Federal funds going to P.E.I. to fix agriculture research buildings, pay for on-farm crop research
The federal government is putting money into fixing up its agriculture research facilities on P.E.I. and also investing more in crop research for the region.
Outside on the lawn of the research station in Charlottetown Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced $2 million to improve the laboratories of the Crop and Livestock Research Centre on University Avenue in Charlottetown.
A further $2 million will go towards expanding the greenhouses at the Harrington research farm.
There is also a third funding program to fix ventilation at research stations, plus fixing roofs, parking areas and roadways.
In a second announcement, soybeans, corn for grain, barley and wheat are getting attention, as almost $800,000 is being given to research promoted by the Atlantic Grains Council to improve quality and output in the three Maritime provinces.
The research looks at real fields on volunteer farms, testing for effective fungicide use, and studying farming and weather Bennett Crane, left, graduate student, and Michelle Trenholm, summer student, demonstrate DNA extraction to federal cabinet ministers Gerry Ritz and Gail Shea. The Crops and Live stock Research Centre in Charlottetown received $2 million towards modernizing existing laboratory facilities. factors that might affect yields.
Such questions as the space between rows, the varieties planted and the destiny of seeding in pounds per acre are being studied.
The study is jointly funded between farmers and government. Farmers contributed voluntarily to a research fund and helped create a priority list of research questions.
Egmont MP Gail Shea said agriculture remains a strong factor in the Island economy.
“With about a half a billion dollars in farm cash receipts (agriculture accounts) for about half of the exports off of P.E.I.,” said Shea.
“There is a constant challenge to stay ahead of the curve with the scope and complexity of the (agriculture)” industry, said Ritz.
“This is the first time commercial research trials have been undertaken in Atlantic Canada of this size and scope,” he said of the corn and soybean research.
The research funding represents a “key step forward in our new role of co-ordinating producer-led research in the region,” said Allan Ling,Atlantic Grains Council chairman. There are 137 farms on P.E.I. that are growing soybeans, corn for grain, barley or wheat cash crops. Soybeans account for the majority, at 77 farms. Acres planted in 2015: Barley – 60,000 Soybeans – 58,000 Wheat – 27,000 Corn (2013) – 7,000 Farm cash receipts on P.E.I. for soybeans, corn for grain, barley and wheat $36.3 million last year. Soybean acreage is 90 per cent GMO, or genetically modified, but none ever goes to human food. All GMO only goes to livestock through commodities market. Sevita International announced last week it will remain on P.E.I. working with farmers to produce non-GMO, food-grade soybeans for shipment overseas to Japan. Research will not create new GMO for its corn and soy bean research but will use existing GMO varieties. There will also be research on new techniques to suppress or enhance plant genes as a way to create specific benefits, like higher yield or healthier product. That used to take 10 years or more through selective breeding.