NWP Receives $1M for Applied Research
Friday, October 14th, 2022
National Bee Diagnostic Centre spreading its wings to explore entrepreneurial agriculture.
Northwestern Polytechnic (NWP) has been awarded a $1 million grant over the next five years to support regenerative agriculture. Funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the project will be led by NWP’s National Bee Diagnostic Centre (NBDC) in Beaverlodge, Alberta.
“This is great news for our talented researchers and surrounding agricultural communities,” said Provost and Vice President Academic, Dr. Vanessa Sheane. “NBDC’s diagnostic services for honeybee pests, pathogens, and parasites are recognized across Canada but there is vast potential for even more discoveries in our agriculture and forestry sectors. We are delighted to be expanding our portfolio with the help of this federal funding.”
The polytechnic’s new five-year applied research project will focus on soil health as it aims to create a producer-led, collaborative research and knowledge extension network that can connect growers in the Peace Region. Project directors Dr. Gail MacInnis and Patricia Wolf Veiga will work with their research team to develop a regenerative agriculture research and education program to enhance sustainable production on northern farms.
“Our entrepreneurial producers in the Peace have been using regenerative agricultural practices without using the specific terminology,” said Wolf Veiga. “Other producers may be curious but lack the knowledge or experience they need to get started. I think that’s where our project can help fill some gaps.”
Regenerative agriculture is a practice that promotes soil health while maintaining profitable production. This type of farming focuses on reduced tillage, rotational grazing, and cover cropping to improve soil health and efficiency. These practices can enhance farm production, biodiversity, and resilience to climate change.
Along with bringing researchers and producers together, NWP’s project will involve collaboration with Peace Region Forage and Seed Association, Saskatchewan Alfalfa Seed Producers Development Commission, Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, the University of Montreal Biodiversity Collection, Parkland College, the Peace Country Beef and Forage Association.
“This initiative fits well with our strategy to expand NBDC’s scope beyond just bees,” said Wolf Veiga. “We have a specialized facility with equipment, technology and expertise that can be used for other applications besides pollinators, such as soil, water, crop and animal health. We will also continue to nurture our research with pollinator health.”
Another major component of this research is its potential to facilitate applied learning opportunities for NWP students from a range of disciplines. Students engaged in this project will gain real world research experience, lead their own projects, and develop skills in consultation and knowledge extension.
“This is true applied research,” said Dr. MacInnis. “We’re not hiding away in a lab. We’re taking a practitioner-driven approach, working directly with the farmers to unearth challenges, and formulate strategies to help.”
To learn more about NWP’s National Bee Diagnostic Centre please visit NWP.me/NBDC.