July 21, 2010
On July 21, 2010 the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) received a $1 million gift from the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) for the College of Agriculture and Bioresources' Phytotron Renewal Project.
The phytotron is a controlled environment plant growth facility that enables three full cycles of plant production in one year. Individual chamber environments can be controlled for temperature, light and humidity, enabling testing and selection in a range of conditions including drought and frost simulation. The facility underpins plant and soil science research and teaching in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources.
"The Crop Development Centre's pulse breeding team relies heavily on facilities at the U of S, particularly the phytotron, to develop new pulse varieties of economic importance to our industry," says Murray Purcell, SPG chair. "In 2009, $1.8 billion worth of pulse crops were exported from Saskatchewan. This would not have been possible without the new pulse varieties developed here at the University of Saskatchewan and the use of the phytotron."
Given the challenges of climate change, infestations of new pests and diseases, environmental degradation, and global population growth and food requirements, the phytotron enables experiments that will help develop:
• plants and crop varieties that are more productive and nutritious;
• hardier plants and crop varieties that will survive weather extremes and are more resistant to pests and disease;
• healthier soil techniques to allow plants to make more efficient use of soil nutrients; and
• plants that will help in the remediation of soils that have suffered environmental damage.
"The phytotron has been and continues to be critical to the work of the college, particularly the pulse breeding and research programs," says Graham Scoles, associate dean, research and graduate studies, College of Agriculture and Bioresources. "Not only does it support the breeding programs by allowing more than one generation per year to be grown, but it allows graduate students to perform research projects in areas such as disease and nitrogen fixation under controlled conditions ensuring that experiments can be executed successfully."
The new phytotron, when completed, will attract top scientists and researchers from around the world and further enable the training and education of students who will join the ranks of the most accomplished scientific personnel in the world. This will allow the U of S to continue being a vital source of innovative plant varieties and land systems which allow the growth of food and fibre in almost any environment as bio-solutions for the world's markets.
SPG represents more than18,000 pulse crop producers in Saskatchewan. Accountable to growers and funded through a mandatory, non-refundable check-off, SPG has a producer-elected board of directors comprised of seven pulse growers. SPG has a legislated mandate to build a prosperous pulse industry in Saskatchewan and promote sustainable innovation, growth, and success through leadership, collaboration, and support.
About U of S
The U of S is committed to excellence in serving Saskatchewan and Canada. The College of Agriculture and Bioresources is a signature component of this mission through its research, teaching, outreach and technology transfer.
For more information, contact:
Kira Paluck, communications co-ordinator
College of Agriculture and Bioresources
University of Saskatchewan
Tel: (306) 966-6873
July 21, 2010