Governments invest in crop development
By Food in Canada staffBusiness Operations Food Trends Research & Development University of Saskatchewan
Funding will go towards increasing capacity at the University of Saskatchewan’s phytotron
The federal government and province of Saskatchewan are investing in the University of Saskatchewan’s phytotron.
The governments are putting $6.5 million towards expanding the phytotron, which is a completely closed greenhouse, from 60 to 100 per cent.
What is a phytotron
The phytotron is used to study how soils, plants, water, light, wind and pests interact under a variety of conditions.
It also provides the ability to conduct processes that are not possible in the outside environment, such as:
• Specialized crossing techniques;
• Detailed studies of disease and plant adaptation to drought;
• Cold temperatures and other abiotic stresses; and
• The ability to conduct plant research throughout the year.
And its intense lighting duplicates sunlight, allowing plant development to move rapidly through the early generations of breeding programs.
The phytotron at the University of Saskatchewan is one of the largest controlled-environment facilities in the world. It’s made up of 183 growth chambers that range in size from one to 20 square metres.
The investments, says Gerry Ritz, federal agriculture minister, will help create new crop varieties for Canadian farmers.
The phytotron has been critical in developing innovations in plant growth and environmental management.
In addition, the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and the Western Grains Research Foundation have provided $3 million to the facility. Both groups say the work done at the phytotron provides a “great return on investment.”
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