Tirhas Gebretsadikan loves plants. As a child, she would plant all sorts of different seeds in her family garden such as mango, avocado, lemon and orange. Tirhas knew from a young age that she wanted to study plant science. Her home country, Ethiopia, relies heavily on agriculture and she hopes to contribute scientific advances in plant science to help farmers grow their crops.
The goal of Tirhas’s project is to determine fruit yield and quality of sweet cherry grown in the Northern Okanagan Valley under climate change by optimizing water use and soil health in the new areas.
Elevated areas have limited water, so Tirhas is exploring whether sweet cherry can grow and produce healthy fruit when grown with regulated deficit irrigation (less water). In addition to this, Tirhas is looking at the soil health, specifically soil biological properties (organisms in the soil), in these new regions. Her aim is to determine if the soil microbes are having a positive or negative impact on cherry production. For example, AMF (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) provide a positive impact through symbiosis with the cherry tree. The AMF give the tree water and minerals in exchange for carbon. In contrast, nematodes provide a negative impact by penetrating the tree root, destroying the issue and eventually causing plant death.
Lastly, Tirhas is happy to be studying in Canada; she loves Canada. One of the reasons is because she was the beneficiary of scholarship given by C.I.D.A. (Canadian International Development Agency) when studying in Ethiopia. The C.I.D.A aims to give equal opportunities to men and women studying postharvest science in Ethiopia. The project is called ‘Postharvest Management to Improve Livelihoods’ and supports students to become leaders in postharvest management to improve local agriculture projects. If you are interested in learning more, check out this graduate report.
Author: Melissa Larrabee