Insight Plant Health, a Saskatoon-based agricultural service lab, is launching a three-year effort to evaluate nitrogen-fixing inoculants for fenugreek.
With support from the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and the Agriculture Development Fund (funded by federal, provincial and territorial governments through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership) Insight Plant Health will evaluate globally-available commercial inoculants and promising research strains for their ability to fix nitrogen in Saskatchewan-grown fenugreek varieties.
“Saskatchewan Pulse Growers is excited to invest in research into fenugreek as it fits with our strategic direction to develop and adopt new pulse crops for growers in Saskatchewan,” says Sherrilyn Phelps, Director of R&D at Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.
“Nitrogen fixation is an important consideration for pulse crops, so research that helps identify a suitable rhizobial inoculant will help reduce the reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, as well as increase the sustainability of rotations where it is included.”
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a small-seeded, annual legume grown worldwide. The seeds and leaves are processed in various ways for end uses as a spice, herb, vegetable, forage or industrial colloid. Like other legumes, fenugreek has the ability to fix nitrogen through symbiosis with certain rhizobial bacteria. Because fenugreek is a relatively new crop in Canada with limited acreage, there hasn't been a focused effort to evaluate and compare the efficacy of different inoculants for the crop.
Emerald Seed Products, the province's largest fenugreek processor, sees the promise of improving nitrogen fixation. “Having an effective fenugreek inoculant will help our farmers save money by reducing fertilizer rates and it will make growing fenugreek more environmentally sustainable,” explains Emerald Seed Products CEO, Nathan Sudom.
Insight Plant Health will test the inoculants at their lab and plant growth facilities in Saskatoon. The harvested material will be evaluated for the amount of nitrogen supplied by the inoculant at the University of Saskatchewan through a collaboration with Dr. Diane Knight, a professor in the Department of Soil Science. The initial focus will be on commercially available inoculants.
“If we can find an off-the-shelf solution, it makes it easier for everyone,” says Dave Greenshields, Insight Plant Health's president and project lead. “Then it becomes a matter of getting the right registrations in place and importing a readymade product, rather than trying to grow, formulate, and package a new strain for a limited number of acres.”
The results of the work will be shared publicly to allow the fenugreek industry to make decisions about whether to pursue new registrations for existing products or to develop a new product entirely.
“Biological product testing and development is what we're all about at Insight,” says Greenshields. “We're very excited to be able to partner with the Ministry, Sask Pulse Growers and the University to put new tools into the hands of farmers in Saskatchewan.”
About Insight Plant Health
Insight Plant Health is an agricultural service lab based in Saskatoon, Canada, that provides fast and efficient solutions to the plant health problems of other agri-businesses. With services ranging from product testing and development to contract research and consulting, Insight Plant Health specializes in biological products for broad acre agriculture. Visit insightplanthealth.com for more information.
Photo credit: Emerald Seed Products