New USask research chair to provide integrated approach to agronomy research

To help expand agronomy research in Western Canada, crop scientist Maryse Bourgault has been recruited from the U.S. as the first Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) Integrated Agronomy Chair at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

With $2 million in funding over seven years from WGRF, Bourgault—a crop physiologist with a background in environmental sciences—plans to work with farmers and researchers from across multiple disciplines to bring a collaborative and integrated approach to research aimed at improving soil management and increasing crop production potential and sustainability.

“There are a lot of questions that would surely benefit from having several different specialists looking into it together,” said Bourgault. “But I’m planning on taking the time to talk to farmers to understand what they feel might be the most pressing issues and the solutions that might have the greatest impact.”

She said current cropping systems will be reviewed to identify improvements such as new technologies and practices that are environmentally and economically sustainable.

“I’m hoping that we will be able to contribute to industry knowledge by taking a step back and looking at the various components of the production system to see how we can understand how different practices might work together or against each other,” said Bourgault. “Then, we might be able to propose the best ways to foster the synergies that arise and minimize the negatives.”

Coming to USask from the Northern Agricultural Research Centre (Havre site) at Montana State University, Bourgault will hold a joint appointment in the plant sciences and soil science departments in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. 

“All of us in agriculture are increasingly aware of how any one thing we do can have vastly different outcomes depending on a myriad of other things,” said Mary Buhr, dean of the college. “Having a bright young mind dedicated to helping integrate those myriad of things is a huge benefit to prairie agriculture and ecosystems, and we are deeply grateful to WGRF for their help in bringing Maryse into our USask Agro family.“

WGRF Board Chair Terry Young said the foundation is excited about the impact Bourgault can have on agronomy research.

“Farmers face challenges that cut across multiple crops and multiple agronomic disciplines,” Young said. “Having a dedicated Research Chair for Integrated Agronomy at USask will help strengthen and build agronomic research capacity in Western Canada.”

More information about Bourgault can be found here.