About The Canadian Society of Agronomy

The Canadian Society of Agronomy is a non-profit, educational and scientific society affiliated with the Agricultural Institute of Canada.


The Canadian Society of Agronomy is dedicated to enhancing cooperation and coordination among agronomists, to recognizing significant achievements in agronomy and to providing the opportunity to report and evaluate information pertinent to agronomy in Canada.

Goals and Objectives

Networking: to provide opportunities for interaction among members and to act as a conduit for interacting with members of other professional organizations
External Relations and Awareness: to provide our members with a united voice for making agronomic concerns known to the public and to other organizations.
Internal Communications and Coordination: to provide opportunities for members to communicate news and scientific findings to the scientific community.

The History of the Canadian Society of Agronomy

President, Canadian Society of Agronomy (1993-95)

Research Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
107 Science Place
Saskatoon, Sask. S7N 0X2.


A document entitled “The Canadian Society of Agronomy: A history of its first 20 years” was prepared in the mid-1970’s by the late Dr. W.J. White, former Dean of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. In this presentation, information on the Canadian Society of Agronomy (CSA) up until 1974 was taken from Dr. White’s document, while information for the 1975-1995 period was obtained from minutes of CSA annual meetings and newsletters.


Today’s Canadian Society of Agronomy(CSA) came into being in 1954, however, the history of societies of agronomy in Canada goes back much further. In 1919, individuals working on field crops and soils in western Canada organized the Western Canadian Society of Agronomy (WCSA). After 1925, the WCSA met with the Canadian Society of Technical Agriculturalists (CSTA), the forerunner of the Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC), in alternate years when meetings were held in western Canada. The great depression of the 1930’s and the second world war led to a decrease in activity of this society and it disbanded in 1947. About this time, agronomists in eastern Canada began to plan a formal organization and in 1949, the Eastern Canadian Society of Agronomy was established.

In the early 1950’s, interest grew in the establishment of a national organization of agronomists. At the 1953 annual meeting of the AIC in Saskatoon, a committee was appointed to draw up a constitution for a national society of agronomy. The committee consisted of Dr. C.H. Goulden (Director General, Research Branch, Agriculture Canada), Dr. M.N. Grant (Research Station, Lethbridge), Prof. J. Unrau (University of Alberta), and Prof. H.A. Steppler (Macdonald College of McGill University). In 1954, the AIC met at Macdonald College and a motion to form the CSA was unanimously adopted and the constitution drafted by the above committee approved. The new society requested affiliated society status with the AIC and this was granted.

Scope and Organization:

The CSA exists to enhance cooperation and coordination among agronomists and to provide the opportunity to report, exchange, and evaluate information pertinent to agronomy in Canada. The predecessors of the CSA, the western and eastern Societies of Agronomy, were composed of workers in both the crops and soils fields. The same is true for the American Society of Agronomy. By the time the CSA was established, soil scientists had formed, or were in the process of forming, an independent organization. Therefore, it was decided at the inaugaural meeting of the CSA to limit the scope of the membership to those working on field crops.

Members of the CSA share common interests with members of other scientific societies including the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science (CSHS), the Canadian Pest Management Society (CPMS), the Canadian Society of Soil Science (CSSS), and the Canadian Society of Agrometeorology (CSAM). Discussions were held in the late 1960’s to amalgamate the CSA with the CSHS, however, the two societies decided to remain independent. In 1994, meetings were held to discuss the amalgamation of four societies (CSA, CSHS, CPMS, and CSAM) into one larger plant oriented society. Again, it was decided that the societies would remain independent, but that discussions would continue. The CSA frequently holds joint symposia, technical sessions and banquets with one or more of the above four societies, facilitating the exchange of information. In addition, a number of CSA members are also members of these other societies.

The executive of the CSA consists of a President, President-elect, Past-president, secretary-treasurer, and four directors (see Table 1 for a complete listing of CSA executive members by year). The President originally served a one-year term, however in 1987, the by-laws were changed to make this two years. The secretary-treasurer and the directors serve two year terms. The society also appoints a newsletter editor, an awards committee, a governor to the AIC Foundation, an AIC national councillor (usually the past-president), and a representative on the Expert Committee on Plant Gene Resources. Although these latter positions are not officially on the executive, the incumbents report to the CSA membership at the annual meeting.

The original constitution recognized an eastern and western division of the society. The president was chosen alternately from each division and two directors were chosen from the east and two from the west. As the CSA annual meeting was held at the same time and place as the AIC meeting, alternating between eastern and western Canada, either the eastern or western division was responsible for meeting organization. The division which was not holding the annual meeting could hold an independent divisional meeting. The eastern division has used this opportunity to meet with the northeastern branch of the American Society of Agronomy, approximately once every five years.

The western division met with the western branch of the ASA in 1956 at Lethbridge, but there is no record of more recent meetings.

Society Services and Activities

Honours and Awards

Discussions were held during the 1960’s on the possibility of establishing awards for outstanding accomplishments by CSA members. It was decided not to institute CSA awards as the society was small and members were eligible for many of the annual awards presented by the AIC. From 1971-75 an inscribed trophy was given to the author of the best paper presented at the technical sessions of the annual meeting, as judged by a selection committee of three.

In 1982, an awards program was established to acknowledge CSA members for outstanding performance in research, teaching and extension. An award for outstanding performance in administration was added in 1990. An awards committee of four was established to receive nominations, judge the nominations submitted and present inscribed plaques to the winners at the annual meeting banquet. Between 1982 and 1992, there were 13 awards for research, three for teaching, four for extension and one for administration (Table 2).

In 1993, the CSA awards program was reformulated and new awards were established, the CSA Fellowship, the Young Agronomist Award and the Distinguished Agronomist Award. These awards were to acknowledge, respectively, outstanding service in one or more of research, teaching, extension, or administration; outstanding service by an agronomist under the age of 40; and an outstanding career that had a significant impact on the discipline of agronomy in Canada. Ten such awards were presented from 1993-95 (Table 3).

Since 1982, the graduate students presenting the best papers in the technical sessions at the annual meetings have been acknowledged. Cash awards, provided by SECAN Association, have been presented to three students each year. These latter awards have been quite useful in stimulating interest in the society amongst young people. A number of student award winners have gone on to executive positions within the CSA.


Since 1956, the Canadian Journal of Plant Science has been the official journal of the CSA, CSHS, and CPMS. The CSA president appoints associate editors (three year terms) who arrange for reviews of submitted manuscripts and make recommendations to authors based on these reviews. A number of these associate editors also serve on the Editorial Policy Board, which is responsible for the Canadian Journals of Plant, Soil and Animal Science. The editorship of the Canadian Journal of Plant Science alternates between the CSA and the CSHS. The CSA also publishes a newsletter three times a year which contains information on society business and news from various institutions across Canada.

Annual Meetings

The CSA organizes an annual meeting at the time of the annual AIC conference. The meetings consist of technical sessions, one or more symposia often in conjunction with other societies, a business meeting, and an awards banquet. These meetings provide the principal opportunity for information exchange among members of the society, and provide the opportunity for students to participate, and become interested, in the affairs of the CSA.

National Issues

From time to time, the CSA has appointed representatives or committees to make representation on national issues. These include: revision of the Canada Seeds Act (1958); agronomic education (1972); a science policy for Canada (1973); and plant breeders’ rights legislation (AIC submission – 1980’s).

Membership and Finances

In 1955, one year after the creation of the CSA, there were 120 members. The membership had grown to 251 by 1965 and remained close to 250 until the mid-1980’s. Membership numbers peaked at 354 in 1988 and have stabilized around 300 during the 1990’s (309 in 1995). The society has generally established annual budgets that show a moderate surplus of income over expenses. On December 31, 1995, the society had assets (mainly bank balance and investments) of $15,727. Membership fees have been kept quite low (1995 fees – $25.00 for regular and $10.00 for student members), and members can subscribe to the Canadian Journal of Plant Science for half of the normal subscription price.

The Future

The Canadian Society of Agronomy has, to a large extent, achieved its mandate to enhance cooperation and coordination among Canadian agronomists and to provide the opportunity for the exchange of agronomic information. The society has a strong core of active members, mainly scientists from Faculties of Agriculture or Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centres. However, a number of crop extension specialists from provincial governments have also played prominent roles on the CSA executive. There are many other potential members for the CSA, particularly in the extension community, and a challenge for the future will be to attract them as active members. Recent budget cuts in the public sector will mean fewer opportunities for young agronomists, particularly in research. It is hoped that the Canadian private sector will develop sufficiently to provide opportunities for these individuals. The rapid changes brought about by the globalization of agriculture will make the information exchange brought about by the Canadian Society of Agronomy even more important.


The review of this manuscript by L. Bailey, B. Christie, and P. Jefferson was greatly appreciated.