Richardson joins revamped winter wheat initiative

Grain handler Richardson International has signed on as a partner in a new organization to promote winter wheat acres in the West.

Winnipeg-based, privately-held Richardson is joining the Western Winter Wheat Initiative, a new body formed out of the Winter Cereals Sustainability in Action program, set up in 2009. Ducks Unlimited Canada and Bayer CropScience, partners in the previous program, are also supporting the new initiative.

“We are excited to have Richardson International now on board in support of this new winter wheat initiative as they bring extensive knowledge of the ag sector with their agronomy, sales, and grain merchandising units,” Paul Thiel, vice-president of innovation and public affairs with Bayer CropScience, said in a release last week.

The new organization “will focus on performance tracking trials across the three Prairie provinces in 2014 and we are proud to say Richardson International’s Kelburn Farm will be one of these important sites,” Peter Entz, assistant vice-president of seed and traits for Richardson, said in the same release. Kelburn Farm is near St. Adolphe, just south of Winnipeg.

One of the new initiatives’ first support tactics is a new “interactive and comprehensive” website, including statistics on the benefits of growing winter wheat, guidelines to winter wheat management, and tools to support winter wheat production, the partners said. The site is an update of the previous program’s online space at GrowWinterWheat.ca.

The new organization, the partners said, “is founded on the belief that winter wheat is a valuable crop for Western Canada, and its goal is to be a support system for farmers who want to grow winter wheat.”

Ducks Unlimited has long been an advocate for winter wheat production, Paul Thoroughgood, regional agrologist for Ducks Unlimited Canada, noted in the same release.

DUC’s support stems from winter wheat’s status as a significantly productive habitat for many prairie wildlife species including waterfowl and upland game birds. Some waterfowl species are 24 times more productive nesting in winter wheat than in spring-seeded varieties, DUC notes.

“Winter wheat is a great fit in cropping rotations and with the new varieties that are available, along with improved agronomic practices, it is one of the highest performing and highest returning crops on the Prairies right now,” Thoroughgood said.

Funding from the Richardson family’s Richardson Foundation, as part of its Healthy Prairie Landscapes initiative, allows Richardson International to be a “key player” in the promotion of winter wheat across the Prairies, the initiative partners said.

Wetland funding

The Richardson Foundation on Monday announced continued support for DUC through a new Healthy Prairie Landscapes grant, to “protect our provinces’ wetlands, work with the oil and gas industry and promote growing winter wheat on the Prairies.”

The foundation’s grant, worth $2.4 million over five years, “will have a significant and positive impact on our priority landscapes in this province and neighbouring Saskatchewan and Alberta,” Bob Grant, manager of provincial operations for DUC in Manitoba, said in a release Monday, noting two other DUC initiatives to be funded along with the winter wheat work.

In the second, through Richardson International’s sister company, Tundra Oil and Gas, the foundation is consolidating some of its conservation activities under one umbrella, in support of the new Williston Basin Watershed Conservation Initiative.

The new initiative, DUC said, builds on past contributions to protect prairie landscapes in southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, where the “interests and operations of DUC and Tundra overlap.”

“This initiative allows DUC staff to engage with our Tundra field staff to provide conservation solutions and alternatives to landowner partners facing environmental challenges on their land,” Tundra CEO Dan MacLean said in Monday’s release.

The third initiative is support for the Restoring the Tradition project at Delta Marsh, one of North American’s largest inland, freshwater coastal wetlands, at the southern tip of Lake Manitoba.

“In the last 50 years, the health of this famous marsh has been declining, and DUC, along with its many partners are working to restore this area to its former glory,” DUC said. — AGCanada.com Network

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