Saskatchewan Agriculture and Agriculture Canada will spend more than $12 million to support 44 crop-related research projects, government officials announced yesterday in Saskatoon.
The money will be distributed through an existing provincial program — the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) — and a newly formed federal-provincial program — the Strategic Research Initiative (SRI).
Both programs are supported under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial funding arrangement that will see $388 million invested in strategic research initiatives in the Saskatchewan agriculture sector over five years.
“By investing in crop-related research, we’re investing in the future of Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry,” said provincial ag minister David Marit.
“The projects we’re investing in today consist of a variety of fields of study, including herbicide resistance, pest control, crop breeding and much more.…
“Not only do these projects enhance our industry by creating more opportunities for producers and agri-businesses, they cement our province as a leader in agriculture research.”
The ADF program has been around since the mid -1980s and has typically provided $10 to $20 million per year to support crop- and livestock-related agricultural research projects in the province.
This year’s investment of slightly more than $12 million on crop-related research projects will include an $8.4 million contribution to researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and a $2 million contribution to research conducted by Agriculture Canada researchers.
ADF funding is awarded on a competitive basis, meaning applications for ADF funding are submitted by researchers and awarded on merit.
Projects that received funding this year deal with a wide range of high-priority issues including control systems of herbicide-resistant wild oats, enhancing the extraction of vitamins from co-products of the canola crushing process, improving resistance to fusarium head blight in wheat and increasing protein content and seed quality in field peas.
Of the total $12 million investment, research projects related to cereal grain crops such as wheat, barley and oats will receive approximately $2 million, projects related to oilseeds will receive roughly $3 million and projects related to pulse crops will receive more than $5.7 million.
The investment in pulse research will include money through the ADF and the SRI, which a new program aimed at advancing strategic priorities within the agriculture industry.
Projects that receive SRI funding will be larger projects that typically go beyond the scope and scale of individual projects that are normally selected under the ADF program.
In 2019, SRI funding was awarded to a multi-year pulse project aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of protein in yellow peas while advancing breeding technologies for the crop.
Marit said interest in plant protein represents a significant new opportunity for the Saskatchewan agriculture industry.
In 2018, a crop protein initiative known as Protein Industries Canada (PIC) was one of five proposals to secure a portion of $950 million in funding under the federal Innovation Superclusters Program.
PIC will look for ways to add value to the Canadian field crop and processing industries by developing new processing technologies and consumer products that contain plant-based proteins.
“We just looked at it (the SRI project) as a great opportunity for the province,” Marit told reporters at CropSphere in Saskatoon.
“There’s a lot of peas grown here in the province — a lot of yellow peas grown here — and we can probably look at another industry and look at potential for growth for the agriculture community here in the province of Saskatchewan.”
Marit said he is hopeful that SRI funding will be awarded to additional research projects on an annual basis.