Training dogs to detect clubroot contamination

Training dogs to detect clubroot contamination.

Dog Trainers Bill Grimmer and Mario Bourque from New Brunswick brought two of their clubroot detection canines to Alberta as part of a partnership with Farming Smarter and Alberta Agriculture.

Grimmer says they brought their rookie dogs Josie, the German Shepherd, and Adi, the Golden Doodle, to do the detection work in the County of Newell and Leduc County.

Grimmer says they’ve been working on this project for a while now.

“We were asked to do a project to see if it was possible to train a dog to scent detect a clubroot product — pathogens,” Grimmer said.

“We did it in a clinical training setting in New Brunswick, completed it, felt very confident we had trained the dogs to detect clubroot.”

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Grimmer says they then took it from clinical training inside a building out into finding it in different fields and off of equipment.

“This is the first time the dogs have been brought out to Alberta to try it in the actual scenarios where this stuff grows.”

He says the skills these dogs bring could greatly help farmers.

“From what I have read about clubroot and not knowing much at all, there’s no other way of finding it but pulling up the root and checking,”

He adds if there is cross-contamination from contractors, farmers, and other people coming and going from the fields, it’s essential to have a way to detect it as a safeguard.

“There’s an inspection that could be done by dogs. It could also go to the entrances of fields that they’re working on before you take a combine from one to the other.

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He adds the dog could then be used to check those to make sure there are no contaminating pieces of gall or clubroot before transferring to another field.