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Assiniboine awarded $190k NSERC grant for applied research in agriculture

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Dr Sajjad Rao stands inside the college's sustainable greenhouse

[pictured: Dr. Sajjad Rao stands inside of the college's sustainable greenhouse]

Assiniboine Community College has received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grant of $190,880 to build applied research capacity in support of Manitoba agriculture, innovation and sustainability.

“As Manitoba’s ag college, we are thrilled to receive NSERC support that allows us to further our contributions to the provincial agriculture sector, assisting employers in a tangible, solution-oriented manner,” said Dr. Deanna Rexe, Vice-President Academic at Assiniboine.

The research grant spreads over two years, enabling the expansion of applied research projects and furthering the college's partnerships with industry. This research will enhance regional innovation, productivity and competitiveness in the agriculture sector.

  • Establishing a partnership with Vermillion Growers, Manitoba’s first large-scale vegetable greenhouse, has faculty researchers at Assiniboine studying sustainable crop production technologies and integrated pest management solutions.
  • Further research on the potato sector in partnership with the Manitoba Horticulture Productivity Enhancement Council (MHPEC) will generate knowledge, technologies, and products to enhance potato production and industry sustainability.
  • Together with Ag-Quest Inc., research will identify the most effective fungal strains to promote early seeding potency and growth in annual field crops grown on adverse soils.
  • Collaboration with the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers (MPSG) will develop survey protocols for disease and insect pests, soil fertility, and agronomy. This is in support of Roquette’s $400M pea processing facility currently under construction near Portage la Prairie.

"Combined, these applied research projects build our capacity as a college to work with and support Manitoba’s ag sector with industry-specific knowledge and recommendations," said Tim Hore, Dean of Agriculture & Environment at Assiniboine.

Faculty researchers Dr. Poonam Singh, Dr. Sajjad Rao and Dr. Baljeet Singh will provide scientific leadership to the applied research projects. Students in agriculture and environment programs at Assiniboine will be involved in field and lab activities related to the research, as part of the ‘learn by doing’ philosophy integrated into the college’s programs.

Assiniboine’s program leadership in agriculture and environment education began in the 1980s with farm production and agribusiness management programs. In 2011, a certificate in Horticultural Production program was developed around four key sectors of production horticulture: greenhouse, nursery, fruits and vegetables, and parks and landscape. Four years later, a post-graduate program in Sustainable Food Systems was introduced, emphasizing innovation in food production, food security, and post-harvest management to address a gap in hands-on training related to food production safety in the Prairies.

Programs in the college’s School of Agriculture & Environment continue to be attractive to students, with many forming waitlists each year.

Since 2010, Assiniboine has been the recipient of federal Growing Forward funding to support Manitoba’s agri-food industry, including the Field to Fork applied research initiative linking the farm gate to the consumer.

Under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the college recently received $950,000 from the Ag Action Manitoba Program for industry-driven applied research. This research contributes to the development of agricultural knowledge and skills and improves competitiveness and sustainability in Manitoba’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-product sectors.