Genomics testing can determine breed composition and new tools can also show where to make improvements. One area for improvement is hybrid vigour.  |  File photo

New genetic tools offer way to restore cattle vigour

Doug Wray assumed he had a Red Angus-Simmental cow herd on his Alberta ranch but DNA testing revealed an interesting mix. Similar to the concept of ancestry.com where people can trace their ethnic heritage, DNA breed analysis of Wray’s commercial cows showed they were Angus, Simmental, Charolais, Limousin, Hereford and Gelbvieh. Included in the mix […] Read more

Producers can improve commercial herds by knowing the sires of calves and their ancestries, but they have to see value in it.  |  File photo

Technology can help breed better cattle

REGINA — Keeping up with technology could be the biggest challenge facing purebred cattle breeders. Genomically enhanced expected progeny differences, genetic databases and new algorithms are complicated and hard to understand but all are necessary to improve cattle and make better selection decisions, said Bob Weaber, cow-calf extension scientist at Kansas State University. “There is […] Read more

Indigo, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, is using gene sequencing tools and artificial intelligence platforms to study endophytes and the role they play in plant development.  |  Saskatchewan Research Council photo

Biotech companies prospecting for microscopic gold mines

Can a microscopic endophyte increase crop yields on your farm? Indigo, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, thinks so and is investing tens of millions of dollars in research and development to prove that claim. Indigo specializes in the identification, isolation and commercial production of beneficial endophytes. An endophyte is a microbial life form — often bacterial […] Read more


A St. Louis, Mo.,  research team plans to develop an app that would work in conjunction with acoustic listening systems that producers could use to track pollinator activity in their fields.  |  Nicole Miller-Struttmann photo

Bee buzzes critical to calculating crop pollination

Farmers may soon have a better idea on how well their crops are being pollinated, thanks to new research into the buzzes of bees. In 2014 and 2015, researchers in Missouri were monitoring bee noises in the Colorado Rocky Mountains by using small microphones called acoustic listening systems. In findings published last June, they found […] Read more

Plants growing on historically contaminated sites, such as this oil production facility in northeastern B.C., have been collected for the isolation of new endophytes that may help in site remediation and reclamation.  |  Timothy Repas photo

Fungus could aid plant growth, reclaim oil sites

A natural fungus is showing remarkable abilities to promote plant growth under stressful conditions while nursing polluted soils back to health. Researchers are finding the multitalented fungus called TSTh20-1 (TSTh), short for Trichoderma harzianum 20-1, could increase agricultural yields and decontaminate some of the most polluted petrochemical places on the planet. “I think this is […] Read more


The cotton bollworm moth (helicoverpa armigera) is categorized as the world’s worst agricultural pest because it is resistant to nearly every class of chemical pesticide. Scientists are close to a breakthrough that could lead to new ways of controlling the bollworm moth, which causes $5 billion of damage to crops around the world every year. In a project funded by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the University of Melbourne, researchers are now working to sequence its genome, with results expected in about four months.  |  REUTERS/Mick Tsikas photo

Cracking the megapest genetic code

Knowing the total genetic makeup of an insect allows scientists to design plants that repel the bad bugs

Australian researchers have spearheaded an international effort to decipher and map the entire genome makeup of two major megapests threatening crops around the world. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization announced in a recent news release that it had identified more than 17,000 protein coding genes in two closely related pests considered to be […] Read more

It once took two to three years for researchers to map even tiny genomes, but it can now can be done in 24 hours with new optical mapping techniques.  |  Getty image

Genetic mapping vs. genome sequencing

People mistakenly use “genetic mapping” and “genome sequencing” interchangeably without a second thought. However, the two technologies are as different as planting wheat with a stick and planting wheat with a SeedMaster. True, both technologies will yield some sort of a final product, but that’s where the similarity stops, says James Schnable, a geneticist at […] Read more

Like a fox in the henhouse, Spoutnic keeps chickens on their toes. Preventing chickens from becoming lethargic means broilers put on weight quicker and layers have fewer floor eggs.  |  Tibot Technologies photo

French robot prowls the chicken coop so you don’t have to

The Tibot Spoutnic prowls chicken coop floors all day, every day,keeping chickens on their toes and at the peak of efficiency. Spoutnic, a small autonomous robot, debuted this fall at SPACE, an annual French livestock show that focuses on new technologies. Spoutnic is designed to take the place of people who monitor chickens, regularly walking […] Read more


European starlings are known varmints in British Columbia. They can decimate cherry crops if not managed.  |  Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia photo

New laser technology proves successful for B.C. orchard

Growers at a British Columbia orchard are using new laser technology to deter birds from eating their cherry crops, an effort they say has so far paid off. “It’s been very successful,” said Gayle Krahn, the horticulture manager with Coral Beach Farms in Lake Country, B.C. The device called an Agrilaser projects green beams just […] Read more