U of S research gets support

BASF’s contribution to the university’s Crop Development Centre is for plant breeding infrastructure upgrades

BASF is making a $100,000 contribution to the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre for infrastructure upgrades.

The life science company’s $100,000 contribution is expected to support CDC plant breeding efforts by reducing plant cycle times and allowing plant breeders to select early-generation breeding materials more quickly and more efficiently.

CDC officials declined to share details of the planned infrastructure upgrades but said an announcement involving a large project will be made in the coming weeks.

The Crop Development Centre is one of Western Canada’s most productive crop breeding institutions.

Since its establishment in 1971, the centre has developed more than 500 new crop varieties suited to growing conditions in Western Canada.

BASF’s contribution is the latest in a long list of company investments in CDC programs and facilities.

Over the last two decades, BASF has contributed more than $10 million to CDC operations with funding aimed at crop research, the development of crop genetics, facility enhancements, and the commercialization of new pulse and wheat varieties for Canadian farmers.

BASF’s previous investments in the CDC infrastructure include a $125,000 contribution toward the CDC’s Pulse Crop Field Lab in 2005 and $200,000 toward the CDC’s Grain Innovation Lab in 2009.

“The partnership of CDC and BASF is one of the longest-standing public-private partnerships in Canadian agriculture,” said CDC director Curtis Pozniak.

“It has played a vital role in enabling CDC to deliver on its mandate to improve economic returns for farmers and the agriculture industry of Western Canada.

BASF’s relationship with the CDC has helped to produce dozens of innovative new crop varieties.

According to the company, 96 percent of the red lentils insured annually in Saskatchewan are CDC Clearfield varieties and 26 percent of the green lentils insured in Saskatchewan are Clearfield varieties developed at the CDC.

Canadian farmers supply approximately 40 percent of the world’s lentils, making pulse crops an important export for Canada.

“Together we solved one of the basic issues facing pulse crops in Canada — weeds,” said Bert Vandenberg, leader of the CDC’s lentil breeding program.

“The discovery and commercialization of imidazolinone (IMI) herbicide tolerance in lentils was the tool that not only controlled weeds, it helped expand the industry. This technology made growing lentils a more successful and profitable alternative for farmers and ensured that Canada could contribute to the growing global demand for the crop.”

Funding from BASF also played a critical role in strengthening CDC wheat-breeding capabilities.

“The greatest success from our 25-year partnership has been our ability to turn research and development into action,” said CDC wheat breeder Pierre Hucl.

“It wasn’t just about improving crop yield. It was about giving producers choice and being able to introduce multiple varieties which enabled a sustainable, healthy crop rotation for farmers.”

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