A joint federal-provincial funding announcement has pledged $250,000 in research funding and $969,000 for equipment for a Manitoba lab aimed at identifying and addressing problems caused by canola diseases and pests.
Research funding is provided under Growing Forward 2 – Growing Actions and will be used to take samples from across the province to determine the presence of clubroot. A new web-based biosecurity questionnaire and risk assessment for producers will also be developed with these funds, the province says in a press release.
The equipment installed at the newly-opened Pest Surveillance Initiative (PSI) lab in Winnipeg includes a polymerase chain reaction machine (qPCR), which can be used to identify low levels of clubroot in submitted soil samples, and gene sequence and analysis equipment to track how clubroot strains may change over time.
The PSI is managed by the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) with additional support provided by the Manitoba government. MCGA has invested another $130,000 in the lab and its research on behalf of their members.
“Labs like the PSI are needed to keep up with emerging threats to Manitoba crops like clubroot and the recently announced detection of verticillium wilt,” said Ed Rempel, president, MCGA. “With the support of Growing Forward 2 for the clubroot grid sampling project, we will have the baseline of clubroot levels in Manitoba by the fall of 2015. Growers need this information to make management decisions and protect their incomes. Since there are many diseases that threaten canola and other crops, we expect the PSI lab will be busy for years to come.”
While clubroot is the initial focus of the PSI lab’s work, other projects of interest to Manitoba farmers are expected to begin later in 2015. PSI currently employs a lab director and has field staff with specialized training in sampling and lab analysis. They have also launched an internship program for student researchers to work on projects in the PSI facility.
In 2011, soil samples from two unrelated fields in Manitoba tested positive for the presence of clubroot DNA. Since that time, about two per cent of Manitoba’s fields have been sampled to detect the presence of clubroot. (More details on where clubroot has been found can be found www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/