Acadia seminar on Saturday focusing on wine and fruit growing industries

Published on March 28, 2014
Acadia University, Wolfville

Approximately 50 associations, farmers and small businesses from across Nova Scotia are expected to gather at Clark Commons on March 29 to take part in the inaugural Data Analytics for Wine and Fruit Growing Industries Seminar being hosted by the newly formed Acadia Institute for Data Analytics.

The purpose of the seminar is to educate agricultural stakeholders on the importance of data analytics and how it can help grow the industry here in the Annapolis Valley and beyond. The seminar will feature short talks from Colin Bell, David Colville, Angus Ells and Sean Myles. All four will share local agricultural projects that are using data analytics.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Jim Willwerth from Brock University, who has been using large data sets to protect vineyards. The seminar will wrap up with a panel discussion that will open up the floor and give the audience an opportunity to ask any questions they may have. This will be followed by lunch and an opportunity to network with other attendees.

Willwerth is a Senior Staff Scientist in Viticulture at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).  He currently has multiple projects investigating ways to optimize cold hardiness in V. vinifera through management practices. His main outreach activities are CCOVI’s VineAlert Regional Grapevine Cold Hardiness Program and the Grapevine Preharvest Monitoring program for the Ontario grape and wine Industry.  He has his Doctorate from Brock University, where his research focused on elucidation of Riesling terroirs that impact wine varietal character in vineyards throughout the Niagara Peninsula and validation of sub-appellations in terms of Riesling fruit composition and wine sensory profiles.  His expertise includes vine physiology, cold hardiness, viticulture practices, soil/irrigation management, and water relations in grapevines.  Many local winemakers and vineyard owners will be in attendance to hear his story. 

Colville will be giving a short talk and is a Research Scientist with the Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG) at the Annapolis Valley Campus of the NSCC. He has over 25 years of experience teaching and applying geomatics technology.  He also holds an adjunct professor position with Acadia University and is an active co-supervisor in the MSc Applied Geomatics program.  David is the principal investigator on a number of in-situ sensing, meteorological monitoring, and landscape-level studies in southwestern Nova Scotia.  

Ells is the manager of carrot operations for Bragg Lumber Company, which is the Canadian farming division of the Oxford Food Group. The Oxford Food Group is the largest global grower and processor of wild blueberries.

Myles has completed his Masters in Human Biology at Oxford University and his PhD in Human Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. He turned to plants during his postdoc at Cornell where he worked on grape genomics. His current position is with the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University as the Canada Research Chair in Agricultural Genetic Diversity. His research focusses on figuring out how to use genomics to more efficiently breed improved fruit that requires less chemical input to grow.

Bell will round out the speakers and runs Windermere Hills Farm & Vineyard, a small farm south of Berwick.  He has been raising purebred Icelandic sheep and establishing a small vineyard since retiring from Acadia University.  At Acadia he participated in numerous applied projects in collaboration with the Kentville Agricultural Centre one of which explored Crown Gall disease in grapes.  He is presently serving on the board of directors of the Kings County Federation of Agriculture.