Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) has received a study from Toma and Bouma Management Consultants assessing agronomic research capacity in Western Canada. “WGRF commissioned this study because our member organizations and funding partners have encouraged us to become more involved in funding agronomic research,” says Dave Sefton WGRF Board Chair.
“In order to plan for increased funding of agronomic research we first needed to understand the capacity of the public system to carry out increased agronomic research,” said Sefton. “The Consultant found that of the 83 scientists (full time equivalent) currently involved in agronomic research at western Canadian universities, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and provincial Agriculture Departments, up to 25% could retire in the near future.” The consultant also identified shortfalls in funding for research, infrastructure and equipment, and suggested that increased coordination of research could improve capacity.
“I would like to express our appreciation to the staff of the research providers that cooperated with us during this study,” said Sefton. “WGRF has long-standing relationships with many of these organizations in supporting field crop research.”
“As one example of co-operation, in October 2014 Federal Agriculture Minister Ritz announced $2.16 million to fund agronomic research, which was matched by $2.16 million from WGRF,” said Sefton. “We look forward to working with the Minister, research providers and funders to develop agronomic research capacity in western Canada that positions farmers to continue to adopt new technology.”
“This report is the first step in developing a plan to optimize agronomic research capacity in Western Canada, taking into account future needs of farmers,” said Garth Patterson, Executive Director. “We welcome comments on the report and will be discussing the development of an action plan with interested parties in the coming months.”