Updated: Jul 7
Meet Allison Ammeter, our 7th feature in our Women in Agriculture series.
Growing pulses in Alberta have become more lucrative in just the past couple years with over
6,500 pulse farms province-wide. But there’s one farmer in particular who has her finger on
Allison Ammeter, alongside her husband and sons, runs and operates a multi-generational grain farm near Sylvan Lake, Alberta. Over the course of Ammeter’s agriculture career, she has taken on many roles, including farm bookkeeping, being the farm gopher from seeding to harvest, running the combine at harvest, and raising their family.
But in recent years, Ammeter became a driving force for the pulse community, dedicating her
time to commission boards. With Alberta Pulse Growers Commission and Pulse Canada, she
serves as a board director and is also the Chair of Plant Protein Alliance of Alberta. Additionally, Ammeter is also a participating board member of Protein Highway and Protein Industries Canada.
Ammeter also played an integral role for the United Nations International Year of Pulses (IYOP)
back in 2016 as the chair of the Canadian committee. Her role with IYOP later earned her the
2017 Pulse Promoter Award from Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.
“We had so many great initiatives and fascinating things going on leading up to the
International Year of Pulses. Being part of that was just amazing. I watched the public at large
really grasp how great pulses were both as a crop to grow and as a food to eat, and we really advanced their profile thanks to taking advantage of that United Nations designation,” says Ammeter.
Ammeter and the multiple boards she’s involved with are focused on promoting these dry,
edible seeds—with a special focus on how they add value for both farmers and consumers.
In Alberta, pulses are ideal additions to a farmer’s crop rotation. “By having a rotation, it breaks disease pressure in all the crops,” says Ammeter. “You get less clubroot canola, less
aphanomyces in peas, [and] less fungus in cereal. Disease cycles are broken by rotating crops, just like they would be in your garden by not planting your potatoes in the same patch all the time.”
Pulses are also great additions to a crop rotation as they are capable of fixing their own
nitrogen. This means that they can convert nitrogen from the air rather than from the soil.
Nitrogen is a key component to any crop’s growth and a significant amount of a pulse crop’s
nitrogen needs are fulfilled through this process. Peas can obtain about 80 per cent of their nitrogen from fixation, while faba beans can obtain about 90 per cent. Since pulses can fix their own nitrogen, this effectively reduces input-costs for farmers.
“Peas require very little extra commercial fertilizer, just a little bit to get them started. Whereas some crops such as canola, for example, require a lot of commercial fertilizer—so peas are
actually less expensive to plant,” Ammeter says.
If the season permits, Ammeter grows faba beans, but peas have been a staple in her rotation since about 1990.
“We really believe in the value they add to the soil and to our four-year rotation. We're a very short season area—there's a lot of things we simply cannot grow in our area because of the short season and cooler nights,” Ammeter says.
Pulses like peas are the exception since the number of days until maturity is much shorter than most crops. It allows more flexibility in Ammeter’s seeding and harvesting season. Ammeter also found that by adding pulses in her rotation, it promotes plant health.
Once the pulse’s life cycle is complete, it leaves nitrogen in the earth, improving soil health for the next crop in rotation.
“When we plant wheat on our pea field from the year before, our wheat actually gets a boost and it's generally a higher protein. It's just good all-around for [our farm],” Ammeter says.
With Canada as the leading international pulse exporter and among the top producers in the world, the business of pulses is advantageous to Canadian farmers.
But as a strong advocate among the pulse community, Ammeter says that pulses are beneficial for consumers as well. Along with the high nutritional value of pulses, this crop is versatile, used in many worldly culinary dishes. Add to the fact that pulses are widely grown throughout Alberta and Canada, consumers have access to the world’s flavours right from their homes.
“People are looking for locally grown food—so if you go to your grocery store and you’re looking to buy pulses, chances are they came from the Canadian Prairies,” Ammeter says.
Moreover, pulses are evolving the way we develop food. A process called fractionation divides a pulse crop into proteins, fibres, and starches to create different end-uses, such as Ripple Pea Milk or Beyond Meat. Pulses are continuously adding value and creating agricultural prospects right here in Alberta.
“The opportunities that are ahead are for more value-added in Alberta. We're not just growing [pulses] and shipping it off in a train car across the pond to someone else, we're actually adding value to it here,” Ammeter says.
“That's a tremendous opportunity for Alberta and for Canada because it increases our own GDP as it adds jobs in our own backyard. We have the ability to feed the world and add extra value here at home.”
Alberta Pulse Growers — About Us
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers — Pulses in your Rotations
Pulse Canada — Processing Technology