Leveraging Grower Dollars with Canadian Agricultural Partnership Research Funding - PulsePoint
December 17, 2018
SPG is leveraging nearly $17 million to support pulse and soybean research
by Noelle Chorney
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers can substantially multiply their research investment dollars by leveraging resources from the five-year Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) initiative, which is ready to invest $388 million into Saskatchewan’s agriculture sector.
The partnership between Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) and CAP is set to expand knowledge from genetics to crop management to market diversification. Wherever SPG and CAP strategic directions meet, there are opportunities to leverage growers’ investment in research that will show direct benefit in the field.
SPG Executive Director Carl Potts says, “Research is an important part of what we do. Sixty per cent of our budget goes to research and that funding is primarily from farmers.”
SPG is investing $2.1 million over five years into pulse and soybean research in partnership with CAP, through the Agri- Science Program. Pulse and soybean related CAP projects with SPG support receive close to $17 million in additional funding from government and industry groups. “For every dollar we put in, we are leveraging eight dollars from government and other industry partners,” says Potts.
Three research clusters have specific relevance to Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, and several projects are getting underway:
Integrated Crop Agronomy
The Integrated Crop Agronomy (ICA) cluster, led by the Western Grains Research Foundation focuses on resiliency to climate change and other threats including weed, insect, and disease threats, to continue to improve production levels and maintain global competitiveness in the face of climate change. SPG Research Project Manager Allison Fletcher says, “The ICA Cluster is taking a systems approach to these projects in order to address farmers’ reality — they are growing multiple crops in rotation. The ICA Cluster has a multi-commodity,
Western Canadian focus.”
Two projects will focus on monitoring field crop insect pests and prairie crop diseases across the entire Prairie region. Coordinated efforts among scientists, agronomists, and producers will gather and share data about insect crop pests and crop diseases. The data will be used
to create tools for producers, agronomists, and industry partners to develop integrated pest management strategies and to plan for following years.
While the crop insect pests program is the continuation of the current Prairie Pest Monitoring Network, the intended integration across provinces would be new for prairie crop diseases.
A third project supported by SPG focuses on the effects of spray drift. With changes to crop rotations, the introduction of new chemical formulations, and increasing crop diversity, there are new gaps in understanding regarding the impact of high-clearance sprayers and potential spray drift. This project will create models that predict effects on selected crops in field conditions, to help producers and agronomists further understand the potential issues related to spray drift.
Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance Soybean Cluster
In partnership with the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance, several studies are underway that cover themes related to soybean production on the Prairies, from genetic improvement, to expanding the growing range and increasing disease resistance, to advancements in processing.
Fletcher says, “We are focusing on the adaptation of soybeans in order to improve the crops’ suitability to Saskatchewan’s environment. We want to support research that will help expand the area of adaptation to regions north and west of where soybeans have traditionally been grown, and this includes genetics, pests, and diseases.”
The research projects will focus on breeding of short-season, food-type soybeans to expand their range into northern latitudes, helping them beat the cold while also meeting protein meal standards.
Management of root rot is another focus of two other research projects, to help producers identify disease symptoms, manage soybean diseases, and maintain yields.
“The Pulse Cluster aims to improve the quality of pulse crop varieties, increase pulse yields, and increase consumption and utilization of pulses,” says SPG Pulse Science Cluster Program Manager Dr. Constance Chiremba.
Three themes will be covered by the CAP-funded research projects focused on pulses:
Improving productivity of new and established pulse crops
Two projects are funded under the CAP program related to improving pulse crop productivity, both focused on developing genetically improved pea varieties with higher quality protein, resistant starch (less digestible starch, which acts more like soluble fibre than carbohydrates), and a higher resistance to root rot.
Addressing pest threats while reducing reliance on pesticides
A project committed to “vigilance towards plant nematodes to sustain pulse production in the Canadian prairies” falls under the theme of reducing pest threats. Plant nematodes can cause yield decline and nematode infestations may prevent access to new markets. The research will lead to outreach products that inform growers about nematodes, how they may affect their pulse crops, field symptoms to identify, and control methods.
Innovations in pulse ingredient processing
A variety of projects related to food processing and product development will be funded under the CAP program. One research team will focus on developing processing strategies for innovative, commercially-ready pulse ingredients to expand markets. Another project team will focus on energy- and cost-efficient removal of anti-nutritional compounds and undesirable flavours in pulses, to make pulse ingredients more functional and palatable. Additionally, a third research team will focus on strategic approaches for value-added processes and uses for faba beans, while another will explore the use of pulse-based ingredients to develop low glycemic pet food.
A Greater Impact for Producers
“Our research focuses on all aspects of crop production, from breeding to field management, to processing and market diversification. All of these are important to farmers, and we are doing our best to make farmers’ investment in pulses and soybeans go farther,” says Potts.