Boosting Canada's Global Expertise in Water Security and Precision Agriculture Research

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Boosting Canada's Global Expertise in Water Security and Precision Agriculture Research

Canada NewsWire

SASKATOON, Nov. 15, 2017 /CNW/ - Two innovative research centres at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will bolster their expertise in water security and agricultural technologies thanks to an investment of over $2.7 million from the Government of Canada.

The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, made the announcement today on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.

The Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) will receive more than $1.3 million to establish the Smart Water Systems Laboratory to deliver transformative technological capabilities for water-related observation and data collection. The facility will develop and commercialize sensors and software to improve forecasting and prediction tools for water-related threats such as floods and droughts.

The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) will receive more than $1.3 million for the creation of the Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL), which supports state-of-the-art precision agriculture using high-throughput digital phenotyping of crops integrated with genomics data and analysis expertise. Precision agriculture processes and products developed by OPAL will be clean technologies that can improve crop yields and quality, while mitigating negative environmental impacts and over-use of valuable resources like soil nutrients and water.

Quick Facts

  • Water is essential for our well-being, economic development and ecosystem. By gathering key information, GIWS is increasing our safety and security by reducing the risks of water-related threats.
  • Precision agriculture is a key component to ensuring that the Canadian agriculture sector continues to boost production capacity and crop nutrition, while maintaining and building a prosperous economy for the future.

Quotes

"Post-secondary institutions like the University of Saskatchewan play a vital role in innovation, job creation and economic growth. The Government of Canada is investing in the food and water institutes at the University of Saskatchewan because the brainpower and expertise they produce improve the quality of life of all Canadians."
-       The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

"With the impact of climate change becoming starkly clear, food security and water security have emerged as key imperatives around the world. This critical federal investment of $2.7 million toward these new state-of-the-art facilities valued in total at more than $13 million will support cutting-edge research that will build a sustainable water future for Canada and help feed a hungry world."
-       Karen Chad, Vice-President Research, University of Saskatchewan

"With this major investment, the University of Saskatchewan is developing some of the most advanced snow and water sensors in the world and will use these sensors and observations from made-in-Saskatchewan drones to bring Canada to the forefront of cold region water science and prediction."
-       John Pomeroy, Director of the U of S-led Global Water Futures program

"With world population expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, Canada's agriculture will be critical to global food security. We are very grateful to the Government of Canada for partnering with us on the development of this major initiative that will greatly improve our ability to digitize plant traits. Using computational data and analysis enabled by this investment, we will dramatically enhance plant breeding in major Canadian crops."
-       Maurice Moloney, Executive Director and CEO, U of S Global Institute for Food Security

Related Products

  • Backgrounder: Global Institute for Food Security – Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL)
  • Backgrounder: Global Institute for Water Security – Smart Water Systems Laboratory (SWSL)

Additional Links

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Backgrounder: Global Institute for Food Security – Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL)

With global population expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan is focused on performing research that will help deliver transformative innovation to agriculture in both the developed and the developing world. One initiative being undertaken to support this research is the creation of Canada's first Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL). OPAL will support state-of-the-art precision agriculture using high throughput digital phenotyping of crops integrated with genomics data and analysis expertise.

Precision agriculture is the management of crop inputs like water, fertilizer, and plant protection products at the correct time and place to increase productivity and maximize yields, in a sustainable manner. New digital technologies such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), remote aerial imaging of plants using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and in-field environmental monitoring will be combined with genetic information (genomics) for those same plants. The combined data and analysis will be a powerful tool for plant breeders.

The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, will provide $1,351,000 to OPAL, which will be applied to the purchase of phenomics equipment and computational hardware to support phenomics and informatics needs. This will include the purchase of advanced UAVs that have been customized for crop phenotyping, a mobile transportation unit to support the UAV equipment, and aerial on-board and in-field sensors.

Additional funding is provided by National Research Council Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Global Institute for Food Security, University of Saskatchewan.

Key Benefits

  • OPAL will provide clients with solutions tailored to their crop data and analysis needs, including: experiment design and workflow, genomic and/or phenomic technical support, and data acquisition and analysis. It will also provide consulting on technical details and costings for project planning.
  • OPAL will be staffed with experts who have significant scientific knowledge and experience in omics data, crop analysis, and data management and delivery. It will function as a centre of expertise for the crop genomics and phenomics community in Canada.
  • OPAL services will offer support to an existing portfolio of precision agriculture techniques, associated analysis in genomics (i.e., genome assembly, genotyping) and phenomics (aerial imaging) and will establish new techniques of long term strategic significance for precision agriculture applications in western Canada.
  • High throughput digital phenotyping of crops (phenomics) integrated with genomics data and analysis will make will precision agriculture faster and more cost-effective.
  • As a clean technology, the use of precision agriculture will increase production efficiencies, result in significant input cost efficiencies for individual producers, and reduce on-site degradation of soil resources and off-site environmental problems.
  • The application of the new precision agriculture tools will contribute to permanent savings in CO2 emissions through reduced use of fossil-based fuels, fertilizers and plant protection products.

About the Global Institute for Food Security

The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) performs discovery research that aims to deliver transformative innovation in agriculture in both the developed and the developing world. To address these issues, GIFS research focuses on three areas: Seed and Developmental Biology, Root-Soil-Microbial Interactions, and Digital and Computational Agriculture. GIFS was founded as a public-private partnership among PotashCorp, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Government of Saskatchewan and is based at the University of Saskatchewan. It is the home of leading researchers and has attracted over $100M in funding to date.

Additional Links

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Backgrounder: Global Institute for Water Security – Smart Water Systems Laboratory (SWSL)

The world is entering an era of immense water-related threats. Climate change and human actions are altering precipitation patterns, reducing snowpacks, accelerating glacial melt, intensifying floods, and increasing the risk of droughts. This change has tremendous implications on the future of human health and food production as it relates to our environment.

To help address this challenge, the SWSL at the University of Saskatchewan will transform the observation of Canadian waters by detecting change in water quantity and quality at high resolutions. SWSL will develop novel sensors that measure snowpacks, ice, open water, flooding, streamflow, soil moisture, wetlands, vegetation and algal growth. Many of these sensors will be deployed on specialized all-weather drones (unmanned aerial systems) for rapid deployment across Canada with first applications in the Prairies and the mountain headwaters of the Saskatchewan River Basin.

The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, will provide $1,374,576 to SWSL. Additional funding is provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the University of Saskatchewan, Global Water Futures and industry contributions.

Key Benefits

  • New capabilities for measuring and forecasting water quality and quantity.
  • Increased ability to predict the threat of disaster from floods and droughts.
  • Information for communities and industries to reduce and manage their flood risk.
  • Information for farmers and ranchers to manage drought impacts on food production.
  • New opportunities to develop environmental technologies in Canada.

About Global Water Futures

Global Water Futures is a seven-year, University of Saskatchewan-led research program established within the Global Institute for Water Security in 2016 and funded in part by a $77.8-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The research goal is to transform the way communities, governments and industries in Canada and other cold regions of the world prepare for and manage increasing water-related threats. The program was developed and funded in part by the University of Saskatchewan with three key partners--the University of Waterloo, McMaster University, and Wilfrid Laurier University. It includes hundreds of researchers at 18 Canadian universities and works with 138 user groups.

Additional Links

 

SOURCE Western Economic Diversification Canada

View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/November2017/15/c8702.html

Copyright CNW Group 2017

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