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New USask research chair has integrated approach to agronomy research

March 2, 2020  By Top Crop Manager

Maryse Bourgault has been recruited as the first Western Grains Research Foundation Integrated Agronomy Research Chair at USask. Photo courtesy of Christina Weese.

To help expand agronomy research in Western Canada, crop scientist Maryse Bourgault has been recruited as the first Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) Integrated Agronomy chair at the University of Saskatchewan.

With $2 million in funding over seven years from WGRF, Bourgault – a crop physiologist with an environmental sciences background – plans to work with farmers and researchers from across multiple disciplines, bringing a collaborative and integrated approach to research aimed at improving soil management and increasing crop production potential and sustainability.

“There are a lot of questions that would surely benefit from having several different specialists looking into it together,” Bourgault said. “But I’m planning on taking the time to talk to farmers to understand what they feel might be the most pressing issues and the solutions that might have the greatest impact.”


She said current cropping systems will be reviewed to identify improvements, such as new technologies and practices that are environmentally and economically sustainable.

“I’m hoping that we will be able to contribute to industry knowledge by taking a step back and looking at the various components of the production system, to see how we can understand how different practices might work together or against each other,” Bourgault said. “Then, we might be able to propose the best ways to foster the synergies that arise and minimize the negatives.”

Coming to the University of Saskatchewan from the Northern Agricultural Research Centre (Havre site) at Montana State University, Bourgault will hold a joint appointment in the plant sciences and soil science departments in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

“All of us in agriculture are increasingly aware of how any one thing we do can have vastly different outcomes depending on a myriad of other things,” said Mary Buhr, dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. “Having a bright young mind dedicated to helping integrate those myriad things is a huge benefit to prairie agriculture and ecosystems, and we are deeply grateful to WGRF for their help in bringing Maryse into our University of Saskatchewan Agro family.”

WGRF board chair Terry Young said the foundation is excited about the impact Bourgault can have on agronomy research.

“Farmers face challenges that cut across multiple crops and multiple agronomic disciplines,” Young said. “Having a dedicated research chair for Integrated Agronomy at the University of Saskatchewan will help strengthen and build agronomic research capacity in Western Canada.”

More information about Bourgault can be found here.


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