The University of Manitoba will receive over $835 thousand from the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) over the next five years for the renewal of two technician positions in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences. 

Dean Martin Scanlon says the department's work focuses principally on crops and cropping systems.

"That would be mainly focused on grains, legumes, and oil seeds. We also have quite a strong nutritional sciences program, both for humans and for animals. And then there's a fair bit of work that goes on in food innovations that are related to that link between food, nutrition, diet, and health."

For the past five years, the WGRF has provided the department with funding for two technicians a Long-Term Cropping Technician and a Field Crops Research Technician to help support agronomic research.

The Long-Term Cropping Systems Technician provides critical support and coordination for several long-term agronomic studies at the University of Manitoba.

The Field Crops Research Technician supports undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows in both Plant Science and Soil Science.

WGRF says the impact of this support has been far-reaching, with advancements in crop rotation management, tillage practices, cover crop integration, grain intercropping, soil health assessment, fertilizer management, and farm machinery innovation.

Scanlon says it's important to have Technical Support to make sure that our students are well trained with the support of the academics in that area, while also looking at safe operation and the curation of the records.

"Technicians are our front-line people, who are on the ground doing the valuable work of applied research and training. We have observed real growth in faculty numbers, research output, skills training, and knowledge translation activities in agronomic sciences at the University of Manitoba, which can be directly correlated to the excellent technical support enabled by WGRF in their initial investment."

Scanlon says Western Canadian oils and grains research is really a backbone of our economy in the Prairies.

WGRF Board Chair Laura Reiter says they are excited to continue their collaboration with the University of Manitoba, which plays a crucial role in advancing agronomic research.

"Technicians are instrumental in the success of any agronomy research program. Their skills and knowledge are critical to implementing and managing sophisticated field experiments."

WGRF says that through their ongoing partnership with the University of Manitoba, they've been able to enhance and expand the University's agronomic research and training capacity. 

With previous support, the NSERC/WGRF/Fertilizer Canada Industrial Research Chair in 4R Nutrient Management was established in 2020, followed by the Integrated Crop Protection Chair (Weed Science) in 2022.