Investing in scientific research means MPSG can deliver on our mission to provide production knowledge and market development support to Manitoba pulse and soybean farmers. MPSG’s board of directors have outlined a clear vision for MPSG’s research investment in our strategic plan. As a core activity, 50–60% of the annual budget is allocated to funding a collaborative and focused research and production (R&P) program.
RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION STRATEGY
Each year, MPSG’s research and production committee confirms the direction and outcomes that guide the development and funding of new projects. The committee’s decisions are then brought to government, university, college and other public laboratories to develop projects that, when extended to growers, advance their knowledge of pulse and soybean production.
To achieve our vision and mission for pulse and soybean crops in Manitoba, MPSG’s strategy has been to target research within four main priority areas: 1) improving yield and quality, 2) reducing the costs of pest control, 3) improving soil health and 4) growing market demand.
The following is a breakdown of the research investments MPSG made over the past five-year funding cycle from 2018 to 2023, categorized by research program area. Across all program areas, MPSG’s total investment was $9.5 million (making up 33% of the total costs) and partner contributions through leveraged dollars totaled $19.5 million (making up 67% of the total costs).
For more detail on annual investments in new and on-going research projects, find the project listings at the following links, as published in Pulse Beat magazine:
Flow of Research
The flow of research at MPSG follows five levels: 1) discovery, 2) applied, 3) on-farm, 4) extension and 5) production support.
Studies at this level are considered to be the most “upstream,” targeting novel questions, seeking scientific breakthroughs and striving for publishable results to add to the scientific literature. This type of research can be conducted within laboratories, greenhouses or even in small-plot field studies. Given the nature of scientific discovery, these projects are also typically more long-term, where it can take several years before seeing results that are applicable at the farm level.
At the discovery level, MPSG provides financial support to researchers from public institutions to investigate:
- Novel products, practices or technologies to improve soybean and pulse crop yield, quality, production efficiency or resiliency.
- Underlying mechanisms of crop behaviour (genomics, phenology, physiology) to improve crop performance.
- Environmental (abiotic) and pest (biotic) stresses and diagnostic tools to prevent or manage outbreaks.
- Pre-competitive processing or nutritional attributes to increase market demand.
These studies deliver research results that are directly applicable to the farm. This research is most often conducted in small field plots, testing a more refined subset of treatments (e.g., practices or products) of interest to farmers. This level of research tends to fill a very important gap in the research continuum and can inform which questions should be addressed at the on-farm level.
- One example of applied research is the extensive pulse and soybean regional variety testing program funded and coordinated by MPSG in close partnership with Manitoba Agriculture, the Manitoba Crop Variety Evaluation Team (MCVET) and independent contractors.
- A second example is the Agronomist-in-Residence (AIR) program, which is a collaboration between MPSG and the University of Manitoba. Kristen MacMillan, the Agronomist-in-Residence, has been the lead of this program since its inception in 2017. The program’s main purpose is to validate and refine production recommendations and to test commercial products or equipment under local environments. The AIR also has responsibilities in extension and teaching, which increase knowledge transfer among farmers, industry and researchers.
- More recently, a third example is the applied research taking place at Assiniboine Community College, where MPSG funds are contributing to small-plot evaluation and comparison of pulse and soybean products for which farmers are seeking third party results.
MPSG’s On-Farm Network (OFN) was officially launched in 2014 and is still going strong today. Since the OFN’s inception, other commodity groups have followed suit and created their own on-farm testing networks.
The purpose of this network is to enable MPSG farmer members to test practices, products or equipment on their own farms in a scientifically sound way (replicated, randomized and statistically analyzed). The results allow participating farmers to apply knowledge to their specific farm situations, but also allows them and other members to benefit from aggregated probabilities of response that are generated over time and across locations. These aggregated results allow further validation of production recommendations in Manitoba.
Extension of Results
The extension level is where research results are made available to farmers, agronomists and other industry representatives to share the knowledge. This involves incorporating research output into various forms of communication, including in-person or virtual event presentations, publications, newsletters, our website, radio reports, videos, our smartphone app, social media and farm press interviews.
Specific examples include:
- MPSG’s Getting it Right Crop Production Meeting
- The Bean Report
- Production Resources
- The Bean App
- Variety Evaluation Guide
- Pulse Beat – The Science Edition
- Online research report database of MPSG-funded studies
- Online On-Farm Network research report database
The production support level involves practical interpretation of research results and relaying of relevant information within a specific context. At this level, MPSG agronomy staff are involved in field scouting, leading farmer-facing communications (e.g., The Bean Report and production resource development), responding to farmer or agronomist inquiries and gathering feedback from key stakeholders on needs for future research, which then feed back into the research continuum, providing direction for our future investments.
COLLABORATIONS AND LEVERAGED FUNDS
MPSG is committed to maximizing the investment in R&P made by pulse and soybean farmers through their check-off. Staff actively seek leveraging opportunities through collaboration with other commodity groups in Manitoba (e.g., Manitoba Crop Alliance and Manitoba Canola Growers Association), commodity groups across Canada (e.g., Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Alberta Pulse Growers, Ontario Bean Growers, Grain Farmers of Ontario), federal organizations (e.g., Soy Canada, Pulse Canada and Grain Growers of Canada), the Western Grains Research Foundation and through participation in provincial and federal government funding programs.