New cropping systems research chair to focus on the big picture

U of A scientist will focus on interactions between plants, soils, management, and environment

Western Grains Research Foundation is putting up $3 million for a research chair in cropping systems at the University of Alberta to study interactions between plants, soils, crop management, and the environment.

The position will allow a dedicated scientist to work on farm-level management systems such as interdisciplinary considerations of crop, water and input use efficiency; soil management; economic benefits; and control of pests (weeds, insects and diseases). The chair may also provide innovation related to whole-farm sustainability from economic, social, and environmental perspectives.

“This position will provide much-needed expertise in the area of cropping systems,” said foundation chair Terry Young, who farms near Lacombe and is also chair of the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition, a not-for-profit set up by the three Prairie wheat commissions.

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“Farmers don’t just grow one crop. Focusing research on a multi-crop systems approach will help lead to innovative farming practices and technologies that boost yield and crop quality while controlling crop diseases and insects, improving profitability and sustainability.”

The creation of the cropping system chair position is part of the foundation’s “whole-farm approach to research,” said Garth Patterson, the organization’s executive director.

“This research chair will create incremental field crop research capacity in Western Canada, while providing the U of A the ability to advance its academic mission and catalyze new research initiatives in agronomy,” he said.

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