The University of Saskatchewan (USask) has announced Dr. Maryse Bourgault, a crop physiologist with a background in environmental sciences, as its first Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) Integrated Agronomy Chair. Bourgault was recruited from the Northern Agricultural Research Centre (Havre site) at Montana State University and will hold a joint appointment in the plant sciences and soil science departments in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources.
Her work will expand agronomy research in western Canada by working with farmers and researchers from across multiple disciplines to bring a collaborative and integrated approach to research aimed at improving soil management and increasing crop production potential and sustainability.
“There are a lot of questions that would surely benefit from having several different specialists looking into it together,” she explains. “But I’m planning on taking the time to talk to farmers to understand what they feel might be the most pressing issues and the solutions that might have the greatest impact.”
According to Bourgault, current cropping systems will be reviewed to identify improvements such as new technologies and practices that are environmentally and economically sustainable.
The WGRF has committed $2 million in funding over a span of seven years to bring Bourgault on.
“Farmers face challenges that cut across multiple crops and multiple agronomic disciplines,” says Terry Young, WGRF board chair. “Having a dedicated Research Chair for Integrated Agronomy at USask will help strengthen and build agronomic research capacity in Western Canada.”
Bourgault adds she’s hoping to contribute to the industry by taking a step back and looking at the various components of the production system to see how we can understand how different practices might work together or against each other.
“Then, we might be able to propose the best ways to foster the synergies that arise and minimize the negatives,” she says.