GUELPH, ONTARIO, CANADA — The government of Canada is promoting more diverse soybean, corn and oat crop rotations on farms by providing up to C$5.7 million to the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance (CFCRA) through the AgriScience Program – Clusters Component, an initiative under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The CFCRA is a nonprofit entity founded in 2010 with an interest in advancing the genetic capacity of field crops in Canada, particularly barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat. The government announced the research investment on May 13.

The Cropping Systems Cluster, led by CFCRA, will develop characteristics and practices to encourage diverse crop rotations. The research aims to reduce business risk for farmers by developing crops that are resilient to climate change and weather stresses, protect against losses caused by diseases and insects, and are profitable for producers overall. This will be achieved by developing oat varieties with improved traits for Eastern and Western Canada, as well as improving soybean varieties for short-season production environments in Canada.

Research activities also will explore how diverse crop rotations can play a central role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how better genetics, land management, and fertilizer use can improve nitrogen use efficiency to protect the environment.

“With climate change having a direct impact on producers, crop diversity is vitally important to keeping our agriculture sector healthy, productive and competitive,” said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay. “This funding will help researchers explore the benefits of crop rotations and encourage producers to integrate soybean, corn and oat crops into their farms.” 

Soybeans contribute C$4.6 billion to the Canadian economy and are the fourth most valuable crop due to their high prices. Canadian corn production has risen incrementally since 2010, increasing export revenue to a record of C$941 million in 2021-22. In 2021-22, Canadian oat exports were valued at C$558 million, with 93% of exports going to the United States.

The AgriScience Program, under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, aims to accelerate innovation by providing funding and support for pre-commercial science activities and research that benefits the agriculture and agri-food sector, and Canadians.

The Clusters Component, under the AgriScience Program, supports projects intended to mobilize industry, government and academia through partnerships and address priority national themes and horizontal issues.

“The Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance applauds the government of Canada’s investment in vital agricultural and food industry research,” said Wade Hainstock, president of the CFCRA. “The Cropping Systems Cluster will target soybean, corn and oat, emphasizing disease resistance enhancement, crop variety improvement, and integration of cover crops. The research outcomes will support diverse crop rotations that can reduce GHG emissions, improve environmental resiliency and grow the economic stability of the Canadian grain sector.”