Strategy & Partnerships

Canola Agri-Science Cluster:  Sustainable, Reliable Supply for a Changing World 

The Canola Agri-Science Cluster is a partnership between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the canola industry. Over a 5 year period, this initiative will channel $20 million in public/private funding into six areas of research aimed at sustainably growing the canola industry. By helping to reduce production risk, improve yields, enhance sustainability and increase market demand, the findings are expected to greatly expand the economic value of this $26.7 billion industry and propel it towards the 2025 strategic goals.

Theme 1: Differentiated quality and enhanced environmental performance in food processing

Theme 1 projects will advance canola processing techniques and build on previous ground-breaking research demonstrating canola oil’s positive impact on heart health, diabetes and obesity.

One new project will take a closer look at nutrigenetics, glucose tolerance and whether genotype influences a person’s response to canola oil. Another project will respond to public interest in green technologies by evaluating new processes for extracting oil and antioxidants from canola seed.

1. Nutrigenetics, canola oil, and glucose tolerance: Does SCD1 genotype modulate a person’s response to canola oil?
David Mutch (University of Guelph), Peter Jones (University of Manitoba)

2.  Green extraction of oil and antioxidants from canola seed
Martin Scanlon (University of Manitoba), John Shi (AAFC Guelph), John Lu (AAFC Lethbridge), Yachaun Zhang (AAFC Lethbridge), Jim House (University of Manitoba), Usha Thiyam (University of Manitoba), Rick Green (POS BioSciences)

Theme 2: Differentiated quality and sustainable livestock production using canola meal

Theme 2 projects will further demonstrate the value of canola meal as a livestock feed ingredient. This research will build on previous studies, which have demonstrated that using canola meal as protein source can significantly increase the profitability of milk and meat production while also looking at its sustainability in livestock production.

New projects will expand understanding of these findings while exploring other advantages of using canola meal in livestock feed – for example, the potential to improve gut health, reduce antibiotic use,  and improve reproductive performance. These studies will involve dairy herds, nursery pigs, broiler chickens and hog operations in Canada and the U.S.

1.  Gut health and digestive physiology of nursery pigs and broiler chicken fed canola coproducts-based diets.
Tofuko Woyengo (South Dakota State University), Joy Scaria (South Dakota State University)

2.  Canola meal to improve efficiency and sustainability of dairy production: Filling knowledge gaps.
Chaouki Benchaar (AAFC Sherbrooke), Karen Beauchemin (AAFC Lethbridge), Fadi Hassanat (AAFC Sherbrooke)

3.  Understanding the impacts of canola meal on gut microbiota and potential pre-biotic effect of enzymatically-released bioactive fiber components and the long term effects of high levels of canola meal inclusion on sow and litter performance.
Bogdan Slominski (University of Manitoba), Martin Nyachoti (University of Manitoba), Anna Rogiewicz (University of Manitoba)

4.  Accurate determination of the contribution of canola meal to metabolizable protein supply in dairy cows.
Daniel Ouellet (AAFC Sherbrooke), Hélène Lapierre (AAFC Sherbrooke), Édith Charbonneau (Université Laval)

5.  Evaluation of Canola Meal as compared to Soybean meal in Practical California Rations: Effects upon long term lactational performance, reproductive performance and metabolic disease.
Peter Robinson (University of California, Davis), William Van Die (Cloverdale Dairy), Nadia Swanepoel (University of California, Davis)

Theme 3: Increased production – yield and quality optimization for sustainable supply

Theme 3 projects will address opportunities to dramatically increase the yield and positive environmental impact of canola production. These studies will increase the economic returns from every acre while improving the efficiency of nutrient use and the crop’s value for carbon capture and pollinator health.

In the area of seed development, researchers will explore opportunities to improve both the yield and composition of canola seed using genomic tools. One project will look at ways to improve protein content, quality and functionality in the seed. Another study will explore the potential to enhance yield and biomass in canola by modifying carbohydrate metabolism.

Another important goal is to improve canola seed emergence rates, which can be as low as 50%. One project will shed more light on the factors leading to secondary dormancy, providing the industry with a better understanding of how to reach its “plant one get one” goal.

Other research will look at how agronomy can be used to optimize harvest timing, productivity and crop sequencing.

1. Manipulating agronomic factors for optimum canola harvest timing, productivity and crop sequencing.
Brian Beres (AAFC Lethbridge), Charles Geddes (AAFC Lethbridge), Breanne Tidemann (AAFC Lacombe), William May (AAFC Indian Head), Ramona Mohr (AAFC Brandon)

2.  Enhancing yield and biomass in canola by modifying carbohydrate metabolism.
Michael Emes (University of Guelph), Ian Tetlow (University of Guelph) 

3.  Weeding Out Secondary Dormancy Potential From Volunteer Canola.
Sally Vail (AAFC Saskatoon), Rob Gulden (University of Manitoba), Isobel Parkin (AAFC Saskatoon), Steve Robi nson (AAFC Saskatoon), Steve Shirtliffe (University of Saskatchewan)

4.  Advancing the functional, nutritional and economic value of canola protein in Canada
Rob Duncan (University of Manitoba), Jim House (University of Manitoba), Janitha Wanusundara (AAFC Saskatoon), Isobel Parkin (AAFC Saskatoon), Rotimi Aluko (University of Manitoba), Lee Anne Murphy (MAHRN)

Theme 4: Sustainability and climate change – improving nutrient and water use efficiency

Nitrogen is by far the biggest operating cost of Canadian canola growers and one of the key factors determining oil and protein content. One of the top priorities of the industry is to ensure that a high percentage of applied nitrogen is used by the plant, instead of being lost through leaching and volatilization. 

Theme 4 projects focused on this goal are multidisciplinary and will involve genomics, plant physiology, root architecture, microbiology, soil sciences and agronomy. This research will be overseen by a steering committee composed of public and private sector scientists and agronomy specialists.

1.  Improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and soil sustainability in canola production across Canada.
Bao-Luo Ma (AAFC Ottawa), Mervin St. Luce (AAFC Swift Current), Yantai Gan (AAFC Swift Current), Paul Tiege (Olds College), Rob Gulden (University of Manitoba), Luke Bainard (AAFC Swift Current), Gary Peng (AAFC Saskatoon), Ramona Mohr (AAFC Brandon), Cindy Gampe (AAFC Scott), Greg Semach (AAFC Beaverlodge)

2.  Making of a more sustainable canola: Using genetic diversity to improve NUE.
Sally Vail (AAFC Saskatoon), Isobel Parkin (AAFC Saskatoon), Rosalind Bueckert (University of Saskatchewan), Raju Soolanayakanahally (AAFC Saskatoon), Melissa Arcand (University of Saskatchewan), Steve Robinson (AAFC Saskatoon), Andrew Sharpe (GIFS), Leon Kochian (GIFS), Robert Guy (UBC), Reynald Lemke (AAFC Saskatoon), Bobbi Helgason (AAFC Saskatoon)

Theme 5: Sustainability and climate change – integrated pest management

As climate, insect populations and pathogens change, so do the pest management challenges faced by Canadian canola growers. Theme 5 research will study the best methods of controlling major pests and pathogens in this changing environment, while protecting pollinators, beneficial insects and biodiversity within the canola canopy. These 10 projects will focus on:

  • Sclerotinia stem rot – improving resistance, optimizing fungicide use and evaluating new tools for disease forecasting
  • Clubroot management – sources of resistance, pathogen populations and integrated management strategies suitable for use on a large scale
  • Flea beetles – genetic resources for resistance, integrated control methods involving plant density, ground predators and predictive models
  • Cabbage seedpod weevil – biological control 

1.  Feasibility of using Trichomalus perfectus for biological control of cabbage seedpod weevil in the prairies.
Héctor Cárcamo (AAFC Lethbridge), éric Lucas (UQAM), Luc Belzile (Institut de recherche et développement en agroenvironnement), Dan Johnson (University of Lethbridge), Scott Meers (Alberta Agriculture & Forestry), Meghan Vankosky (AAFC Saskatoon), Boyd Mori (AAFC Saskatoon), Kevin Floate (AAFC Lethbridge), Tara Gariepy (AAFC London), Patrice Bouchard (AAFC Ottawa), Peter Mason (AAFC Ottawa), Meghan Vankosky (AAFC Saskatoon), Tyler Wist (AAFC Saskatoon),

2.  Integrated approaches for flea beetle control II: incorporating the impacts of plant density, ground predators, and landscape-scale predictive models in the management of flea beetles in the Canadian prairies.
Alejandro Costamagna (University of Manitoba), Héctor Cárcamo (AAFC Lethbridge), Jennifer Otani (AAFC Beaverlodge) Tharshinidevy Nagalingam (University of Manitoba), John Gavlovski (Manitoba Agriculture), Rob Duncan (University of Manitoba)

3.  Genetic resources for flea beetle resistance in canola.
Dwayne Hegedus (AAFC Saskatoon), Sally Vail (AAFC Saskatoon), Isobel Parkin (AAFC Saskatoon), Chrystel Olivier (AAFC Saskatoon)

4.  Improving the management of sclerotinia stem rot of canola using fungicides and better risk assessment tools.
Kelly Turkington (AAFC Lacombe), Steve Strelkov (University of Alberta), Mike Harding (Alberta Agriculture & Forestry), Henry Klein-Gebbinck (AAFC Beaverlodge), Breanne Tidemann (AAFC Lacombe), Greg Semach (AAFC Beaverlodge), Charles Geddes (AAFC Lethbridge), Henry de Gooijer (AAFC Indian Head), Gary Peng (AAFC Saskatoon), William May (AAFC Indian Head), Dale Tomasiewicz (AAFC Outlook), Ramona Mohr (AAFC Brandon), Debbie McLaren (AAFC Brandon), Denis Pageau (AAFC Normandin), Barb Ziesman (Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture), Syama Chatterton (AAFC Lethbridge)

5.  Development of a biosensor for Sclerotinia stem rot disease forecasting in canola.
Susie Li (Innotech Alberta), Kelly Turkington (AAFC Lacombe), Jian Yang (Innotech Alberta), Jie Chen (University of Alberta)

6.  Protection of canola from pathogenic fungi using RNA interference technologies.
Steve Whyard (University of Manitoba), Mark Belmonte (University of Manitoba), Mazdak Khajehpour  (University of Manitoba), Dwayne Hegedus (AAFC Saskatoon)

7.  Resistance to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum effectors in canola.
Dwayne Hegedus (AAFC Saskatoon), Hossein Borhan (AAFC Saskatoon), Yangdou Wei (University of Saskatchewan)

8.  Canadian Canola Clubroot Cluster (C1) Pillar 1: Integrated Disease Management
Sheau-Fang Hwang (Alberta Agriculture & Forestry), Steve Strelkov (University of Alberta), Rudolph Fredua-Agyeman (Alberta Agriculture & Forestry), Bruce Gossen (AAFC Saskatoon), Mary-Ruth McDonald (University of Guelph)

9.  Developing novel resistance resources and strategies to address the new threat of clubroot canola production on the prairies.
Gary Peng (AAFC Saskatoon), Habibur Rahman (University of Alberta), Rudolph Fredua-Agyeman (Alberta Agriculture & Forestry)

10.  Canadian Canola Clubroot Cluster Pillar 3: Host-pathogen biology and interaction
Bruce Gossen (AAFC Saskatoon), Mary-Ruth McDonald (University of Guelph), Gary Peng (AAFC Saskatoon), Fengqun Yu (AAFC Saskatoon), Sheau-Fang Hwang (Alberta Agriculture & Forestry), Steve Strelkov (University of Alberta)

Theme 6: Putting innovation into action – knowledge and technology transfer

Theme 6 activities will increase the value of all Science Cluster research by assisting scientists and sharing their findings with growers and other industry stakeholders. The Canola Council’s agronomy specialists will translate research results into tangible practices that can be applied on farms. The information will also be widely available through the Canola Research Hub, a state-of-the-art online information resource maintained by the Council.