Amanda Hardman believes the amount of plastic packaging used in the produce aisles of her local grocery store is unsustainable. As a solution, the second-year sustainable agriculture student at the University of Alberta developed a prototype clamshell package made of sugarcane fibre and intended to transport lettuce. Initially a 4-H Canada Science Fair project, it earned her a spot at the Bayer Youth Ag Summit 2021. “People are looking for packaging options other than plastics as it has either been banned in some places or discouraged in others,” said Hardman.
Using high-tech chemical analysis tools, Canadian Grain Commission researchers are examining wheat at the molecular level to better understand how gluten proteins vary from one variety to the next. Their aim is to reveal how these previously hidden variations affect dough and baking qualities.
With the use of new biotechnology processes known as gene editing, a revolution in plant breeding technology is now underway. Methods such as CRISPR/Cas9, the best-known gene editing process, can carry out targeted changes within crop and livestock genes. Naturally, there is fear within the farm and agri-food sectors that foods produced via this technology will face public resistance as GMO crops once did.
At first glance, the farmer’s role in helping Canada reach its ambitious goal of net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 appears simple: lower emissions and adopt technology and alternative management practices that boost soil carbon sequestration. Many believe addressing the carbon equation offers economic advantages, too. Farmers who cut back on inputs subject to the carbon tax save money, and those who adopt so-called regenerative practices may participate in the growing carbon economy by collecting and selling carbon credits. While this sounds straightforward, it is anything but.
Bacterial leaf streak (BLS) is a subtle intruder, but given the right conditions, it can cause significant yield loss and affect future crops in wheat and barley. Most commonly transmitted through contaminated seed, the disease has the cereal industry pushing on all fronts to break the chain of transmission, starting with the development of an effective seed test to help farmers manage the risk and prevent it from spreading.
Undoubtedly, one of the most prominent success stories is the advancements of plant breeding innovation within our very own, world-leading research sector. It is truly an amazing time to observe plant breeders safely and relatively quickly create new crop varieties that meet the health, safety and functional needs of end-users but are also adapted to specific geographical environments.