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Bentley Lecture in Sustainable Agriculture

2024 Lecture 

On February 13, 2024, Melissa Arcand presented: Perspectives on safeguarding soil health in Indigenous agroecosystems

Agriculture is the dominant land use in First Nations in the Canadian Prairies. In this lecture, soil biochemist Melissa Arcand will provide an overview of the contemporary context of First Nations agriculture in the prairies and highlight strategies that First Nations are employing to safeguard soil health in their agricultural lands. She'll share recent activities and learnings from Canada’s first Indigenous-led Living Lab, Bridge to Land Water Sky as well as outreach and training activities to increase agricultural land management capacity for Indigenous people.  

Undergraduate and graduate students participated in the event with a poster presentation, where they showcased their research from a variety of relevant areas.

About the speaker

Melissa Arcand, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Saskatchewan and is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6. Arcand researches soil health, carbon storage, and nutrient cycling in agroecosystems. Her recent interdisciplinary research focused on Indigenous agriculture in the Prairies, including hosting a SSHRC Connections Grant-funded Forum on Indigenous Agriculture in Saskatchewan. Arcand also collaborated with First Nations’ lands departments to assess soils on agricultural lands with support from the New Frontiers in Research Fund – Explorations Grant and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Agricultural Climate Solutions Living Labs. Arcand's team is developing and delivering outreach activities in soil health and agricultural beneficial management practices to First Nations through a Weston Family Foundation Soil Health Initiative project. In addition to her research and service work, she teaches and is the academic advisor for students in the Kanawayihetaytan Askiy (“Let us take care of the land” in Plains Cree) Indigenous Land and Resource Management Certificate program and is the academic lead for the kihci-okâwîmâw askiy Knowledge Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. 

2023 Lecture

On February 15, 2023, David Lobb presented: Soil Health — Beyond the Bandwagon.

Soil health has rapidly become the focus of soil science and soil management in Canada and around the world. It has also become an industry branding tool that has caught the attention of public officials and governments, and even the general public. But what really is soil health, and what is it not? Do we want to be on the soil health bandwagon?

Our guest speaker, David Lobb, wrestles with these questions daily. He led an important conversation about the future of soil management at the 21st Annual Bentley Lecture, including how we in soil science, agriculture and industry can address the idea of soil health.

Undergraduate and graduate students participated in the event with a poster presentation, where they showcased their research from a variety of relevant areas.

About the speaker

David Lobb is a Professor of Landscape Ecology in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. David grew up on a farm in southern Ontario, and he earned his BSc from the University of Toronto and his MSc and PhD from the University of Guelph. He is internationally recognized for his research in tillage translocation and tillage erosion, particularly for his advances in experimental methods and modeling. His expertise in soil erosion and conservation has been sought by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency and Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in addition to provincial and federal government agencies across Canada. David currently co-chairs the FAO’s Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soil. David is a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Soil Science, the Soil and Water Conservation Society, the Soil Science Society of America, and he was inducted into the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame.

2022 Lecture

Advancements in landscape-scale soil health monitoring for carbon accounting and restoration tracking

In 2022, Leigh Ann Winowiecki, PhD, Soil and Land Health Research Lead at the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry presented the 20th Annual Bentley Lecture in Sustainable Agriculture.

“A world without healthy soil is a world in which little grows,” Winowiecki writes. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Winowiecki’s research on landscape restoration, regenerative agricultural practices, and soil organic carbon counting takes a global approach to soil health across landscapes.

Winowiecki explores advancements in soil health monitoring, including ICRAF’s Land Degradation Surveillance Framework — co-developed by Winowiecki — and her work in leading the Coalition of Action 4 Soil Health — inspired by the UN Food Systems Summit — to assess ecosystem health and improve soil health globally by addressing barriers that constrain farmers from adopting and scaling healthy soil practices.

Watch this lecture and others on YouTube



Academic Lead
Brent Swallow
780 492 6656

Academic Lead
Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez
780 492 2428

The lecture is named in honor of professor Fred Bentley. Professor Bentley's academic career, mainly at the University of Alberta, spanned over 36 years and included dean of the Faculty of Agriculture from 1958 to 1968.

Each year the University of Alberta invites a speaker of international renown to present current research and updates in areas relating to soil science, agricultural production methods, and sustainable agriculture. Current students and faculty members as well as members of the public benefit from these presentations.

The purpose of the endowment is to support the Bentley Lecture in Sustainable Agriculture. This lecture series allows leading national and international speakers to present novel and innovative research and/or to discuss current issues in sustainable agriculture. The lecture series will also provide the opportunity for students to engage in these topical discussions. Funds may be used to provide honoraria, to reimburse travel-related expenses for the speaker (transportation, accommodation, hosting), and any other expenses related to the lecture series (publicity).