability; Food system impacts on society and environment; Farm efficiencies; Energy use; Capture and control of farm fertility.

Provincial Agrologists

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British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture

Kevin Murphy, P.Ag

Regional Agrologist (Central & East Kootenay)

Sector Development Branch, Creston

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Christina Forbes, P.Ag

Regional Agrologist (Kootenay Boundary)

Sector Development Branch, Creston

Raised on a dairy farm; BSc in agroecology from UBC (2003); Formerly a Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Animals Program inspector (2004-2008 in Fort St. John, 2008-2018 in Oliver), focused on humane transportation, animal identification, and disease outbreaks, including avian influenza.

Government Researchers

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Surya Acharya, PhD

Forage Varieties and Breeding

Lethbridge, AB: Senior research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Canada’s leading expert on forage crops; Breeding programs include cultivars of alfalfa, sainfoin, fenugreek, cicer milkvetch, orchardgrass, and giant wild rye, focusing on palatibility and productivity; Works worldwide on forage, grassland, reclamation, restoration, and anti-desertification initiatives.

 
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Summerland Research and Development Centre

Summerland, BC

Denise Neilsen, PhD

Irrigation Management

Precision management of water and nutrients for woody perennial crops; Climate effects on irrigation demand; Climate limitations to crop suitability and quality; Management practices to decrease environmental risk and improve nutrient use efficiency;Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that optimize water quality and quantity.

Peter Toivonen, PhD

Post Harvest Storage

Post harvest physiology of fresh fruits and vegetables; Quality of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables; Antioxidants and degradation processes; Energy saving approaches for storage; Effect of raw product quality on storage, including newly released apple and sweet cherry cultivars; Improving flavour of controlled atmosphere stored apples.

Thomas Forge, PhD

Soil Ecology and Nematology

Integrated root health management; Cultural management of plant-parasitic nematodes; Influences of organic amendments; Sustainable soil, nutrient and water management for high-value horticultural crops; Root diseases of perennial fruit crops, including blueberries, wine grapes and raspberries; Climate change and water management.

Medhi Sharifi, PhD

Soil & Nutrient Management

Sustainable soil and nutrient management for perennial horticultural crops; Use and management of cover crops and soil amendments; Formerly Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Agriculture and an Assistant Professor at Trent University, Nutrient Management Research Chair and Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University; Postdoctoral fellowships at AAFC’s Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, NB, and at the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada in Truro, NS.

Pat Bowen, PhD

Wine Grape Production

Sustainable practices to produce high quality wine grapes; Influences on wine grape development, compostion and quality including climate, soils, and physiology; Vineyard irrigation; Improved wine grape production systems.

Tom Lowery, PhD

Integrated Pest Management, Wine Grapes

Wine grape and tree fruit pests; Groundcover management for the control of grape pests and improved fruit quality; Aphid biology, behaviour, and methods of control; Management programs for insect and mite pests of grape; Insect-borne plant viruses including plum pox virus, blueberryscorch virus; Grape phytoplasmas and leafhopper vectors.

Gary Judd, PhD

Integrated Pest Management, Wine Grapes

Insect chemical ecology; Baited traps; Nematodes and barriers; Reduced-risk insectides; Clearwing and coddling moth. Pest identification and recommendations.

José Ramón Úrbez-Torres, PhD

Plant Diseases in Woody Perennials

Control of fungal, viral and bacterial diseases of woody perennial crops, including grapevines, fruit and nut trees, and small fruits root and trunk diseases; Plant pathogen detection and disease diagnostics; DNA-array detection; Grapevine viruses in BC (Leafroll, Red Blotch, Fanleaf); Cherry diseases (cherry slip-skin and cherry replant disease).

D'Ann Rochon, PhD

Plant Viruses

Plant protection and virus resistance; Vector transmission of plant viruses; Development and assessment of detection kits for plant viruses and plant varieties.

Yu Xiang, PhD

Plant Viruses

Identification and management of plant virus infections in fruit trees and berries; Virus genomics; Identification and classification of mycoviruses of plant fungal pathogens; Phytoplasma diseases; Cherry mottle leaf virus; Methods for monitoring, evaluating and enhancing maintenance systems; Clean plant procedures in nurseries.

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Agassiz Research and Development Centre

Agassiz, BC

Shabtai Bittman, PhD

Forage and Nutrient Management

Corn and other forage crops; Hay grasses, cover crops, and rotations; Silage; Manure and waste management; Soil amendments, nutrient management, and sustainable cropping systems; Reducing emissions of nitrogenous gases and particulates. Strategic use of manure and impacts on water quality; FarmWest.com.

Todd Kabaluk, MSc

Integrated Pest Management

Biological control of field insect pests using microbial insecticides and other bio-based materials; Host-pathogen ecology and monitoring; Wireworm biocontrol including attracting and killing click beetles using pheromones and entomopathogens like Metarhizium infection. President of the Professional Pest Management Association of BC.
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