Innovation key to farming future

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HALIFAX – The province is supporting innovation and research at the Dalhousie agricultural campus in Truro that will grow healthier plants, the economy and the future of farming.

"The province is helping people get ready for good jobs around the corner," ministerial assistant Lenore Zann, on behalf of Economic and Rural Development Minister Percy Paris, said Thursday. "Funding research and innovation in agriculture will ensure this rich industry of our past continues to thrive well into our future."

Chris Cutler, a researcher from Dalhousie faculty of agriculture, is developing ways to improve plant health, better manage insect populations and protect the environment by reducing the amount of chemicals needed.

Mr. Cutler's work is one of 13 new research projects at universities and colleges in Nova Scotia, being helped with funding for leading-edge infrastructure and equipment through the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT). These projects help support employment and training for about 800 people working in research, over the next five years.

"My team conducts experiments looking at effects of pesticides on bees that pollinate crops, and studies that try to understand how to increase populations of insects that help, not harm, agriculture," said Mr. Cutler. "Support from the NSRIT and the Canada Foundation for Innovation is essential for me to do this research, and also to attract top-tier talent to the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus and to our province."

Dalhousie's agricultural campus and partnerships with Perennia Innovation Centre and Park is putting Truro on the map as an innovation centre. Researchers work closely with businesses in the agricultural sector, such as TruLeaf.

The company produces technology that grows fresh produce anywhere in the world, regardless of environment, 365 days a year. The company promoted the importance of innovation at the province's first Innovation Summit earlier this week. The summit brought together key business leaders and experts to help identify what the province has in place to encourage innovation, and pinpoint what still needs to be done.

"Collaboration is key to innovation. Our partnerships with Dalhousie and Perennia, combined with provincial and federal government support, has been critical to our success so far," said TruLeaf business development director Emily Richardson.

"We're competing in a global marketplace and, fortunately, there are incredible partnership opportunities throughout the province that will help Nova Scotia's agriculture sector to thrive in the new economy."

The Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust matches funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. In the last 12 years, the trust has supported more than 360 projects and attracted more than $100 million in additional investments in Nova Scotia-based research.

These projects involve a wide range of research including agriculture, information and communications technology, ecology, health sciences, aquaculture and clean technology, and will help spur innovation for businesses.

 

Organizations: Innovation Trust, Canada Foundation, Perennia Innovation Centre

Geographic location: Truro, Nova Scotia

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