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2017-140: Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey II: Understanding Practices and Profitability


Researcher: Kathy Larson Funding: $5,750 Benchmarking, or comparing your farm to another similar farm, has been shown to improve performance. A survey to gather common practices hopes to inform not only extension staff so that they can direct their efforts, but also help the SCA direct their funding and your levy appropriately.




2017-047: Implications of Carbon Pricing for Canada’s Beef Sector: Quantative Analysis and Assessment of Revenue Recycling Policies


Researcher: Brandon Schaufele Funding: 8,000 The aim of this project is to understand the impacts of a carbon tax on the cattle industry and the tools that could be used to reduce the impact on the industry. This includes implications from the Federal Carbon Tax policy in terms of beef farm profitability and competitiveness, interprovincial trade disruptions, and international trade implications.




2016-189:  The Economics of Forage-Based Backgrounding Programs in Conventional and Non-Conventional Beef Production Systems


Researcher: John McKinnon FundingL: $55,200 Changes in consumer demands as well as labour availability on beef farms have led to producers pondering alternate farming practices. However, these changes are often filled with risk which could cause more strain on the farm. In order to provide a clearer outlook, steers in this trial will be separated into three different feeding trials, and further separated into conventionally treated cattle and “naturally” treated cattle without antibiotics, hormones, or Ionophores. Dr. John McKinnon and his team will compare direct finishing, short-backgrounding, and long-background (which rely more heavily on hay and pasture diets) and each groups’ status as “natural” or “conventional” to its death loss, cost of feed, equipment, health treatments, and labour, as well as the revenue from each of the six production systems. The re-searchers hope to provide beef producers with more information to choose from alternative production and feeding systems.




2016-109: Factors Affecting the adoption and exploitation of data management systems in the Canadian beef industry


Researcher Eric Michaels Funding: $10,000 The purpose of this project is to better understand the reasons behind the adoption of herd data management tools as well as the factors that influence greater utilization and effectiveness of these tools on certain farms and ranches. In order to note adoption of innovations and its uses, the researchers have proposed to examine factors that separate tech adopters from non-adopters, and then those factors that allow producers to fully exploit the data they have available.




2019-118:   Evaluating Premiums for Weaned Calves Marketed with Value-Added Management Characteristics


Researcher: Kathy Larson Funding: $20,000
Auction marts report the average prices for the cattle they sell. But what are the characteristics of the cattle that have the highest bids at the auction? This team of researchers will use information collected through CanFax for detailed lot listings and market reports. They will then cross-reference this information with attributes for each sale - including vet work, location, implant status, breed, age verification, etc. over the course of seven years. They hope to understand sales trends over this period of time, and to understand if some attributes like preconditioning have changed. If a trend is shown, it will provide producer with more information for their marketing decisions.




2017-048: Implications of Carbon Pricing for Canada’s Beef Sector: Quantative Analysis and Assessment of Revenue Recycling Policies


Researcher: Brandon Schaufele Funding: $8,000 The aim of this project is to understand the impacts of a carbon tax on the cattle industry and the tools that could be used to reduce the impact on the industry. This includes implications from the Federal Carbon Tax policy in terms of beef farm profitability and competitiveness, interprovincial trade disruptions, and international trade implications.




2017-004:  Enhancing the Efficiency of Computer Vision Carcass Data Capture and Reporting for Feedlots and Packing Plants


Researcher: Mark Klassen Funding: $10,000 At the moment, carcasses at the top and bottom of Canada’s yield class 1 differ by more than 50 pounds of lean mean. Researcher Mark Klassen will develop procedure for plan computer vision system grading with support from a web based Carcass Information System (CIS). CIS will be used at a pilot evaluation at Harmony Beef, which will pay on a lean yield % basis, as opposed to yield classes. In addition, CIS can be further developed to provide analytical reporting to feedlots and
processors, so that they can adjust their beef production and procurement practices. This research has the potential to reduce the number of graders necessary, and therefore reduce grading costs.





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2017-149:   The forage efficient beef cow: Investigating into the underlying physiology


Cows will vary in their body condition score, even if they are provided identical diets. This study will assess cows body condition on low-input winter diets to determine their ability to utilize the feed. This work differs from Residual Feed Intake work, as the cattle in those studies were still growing. This research considers cattle that are maintaining their health with lower-quality forages which might utilize these feeds more effectively from animal to animal. To facilitate this study, 130 pregnant heifers will be fed, and following that the cows with the highest and lowest body condition scores will be examined to determine their differences.




2017-095:   Evaluating long term benefits of genomic selection programs in beef cattle breeding programs


Researcher: Bart Lardner Funding: $24,000 This project has been developed from a project that showed that not all bulls pull their weight in a herd. This study furthers that research, to evaluate whether bulls persistently fail to perform, and whether breeding performance can be determined based on genetics.




2020-104: Investigating the Role of GDF11 in muscle and fat deposition in Beef Cattle


Researcher: Mika Asai-Coakwell Funding: $18,500 Both consumer preferences and producer efficiency are important to cattle production. Consumers are interested in beef that is tender - a trait that has been noted for years, but has not significantly improved in numerous quality surveys. The number of genes that note growth, carcass yield and meat tenderness are few, and have not been the focus of many projects. While over 60% of beef cattle graded AAA or Prime, there has been a decline in yield grade.
Dr. Mika Asai-Coakwell has indicated that one beef gene variant, GDF11, could impact marbling, backfat, and yield score while also allowing beef cows to thrive under extensive production settings with better pregnancy rates, milk composition, and weaning weights.
This research team, which includes Ms. Kathy Larson and Dr. Greg Penner, will compare the DNA of cross-bred beef cows to their body weight, age, calf birth weight, and other growth data that are economic importance. They will also evaluate feedlot calves with a variety of GDF11 variants being fed to finish with GrowSafe Bunks. Differences between purebred and crossbred cattle will be noted, as weill meat quality differences associated with these genotypes.





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2017-149:   The forage efficient beef cow: Investigating into the underlying physiology


Cows will vary in their body condition score, even if they are provided identical diets. This study will assess cows body condition on low-input winter diets to determine their ability to utilize the feed. This work differs from Residual Feed Intake work, as the cattle in those studies were still growing. This research considers cattle that are maintaining their health with lower-quality forages which might utilize these feeds more effectively from animal to animal. To facilitate this study, 130 pregnant heifers will be fed, and following that the cows with the highest and lowest body condition scores will be examined to determine their differences.




2017-095:   Evaluating long term benefits of genomic selection programs in beef cattle breeding programs


Researcher: Bart Lardner Funding: $24,000 This project has been developed from a project that showed that not all bulls pull their weight in a herd. This study furthers that research, to evaluate whether bulls persistently fail to perform, and whether breeding performance can be determined based on genetics.




2020-104: Investigating the Role of GDF11 in muscle and fat deposition in Beef Cattle


Researcher: Mika Asai-Coakwell Funding: $18,500 Both consumer preferences and producer efficiency are important to cattle production. Consumers are interested in beef that is tender - a trait that has been noted for years, but has not significantly improved in numerous quality surveys. The number of genes that note growth, carcass yield and meat tenderness are few, and have not been the focus of many projects. While over 60% of beef cattle graded AAA or Prime, there has been a decline in yield grade.
Dr. Mika Asai-Coakwell has indicated that one beef gene variant, GDF11, could impact marbling, backfat, and yield score while also allowing beef cows to thrive under extensive production settings with better pregnancy rates, milk composition, and weaning weights.
This research team, which includes Ms. Kathy Larson and Dr. Greg Penner, will compare the DNA of cross-bred beef cows to their body weight, age, calf birth weight, and other growth data that are economic importance. They will also evaluate feedlot calves with a variety of GDF11 variants being fed to finish with GrowSafe Bunks. Differences between purebred and crossbred cattle will be noted, as weill meat quality differences associated with these genotypes.





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2017-149:   The forage efficient beef cow: Investigating into the underlying physiology


Cows will vary in their body condition score, even if they are provided identical diets. This study will assess cows body condition on low-input winter diets to determine their ability to utilize the feed. This work differs from Residual Feed Intake work, as the cattle in those studies were still growing. This research considers cattle that are maintaining their health with lower-quality forages which might utilize these feeds more effectively from animal to animal. To facilitate this study, 130 pregnant heifers will be fed, and following that the cows with the highest and lowest body condition scores will be examined to determine their differences.




2017-095:   Evaluating long term benefits of genomic selection programs in beef cattle breeding programs


Researcher: Bart Lardner Funding: $24,000 This project has been developed from a project that showed that not all bulls pull their weight in a herd. This study furthers that research, to evaluate whether bulls persistently fail to perform, and whether breeding performance can be determined based on genetics.




2020-104: Investigating the Role of GDF11 in muscle and fat deposition in Beef Cattle


Researcher: Mika Asai-Coakwell Funding: $18,500 Both consumer preferences and producer efficiency are important to cattle production. Consumers are interested in beef that is tender - a trait that has been noted for years, but has not significantly improved in numerous quality surveys. The number of genes that note growth, carcass yield and meat tenderness are few, and have not been the focus of many projects. While over 60% of beef cattle graded AAA or Prime, there has been a decline in yield grade.
Dr. Mika Asai-Coakwell has indicated that one beef gene variant, GDF11, could impact marbling, backfat, and yield score while also allowing beef cows to thrive under extensive production settings with better pregnancy rates, milk composition, and weaning weights.
This research team, which includes Ms. Kathy Larson and Dr. Greg Penner, will compare the DNA of cross-bred beef cows to their body weight, age, calf birth weight, and other growth data that are economic importance. They will also evaluate feedlot calves with a variety of GDF11 variants being fed to finish with GrowSafe Bunks. Differences between purebred and crossbred cattle will be noted, as weill meat quality differences associated with these genotypes.





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2017-140: Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey II: Understanding Practices and Profitability


Researcher: Kathy Larson Funding: $5,750 Benchmarking, or comparing your farm to another similar farm, has been shown to improve performance. A survey to gather common practices hopes to inform not only extension staff so that they can direct their efforts, but also help the SCA direct their funding and your levy appropriately.




2017-047: Implications of Carbon Pricing for Canada’s Beef Sector: Quantative Analysis and Assessment of Revenue Recycling Policies


Researcher: Brandon Schaufele Funding: 8,000 The aim of this project is to understand the impacts of a carbon tax on the cattle industry and the tools that could be used to reduce the impact on the industry. This includes implications from the Federal Carbon Tax policy in terms of beef farm profitability and competitiveness, interprovincial trade disruptions, and international trade implications.




2016-189:  The Economics of Forage-Based Backgrounding Programs in Conventional and Non-Conventional Beef Production Systems


Researcher: John McKinnon FundingL: $55,200 Changes in consumer demands as well as labour availability on beef farms have led to producers pondering alternate farming practices. However, these changes are often filled with risk which could cause more strain on the farm. In order to provide a clearer outlook, steers in this trial will be separated into three different feeding trials, and further separated into conventionally treated cattle and “naturally” treated cattle without antibiotics, hormones, or Ionophores. Dr. John McKinnon and his team will compare direct finishing, short-backgrounding, and long-background (which rely more heavily on hay and pasture diets) and each groups’ status as “natural” or “conventional” to its death loss, cost of feed, equipment, health treatments, and labour, as well as the revenue from each of the six production systems. The re-searchers hope to provide beef producers with more information to choose from alternative production and feeding systems.




2016-109: Factors Affecting the adoption and exploitation of data management systems in the Canadian beef industry


Researcher Eric Michaels Funding: $10,000 The purpose of this project is to better understand the reasons behind the adoption of herd data management tools as well as the factors that influence greater utilization and effectiveness of these tools on certain farms and ranches. In order to note adoption of innovations and its uses, the researchers have proposed to examine factors that separate tech adopters from non-adopters, and then those factors that allow producers to fully exploit the data they have available.




2019-118:   Evaluating Premiums for Weaned Calves Marketed with Value-Added Management Characteristics


Researcher: Kathy Larson Funding: $20,000
Auction marts report the average prices for the cattle they sell. But what are the characteristics of the cattle that have the highest bids at the auction? This team of researchers will use information collected through CanFax for detailed lot listings and market reports. They will then cross-reference this information with attributes for each sale - including vet work, location, implant status, breed, age verification, etc. over the course of seven years. They hope to understand sales trends over this period of time, and to understand if some attributes like preconditioning have changed. If a trend is shown, it will provide producer with more information for their marketing decisions.




2017-048: Implications of Carbon Pricing for Canada’s Beef Sector: Quantative Analysis and Assessment of Revenue Recycling Policies


Researcher: Brandon Schaufele Funding: $8,000 The aim of this project is to understand the impacts of a carbon tax on the cattle industry and the tools that could be used to reduce the impact on the industry. This includes implications from the Federal Carbon Tax policy in terms of beef farm profitability and competitiveness, interprovincial trade disruptions, and international trade implications.




2017-004:  Enhancing the Efficiency of Computer Vision Carcass Data Capture and Reporting for Feedlots and Packing Plants


Researcher: Mark Klassen Funding: $10,000 At the moment, carcasses at the top and bottom of Canada’s yield class 1 differ by more than 50 pounds of lean mean. Researcher Mark Klassen will develop procedure for plan computer vision system grading with support from a web based Carcass Information System (CIS). CIS will be used at a pilot evaluation at Harmony Beef, which will pay on a lean yield % basis, as opposed to yield classes. In addition, CIS can be further developed to provide analytical reporting to feedlots and
processors, so that they can adjust their beef production and procurement practices. This research has the potential to reduce the number of graders necessary, and therefore reduce grading costs.





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2019-122:  Development of meadow brome and cicer milkvetch varieties for stockpiled grazing in western Canada


Researcher: Bill Biligetu Funding: $50,000 Meadow brome has been a very suitable fast-growing grass for late season stockpiling, high forage yield in mid-June, and a higher early spring growth than smooth bromegrass. Cicer milkvetch is a non-bloat legume that maintains its forage quality throughout the growing season. This study will select germplasms that perform greater in late season in terms of forage yield and forage quality for stockpiling purposes. As feeding costs account for 60% of total cost production for beef cattle, lengthening the grazing season can reduce costs for farmers and ranchers in Saskatchewan




2019-125: Investigating the role of copper fertility in ergot infestation of forage crops


Researcher: Jillian Bainard Funding: $12,500 Mitigating ergot in wet years would significantly improve the value of grain, and ensure a reliable source of feed for our animals. This study hypothesizes that addressing a copper deficiency in soils might lead to a shorter period of forte opening on plants, which would then decrease ergot contamination. Dr. Jillian Bainard will collect soils with different levels of known copper deficiency and then contaminate the previously sterile soils with ergot. After measuring the impact of ergot on these plants, the research hopes it might provide another tool for producers throughout this part of the country.




2019-124: Barley Lodging – Getting to the Root of the Problem


Researcher: Aaron Beatie Allan Feutado Funding: $25,000 An average of $6.6 million acres have been seeded into barley each year since 2010. However, lodging is still a significant problem with this crop. While seeding rate, seeding date, and nitrogen application has tempered this issue, genetic resistance has not been a great focus. While stem strength is important, the value of the root system architecture is as well. Developing upon international research showing the value of root system architecture in other plants, this project will assess malt and feed barley varieties to associate root structure difference to lodging observed in the field.




2019-123:  Development of forage wheat lines with high biomass yield and high quality


Researcher: Bill Biligetu Funding: $30,000 Until recently, annual forage wheat was subject to a different regulatory procedure than barley, oats, and triticale. Now that this has changed, there is greater interest in forage wheat varieties as it is more drought resistant than barley and could be more applicable in drier areas of Saskatchewan. This research will evaluate advanced breeding lines based on work recently funded by the Alberta Beef Producers. Dr. Biligetu and his team will compare the new crosses to forage oats and barley, and then note its silage production potential.




2019-120:  Developing hybrid bromegrass with improved neutral detergent fibre digestibility


Reaearcher: Gregory Penner Funding:$25,000 Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) is a part of a plant's structural components, specifically the cell walls. Generally, high NDF denotes lower digestibility. Drs. Greg Penner and Bill Biligetu have been investigating hybrid bromegrass populations which have a higher NDF digestibility, which resulted in a 4.6% increase in digestibility. This research project hopes to expand this to 10%, while retaining or improving other agronomic traits.




2019-119:  Field evaluation of one catalytic seed treatment inducing multiple agronomic responses in forage crops. Optimization of a novel catalytic seed treatment inducing higher germination rates and nodulation in Cicer milkvetch cultivars.


Researcher: Karen Tanino Funding: #30,000 Cicer milkvetch is difficult to establish in any areas of Saskatchewan. The seed is also comparatively expensive. However, once this crop has established, this non-bloat legume has demonstrated long term stand health. Previous research has indicated that soaking the seeds in a catalytic solution allows for much greater germination and root growth, with nodulation. This research will concentrate on cicer milkvetch to determine the best dose for these seeds, and then conduct field trails.




2019-117:  Developing Target Yield Nitrogen Fertilizer Recommendations for Irrigated Silage and Grain Corn


Researcher: Garry Hnatowich Funding: $35,000 Corn silage and corn grazing has increasingly become a greater feed choice for Saskatchewan producers. However, the fertilizer recommendations in Saskatchewan are based on other regions. As this type of information is very region specific, Garry Hnatowich of the Irrigation Crop Diversification Corporation will establish corn on irrigated and dryland sites, an provide nitrogen fertilizer at various rates. They play to assess spring soil nutrients, plant biomass, emergence, days to tassel, and other measurements to provide more guidance for producers as they consider their crop in the future.




2019-003: Plant-soil interactions and stand decline in alfalfa: Mechanisms and potential mitigation strategies


Researcher: Jonathan Bennet Funding; $55,936 Plant mixes and polycultures have gained increasing interest from producers over the past several years. Many producers are also interested in how to maintain a healthy stand, and are curious as to whether winterkill and overgrazing are the only definitive reasons why some stands don’t persist. Jonathan Bennett, a plant scientist from the University of Saskatchewan, will work to understand how a single crop stand and how multiple plants in a crop stand age, as well as their influences on soil microbes and it’s productivity. As alfalfa suffers from multiple root diseases with unknown causes, the SCA Board was interested in potential solutions this research might bring.




2018-140: Forage & grazing potential of hybrid fall rye


Researcher: Vern Baron Funding: $48,776 Planting fall rye earlier increases yield, grazing time, and carrying capacity. However, planting too early or late can reduce winter hardiness. No research to date has been conducted on planting date, spring/fall grazing effects on forage potential when harvested for silage or green feed. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a duel purpose grazing/forage for silage winter cereal with a forage quality similar to barley at the dough stage.




2018-134: Simple strategies to reduce impacts of ergot alkaloids on beef cattle


Researcher: Kim Stanford Funding: $23,646 Very little information is available regarding the impacts of cereal ergot alkaloids, and the different types of ergot throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta. There is also speculation that storage and pelleting at high temperatures might decrease their toxicity. Therefore, the cost of storing and pelleting, as well as their effects on cattle, will be studied.




2018-133: Improving lipid content in vegetative tissue to increase the nutritive value of herbaceous legume forages


Researcher: Surya Acharya Funding: $24,990 While alfalfa is an important feed source for many producers throughout the province, it is not a good source for fat or lipids, and bloat is commonly a risk. This research will use a technique to alter the genes of the alfalfa and sainfoin plant to increase the oil content, and to increase protein digestibility. It might also reduce the cost of adding oils to a ration, which also decreasing the amount of methane from cattle.




2018-105: Enhancing seed and biomass production and drought tolerance of plains rough fescue using novel seed treatments


Researcher: Yuguang Bai Funding: $34,500 Plains rough fescue is ideal for late season grazing, and it is a native species grass. However, the seed production of these plants are low, which makes planting them unaffordable. This research investigates methods to have better seed yield and biomass production.




2018-098: Barley Forage Co-op at Melfort


Researcher: Pat Juskiw Funding: $17,250 Feeding cattle is the most cost-intensive part of raising cattle in Saskatchewan. Therefore, methods to reduce this cost are of great importance. This research will determine the barley carrying capacity, average daily gain for backgrounding calves, disease resistance, yield, and quality for the Western Canada Forage Barley Registration Trail. Forage barley researchers hope to reduce costs by $0.18/day, increase carrying capacity by 432 cow-days per hectare, and increase ADG by 1 lb per calf per day, among other goals.




2018-018: Monitoring of forage recovery following the October 2017 Burstall fires


Researcher: Eric Lamb Funding: $21,505 The fires in south west Saskatchewan and south east Alberta were devastating to producers and their herds last year. Beyond the work completed by a number of organizations to immediately assist producers in this area, concern was also raised about appropriate compensation while herds needed feed. This research helps investigate accurate recovery periods and best management practices to regenerate the stand and lower the spread of invasive species.




2018-057: Effects of annual and perennial forage systems on plant, water, soil and economic parameters, grazing animal performance, health and preference dynamic


Researcher: Bart Lardner Funding: $24,000 New and novel grazing practices have different economic and agronomic benefits than some of the conventional methods used in the province. This study intends to study the trade-offs between these practices, noting animal performance, grazing behavior, forage persistence, soil quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon sequestration. Costs are also a concern, as perennial forages can have lower costs associated with them, but a healthy yield is still important.




2017-144: Development of best management practices for residue and fertility management of annual polyculture


Researcher: Jillian Bainard Funding: $50,000 Reducing inputs and increasing soil health provides a win-win scenario for producers. Annual polycrop mixtures could more closely mimic the natural ecosystem, which is thought to reduce inputs, improve soil, suppress weeds, increase yield, increase C sequestrations, etc. This study will investigate the effect of annual polyculture residue and fertility management on forage production/quality, soil health, & productivity. Three different polycrop mixtures suitable for each region, rotated with cereal crops, will be evaluated in field trials at Melfort and Swift Current.




2017-143: Evaluation of forage Galega as a new forage legume in pure and grass-legume mixed stands in Saskatchewan


Researcher: Bill Biligetu Funding: $34,500 Galega Is a winter hardy legume cultivated in northern Ontario, and is comparable to alfalfa. It grows earlier in the spring, and matures faster. However, limited information is available on its persistence in Western Canada, its alkaloid levels, and bloat incidence (though what is available indicates that is lower than alfalfa). This project will compare galega to alfalfa, sainfoin and cicer milkvetch in Melfort, Swift Current, and Saskatoon.




2017-142: Fungal suppression as a means to increase range health following leafy spurge invasion


Researcher: Jonathan Bennett Funding: $57,440 Leafy spurge has plagued North America since the 1800’s, though methods to efficiently and effectively eliminate this invasive species has been difficult to find. This weed can reduce the carrying capacity of a pasture to near zero. This new researcher from the University of Saskatchewan proposes the use of a fungicide to attack fungi that are commonly noted alongside leafy spurge, without affecting other beneficial plants.




2017-141: Evaluating steam-flaking of barley to improve feed efficiency for finishing beef cattle


Researcher: Greg Penner Funding: $66,000 Feed for cattle has evolved over the past 50 years, and new innovations in this area are increasingly common. Animal health is a priority while investigating these changes, as are financial considerations. The researchers in this study compare temper-rolling, dry-rolling, and steam-flaking barley in a series of studies, including those in small pens, to determine growth performance, feed efficiency, and carcass characteristics.




2017-092: Developing forage barley and triticale varieties with high whole plant biomass and enhanced nutritive value AND Increasing the yield threshold and enhancing the ideotype and quality of barley cultivars for feed in Western Canada.


Researcher: Yadeta Kabeta & Flavio Capettini Funding: $45,000 Beef producers grow barley not only to feed their cattle, but in the hope that they can attain high quality malt barley as well. This project is meant to increase the prevalence of malt barley, and also to increase yield and lodging resistance, to benefit producers who aren’t able to attain malt quality status. It also plans to further develop barley and triticale for forage production, to increase biomass yield by 15%, to improve greenfeed & swath grazing production, and to expand the window for silage harvest. To increase consumption, they also plan to incorporate palatability.




2016-187:  Selection of clonal propagated alfalfa and sainfoin plants under grass or legume competition


Researcher: Bill Biligetu Funding: $20,700 Sainfoin and alfalfa provide better health to agricultural soils. Sainfoin, in particular, is a non-bloating type of legume that can increase protein absorption. However, growth of sainfoin decreased in the ‘60s and ‘70’s due to its inability to grow in mixed forage stands. Dr. Biligetu and his research team have pro-posed a research plan that will help both alfalfa and sainfoin strains thrive. This team will breed alfalfa and sainfoin plants then then transplant them in a meadow brome stand. Those plants that show superior genotypes will be intercrossed and evaluated for yield and quality. As a result, there will be an advanced breeding line for alfalfa and sainfoin than can contribute to a healthier forage soil as well as healthier and more efficient cattle herds.




2020-114: Identifying new diversity and developing genomic resources for bromegrass (Bromus spp.) forage crop breeding


Researcher: Andrew Sharpe Funding: $40,000 Bromegrass plays a large role in the grasslands spread throughout Saskatchewan and North America. It produces high forage yields in short growing seasons that are idea for grass and haying.
While researchers such as Bruce Coulman and others throughout Canada and the US have bred various types of bromegrass, there is a lot of genetic complexity in the type of plant that has made breeding complex, and slowed additional work.
Dr. Sharpe and Dr. Biligetu are working together to use the Oxford Nanopore Technology to provide plant breeding advancements that have assisted canola, barley, and durum crops. They will use seeds from the U of S as well as the USDA to better understand and characterize genetics and the celluar structures of bromegrass. They will then create a foundational high-quality reference genomic resource for future bromegrass breeding. This will then help them develop more breeding populations by creating novel crosses to widen the genetic diversity of breeding material.
This, in turn, will enable future bromegrass breeders across the world to focus on breeding that will tolerate more stresses, such as drought or saline conditions, wihle also increasing yields.




2020-112: Development of salt tolerant alfalfa cultivar adapted to western Canada


Researcher: Bill Biligetu Funding: $35,000 Alfalfa growth under saline conditions is limited. Given that there are more than 10 million hectares of saline soil in North America, investing in varieties that have greater tolerance would provide more options for producers across the continent.
However, studying salt tolerance and waterlogging in the has been complicated. Different soil properties, seasonal variation in rainfall, and other have made creating varieties difficult. Advances such as molecular markers have had promise, but the results have not been validated in the breeding population.
Dr. Bill Biligetu has already used the Synchrotron to do basic research studies to note salt tolerance in alfalfa. He and his research team will continue to breed salt tolerant alfalfa lines, and evaluate for winterkill, water logging tolerance and agronomic performance. They will then genotype the most promising lines, in order to discover sal tolerant genes in the plants. They wil then evaluate the most promising lines in the AAFC Salt Labs.




2020-110: Collaborative testing and development of forage barley varieties for western Canada


Researcher: Yadeta Kabeta Funding: $35,500 Dr. Yadeta Kabeta and his team have already developed 6 new varieities that have improved forage biomass yield and forage quality in the past 5 years, compared to Cowboy and Maverick. However, they still have a goal to address lodging and the 25% of the plant biomass that is indigestible by livestock. They intend to provide newer varieties with higher forage yeild and fodder quality.
Evaluation of barley lines will be evaluated in different sopil zones across Western Canada with 5 common check cultivars. They will assesst the forage and yield quality of all of these lines, as well as their nutritive value, to determine the average daily gain a backgrounding animal would achieve.
This research team hopes to release one or more of its best lines for commercial cultivation.




2020-108: Identifying mycorrhizal fungi to enhance field crop and forage salinity tolerance


Researcher: Jonathan Bennett Funding; $20,000 Mycorrizal fungi allows for better nutrient uptake in plants, through a symbiotic relationship with plant roots that takes advantage of the larger reach of fungi within the soil. While you might have purchased soil that contained mycorrizal fungi, it's important to note mycorrhizal fungi have unique ecologies adapted to regional conditions, and much more varied that those on the market.
As some mycorrizal fungi could have adapted in saline soil conditions, Dr. Jon Bennett will mycorrhizal fungi that increase salinity tolerance in plants. He will collect soil samples from saline areas in different soil zones to isolate and culture, then create conditions to create more mycorrhizal fungi spores and growth. Finally, mycorrhizal fungi in saline soils will be compared to marketed fungi. Various crops will be tested to evaluated whether they grow better with the collected mycorrizal fungi than commercial mycorrhizal inoculants in saline soils




2020-105: Identification of genetic factors contributing to abiotic stress tolerance in intermediate wheatgrass


Researcher: Sean Asselin Funding: $17,000 Intermediate Wheatgrass is a preferred feed for livestock, which is also drought resistant and can more easily adapt in sandy soils. However, new cultivars have not been bred at AAFC Swift Current for decades.
New breeding technologies which take advantage of genome mapping techniques have made an intermediate wheatgrass breeding program more advantageous. Sean Asselin and his research team will ID and validate sources of drought/salt tolerance in intermediate wheatgrass. They will then map the genes of wheatgrass with improved tolerance, and identify parts of that genome that shows significant association with drought tolerance.