Learn about the strategy behind the Research Department.
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) has aligned its strategy to place specific emphasis on five key result areas (KRAs) including:
- Unlocking yield potential of established pulse crops
- Impacting demand for pulse crops through expanded use
- Evolving through the development of new pulse crop options
- Reaching further through expanded market access
- Connecting by increasing SPG’s engagement with growers
Research, development, and grower outreach are key to unlocking the full potential in pulse production. To that end, SPG has consistently broadened its scope and level of investments into research and development program areas, with a budgeted average investment of $11.9 million focused on increasing the productivity of pulse crop production, removing production constraints, and supporting increased utilization across five research areas.
Breeding and Genetic Improvement
SPG makes significant investments in pulse crop variety development (breeding) through its long term partnership with the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC). Our partnership with the CDC ensures that growers have access to the best possible varieties as quickly as possible. Since 1997, SPG has released over 100 CDC varieties royalty-free. We also support pea breeding by other institutions through the Pea Genetic Improvement Program (PGIP).
In addition to breeding, SPG invests in genetic improvement tools that delivers improved varietal traits to growers faster. Support for lentil and pea genome sequencing, development of rapid generation technology, and marker assisted selection are just some of the ways we help to ensure that the performance of pulse crops continues to advance.
Timely and strategic investments in research by SPG over the years has helped to position Canada as a leading exporter of pulses in the world. In addition to improving lentil, pea, and chickpea varieties, we are also increasing our investments in newer crops such as soybean and faba bean research and variety development and adoption. The aim is to have one pulse crop option for every acre in Saskatchewan.
Successful yield gains come from both improvements in genetics and the removal of agronomic constraints to achieving that yield potential, ensuring yield stability. In order to accomplish this, SPG has increased its investments in agronomy research and grower outreach activities.
Herbicide-resistant weeds are a major production challenge for pulse growers. A top priority for SPG is to integrate additional herbicide tolerance platforms into varieties, and to ensure that multiple modes of action are readily available to pulse growers. Adopting integrated weed management practices, such as reducing weed seed banks, enhancing weed seed predation, mechanical options, are also important. Through research and knowledge transfer, we are aiming to provide growers with the knowledge and tools needed to combat herbicide resistance and to control weeds.
Reducing Disease Impact
Advancements are also needed to minimize disease impact and support growers’ ability to maximize returns. SPG supports research that aims to develop new disease resistant pulse crop varieties, encourage sustainable management practices, and ensure the continued efficacy of available fungicides.
Pulse growers know that pulses play an important role in sustainable cropping systems. To ensure pulses are recognized for this attribute, we will continue to support research that further explores and helps establish the benefits of pulses in crop rotations.
Processing and Utilization
We know that we cannot just produce more pulses, we need to develop more markets and uses for pulses as well. Research and development in pulse processing and utilization aims to further support utilization of pulses in food, pet food, feed, and industrial applications. Saskatchewan pulses are exported worldwide. In addition to traditional markets where pulses are consumed as a whole or split, SPG has also ramped up its effort by strategically investing in the area of value-added pulse ingredients such as resistant starches, proteins, and fibre for various end use applications such as customer-ready foods, pet food, aquaculture feed, etc. Research in this area, done in collaboration with other provincial pulse groups and our national association, Pulse Canada, is helping to diversify end uses and increase demand for Saskatchewan pulse crops.
Pulses have considerable human health and nutrition benefits. Better blood sugar regulation and cardio-protective effects, following regular pulse consumption, are two areas that have consistently shown promise. SPG supports health research needed to solidify the body of scientific evidence to support marketing and health claims for pulses. Understanding the impact of processing on health outcomes of pulse consumption is also a research priority. SPG is also supporting research to continually improve the nutritional profile of pulses, including macro and micronutrients.