Ag-West Bio seeks and seizes opportunities and builds partnerships. The efforts of many continue to bear fruit for the Saskatchewan bioeconomy. The following are a few highlights from the past year.

Diversifying crops
February saw the launch of the Diverse Field Crops Cluster (DFCC). Led and administered by Ag-West Bio, this agri-science cluster was awarded $13.7 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program over five years, with an additional $11 million coming from industry. DFCC will help transform the footprint of seven high-potential emerging crops to larger acreage and higher economic value. Diversifying the cropping mix will help extend rotations, break disease and pest cycles, and insulate producers from the volatility of commodity prices. Carol Ann Patterson has been retained as program manager and is overseeing the 15 research projects now underway. The focus is on germplasm development, crop protection, agronomy and value-added processing.

Northern connections
A partnership between Ag-West Bio and the Keewatin Community Development Association of La Ronge has led to discussions, with the aim of launching a wild rice improvement project. By building relationships and assessing opportunities, several key areas of research have been identified and funding proposals are now being developed. Ag-West Bio’s goal is to enable Saskatchewan’s northern communities to increase wild rice production and processing to grow the market value of the crop.

Capturing carbon
Ag-West Bio has been engaged in communications with the internationally renowned Carbon Capture and Storage Knowledge Centre in Regina to build momentum towards the Biomass Energy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) initiative. Saskatchewan is in the enviable position of having world-class engineering expertise in carbon capture, as well as in biomass production, handling and processing. These combined efforts will lead to solutions for retrofitting existing infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions, while using sustainable, renewable feedstock to generate energy.

Greening diesel
Ag-West Bio led the development of a consortium that is paving a pathway to commercialization for renewable green diesel. The plan is to use Canadian proprietary thermo-catalytic deoxygenation (TCD) technology from sustainably produced industrial oilseeds being developed in Saskatchewan over the past decade. The advantage of TCD processing is that hydrogen is not required to produce the green diesel. This technology promises to bring down the production cost to extraordinarily low levels, relative to first generation biodiesel fatty acid methyl ester (FAME). 


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