University of Saskatchewan

July 31, 2014   

Agriculture/Biotech

U of S Contributes to Canola Development
In 1954, Golden was the first variety of rapeseed licensed in Canada. It was developed at the Dominion Forage Crops Laboratory on the U of S campus by William White, who became the university's dean of agriculture from 1965-74. Plant breeder Keith Downey, known as one of the fathers of canola, continued White's work at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Saskatoon and built upon research at the University of Manitoba. Downey led a team of university and government scientists in Saskatoon in transforming rapeseed to canola, with its improved oil and meal quality. The team developed Candle, the first Brassica rapa, or Polish canola. A U of S researcher that played a crucial role in developing canola from rapeseed was animal nutritionist Milt Bell.

VIDO develops first vaccine against calf scours
In the late 1970's, U of S researchers led by veterinarian Stephen Acres of the University's Veterinary Infectious Diseases Organization (VIDO) developed the first vaccine against the most common form of calf scours, a major contributor to livestock losses. VIDO also developed the first commercially available genetically-engineered vaccine for animals, and is commercializing an E.coli vaccine that will have major benefits to human health. VIDO will open in 2011 a $140-million International Vaccine Centre, one of the largest facilities of its kind in North America aimed at both animal and human infectious disease research.

Developing New and Improved Crops
The U of S College of Agriculture and Bioresources has a long tradition of serving the needs of agricultural producers and has developed many new and improved crops. Besides early development work in canola, U of S researchers have made notable advances in crops like barley and pulse crops.

For instance, Harrington malting barley was developed in the early '80s by the U of S Crop Development Centre's Bryan Harvey. This variety became the international standard for quality and gained widespread acceptance since its official release in 1981.

Agriculture professor Al Slinkard, now retired, was primarily responsible for the development of the multi-million pulse crop industry in Western Canada. Twenty years ago, crops like peas and lentils weren't even grown here. Now Saskatchewan leads the world in pulse crop exports.

U of S agricultural research has also contributed to the establishment of the fuel ethanol industry in the Prairie region.

Simple Soil Tester
In 1992, soil scientist Jeff Schoenau developed a process in which a BandAid-like plastic resin strip is buried in the soil to provide a quick, simple, and efficient fertility analysis of the soil. The technology was licensed to Saskatoon-based Western Ag Innovations in 1997, and has since improved yields on 3.4 million acres of Western Canadian farmland with an estimated impact of almost $60 million. In 2004, Schoenau and Western Ag Innovations received an NSERC Synergy Award for university-industry partnership - one of six such awards across Canada this year.

First vaccines for equine disease
Professor J.S. Fulton, internationally recognized for developing one of the first vaccines against equine encephalomyelitis in 1938, brought a major epidemic of the disease under control and later developed a vaccine to combat the disease in people.


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