The College of Agriculture and Bioresources presents Advancements in Agricultural Research, a seminar series featuring individuals conducting agriculture research across USask. The seminars are free and open to everyone. 

Join us online to learn about the innovative ways our researchers are tackling today's environmental and biotechnological challenges in order to feed a growing and hungry world!

Upcoming Seminars

Cultivating knowledge:

Agriculture research across the disciplines 


Presented in collaboration with the USask Agriculture Signature Area of Research 

USask Agriculture Signature Area of Research logo

Coming September 2024! Stay tuned for more info!

Past Seminars

Digital Agriculture

Preston Sorenson

Dr. Preston Sorenson, Research Associate, Soil Science

February 13, 2024 

The development of big data remote sensing platforms and machine learning tools has led to an exponential increase in soil information. Research in this area at USask has been focused on developing these tools for applications ranging from precision soil management to improved carbon stock forecasting. This presentation will focus on discussing how digital agriculture can improve soil management in Saskatchewan. 

Derek Peak

Dr. Derek Peak, Professor, Soil Science

February 7, 2024 

Spectroscopy allows soil chemists to directly measure the form of nutrients and soil constituents directly. Spectroscopic tools both in the laboratory and at the synchrotron can provide novel information that can then be used to improve soil tests, remediation approaches, and agronomic practices.

Dr. Ian Stavness

Dr. Ian Stavness, Associate Professor, Computer Science

January 31, 2024

Digital data has improved the effectiveness of agricultural R&D and the efficiency of farm operations in Saskatchewan and across Canada. Computational agriculture goes a step further than “digital agriculture” to perform large-scale computations with large agricultural datasets to generate predictions, forecasts and data-driven decisions. The next generation of computational agriculture tools and apps have potential to dramatically increase farm profitability, resiliency and sustainability over the next decade. Saskatchewan is well-positioned to lead-the-charge in this growing area, but requires two important inputs: talented people and large datasets. In this talk, I will introduce the new NSERC CREATE Training Program in Computational Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan, which aims to tackle the first challenge of creating a talent pipeline of trail-blazing individuals who can push the boundaries at the interface of computer science and plant science. I will also argue for the need for a Saskatchewan Agricultural Data Strategy to harvest, protect and share the valuable and growing data resources generated by Saskatchewan farms, companies and research institutions for the benefit of the entire Saskatchewan Agriculture sector.

Steve Shirtliffe

Dr. Steve Shirtliffe, Professor, Department of Plant Sciences

January 24, 2024

Crop imagery from drones and satellites can now provide plant breeders and agronomists useful information to assist in crop breeding and management. This presentation will review some of the recent research at the Crop Imaging Lab at the University of Saskatchewan. We are now at a crossroads where remotely sensed satellite information can be analyzed with machine learning to inform agronomic decisions. Cheap drones can be used to scout canola fields for crop emergence and allow farmers to make informed reseeding decisions. UAV trained machine learning models can now use satellite data to map kochia infestations on farmer’s fields and target control measures. These models can also use satellite and environment data to make accurate yield predictions before harvest. Crop classification maps can be used to determine the risk of root rot based on crop rotations for any field in western Canada. And finally, our lab is in the process of wall-to-wall mapping of all western Canada at a 10m resolution to measure and understand the causes of within field spatial variability in crop yield and profitability.

Dr. Scott Noble

Dr. Scott Noble, Associate Professor and Department Head, Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
January 16, 2024

"Digital Agriculture” provides new opportunities for basic research and breeding programs. It also tends to demand more – more data with more precision, taken more often. Case studies of USask-developed tools to enhance data-collection for crop research will be discussed, along with resulting collaborations and research on extracting more and better information from the data collected.

Food, Bioproducts and Biotech

Dr. Peter Slade, Canadian Canola Growers Agricultural Policy Chair

November 1, 2023

Business risk management (BRM) programs are the primary policy tool used by government to support farmers in Canada.  Subsidized BRM programs increase profits and reduce farm risk.  They also change the incentives for farmers to engage in other management practices, such as optimizing input use, hedging price risk, and diversifying crop rotations.  This presentation will overview research that examines the effect of BRM programs on farm-level decision-making and farm outcomes in Saskatchewan.

Stuart Smyth

Dr. Stuart Smyth, Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement Chair

October 25, 2023

Innovation plays a fundamental role in the advancement of all sectors of the economy and agriculture is no exception. Genomic innovations from genetically modified crops and increased chemical and fertilizer use efficiencies from equipment are two leading drivers of increasingly sustainable crop and food production. Innovations over the past 30 years have resulted in the removal of over 95% of summerfallow acres in the province. This presentation will draw on farm level data to quantify the sustainability advances in Saskatchewan agriculture.

Rex Newkirk

Dr. Rex Newkirk, Ministry of Agriculture Endowed Research Chair in Feed Processing Technology

October 17, 2023

Each year approximately 40 per cent of grains and oilseeds produced in Canada are used in animal feeds providing a very important market for Canadian farmers and food processors.  The feed industry is uniquely designed to convert low quality grains and byproducts and use them to create high quality meat milk and eggs.  Research Dr. Newkirk conducts using the Canadian Feed Research Centre in North Battleford is focused on increasing the efficiency of this conversion by improving processing methods and creating new product applications for these important crops and their by-products. This seminar will focus on the opportunities for value added processing, the unique ability of the Canadian Feed Research Centre to conduct this research and will discuss opportunities for this research in the future.

Dr. Martin Reaney, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chair in Lipid Quality and Utilization

October 11, 2023


Yongfeng Ai

Dr. Yongfeng Ai, Ministry of Agriculture Endowed Research Chair in Carbohydrate Quality and Utilization

October 4, 2023

Carbohydrates are a major component of many crops cultivated in Saskatchewan, particularly pulses and cereals. This seminar will focus on the utilization of milling, extrusion, infrared heating, germination, and air classification as effective processing technologies to enhance the functional and nutritional attributes of carbohydrates in food/feed ingredients and final products. The progress in a multi-disciplinary project of transforming pulse starches into food ingredients, fermentative protein, synbiotic composition, biomaterials, and biomedicals materials will also be presented and highlighted. The new understanding of the structure-function-nutrition relationships of carbohydrates acquired from processing will be meaningful for the agri-food sector in Saskatchewan and Canada to convert various crops into high-value products.

Mike Nickerson

Dr. Mike Nickerson, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chair in Protein Quality and Utilization

September 26, 2023

Canada has uniquely position itself as an emerging leader in the global plant-based proteins ingredient space because of its rich supply of raw materials, and significant investments in value-added ingredient manufacturing, research, the plant-based food economy, and young talent. In doing so, a shift from selling crops at bulk commodity prices to producing higher valued ingredients is occurring across the Prairie Provinces, creating significant economic growth including the formation of new jobs. To support growth, significant research efforts aimed at developing sustainable, economically viable, industry adoptable, and commercially ready technologies for utilization of proteins, protein-rich co-products and ingredients in food, feed and bioproducts is under way. This webinar will discuss advances in plant protein research occurring within Saskatchewan (and across Canada), considering crop quality attributes, novel fractionation strategies, advancing ingredient performance further through clean label processes (e.g., enzymes, fermentation, etc.), and the development of plant-based food innovations.

Plants and Soils

Dr. Bunyamin Tar'an

Dr. Bunyamin Tar'an, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chair in Chickpea and Flax Breeding and Genetics

The chickpea and flax breeding programs at the CDC focus on the development of superior chickpea and flax cultivars for western Canadian environments. In Saskatchewan chickpea is best adapted to the brown and dark brown soil zones. The growth of chickpea production in western Canada depends on the development of new cultivars with high yield, early maturity, and improved resistance to ascochyta blight disease, which will enable the crop to be grown over a larger area with reduced production risk. Breeding efforts are directed to develop high yielding chickpea cultivars with early maturity, improved disease resistances and acceptable seed quality characteristics. The flax breeding program focuses onmaking the crop more competitive, widely adapted, while maintaining its high quality. The breeding goals include higher seed yield with improved resistance to diseases (such as pasmo, fusarium wilt, rust and powdery mildew), early maturity, improved straw management, visual seed appearance and seed nutritional quality. Climate change has posed a new challenge to chickpea and flax production. We are currently exploring the genetic components associated with the abiotic stress tolerance in chickpeas that will allow us to develop cultivars with better adaptability to adverse environmental conditions. Efforts to widen the genetic base and enhance the knowledge of the genetics of important traits in chickpea and flax are underway. Genomic technology at different levels is being put together to help to achieve the chickpea and flax breeding objectives. In addition to chickpea and flax, Dr. Tar’an also works on the genetic improvement of coriander and caraway for resistance to blossom blight.

March 28, 2023

Dr. Sabine Banniza

Dr. Sabine Banniza, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chair in Pulse Crop Pathology

The pulse crop pathology program was initiated in 1998 to support the pulse breeding programs at the CDC and develop knowledge and tools for the management of diseases in the expanding pulse industry in Saskatchewan. Much of the early research was focused on developing management tools for newly emerging diseases, such as ascochyta blight in chickpea and in collaboration with the provincial plant pathologist led to the development of a decision support system for fungicide applications. Large scale population studies were conducted on the causal organism, Ascochyta rabiei of this disease in chickpea, and the lentil pathogen Ascochyta lentis, revealing shifts in the populations to higher virulence and an erosion of resistance in widely grown cultivars. A considerable amount of research has concentrated on Colletotrichum lentis, causal agent of anthracnose of lentil, whose genome was sequenced and interaction with the host has been dissected in detail. In the last 10 years, emerging root rot pathogens, particularly Aphannomyces euteiches and Fusariumspp. have taken center stage with the objective to identify durable resistance in pea, lentil and chickpea.

March 21, 2023

Dr. Randy Kutcher

Dr. Randy Kutcher, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chair in Cereal and Flax Crop Pathology

Since 2011, the cereal and flax pathology program has provided tools and knowledge to Saskatchewan growers for disease mitigation or control. The program supports the pathology needs of plant breeders at the Crop Development Centre and conducts research into integrated pest management strategies. Stripe rust, Fusarium head blight, and recently bacterial leaf streak of wheat and barley; pasmo and wilt of flax; and leaf mottle and Fusarium seed infection of canaryseed have been, and continue to be important diseases for Saskatchewan growers. Our objectives are to increase our knowledge of these diseases in the province to better inform plant breeders of the characteristics and genetics of the causal pathogens and provide research findings to improve disease management strategies for growers and agronomists.

March 14, 2023

Dr. Tom Warkentin

Dr. Tom Warkentin, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chair in Pulse Crop Breeding and Genetics

The field pea breeding program at the Crop Development Centre (CDC) aims to develop high yielding cultivars with resistance to powdery mildew, improved resistance to the ascochyta blight and root rot complexes, improved resistance to lodging, and improved end-use quality for export and domestic markets. These goals are addressed in collaboration with local, national, and international collaborators. To specifically address the breeding goals, research is conducted to identify pea germplasm with enhanced resistance to environmental stresses, particularly heat and drought, to improve the market value of field pea in terms of seed visual appearance, nutritional quality, culinary properties, flavour profile, and functional properties including milling, baking, and cooking, to develop and utilize genomic tools for key traits. The CDC pea breeding program has released some 40 cultivars over the past two decades and these cultivars have approximately 65 percent market share in the Canadian prairies. The soybean breeding program at the CDC is younger than the pea program. It aims to develop maturity group 000, high-yielding, high protein soybean cultivars for the northern frontier production regions. The first CDC soybean cultivar releases are expected in the coming year or two. 

March 7, 2023

Dr. Jeff Schoenau

Dr. Jeff Schoenau, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chair in Soil Nutrient Management

This seminar highlights research work and accomplishments in the soil fertility and nutrient management research program led by Dr. Schoenau from 1980s to present.  An overview of work in fertilizers, organic amendments, cropping systems, and soil quality from an agronomic and environmental perspective is provided. 

February 14, 2023

Beef and Forage

Achievements and challenges in breeding perennial forage crops in western Canada

Bill Biligetu

Dr. Bill Biligetu, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program (SRP) Chair in Forage Crop Breeding

December 6, 2022

Technology and techniques in applied beef and forage systems

Bart Lardner

Dr. Bart Lardner, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program (SRP) Chair in Cow-Calf and Forage Systems

November 23, 2022

Gut health in beef cattle

 Greg Penner

Dr. Greg Penner, University of Saskatchewan Centennial Enhancement Chair in Ruminant Nutritional Physiology 

November 21, 2022

Ergot alkaloids in feedlot diets: How much is too much?

Gabriel Ribeiro 

Dr. Gabriel Ribeiro, Saskatchewan Beef Industry Chair

November 15, 2022