Launched in January, 2021, the Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL) is the only biotechnology facility of its kind in the country. Created with funding provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada, it is led by the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask). The facility was founded in 2019 as a partnership between the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and USask.
Crop breeders test thousands of plant lines every year in small, individual test plots. Assessing these plants involves both quantitative and qualitative analysis, but new software aims to substantially refine the process. PlotVision is a new software service that collects data using unmanned aerial imagery (UAI) captured by drones. The data may help researchers predict harvest yield and assess disease resistance, accelerate the plant breeding process and the production of new crop varieties.