Corporate News

Nufarm subsidiary Nuseed has been developing canola containing omega-3 oil as an alternative to omega-3 oil sourced from fish, to help relieve pressure on wild fish stocks. Pending regulatory approvals, it could be commercialized in 2018 or 2019. 

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Federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay has wrapped up a trade mission to Vietnam and India.

MacAulay held talks with his counterparts in both countries to promote Canadian products like lobster, livestock genetics, blueberries, grains and oilseeds. | READ MORE
The Canadian Grain Commission has begun a consultation on its proposal to introduce a new eastern wheat class. Wheat industry stakeholders including grain handlers, processors, marketers, breeders and producers are invited to provide their input. The consultation closes on May 20, 2017.

The Canadian Grain Commission is proposing to develop a Canada Eastern Special Purpose (CESP) class. This class would allow all registered wheat varieties to be assigned to a class and receive a statutory Canadian grain grade. The proposed CESP class would ensure that eastern wheat classes continue to meet the needs of producers and support future market opportunities.

The proposed wheat class would take effect on July 1, 2018. The Canadian Grain Commission will consider all input received, and may make amendments to this proposal based on stakeholder feedback.
After an outpouring of support from rural communities across Canada, ADAMA Canada has selected four agri-retailers to receive grand prizes of $15,000each to donate to worthy causes in their communities. ADAMA Canada launched its inaugural #ThankARetailer contest in November last year and has announced the following winners for each region:

Eastern Canada: Huron Perth Ag Service Inc. – Woodham, Ontario

Manitoba: Foster Ag. Services – Arborg, Manitoba

Saskatchewan: Richardson Pioneer – Strasbourg, Saskatchewan

Alberta & BC: Bashaw Crop Services – Bashaw, Alberta

The #ThankARetailer contest encouraged Canadians to nominate agri-retailers that make an outstanding contribution to their community, then vote for them online to improve their chances of winning. Over 220,000 votes were cast for 52 nominated retails, many of which garnered significant support through social media. Several local newspapers also featured their town's nominee to help spread awareness and rally votes.

More information on each winner, including the good causes the winners are supporting, can be found at ThankARetailer.ca
The provincial and federal governments are supporting Ontario farmers and continuing to combat climate change by boosting energy efficiency on farming operations.

This support will help farmers to modify their equipment and improve efficiency at existing agricultural production facilities to help reduce their carbon emissions as well as improve soil health and nutrient management. In addition, Ontario and Canada have added four new project categories under the Growing Forward 2 program that are dedicated to helping farmers transition to a low carbon economy.

Eligible projects within these new categories include:
  • Supporting farmers to retrofit grain dryers to improve heat recovery.
  • Modifying fertilizer and manure application equipment to improve nutrient placement within soil and reduce runoff into Ontario's waterways.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of lighting systems in agricultural buildings to help farmers conserve energy.

For more information about the Growing Forward 2 cost-share funding assistance program for producers, its guidelines and the application process, visit the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association website or call 1-800-265-9751.

Applications will be accepted in two intake periods. The first intake is from April 4 to April 18, 2017. The next intake is from May 12 to June 1, 2017. To be eligible for this cost-share support, all approved projects must be completed by December 15, 2017.
Statistics Canada says that crime in many rural communities climbed in 2015, led by Alberta with a 10 per cent increase, leaving more farmers looking for ways to protect their property. Spurred by break-ins and stolen vehicles, some farmers have spent thousands of dollars on security systems that include cameras to monitor the inside and outside of their home. | READ MORE
In farming, as in life, change is often the only constant. In addition to new crops, the upcoming growing season will likely bring new agronomic challenges, be they changing disease, insect and weed pressures, or unpredictable weather conditions. To succeed, producers must be able to adapt in the face of changing circumstances – a fact farmers in some parts of the country were reminded of during last fall’s harvest.
Each issue of Top Crop Manager can often involve digging into genetics to answer key questions. What makes a plant susceptible to one disease but not another? Why do some pests seem to reproduce at a faster rate after an insecticide application? Genes often hold the key and we rely on researchers to open the door to understanding.
Canada’s agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay says the federal government plans to forge ahead with a plan that will require all provinces to have carbon pricing schemes in place next year, despite strong opposition from his Saskatchewan counterpart and the province’s farmers. | READ MORE
Flash back to your first lesson in photosynthesis and you may recall stomata, the holes in the leaves of land-based plants through which they take in carbon dioxide and let out oxygen and water vapour. In the 400 million years since plants colonized the land, these holes have remained largely unchanged, save for one major exception: grasses.

Wheat field
Wheat and other edible grasses have developed pores that make them more drought tolerant. Stanford scientists have studied these pores with an eye toward future climate change.

These plants, which make up about 60 percent of the calories people consume worldwide, have a modified stoma that experts believe makes them better able to withstand drought or high temperatures. Stanford University scientists have now confirmed the increased efficiency of grass stomata and gained insight into how they develop. Their findings, reported in the March 17 issue of Science, could help us cultivate crops that can thrive in a changing climate.

“Ultimately, we have to feed people,” said Dominique Bergmann, professor of biology and senior author of the paper. “The climate is changing and, regardless of the cause, we’re still relying on plants to be able to survive whatever climate we do have.”

Adjusting an ancient system
Grasses – which include wheat, corn and rice – developed different stomata, which may have helped them spread during a prehistoric period of increased global dryness. Stomata usually have two so-called “guard cells” with a hole in the middle that opens and closes depending on how a plant needs to balance its gas exchange. If a plant needs more CO2 or wants to cool by releasing water vapour, the stomata open. If it needs to conserve water, they stay closed.

Grass stomata
The protein in yellow moves out of the guard cells into cells on both sides. By recruiting these cells, grass stomata become better suited to hot and dry environments.

Grasses improved on the original structure by recruiting two extra cells on either side of the guard cells, allowing for a little extra give when the stoma opens. They also respond more rapidly and sensitively to changes in light, temperature or humidity that happen during the day. Scientists hope that by knowing more about how grass developed this system, they may be able to create or select for edible plants that can withstand dry and hot environments, which are likely to become more prevalent as our climate changes.

“We take our food and agriculture for granted. It’s not something the ‘first world’ has to deal with, but there are still large areas of the world that suffer from famine and this will increase,” said Michael Raissig, a postdoctoral researcher in the Bergmann lab and lead author of the paper. “The human population is going to explode in the next 20 to 30 years and most of that is in the developing world. That’s also where climate change will have the biggest effect.”

Growing a better mouth
Scientists have assumed grasses’ unusual stomata make these plants more efficient “breathers.” But, spurred by curiosity and a passion for developmental biology, these researchers decided to test that theory.

Thanks to a bit of luck, they found a mutant of the wheat relative Brachypodium distachyon that had two-celled stomata. Partnering with the Berry lab at the Carnegie Institution for Science, the group compared the stomata from the mutant to the normal four-celled stomata. They not only confirmed that the four-celled version opens wider and faster but also identified which gene creates the four-celled stomata – but it wasn’t a gene they expected.

“Because it was a grass-specific cell-type, we thought it would be a grass-specific factor as well,” said Raissig, “but it’s not.”

Instead of relying on a completely new mechanism, the recruitment of the extra cells seems to be controlled by a well-studied factor which is known to switch other genes on and off. In other plants, that factor is present in guard cells, where it is involved in their development. In grasses, the team found that the factor migrated out of guard cells and directly into two surrounding cells, recruiting them to form the four-celled stomata.

Feeding the world
Over evolutionary time, humans have bred and propagated plants that produce the kinds of foods we like and that can survive extreme weather.

“We’re not consciously breeding for stomata but we’re unconsciously selecting for them,” said Bergmann, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “When we want something that’s more drought resistant, or something that can work better in higher temperatures, or something that is just able to take in carbon better, often what we are actually doing is selecting for various properties of stomata.”

The adaptability and productivity of grass makes understanding this plant family critical for human survival, the scientists said. Someday, whether through genetic modification or selective breeding, scientists might be able to use these findings to produce other plants with four-celled stomata. This could also be one of many changes – to chloroplasts or enzymes, for example – that help plants photosynthesize more efficiently to feed a growing population.
Everyone knows that many plant species bloom at different times in spring. The time at which a plant blooms in spring does not follow the calendar, but is instead determined by environmental factors such as temperature and day length. Biologists have discovered that plants recognize these environmental factors via genetically determined programs and adapt their growth accordingly.

In order to adapt to new climate zones and to ensure the evolutionary success of the species, these genetic programs may be adapted over the course of evolution. These adaptive processes take place passively: Minor changes (mutations) take place in the genetic material (DNA sequence) of the genes involved. If an adaptation proves successful over the following years, a new population establishes itself as a genetically distinct subspecies.

Comparison of Biological Adaptations with Genetic Changes

In order to find out which mutations were used particularly frequently over the course of evolution, scientists compare biological adaptations such as shifts in the point in time at which blooming takes place with existing genetic changes. For many plant species, such as the thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), which is often used in research, but also for food crops such as corn, rice, barley and wheat, there are now initiatives currently mapping the genome (entire DNA sequence) of many subspecies and varieties. This makes comparisons at the DNA level particularly simple and efficient.

In the journal eLife, Ulrich Lutz from the Chair of Plant Systems Biology at the TUM and his colleagues from the Helmholtz Zentrum München jointly describe the results of a comparative sequence analysis of the FLM (FLOW-ERING LOCUS M) gene from over a thousand Arabidopsis genome sequences.

FLM binds directly to DNA, allowing it to influence the creation of other genes (transcription), which delays bloom-ing. Via comparisons of the FLM DNA sequence from over a thousand subspecies, Lutz was able to determine which genetic changes occurred frequently as this plant evolved: Generally speaking, these are the changes that provide the plant with an adaptive advantage found in a large number of subspecies. Mutations that did not pro-vide an advantage, on the other hand, were lost over time. The frequency of the changes is therefore an indication that these mutations were the most successful from an evolutionary point of view.

For the FLM gene he characterized, Lutz was able to demonstrate that the genetic changes that occur worldwide have an influence on how frequently and efficiently the FLM gene is read. As FLM is able to delay the point in time at which blooming occurs, a more intensive reading of the gene directly corresponds to later blooming. FLM be-haves much like a light dimmer that the plant uses to regulate gene activity -- and hence blooming -- on a continuous scale.

FLM Gene Acts Like a Controller

The underlying gene changes influenced this reading of FLM. Modified DNA was found in the area of the gene 'switch' (promoter), which regulates how much of the FLM gene is produced. In addition, the mechanism of gene splicing could also be observed: As part of this process, parts are cut out of the interim gene product. The quantity of active FLM can also be adapted via genetic changes that impact gene splicing. Hence, a direct dependency was found between the point in time of blooming and the quantity of the FLM gene, which in Arabidopsis can be finely adjusted via DNA sequence changes.

"The FLM variants we identified are ideal candidate genes that thale cress can use to adapt the point in time at which blooming takes place to the temperature changes caused by climate change," said Professor Claus Schwechheimer from the Chair of Plant Systems Biology at TUM.

Findings May Help Plants Adapt to Climate Change

Temperature changes of just a few degrees Celsius during the growth phase of crop plants such as canola or sugar beets have a negative impact on agricultural production. In the future, the findings obtained by the team including the TUM scientists may allow the FLM gene to be used as a regulator to help adapt the blooming period to different temperatures as a result of climate change. With this knowledge, the goal of efficient food production over the long term is now within reach.

Annually, diseases, weeds, and insects are estimated to cause more than $1.3 billion in losses for sunflower growers. To combat this, researchers are preserving the genetic diversity of wild sunflowers. Wild plants retain the genes needed to resist pests and survive in different environments.

| READ MORE

Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto Co's Roundup herbicide, should not be classified as a substance causing cancer, the European Chemical Agency concluded on Wednesday, potentially paving the way for its license renewal in the EU. | READ MORE
Change is never easy. But when it comes to adopting new agricultural practices, some farmers are easier to convince than others.

A group of researchers at the University of Illinois wanted to know which farmers are most likely to adopt multifunctional perennial cropping (MPC) systems – trees, shrubs, or grasses that simultaneously benefit the environment and generate high-value products that can be harvested for a profit.

"We surveyed farmers in the Upper Sangamon River Watershed in Illinois to learn their attitudes about growing MPCs on marginal land. We then looked at their demographic data to classify people into different categories related to their adoption potential," says University of Illinois agroecologist Sarah Taylor Lovell.

Using statistical clustering techniques, the team discovered that survey respondents fell into six categories. The "educated networkers" and "young innovators" were most likely to adopt MPCs. On the other end of the spectrum, survey respondents classified as "money motivated" and "hands-off" were least likely to adopt the new cropping systems.

The goal of categorizing farmers was to tailor strategies for each group, given their general attitudes. "If they're very unlikely to adopt at all, we probably wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about those groups," Lovell explains.

However, Lovell thinks some low-likelihood adopters could be swayed. "One of the groups--the one we called "money motivated" – was really connected with GPS in their yield monitoring, so we thought we could target that. We could review high-resolution maps of their farms to point out the areas that are unproductive for corn and soybeans. We'd try to make the case that alternative perennial systems could bring in profits," Lovell says.

High-likelihood adopters were motivated by environmental concerns, and were especially interested in converting marginal land to bioenergy crop, hay, or nut production systems. "Farmers were probably most familiar with bioenergy grasses and hay," Lovell explains. But it was important to them that an existing market was in place for MPCs products.

Another major factor was land tenancy. Considering that most MPC crops don't mature for years after planting, rental contracts would need to account for the long-term investment.

"The person leasing the land might be really interested in agroforestry or perennial cropping systems," Lovell says. "The lease arrangement has to be long enough that the farmer will get back their investment in that period. For example, some of the nut crops take a long time to mature. But if you integrate some of the fruit shrubs, they'll become productive in maybe 3-4 years. You could get an earlier return on investment in those cases."

Lovell's graduate students – housed in the crop sciences department at U of I – are now following up with several of the farmers who were interested in MPCs and offering custom designs to establish the new cropping systems on their land.

"That was part of the overall goal for this study. We wondered if the barrier to adoption is a lack of information about design options and the economic potential," Lovell says. "If we overcome that barrier by developing good planting plans, projecting the market economics, and providing them with that information, will that help them implement the change?"
WINNIPEG, March 14, 2017 – Limagrain Cereals Research Canada (LCRC), along with its partner, Canterra Seeds, has announced the first variety from its cereal breeding program has been recommended for interim registration.

GP202 is a Canadian Western Special Purpose (CWSP) wheat that boasts high yields and the lowest accumulated DON levels among the CWSP varieties put forward for support at the Prairie Grain Development Committee meeting. The low DON levels make it ideal for producers looking for a feed wheat variety. Other end users have also expressed interest in evaluating the variety for their purposes. It will be commercialized by Canterra Seeds through its network of seed grower shareholders, beginning in the spring of this year.

Limagrain Cereals Research Canada was established in July, 2015, as a partnership between Canterra Seeds and Limagrain of France. It is bringing significant added value to western Canadian agriculture by developing new varieties of cereals, with an initial focus on spring wheat. Based in Saskatoon, LCRC managed its first field testing season in 2016.
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