Canola AgriScience Cluster

2023 – 2028 Canola AgriScience Research Cluster

The Canola AgriScience Cluster is five-year research program funded through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) and the canola industry. Announced in 2023, this initiative will invest over $17 million in funding into four areas of research to advance the Canadian canola industry’s goals of:

  • Sustainably and profitably increasing production
  • Further contributing to environmental sustainability

The critical research being carried out under the Cluster program will fill knowledge gaps and lead to new innovative technologies in sustainable canola production which are expected to expand canola’s economic value and ensure continued growth and success for the industry.

For more information, view the Canola AgriScience Cluster Priority Areas backgrounder or review previously funded research.

About the Cluster

Canola Research Outcomes Aimed at Sustainably
Canola Council of Canada four research areas
Canola Council of Canada five year agreement

Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership

Priority area: Economic growth and development

Evaluation of gene-edited canola with improved yield and abiotic stress tolerance

Research team: Michael Emes (Principal Investigator, University of Guelph), Ian Tetlow (University of Guelph) and Liping Wang (University of Guelph)

Overview: This activity will focus on achieving new canola genotypes with improved yield and abiotic tolerance to drought and high temperature through CRISPR gene editing to produce thickened stems and greater biomass. Field trials will be conducted to validate the traits of interest involved in increased yield, biomass, and carbon sequestration, which can be sublicensed to seed companies for introgression into canola varieties.

Development and deployment of novel resistance genes to improve clubroot management on canola

Research team: Gary Peng (Principal Investigator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Fengqun Yu (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Habibur Rahman (University of Alberta), Nat Kav (University of Alberta), Robert Duncan (University of Manitoba)

Overview: This activity aims to characterize previously identified clubroot resistance genes, including their modes of action in stacking, develop molecular markers and use pre-breeding and breeding processes to produce novel clubroot resistance resources. The main objectives include characterizing novel clubroot resistance genes in unique brassica sources and develop markers for them, sequence brassica species with resistance genes to understand the evolution of resistance genes, and investigate the introgression of clubroot resistance genes from both Brassica oleracea (C genome) and Brassica rapa (A genome) into breeding lines. This project will also research the stacking and rotation of clubroot resistance genes to investigate resistance durability.

Protecting canola against blackleg by introducing novel genes and developing R gene specific markers

Research team: Hossein Borhan (Principal Investigator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Nicholas Larkan (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Harsh Raman (NSW Department of Primary industries), Andrew Sharpe (GIFS)

Overview: This activity aims to introduce novel sources of blackleg disease resistance genes and to develop gene-specific markers that will be used as tools for precision breeding of resistant cultivars.

Towards a full understanding of canola germination and seedling performance

Research team: Sally Vail (Principal Investigator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Rob Gulden (University of Manitoba), Brendan O’Leary (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Janitha Wanasundara (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Isobel Parkin (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Rob Duncan (University of Manitoba), Steve Robinson (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Joanne Ernest (Charles Sturt University), Dwayne Hegedus (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Rong Zhou (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Leon Kochian (GIFS)

Overview: This activity aims to acquire further data on seed vigor, storage protein and soluble carbohydrate contents through seed vigor screening and profiling in order to improve seed and seedling vigor.

Impact of canola meal and forage quality in sustainable dairy cow diets

Research team: Kenneth Kalscheur (Principal Investigator, US Dairy Forage Research Center), Sebastian Arriola Apelo (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Wenli Li (USDA-ARS, US Dairy Forage Research Center), Laura Hernandez (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Chaouki Benchaar (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Sherbrooke), Ermias Kebreab (UC-Davis)

Overview: This activity aims to investigate the mechanisms for which cows fed with canola meal in combination with forage type and quality will more efficiently produce milk and milk protein compared to soybean meal. Milk production efficiency and carbon footprint will be assessed.

Nutrient allocation using canola supplemented fish feed in aquaponics

Research team: Nick Savidov (Principal Investigator, Lethbridge College), John Derksen (Lethbridge College), H. Kristine Wilson (Lethbridge College), Selin Karatepe (Lethbridge College)

Overview: This activity aims to evaluate the impacts that canola supplemented fish feed will have fish production, water quality and plant production in an aquaponics production model. This research will also assess the economic value of canola meal-based fish diets in aquaponics systems.

Canola protein and performance, health, and life cycle assessment of Atlantic salmon

Research team: Ivan Tankovski (Principal Investigator, Center for Aquaculture Technologies), André Dumas (AD Aquaculture Nutrition Services Inc.), Candido Pomar (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Sherbrooke)

Overview: This activity will assess the nutritional value of canola protein by conducting digestibility and growth studies in order to update nutrient digestibility values and new data on its safety and efficacy in aquaculture. This project will also conduct a life cycle analysis (LCA) of canola meal in salmon feeds.

Priority Area: Climate change and environment

Assessing/Understanding synergies between canola-meal and other mitigation strategies in reducing dairy-associated methane emissions

Research team: Chaouki Benchaar (Principal Investigator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Sherbrooke), Renee Petri (AAFC Sherbrooke), Ermia Kebreab (UC Davis), WenZhu Yang (AAFC Lethbridge), Kenneth Kalscheur (USDA Madison, Wisconsin), Fadi Hassanat (AAFC Quebec) and Daniel Ouellet (AAFC Sherbrooke)

Overview: The objective of this activity is to determine the impact of combining canola meal with specific dietary strategies known for their mitigation potential (versus soybean meal) to achieve larger reduction in enteric methane production in dairy production. Animal productivity and net GHG emissions will be estimated to determine the carbon footprint of milk produced using individual and combined enteric methane mitigation strategies using a life cycle analysis approach.

Getting more from less – Enhancing nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and carbon sequestration in canola

Research team: Sally Vail (Principal Investigator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research and Development Centre Saskatoon), Isobel Parkin (AAFC Saskatoon), Steve Robinson (AAFC Saskatoon), Raju Soolanayakanahally (AAFC Saskatoon), Melissa Arcand (University of Saskatchewan), Bobbi Helgason (University of Saskatchewan), Jennifer Town (AAFC Saskatoon) and Reynald Lemke (AAFC Saskatoon)

Overview: This activity aims to develop and identify canola germplasm and traits that will reduce the environmental footprint of canola through reduction of nitrous oxide emissions and increasing carbon sequestration potential. This research will conduct genomic and genetic studies on nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), plant architectural traits, and root system architecture (RSA) along with soil and microbiome studies to improve the environmental and agronomic performance of canola.

Precision 4R Management: Improving nitrogen use efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and productive economics of canola

Research team: Mario Tenuta (Principal Investigator, University of Manitoba), Richard Farrell (University of Saskatchewan), Chris Holzapfel (Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation), and Cory Willness (Croptimistic Technology Inc. and CropPro Consulting)

Overview: This activity aims to evaluate to what extent Precision 4R Management based on within-field management zones can improve nitrogen fertilizer use efficiency and the reduce N2O emissions. The research will be conducted on three commercial farm fields in the Prairies region. This project will evaluate variable rate nitrogen and variable nitrogen source combinations in zones across fields to determine optimal economic and environmental benefits.

Improving nitrogen management in winter canola

Research team: Eric Page (Principal Investigator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Harrow), Meghan Moran (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives)

Overview: This activity aims to address the knowledge gap on fertility recommendation in winter canola and to develop better management practices that reduce nitrogen fertilizer application, which include the determination of the maximum economic rate of nitrogen and the impact of intercropping winter peas and winter canola on nitrogen fertilizer application.

Priority Area: Sector resilience and societal challenges

Establishment and applications of Brassica TILLING resources for development of resilient canola

Research team: Raju Datla (Principal Investigator, Global Institute for Food Security), Leon Kochian (GIFS), Andrew Sharpe (GIFS), Peng Gao (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Daoquan Xiang (National Research Council Canada), Mark Smith (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Kevin Rozwadowski (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), George Haughn (University of British Columbia), Liang Song (University of British Columbia), Katy Navabi (NuSeed)

Overview: This activity aims to use the TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions In Genomes) technology to create new breeding opportunities that target improved performance, water usage efficiency and drought tolerance and photosynthetic efficiency.

Flea beetle resistance in canola

Research team: Dwayne Hegedus (Principal Investigator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Sally Vail (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Isobel Parkin (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Tyler Wist (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon)

Overview: This activity aims to develop new B. napus lines that produce hairs on their leaves and stems to act as a natural resistance to flea beetles to replace the use of neonicotinoids and other insecticides.

Assessing fungicide sensitivity in S. sclerotiorum

Research team: Dwayne Hegedus and Lone Buchwaldt (Principal Investigator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon), Kelly Turkington (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lacombe), Syama Chatterton (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lethbridge)

Overview: This activity aims to establish baseline sensitivities of S. sclerotiorum isolates from canola fields to fungicides and to determine whether the pathogen has developed reduced sensitivity to commonly used fungicides used to control the disease.

Mandatory activities

Science coordination

Research team: Chris Manchur (Co-Investigator, Canola Council of Canada), Ellen McNabb (Co-Investigator, Canola Council of Canada)

Overview: This activity will focus on coordinating with principal investigators and organizing Science Advisory Board (SAB) meetings and steering committee meetings in order to track progress of the research, update researchers on new developments and review results from their objectives.

Knowledge and technology transfer

Research team: Taryn Dickson (Co-Investigator, Canola Council of Canada), Chris Manchur (Co-Investigator, Canola Council of Canada)

Overview: This activity will deploy a range of digital, physical and interactive platforms to reach desired audiences, including extension events, Canola Encyclopedia, Canola Watch, Canola Digest, and use virtual reality, social media and agronomist surveys to measure best management practices and technology uptake.

Economic impact assessment

Research team: Curtis Rempel (Principal Investigator, Canola Council of Canada), Chris Manchur (Canola Council of Canada)

Overview: This activity will utilize a network of economists at various Canadian universities who have expertise in econometric analysis to determine the return on investment of past clusters’ research and identify the impact previous activities have had on sustainable canola production. Case studies of selected projects will be analyzed to highlight the successes of grower, industry and government investments into canola research. 

Funding partners

Canola Council of Canada's partnership with Sustainable CAP
Canola Council of Canada
Canola Council of Canada partner association Alberta Canola
Canola Council of Canada partner association SaskCanola
Canola Council of Canada partner association Manitoba Canola Growers
Canola Council of Canada's partnership with Ontario Canola Growers
Canola Council of Canada partner Government of Canada