MacAulay commits $6.3 million to integrated agronomy research


A list of eight agronomic research priorities will receive funding through a new “Integrated Crop Agronomy Cluster” announced by federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay in Saskatoon, Sask. on Thursday — the latest ag research “cluster” to have funding announced by the minister in his cross-country summer tour.

$6.3 million under the government’s new Canadian Agricultural Partnership has been committed to the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) for the integrated agronomy cluster over the next five years. WGRF is contributing another $1.6 million, with other commodity groups and industry partners committing $1.1 million, bringing the total to around $9 million.

According to WGRF, the eight research areas include soil health, herbicide resistance, and climate change adaptation, and will include coordination of crop insects and disease monitoring, assessing and managing spray drift, developing a risk model for mitigating Fusarium Head Blight, development and management of productive, resilient and sustainable cropping.

“Demand for our grains and other field crops continues to grow around the world and the Government of Canada is working hard to help farmers meet that demand, today and for years to come, through strategic investments in science and cutting edge research,” said MacAulay.

WGRF says the cluster was established to address agronomic challenges that cut across multiple crops and areas where there are gaps in multi-crop and systems approaches to agronomic research. It builds on a $4.32 million “Systems Approach to Crop Sustainability” project that was half-funded by the federal government under Growing Forward 2 — the previous five-year agricultural framework that ended in March 2018.

“Coordination and collaboration was really important in bringing this cluster together,” noted WGRF executive director Garth Patterson, who was on RealAg Radio on Friday to discuss the agronomy research funding. (continues below audio)

As an example of industry funding, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission is contributing $543 thousand to five projects, including the following:

  • $166,000 for a project studying the crop sequence effects on fusarium head blight in cereals;
  • $60,000 for a project studying agroecosystem productivity, resilience and sustainability;
  • $50,000 for a project that will monitor field crop pests across the Prairies;
  • $173,000 for a project developing decision support tools for the management of fusarium head blight in Western Canada; and
  • $94,000 for the Prairie Crop Disease Monitoring Network.

Other groups contributing to the projects in this cluster include: Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Wheat Commission, Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute, Manitoba Canola Growers Association, Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association, Prairie Oat Growers Association, Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

“We would like to thank the Government of Canada and other farming organizations for their commitment to funding crop agronomy and to the Western Grains Research Foundation for their leadership in putting this proposal together. We look forward to collaborating with these organizations and working with the researchers to bring agronomic benefits to farmers,” said Sask Wheat chair Laura Reiter.

There’s also a long list of research institutions and organizations ready to carry out the proposed research, including Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Agri-Metrix, Brandon University, Farming Smarter, InnoTech Alberta, Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute, Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan, and Western Applied Research Corporation.

MacAulay made the announcement in Saskatoon while on his “Growing Canadian Agriculture” tour, which started in Quebec last month and wraps up in Vancouver with the federal/provincial/territorial ag ministers’ annual meeting at the end of next week.

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