An investment of up to $6.3 million will help keep Canadian crop producers on the cutting edge, says federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.
MacAulay, who is also the MP for Cardigan, made the funding announcement while recently in Saskatchewan as part of a “Growing Canadian Agriculture” tour to meet with farmers, processors and industry leaders throughout the country.
Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) received the funding for a five-year integrated crop agronomy cluster under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriScience program.
The funding, which will also see an industry contribution of up to $2.7 million, could see up to $9 million directed to agronomy research into multi-crop, integrated production.
Dr. Keith Degenhardt, chairman of the WGRF’s research committee, said the focus of the cluster is to use an integrated approach to study agronomic issues for everything from soil health to crop rotations, climate change adaption and dealing with threats such as weeds, insects and disease.
“Producers face many agronomic challenges that cut across multiple crops,” said Degenhardt. “The research projects included (in the cluster) address many of these agronomic challenges and will aim to find solutions to production threats, as well as further develop sustainable and resilient cropping systems."
MacAulay said research and innovation are vital to growing and sustaining Canadian crop production.
“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,” he said.
During the last 35 years, Canada’s average crop area per farm has doubled and accounted for more than 90 million acres, or nearly 60 per cent of the total farm area, in 2016.
This is the first cluster in the AgriScience program that will focus solely on agronomy research.
Agronomy is the science and practice of crop production and farmland management. It brings together knowledge of how plants, soil, insects, micro-organisms and climate interact with each other in a given area.
Research completed under this science cluster will focus on resiliency to climate change, improving the sustainability of crops in multi-crop, whole-farm cropping systems, and knowledge and technology transfer.