Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist Louis-Pierre Comeau is sifting his way through New Brunswick soil in search of answers to one of the biggest issues facing local farmers: the loss of soil organic matter and the decrease of soil health in farm fields.
The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness celebrated the opening of this new $15.7 million facility, which provides fully integrated concept-to-commercialization services through applied research for agricultural products, product and process development, and incubation for entrepreneurs and agri-food processors.
In addition, he also announced two new investments totalling $417,500 for the Food Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.
The first investment of $117,500, through the Western Diversification Program (WDP), will enable the Food Centre to purchase equipment to separate and isolate protein from alfalfa and split field peas on a pilot-scale level.
The second WDP investment of $300,000 will also help the Food Centre purchase additional equipment and develop commercial uses for western Canadian pulse starch by-products, left over from the protein separation process.
The Food Centre is the primary provider of food product development, technology transfer, commercialization and food safety training for Saskatchewan's food industry. It has been instrumental in developing hundreds of products, many of which have already been introduced to market. It is also an integral part of Saskatchewan's value-added food sector, particularly in development related to cereal grains, oilseeds, pulses and edible oils.
Canada's Innovation Agenda promotes clean growth, good jobs and higher living standards for the middle class. The investments announced today are an example of this vision in action.
"With support from the Government of Canada, the Agri-Food Innovation Centre will further position our industry to be strong leaders in innovation and technology for the food processing sector. The new investments announced today, coupled with the Food Centre's expertise in applied research and development, will pave the way for new food concepts in a changing market," said Dan Prefontaine, president, Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, joined newly hired researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Harrington Research Farm to announce the completion of a $6.8-million upgrade of the world-class facility.
The Government of Canada is commitment to discovery science and innovation, and to reaching its goal of growing agri-food exports to $75 billion by 2025.
The upgrades included $2.97 million for 10 new and renovated laboratories and the purchase of a $1.3-million nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer for the Charlottetown Research and Development Centre, and $2.54 million for an expansion of the Harrington Research Farm greenhouse. The spectrometer allows scientists to study farm soil at the molecular level, which will help farmers improve the soil health and productivity of their land.
Three of the five scientists hired by the research centre over the past 18 months occupy new positions that expand the facility's areas of research. The five specialists are a microbial ecologist, an agro-ecosystem modeler and data scientist, a weed specialist, an environmental chemist and a cereals and oilseeds biologist.
"Having farmed on PEI and travelled around the world as Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I see how science and innovation opens markets and creates new opportunities for our farmers and ranchers. This government is committed to innovation through world-class science and to helping farmers have access to the most current tools and knowledge to continue to grow the best food in the world," said MacAulay.
The announcement was made during an “innovation showcase” that featured leading-edge U of G agri-food projects and was attended by University, industry and government officials.
Accelerator Guelph will assist U of G researchers in commercializing their novel ideas and discoveries. It will help bolster U of G’s already strong reputation for ingenuity and inventiveness in agri-food, said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).
“The University of Guelph’s expertise and strength in agri-food innovation is unmatched,” Campbell said. “Our researchers have bold, ambitious ideas, and their work addresses gaps and helps solve problems while shaping the future of food and agriculture in Canada and beyond. They also promote industry collaboration and accelerating growth in the thriving agri-food sector.”
Campbell added that U of G’s innovation activities and goals “align, illustrate and enhance the incredible agri-food innovation supercluster that is Canada Food Nexus.” U of G is part of this collaboration of private sector firms, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.
“The shared goal is fostering a culture of innovation and economic development in the agri-food sector, and positioning Canada as a world leader in food,” Campbell said.
Accelerator Guelph will help move such ideas to market, Campbell said. Modelled after some of the world’s top accelerator programs, its four-phase program will mentor U of G agri-food entrepreneurs with business planning, executive leadership training, financial and accounting expertise, and human resources management.
Accelerator Guelph will complement the successful Gryphon’s LAIRR (Leading to Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research) program, in which U of G researchers pitch creative ideas for research commercialization to a panel of industry leaders. Winners receive up to $125,000 to support their proposals, and receive assistance from industry collaborators in Ontario’s agri-food and rural sectors.
This year, 15 projects will receive funding under the Gryphon’s LAAIR program. The winners were also announced and highlighted during the innovation showcase.
- Engineering professor Michele Oliver heads a team developing a cost-effective seat cushion to reduce seat vibration in farming machinery. Mobile agricultural equipment is used in virtually all Ontario farms, but its use exposes the operator to whole-body vibration levels that can harm health. Oliver’s invention will lead to cost savings and improved health for operators.
- Blockchain technology can help trace products through the food supply-chain, but using blockchain for food traceability faces a number of challenges. Computer science professor Rozita Dara and a team are looking at soybean traceability using blockchain, developing processes to collect, analyze and store data on soybeans while also understanding the legislative and stakeholder context.
- Researchers in U of G’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC) made the world’s first compostable coffee pods and are now pursuing new innovations. Prof. Manjusri Misra is developing products for the greenhouse industry that will reduce manual labour in growing tomatoes and other crops. Prof. Amar Mohanty is investigating the use of low-value agricultural residues to develop lightweight biocomposite products for the automotive industry.
Gryphon’s LAIRR is funded through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – U of G partnership and Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
Farm equity on P.E.I. was up 19 per cent from 2012 to 2016, while nationally equity it rose 36.9 per cent. Saskatchewan led the country with farm equity up 50.8 per cent. | READ MORE
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