Nicolas Tremblay prepares to take flight at the Agriculture Canada Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu experimental site in L’Acadie, Québec.  |  AAFC photo

Crossing the innovation ‘valley of death’

A growing movement is pairing researchers and farmers to bring discoveries to the field faster and to make sure those innovations meet real-world challenges. Nicolas Tremblay is a research scientist with Agriculture Canada at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu near Montreal. He said most research follows a traditional model of experimentation and statistical analysis developed in the 1920s at […] Read more

Andy Sharpe works with a PromethION high throughput DNA and RNA sequencing device at the Global Institute for Food Security in Saskatoon.  |  Dave Stobbe photo

Canola pan-genome project develops

Combination of advanced computing and bioscience offers opportunities for all crops and a rapid path to higher yields

Work from an international private-public research consortium promises to bring improved canola varieties to farmers’ fields in record time, thanks to the marriage of genomics and artificial intelligence. “Ultimately, it’s a benefit to producers. They’ll see a faster turnaround in variety production, delivery of new varieties, better varieties,” said Andrew Sharpe, a researcher at the […] Read more

Soil sampling data are the foundation of FarmLab’s carbon sequestration ambitions.  |  FarmLab image

Data key to cashing in on carbon credits

To monetize carbon sequestration, farmers must prove they are doing it. That means data, tracked over time. From a soil science perspective, the benefits of carbon in terms of fertility and microbiology are well known, said Sam Duncan, chief executive officer of FarmLab in Armidale Australia. It’s the reason soil carbon levels are often included […] Read more


Working with his colleague Chongya Jiang (right), Kaiyu Guan measured something called gross primary production (GPP). This is what plants, primary producers, make. | Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) photo

Space-based tech allows yield prediction and carbon monitoring

A new satellite-based technique to measure photosynthesis promises to make it easier for producers to predict yields and participate in carbon markets, while allowing developers to improve precision farming tools. “Our technique purely uses satellite remote-sensing data, and is therefore completely observation-based as opposed to relying on complex, uncertain modelling methods,” said Kaiyu Guan from […] Read more

Camelina, will it be a growth crop?  | Smart Earth Camelina Corp. photo

Speciality crops find strength in numbers

At first glance, seven important specialty crops seem to have little in common, except a need for more research and development, and access to a bigger pot of money. As Carol Ann Patterson explained, each crop — initially canaryseed, flax, mustard and sunflower — was limited in how much research funding it could get. “With […] Read more


Gene-specific markers are more specific and durable, so breeders can track the marker more confidently. As a result, for the breeding of slow-darkening or any desirable cultivar, it can be selected early in the breeding process and efforts will be more effective and faster, said Sangeeta Dhaubhadel. | Agriculture Canada photo

Gene for darkening in pinto beans isolated

Researchers in London and Saskatoon have pinned down the specific gene that causes darkening in pinto beans, a discovery that should help speed new variety development. “Gene-specific markers are more specific and durable, so (breeders) can track the marker more confidently,” said Sangeeta Dhaubhadel. “So for the breeding of slow-darkening or any desirable cultivar it […] Read more

While much is already known about canola genetics, this project aimed to sequence the genomes of several varieties at once. This allows them to be looked at side-by-side to compare where they are different. | File photo

Canola pan-genome project to speed variety development

Work from an international private-public research consortium promises to bring improved canola varieties to farmers’ fields in record time, thanks to the marriage of genomics and artificial intelligence. “Ultimately, it’s a benefit to producers. They’ll see a faster turnaround in variety production, delivery of new varieties, better varieties,” said Andrew Sharpe, a researcher at the […] Read more

The year 2005 was used as a base-line. This was after most western Canadian farmers had transitioned to minimum till and no-till methods. | File photo

Giving carbon credit its due

Canada’s coming carbon tax hike has made farm-sequestered carbon is a hot topic and along with it, the question of giving credit where it is due. Stuart Smyth at the University of Saskatchewan is leading a survey project aimed at capturing data from the province’s farmers — information that he said wasn’t properly considered when […] Read more


“Stop growing lentils on lentils, people. That’s why you have an aphanomyces problem, basically,” says pulse breeder Kirsten Bett. | File photo

Producer practices crucial to protecting lentil crop

Genomics can help open new markets but may be powerless against disease due to complex genetic design

For pulse breeders like Kirsten Bett, there are many things they can do to improve crops for producers, but they can’t protect farmers from themselves. “Stop growing lentils on lentils, people. That’s why you have an aphanomyces problem, basically,” she said. “This is huge, this is one of the big issues right now, in not […] Read more

Think like a plant when planning phosphorus

Managing phosphorus is a careful balancing act between giving crops enough to thrive, but not so much that runoff pollutes waterways and harms the creatures living in them. “Too little bioavailable phosphorus reduces crop yields but too much contributes to water quality loss,” said Barbara Cade-Menun. “But the important fact is while there might be […] Read more