Dr. Alfred Slinkard

Al Slinkard, originally from Washington State, USA, came to Saskatchewan and formulated a vision that western Canadian agriculture could diversify into pulse crops and become a world leader in their production. Dr. Slinkard displayed exemplary leadership in research, education and communication toward achieving that goal. He is one of the founders of the Canadian pulse industry, which is now the world’s largest exporter of peas and lentils and a major exporter of chickpeas and beans.

After his first and second degrees from Washington State University, Al Slinkard earned his Ph.D. (1957) at University of Minnesota as a plant breeder, then became employed at the University of Idaho. Lured from the University of Idaho to the newly-formed Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan in 1972, Al released 19 pulse varieties, two of which charted the course for the development of the lentil industry in all of western Canada. His Laird class of lentil variety, released in 1978, is the most widely grown and recognized lentil class in the world.

Dr. Alfred Slinkard has served as supervisor or co-supervisor to 50 graduate students who studied at the University of Saskatchewan. He served on countless committees and organizations, edited several professional journals, and led numerous conferences and meetings having to do with progress in the agricultural research community.

Al Slinkard produced over 300 articles in books, journals, extension publications and conferences at the local, national and international levels. He also had a vision that the lentil industry’s pulse production knowledge could be developed into a world-class manual. This became a reality under the leadership of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and the editing of Al Slinkard. The Pulse Production Manual, in its second edition, is one of the best sources of pulse production information anywhere.

Because of the leadership of Al Slinkard in the industry, Saskatchewan is a recognized global centre of excellence in pulse research. Growth in prairie pulse production has expanded by 5.4 million acres since 1980 and employment in related processing, exporting, manufacturing and service industries has grown significantly.

The contributions of Alfred Slinkard to progress in the western Canada pulse development industry and agriculture have been recognized by presentation of many awards from industry partners, fellow agrologists, Canadian Seed Growers, University of Saskatchewan, the American Society of Agronomy, the Canadian Society of Agronomy, the Agricultural Institute of Canada and the Rotary clubs of Saskatoon.

Nominated By:
  • Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Board