Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 12, 2004

Astronaut to speak at Farm Smart conference

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield will be the featured speaker at the Farm Smart agricultural conference being held at the University of Guelph Saturday.

The conference is sponsored by the Ontario Agricultural College, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Golden Horseshoe and Heartland Regional Soil and Crop Improvement Associations, and Agribusiness. It will include some 45 sessions on topics such as new farming practices, crop updates, new computer software and the bio-economy. The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Rozanski Hall.

Hadfield, who was raised on a farm in Halton Region, will discuss how agriculture interacts with the environment at 1:20 p.m. Following the lecture, he will meet with high school and university students for a question-and-answer session and tour of the university’s Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, headed by Mike Dixon, chair of the Department of Environmental Biology. The session and tour are open to media.

Hadfield became the first Canadian to ever leave a spacecraft and float freely in space while serving as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2001. He also served as mission specialist on NASA’s second space shuttle mission to rendezvous with the Russian Space Station Mir. U of G’s Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility is the most sophisticated of its kind in the world in the field of advanced life support, containing hypobaric (reduced atmospheric pressure) chambers for growing plants to sustain deep space missions. Dixon has spent time at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, working with NASA colleagues to test instruments and methods that measure how plants respond in environments similar to that found in space travel.

Other highlights of the Smart Farm agricultural conference include:

-- 9 a.m. “The Bio-Economy: What’s Next,” Prof. Gord Surgeoner, Ontario Agri-Food Technologies.

-- 10 a.m. “BSE – Where Are We Now?” Jim Clark, Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

-- 11 a.m. “Renovating Your Farmhouse,” Trent and Mark Bauman

-- 12:15 p.m.“Soybeans, the Untold Story,” Horst Bohner and Tracey Caute, OMAF

-- 2:35 p.m.“Tour of Plant Agriculture’s Biotech Labs,” Prof. Peter Pauls, OAC

--3:40 p.m. “Ask a Vet,” an interactive session with Nancy Charlton.

Cost of the conference is $50 in advance ($30 for students) and $60 at the door. More information is available online.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824- 4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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