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Making global contributions to stem rust research
A Guelph researcher is making an important contribution to an international research initiative funded by the Gates Foundation dedicated to developing wheat varieties resistant to devastating rust disease strains such as ug99.
Dr. Lily Tamburic-Ilincic, a research scientist in wheat pathology and wheat genetics at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus, has been collaborating with Dr. Tom Fetch from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who is a key contact in the vast stem rust disease research network.
Together, the researchers are testing several new crosses of different durum wheat lines in Kenya – which Tamburic-Ilincic and cereal technician Zorka Szlavincz’s have created at Ridgetown – for resistance to ug99 and other desirable traits, such as improved yield.
“The results so far have been quite good,” says Tamburic-Ilincic. She says about 60 percent of the material they’ve tested has had some level of resistance to ug99.
Tamburic-Ilincic’s work receives funding from the Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Government of Canada through the Developing Innovative Agri-Products Program. •
The US is ahead on lower farm input costs
With farm inputs comprising 30 to 50 percent of cash crop costs, fair prices are integral to maintaining competition across the Canada-US border. Using price data from across Ontario, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio, economics Prof. Ken McEwan has been monitoring farm input prices since 1993.
“Corn, soybean and wheat crops are all traded on the open market, so we want Ontario producers to have access to the same inputs at the same prices,” says McEwan, from University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus.
He monitors the prices of 47 different commonly used farm input products throughout Ontario, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio four times per year.
So far, he’s found fertilizer prices in Canada and the US track very closely.
Pesticide prices vary more between the two countries though, being higher in Canada largely due to differing regulatory demands. In addition, patent protection of chemicals also causes differing prices between the two jurisdictions.
The US has comparatively lower fuel prices, affecting transportation and handling costs for these inputs.
Glyphosate has become an important input price to monitor, with glyphosate- tolerant crops having become so prevalent. McEwan says glyphosate prices in Canada and the US are currently very similar.
McEwan’s work on comparing farm input prices is assisted by research associate Randy Duffy. This research is funded by the Grain Farmers of Ontario and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. •
Record numbers sign up for Project SOY contest
Record numbers of students signed up to participate in this year’s Project SOY (Soybean Opportunities for Youth), which celebrated its 15th anniversary at an awards ceremony in March.
Nearly 70 students took part in this year’s contest, in which University of Guelph students develop new uses and marketing strategies for Ontario soybeans.
In the diploma category, first place went to food science students Samuel Nyandwi and Gaétan Bourbonnais of Alfred Campus for developing Soys wafers.
Second prize in this category was won by Alfred food science student Lugi Stephano Bikoroti for his soy bread. Third place went to Alfred food science student Riad Rihane for creating Soysage.
Topping the undergraduate/graduate entries was ProteinX, an entry from Guelph food science student Dref De Moura. ProteinX is a cholesterol-lowering functional food intended for consumers with chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease.
Second place in this category was awarded to biological engineering graduate student Vidhya Nagarajan for developing Gmax Paperworks. Third place went to first-year landscape architecture student Andrew Naylor, for creating a soy fabric called Azlear.
“These students learned a great deal about the research process and expanded their horizons at the same time,” said Owen Roberts, Guelph’s director of research communications.
Returning participant Bikoroti from Alfred said Project SOY has had a big impact on his career path. “When I graduate I plan to go into research in new food products,” he says. “Project SOY has become key to my future studies.”
Project SOY is sponsored by the Grain Farmers of Ontario, DEKALB, Soy 20/20, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. •
Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a SPARK writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667.