The University of Saskatchewan has launched the Insect Research Facility (USIRF), the first of its kind at a western Canadian university.

The new facility will also be one of only a few facilities in Canada specifically designed to conduct research on arthropod plant pests and beneficial insects.

Funding for the design and construction of USIRF will be provided from a variety of sources. Contributions include:

  • $500,000 from Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) as part of its $32 million Capacity Initiative;
  • $285,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation;
  • $70,000 from the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission;
  • $70,000 from Saskatchewan Pulse Growers;
  • $70,000 from the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission; and,
  • $50,000 from the university.

The USIRF will be led by Dr. Sean Prager, the first entomologist at USask’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources. Prager was specifically recruited in response to the increased need for entomological research, training, and instruction in Saskatchewan and at USask.

“This new facility will add substantial research capacity to the University of Saskatchewan,” says Prager. “It will allow us to work with the USask Crop Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and USask plant breeders to identify problematic resistance traits to pests that are yet to be established. This provides a massive head start when you consider the time it takes to breed new varieties and cultivars. We will also be providing training opportunities to develop advanced economic entomological skills that have become increasingly important.”

USIRF will be located inside the Agriculture Building on the Saskatoon campus. Architectural planning has already begun and once complete, the USIRF will hold dozens of different species of insects at a time.

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