Carbon from bigger crops and more robust plants like this hybrid canola, and their larger root systems, is being sequestered at higher rates than it was in the past from annual cropping. As well, new breeding technologies are enhancing that with every breeding cycle.  |  Michael Raine photo

Bigger, better crops combat climate change

More than 10 percent of the Earth’s land-surface is cropped, about 3.7 billion acres of carbon sequestration

Farmers’ toolkits for sustainability could soon include crops engineered with root systems designed to sequester more carbon in the soil, said Dominique Roche of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. He explained that humanity has achieved something no other species on Earth has ever done: change the atmosphere of the planet. From 1990 […] Read more

Regulations on gene editing vary widely by country.  |  Getty Images

Rules on gene engineering threaten crop advancements

While plant breeders around the world embrace new gene-editing techniques to improve crops, response from regulatory agencies in different nations range from quick acceptance to near-bans. “Argentina, since 2015, took proactive steps and is the first country to pass regulations on NBT (new breeding techniques) covering the subcategory of genome editing,” said Rim Lassoued with […] Read more

University of Saskatchewan research has found that neonics readily dissolve in water and don’t break down easily in the environment.  |  File photo

Neonic researchers search for path forward

Canola seed coated with neonicotinoid insecticides marked a major advance for producers, providing good control of pests, such as flea beetles, while allowing much-reduced levels of insecticide. “If you look at reverting back to foliar insecticides and needing three to four applications to match what a seed treatment would do, you can start having some […] Read more

Farmers are now paying three times the price of what they used to pay for neonic-treated seed, for an alternative that is less effective. | File photo

How farmers lost the battle over neonics in Ontario

Despite their value to producers, neonicotinoid pesticides have had a rough ride, driven by conflicting research and public backlash. Debra Conlon of Grain Farmers of Ontario described how the public narrative that neonics were killing honeybees stymied farmers’ best efforts to ameliorate the problem. It was determined that dust during seeding, exacerbated by an unusually […] Read more

Vigilance needed as clubroot overcomes resistant canola varieties

While scientists and plant breeders have been able to slow the advance of clubroot in canola fields across Western Canada, producer vigilance is still the best weapon against the disease as it continues to advance. “The most problematic issue has been that some of the fields we have been finding in the last few years […] Read more

Genome Canada and the University of Saskatchewan announce a $14.2 million project to identify new sources of genetic variation in wheat and use advanced techniques to incorporate useful genes into new varieties.  |  File photo

Genetic knowledge provides tools to meet wheat growers’ challenges

Researchers from around the globe gathered in Saskatoon this month, focused on making wheat more efficient and sustainable using the latest in breeders’ tools. In August 2018, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium published the first reference genome of bread wheat, followed in April of 2019 with the genome for durum. Curtis Pozniak, a researcher […] Read more

LEFT: Top left is a bread made from conventional wheat. Others are transgenic wheat lines lacking gliadins, with thelevel of reduction shown in percentage. The loaves are very similar to standard bread. The loaf in the lower-right is made from another wheat-gluten free alternative, rice flour. RIGHT: These loaves of bread were made from wheat flour, washed to remove all gliadins and glutenins. These were then supplemented with measured amounts high-molecular weight glutenins, the percentage shown in the images.  |  Clemson University images

Celiac-friendly gluten is on the horizon: researchers

Sachin Rustgi, a researcher at South Carolina’s Clemson University, is working to rehabilitate gluten, a food component that has fallen out of favour and even spawned a multi-billion dollar market for gluten-free products. Rustgi was one of nearly 900 delegates from more than 50 countries around the world who gathered in Saskatoon for the first […] Read more

While some studies have shown that CWD could pass from deer species to non-human primates, the real-world studies that have been done don’t seem to bear this out.  |  File photo

Chronic wasting disease sparks public health concerns and lobbying

Recent concerns about the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) has some calling for Canada-wide regulations and monitoring to support hunters, as well as a ban on game farms to ensure public safety and protect wildlife health. Wildlife officials aren’t as convinced. Darrel Rowledge is one of 34 signatories of a letter sent to Prime […] Read more

Meat-based protein has been overshadowed recently by the increased interest in plant-based and even insect-based protein sources, but advocates continue to defend the industry.  |  Maria Johnson photo

How Canadians put protein on their plates

The protein menu is rapidly diversifying, but consumers are urged not to forget the more conventional sources

Whether it’s a steak, soy burger, cricket smoothie or culture-grown patty, protein is an essential part of the human diet. Plant-based proteins are common, Bob Tyler, a University of Saskatchewan food and bioproduct sciences professor and Ag-West Bio chair, said during the organization’s annual meeting in Saskatoon June 27. “One of the things that fascinates […] Read more

Genetics project provides foundation for new Canadian lentil varieties

Despite their prominence on the world market, Canadian lentils are in a limited position in terms of genetics, says Kirstin Bett, a pulse crop geneticist at the University of Saskatchewan and co-leader of the AGILE project. “We have been able to make excellent genetic gain for Canadian farmers through dedicated plant breeding efforts,” she says. […] Read more