Manitoba's Research Champions

research_champions.jpgParkland Crop Diversification Foundation from the air. Manitoba hemp and soybean farmers may not realize the role that diversification centres played in expanding the crops' popularity. Manitoba is home to four diversification centres which promote agricultural innovation across the province.

"We work in applied field research as opposed to test tube type research," says Jeff Kostuik, diversification specialist at Parkland Crop Diversification Foundation. "Farmers can take our results and apply them to their own farms very quickly."

Giving producers confidence

The centres work to enhance technology, test new varieties of crops and find new uses for crops in Manitoba. They also support sustainable water management and conduct crop fertility projects.

"We're innovation catalysts," says Craig Linde, diversification specialist at Canada-Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre (CMCDC). "Right now we're testing new varieties of a range of crops from wheat to hemp to faba beans."

The centres share their results with producers, often providing the base of research that growers need to jump into a new venture.

"When producers in our region see us growing a certain crop it gives them confidence that they can grow it too," says Linde. "It provides a buffer zone for producers."

Forming strong local connections

Today, diversification centres have a close relationship with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD). They are funded in part by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

"Every year we form stronger relationships with producers and more people are contacting us to discuss new ideas," says Linde. "The centres are a great forum to strengthen connections between growers, the research community, industry and entrepreneurs."

There are diversification centres located in Carberry, Roblin, Arborg and Melita – each with their own satellite field sites. Together the centres cover a wide range of areas to more accurately provide farmers with test results in their specific region.

"Many of the other research institutions are located south of Highway 1," says Kostuik. "Our diversification centres are spread around the province which really allows producers to get an accurate idea of how a crop will grow in their region."

Upcoming research

The centres work with government and private partners to conduct their research. They share their results through trade shows, seminars, meetings, site visits and through their partners.

"Right now we're doing some very interesting research on faba beans, which are a low input crop for farmers," says Kostuik. "Faba beans produce nitrogen in the soil which can lower the following year's fertilization costs."

Each organization has a board of directors that decides what the diversification centre should study. The board is made up of MAFRD employees, producers and diversification centre staff.

"Corn is the next up-and-coming crop in Manitoba," says Kostuik. "Diversification centres will be instrumental in evaluating different hybrids and helping producers grow the crop successfully."

To find out more about diversification centres in your area and the research they are conducting go to www.diversificationcentres.ca.


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