Canola council to lead project | Federal government contributes $15 million to projects
The federal government will contribute $15 million toward a new research cluster for canola, which will focus on sustainable production and differentiating canola from its competitors.
Combined with industry contributions, the investment represents a $20 million commitment in canola research and innovation over the next five years. The $15 million commitment, through Growing Forward 2, is $500,000 more than the federal government funding for the previous version of the canola science cluster.
Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, who made the funding announcement July 22 at a Richardson research farm south of Winnipeg, said the Canola Council of Canada would lead and administer the research cluster.
“It’s the industry driving the results that they’re looking to have, whether it comes to drought resistance or in some cases now flood resistance,” he told reporters following the announcement.
“At the end of the day, they’re always looking to get more oil out of the product and more uses for the meal.”
In a news release, the canola council said scientists participating in the research cluster would concentrate on seven strategic goals:
Canola meal nutrition.
Canola health and integrated pest management.
Canola yield and quality optimization.
Integrated crop management and sustainability of canola production.
Canola supply surveillance and forecasting.
Science cluster tech transfer.
Canola council president Patti Miller said the research themes were developed through consultations with grower groups, scientists and provincial governments.
“So we could have a general idea on where people (put) the highest priority areas … and pull together the research programs to tackle those issues.”
Curtis Rempel, council vice-president for crop production and innovation, said the focus on sustainability is partially due to a shift in market expectations.
“Consumers are looking for sustainability metrics tied to food production. That’s sort of the trend that’s emerging. Where it will go or how it will go, that’s still yet to be decided.”
As well, an increase in canola production in Western Canada over the past decade has forced the industry to develop integrated solutions to cope with insect and disease pressures associated with tighter rotations.
“We’re looking at optimizing canola health and looking at holistic, multi-pronged approaches for managing insects, pests and diseases,” Rempel said.
Miller said a canola research hub will be an important theme within the science cluster. She said the council will use it to share information with growers and encourage them to adopt innovative and sustainable practices.
“We’ve definitely put more resources to that technology transfer component in this science cluster,” she said.
“We recognize it’s great to have the latest research and information, but until you get it into growers’ hands … it’s not going to help us.”