Research Overview

Priorities, Investment and Results

Since 1991, SaskCanola has funded over 442 research projects related to canola agronomy, trait development, alternative uses, and many other areas intended to benefit canola profitability for Saskatchewan producers.

SaskCanola works to allocate 35-40% of our annual budget to research. The projects that are selected for funding are approved by SaskCanola’s Research Committee which is comprised of producers from our Board of Directors who work with the Research Manager and experts in the community to carefully analyze the proposals that are received.

The overarching goal of SaskCanola’s Research Committee is to focus research expenditures on fostering innovation to increase production and enhance sustainability resulting in greater producer prosperity.

SaskCanola’s Research Committee has strict standards for approval. The research agenda of the Commission remains focused on producers, with two main objectives:

Objective #1
Improve producers’ net returns by increasing production-related profitability by providing recommendations for field management of canola and associated inputs. Some areas of focus include:
- Agronomic and production research projects in the areas of crop management including such things as crop rotations, crop establishment, crop nutrition, crop protection (disease, insect, weed management), harvest and storage management;
- Genetic solutions with priorities such as insect and disease resistance, nutrient use efficiency, and stress tolerance.

Objective #2
Improve producers’ net returns by increasing market-related profitability by developing new products and uses from canola oil and meal for the food and non-food markets. Some areas of focus include:
- Health benefits of canola oil for human diets;
- Hydrogenation Derived Renewable Diesel (HDRD), Biodiesel, and fuel additives derived from canola oil;
- Protein fractionation processes and products for human use;
- Increasing the value of canola meal for livestock and aquafeeds use.

Having producers fund canola research through SaskCanola is imperative to the future success of this crop.

Why is research important to farmers?
Competitive Edge: Research is essential to stay competitive in the global oilseed market and keep ahead of canola threats such as diseases and abiotic stress. Where would we be as an industry without several decades of blackleg research?
Matching Funds: Governments and other funding entities provide funds that exceed the funds that producers bring to the research program. We increase the levy’s research impact by leveraging producers’ funds an average of 3:1 with other co-funders.
Producer Group Partnerships: Often we create partnerships with other canola producer groups in Western Canada and sometimes other Saskatchewan commodity groups to share the cost of research. This ensures levy dollars work together to solve integrated producer issues.
Producer Priorities: You as a producer are given the opportunity to give direct input into research priorities to ensure that investments are beneficial to your farm operation. At times, SaskCanola funds projects because producers need answers – it may not attract other funding contributors but we believe it is necessary to get it done, so full funding is provided.

How are levy dollars invested in research?
SaskCanola has funded research at many public institutions including Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, University of Saskatchewan, University of Manitoba, University of Victoria, the National Research Council, and Agri-ARM sites. At times, we fund research in public institutions that is then commercialized by private companies and consortiums. These companies use canola in their processes which grows markets for producers.

Traits that improve agronomics for canola have been funded by SaskCanola in the past. We are looking at ways to move these traits into varieties for producers to take advantage of in the future.

Can you observe canola field research while it is occuring?
Yes, you can by attending a field day in the summer or an extension meeting the in winter; held across Saskatchewan by SaskCanola, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research stations, or AgriARM sites. You will be able to inspect plots first-hand, listen to presentations on research results given by experts, and ask any questions you have.

How can I review written research project reports?
SaskCanola-funded research results are posted continually to our online database, with both short and long reports available. Give us a call if you have any questions about any of our projects and want further information.

Doug Heath, Research Manager at (306) 975-0730 or click to email Doug

Miki Miheguli, Research Extension Specialist at (306) 975-0273 or click to email Miki

New Research

After reviewing research proposals with farmers’ best interests in mind, SaskCanola committed to co-fund eight projects through the 2020-21 Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund competition to invest in research to address the top priority issues for canola growers. Newly funded ADF research projects in 2020/21 year include:

Impact of Phosphorus Fertilizer Forms on Nutrition of Wheat, Pea and Canola, Soil Fate and Losses in Run-Off Water 
Principal investigator: Dr. Jeff Schoenau, University of Saskatchewan
Objective
•    Assess how phosphorus fertilizer forms, placement, and rate affect crop responses, fate in the soil, and run-off losses in SK soils
SaskCanola maximum funding level: $50,232 
Co-funded by: Western Grains Research Foundation, SaskWheat, SaskPulse

Identification and exploitation of genome structural variants for trait improvement in Prairie crops
Principal investigator: Dr. Andrew Sharpe, Global Institute for Food Security
Objectives
•    Development of canola (Brassica napus) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) pan-genome structural variant (PanSV) atlases
•    Development of high-throughput structural variant (SV) genotyping pipeline
•    High-throughput genotyping of SVs on canola and wheat populations
•    Association of SVs with important agronomic traits
•    Functional annotation of SV markers on the impact on phenotypes in wheat and canola
SaskCanola maximum funding level: $172,500 
Co-funded by: Western Grain Research Foundation, SaskWheat, Alberta Wheat and Barley

Developing single-spore isolates of pathotypes of Plasmodiophora brassicae
Principal investigator: Dr. Bruce Gossen, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
Objectives:
•    Develop techniques for whole-genome sequencing of single spores of Plasmodiophora brassicae
•    Single-spore isolates of P. brassicae
SaskCanola maximum funding level: $60,000 
Co-funded by: Saskatchewan ADF

Shining Light on Digital Agriculture: Linking Soil NIR measurements, Fertility and Crop Yields
Principal investigator: Dr. Derek Peak, University of Saskatchewan
Objectives
•    Use spectral sensing to produce spatially-resolved soil based yield potential maps; and
•    Develop methodology to link field near infrared (NIR) data and laboratory analyses
SaskCanola maximum funding level: $103,536 
Co-funded by: Saskatchewan ADF and SaskWheat

Enhancing the Saskatchewan Soil Health Assessment Protocol – Phase 2
Principal investigator: Dr. Kate Congreves, University of Saskatchewan
Objectives
•    Build on the SK Soil Health Testing Protocol so that it outputs soil zone-specific scores
•    Incorporate novel microbial measurements of soil health into the testing protocol
•    Explore early-indicators of soil health change for when producers incorporate regenerative agricultural practices on farm
•    Deliver a user-friendly online tool that shows growers the soil health curves and where their sample falls
SaskCanola maximum funding level: $143,557 
Co-funded by: SaskWheat

Collecting the carbon data needed for Climate-Smart agriculture in Saskatchewan
Principal investigator: Dr. Kate Congreves, University of Saskatchewan
Objectives
•    Provide direct, year-round field-scale measurements of greenhouse gas emissions from a representative cropping system in Saskatchewan
•    Provide field-scale assessments that encompass 4R+ practices aimed at minimizing carbon footprints
•    Test the hypothesis that Saskatchewan cropping systems are a net carbon sink by determining net ecosystem exchange and carbon footprint
SaskCanola maximum funding level: $111,012 
Co-funded by: Saskatchewan ADF, SaskWheat, SaskOats

Application of hyperspectral imaging for detection and mapping of small patch clubroot infestations in commercial canola fields
Principal investigator: Mr. David Halstead, Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Objectives:
•    Identify readily applied diagnostic features for mapping small clubroot patches and develop a diagnostic tool
•    Refine and validate diagnostic tool for identifying small patch clubroot infestations
SaskCanola maximum funding level: $48,286 
Co-funded by: Saskatchewan ADF

Continuing to watch the winds: the origin and arrival of migrant aster leafhoppers and diamondback moths
Principal investigator: Dr. Tyler Wist, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
Objectives:
•    Assess the genetic variations of migrant and new generation of diamondback moth and aster leafhopper to pinpoint their southern origins
•    Evaluate aster leafhopper movement from alfalfa to canola to determine if alfalfa is a “green bridge” reservoir that maintains the aster yellows phytoplasma in Saskatchewan
•    Develop aster yellows risk index and transmission risk in SK
•    Use of wind trajectories, and stable isotopes to continue gathering data on diamondback moth and aster leafhopper migration flights and origin
SaskCanola maximum funding level: $152,158 
Co-funded by: Western Grains Research Foundation

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