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A drone above USask’s Kernen Crop Research Farm, Summer 2019. (Photo: Steve Ryu, Images of Research 2020)

USask crop research aims to innovate, thanks to new funding investment

University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers have been awarded more than $5.7 million to develop crop-related innovations ranging from plant-based edible 3D printing and packaging to using drones for monitoring crops and soil health.

The funding through Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) was awarded to 25 USask researchers to support 34 projects.

“USask research continues to play a foundational role in establishing Saskatchewan’s reputation as a force in the global agricultural sector,” said USask Vice-President Research Baljit Singh. “This investment will power discovery that builds improved food security for the world, and economic prosperity for Saskatchewan.”

The ADF is supported through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3-billion investment by federal, provincial, and territorial governments to strengthen and grow Canada's agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sectors. This includes a $2-billion commitment cost-shared 60 per cent federally and 40 per cent provincially/territorially, with a $388-million investment in strategic initiatives for Saskatchewan agriculture.

The USask crop research projects were also awarded an additional total of $2.095 million, co-funded by Alberta Wheat, Manitoba Crop Alliance, Mustard 21, Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Association, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, and the Western Grains Research Foundation.

The USask awardees are:

  • Michael Nickerson, $705,915 for
    • Post-Fractionation Deflavouring Strategies for Protein Ingredients from Canola, Hemp, and Flaxseed
    • Pulse Protein-Based 3D-Printed Foods
    • Plant-Based Protein and Lipid Nanocomposites as Edible Biodegradable Packaging
    • Development of a Plant-Based Scrambled Egg Replacer Through Improved Gelation of Pulse Protein Isolates
  • Martin Reaney, $600,000 for
    • Modular Purification Processes for Upgrading and Enriching Ethanol
    • Industrial Products from Vegetable Oils
  • Karen Tanino, $435,531 for Heat and Frost Avoidance in Crops: The Importance of the Plant Cuticular Layer
  • Bishnu Acharya, $325,000 for The Feasibility of Flax Biomass Fractionation and Conversion to High Value Products
  • Pierre Hucl, $312,737 for
    • Field Evaluation of Next-Generation Solid-Stemmed CWRS Wheat
    • New Source of Resistance to Fusarium Head Blight (FHB): Wheat-Thinopyrum Derivatives
    • Trait Stacking to Maximize Resistance to the Wheat Midge
  • Curtis Pozniak, $302,606 for TEN-TG: A TILLING and Genome Resource for Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) Improvement
  • Albert Vandenberg, $300,000 for Development of Hot Extrusion Technology (HET) for Fortifying Lentil Consumer Products with Vitamins and Minerals
  • Leon Kochian, $295,000 for Discovery of Favorable Alleles to Increase Phosphorus and Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Wheat (Triticum Aestivum L.)
  • Supratim Ghosh , $280,000 for Bioprocessing Canola Proteins for Health-Promoting Bioactivity and Improved Food Functionality
  • Bunyamin Tar’an, $254,360 for Accelerated Breeding Strategy for Flax Improvement
  • Lee Wilson, $244,000 for Biomaterial Coatings for Enhanced Functionality, Food Safety, and Environmental Sustainability for Meat Processing Facilities
  • Christian Willenborg, $223,388 for
    • Herbicide Screening in Spice Crops
    • Integrated Seedbank Management to Augment Long-Term Weed Control
  • Sean Prager, $217,500 for
    • Investigating Potential Threats and Detection of Plant Viruses in Pulse Crops
    • Developing Tools for Management of Lygus Bugs in Faba Bean
  • Angela Bedard-Haughn, $190,593 for
    • Carbon Storage in Drained Agricultural Soils
    • Soil Salinization Risk Mapping with Remote Sensing
  • Steven Shirtliffe , $157,951 for Field-Scale Estimation of Canola Emergence Using Remote Sensing
  • Randy Kutcher, $133,399 for Phenotypic Screening Methods and a Diagnostic Seed Test to Assess Bacterial Leaf Streak in Canadian Wheat Germplasm
  • Elemir Simko, $125,000 for Comprehensive Investigation of Pesticides in Honey, Pollen, Bees, and Soil Collected from Canola Fields
  • Christopher Eskiw, $120,000 for Connecting Craft Brewing Quality with Yeast Genomics
  • Warren Helgason, $114,999 for High-Resolution Crop Monitoring Using UAV-Based Sensors
  • Tom Warkentin, $99,113 for Association Mapping of Aphanomyces Root Rot Resistance in a Pea GWAS Panel
  • Kate Congreves, $75,000 for The Saskatchewan Soil Health Test as a Tool for Prairie Horticulture
  • Huiqing Guo, $68,000 for Environment Control Technologies for Energy Efficient Solar Greenhouses
  • Maryse Bourgault, $60,000 for Winter Broadleaves in the Canadian Prairies
  • Jeff Schoenau, $59,920 for Improving Chickpea, Mustard, Durum Yield, Crop Health, and Soil Fertility with Potassium Chloride Fertilizer
  • Bobbi Helgason, $23,667 for Understanding the Effects of Crop Rotation on Soil Organic Carbon Stabilization
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