Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement Chair
It is truly amazing just how fast five years can pass by. The first five years of my Research Chair in Agri-Food Innovation, at the University of Saskatchewan passed rapidly and productively. Between the fall of 2014 and fall of 2019, my research team and I undertook a substantial amount of research, publishing 3 books, 8 book chapters and 41 journal articles, for a total of 52 publications. In addition to this, I was fortunate to give 63 presentations on my research to industry and academia.
The results of these hard efforts were rewarded through the ongoing and additional support of partner firms and organizations for the 2019-2024 renewal. My initial partners Bayer, CropLife Canada, Global Institute for Food Security, Monsanto, Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission and Syngenta, who cumulatively contributed $740,000 over the five-year period. With the renewal of my Chair, several other producer commodity groups have partnered, to now include Alberta Wheat Commission, Bayer CropScience, Canadian Canola Growers Association, CropLife Canada, Global Institute for Food Security, Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission, Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and Syngenta. The cumulative contributions from the partners this time have increased to $1,337,000.
A Chair in good company
All universities place a high value on research chairs. The University of Saskatchewan has over 90 Research Chairs and it is an honour to be able to be one of this esteemed group. While there are a number of different forms of funded Chairs, I am proud to be an Externally Sponsored Research Chair. Like my Chair colleagues, I set out my own research objectives and am not mandated to conduct any research dictated by the funders, nor do they have any ability to influence the results of any research. I maintain total academic freedom to publish any results from my research program. Their funding is used to hire my research staff and to enable the body of research to be conducted. This can include the costs of administering surveys and paying academic open access publication fees.
Producer and public focus
The most significant change in funding partners for the renewal of this industry chair is the increase in the number of producer organizations. My only producer funder originally was the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission. Thankfully, Saskatchewan canola producers have renewed their support and have been joined by their national counterparts as well as by the wheat and barley commissions. It is wonderful as a researcher at the University of Saskatchewan to have the support of Alberta’s wheat producers. We have a large number of Albertan students attend our Agri-business & Economics degree, and in fact, I have a new graduate student starting in September who is from Alberta.
Chair emphasis going forward
One of the key statements made by the renewal of my Research Chair is how important it is for the agriculture industry to work collaboratively with a common objective. By investing in research that will further quantify the sustainability of present-day farming practices and the communication of scientific facts and evidence about the benefits from agricultural innovations, commodity organizations, private industry and the public sector realize just how vital this is in today’s world. More than ever, society is seeking information from trusted sources about agriculture, food production and sustainability. I will be undertaking research in these crucial areas.
I am pleased to begin a second term of research that is important for agriculture. I will be communicating and sharing this research through future blogs, presentations and publications. I look forward to meeting as many of you as is possible over the coming five years!