As a leader in this field, Lakeland actively collaborates with industry and producers on applied research that advances innovation and economic development.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is providing $300,000 per year for the next three years through the Innovation Enhancement Extend program. These funds will be matched by more than $300,000 in additional funding each year from industry partners.
An extension of a previous grant, the NSERC funding began April 1, 2020, and will run until March 31, 2023.
“We are so pleased to continue our partnership with NSERC,” says Josie Van Lent, dean of the School of Agricultural Sciences at Lakeland College. “This grant supports not only our applied research projects, but also allows us to increase our industry partnerships. It gives us the ability to work closely with industry partners and advisory groups to ensure we are aligning our projects with industry needs, and incorporating our research findings into the course curriculum, putting our students in the lead.”
With this funding, Lakeland will build on a strong foundation of crop and livestock research and industry partnerships. With NSERC funding, a crop research scientist with broadleaf expertise, a livestock research associate with bioinformatics and machine learning expertise and two new research technologists will be recruited to support the research projects. Applied research will focus on supporting commercial agriculture for major crops (wheat, canola, field pea, barley and oat) as well as commercial and purebred beef and dairy activities. The project will also take advantage of the opportunity for innovation in the development and implementation of agricultural technologies that will enhance regional productivity, efficiency and sustainability.
Industry partners for this project include: Alberta Barley Commission, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Pulse Growers Commission, Alberta Wheat Commission, Animal Inframetrics Inc, Anuvia Plant Nutrients, BASF Canada Inc, Canadian Angus Association, Canadian Charolais Association, Canola Council of Canada, Highland Feeders Ltd, Mosaic Company, Prairie Micro-Tech Inc, Pugh Farms, and SeCan Association.
Through the initial grant, Lakeland was able to start crop research and livestock research programs, hiring researchers and purchasing key pieces of equipment for the project. Twenty projects were completed with 46 industry and government partners, attracting $627K in partner cash funding and $396K in in-kind funding, and involving more than 600 students over the course of five years. Projects resulted in the development or enhancement of 27 products, 30 processes, and nine services. This project demonstrated the college’s ability to increase research capacity and develop strong industry partners, which made the department eligible for the funding extension.
As part of Lakeland’s unique Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland (SMF) learning model, more than 170 animal and crop science technology students are exposed to crop, beef and dairy research activities annually. With this grant extension, students will have even more opportunities to gain hands-on experience with unique equipment as they gain a deeper understanding of how to apply the outcomes of research as they enter the work force.