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Assiniboine Community College receives $1.7M from Weston Family Foundation


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As Assiniboine Community College’s campaign toward the Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture moves forward, the college continues to make strides in applied research, education and extension.

On Canada’s Ag Day this past week, the college announced a grant from the Weston Family Soil Health Initiative, which seeks to expand the adoption of ecologically based beneficial management practices (BMPs) that increase soil organic matter to improve biodiversity and resiliency on agricultural lands across Canada.

The $1.7 million will fund a five-year project that will use education and outreach to develop a Net Positive Network to build healthier soil ecosystems in Western Canada.

The project is also supported by Farm Management Canada, the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association, and the Manitoba Association of Watersheds.

The $1.7 million will fund a five-year project that will use education and outreach to develop a Net Positive Network to build healthier soil ecosystems in Western Canada.

“Soil is foundational to long-term viable agriculture and food production, and healthy soil can help mitigate climate change. This project will bring together like-minded producers to implement practices that will shape the way we farm and produce food,” said Tim Hore, Dean, Russ Edwards School of Agriculture and Environment.

“We thank the Weston Family Foundation for making this project possible. Together we can engage with producers to develop communities of practice that promote regional and economically viable BMPs through farmer extension and post-secondary education. ”

By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 10 billion people and global food demand is predicted to increase by 56%.

Assiniboine’s project will dig into the practical and pragmatic ways that producers have improved upon and continue to advance soil health and climate conscious practices, and will accelerate the development and implementation of those practices to ensure a sustainable future.

“It is clear, through the high-quality applications we received, that soil health is of growing importance in the agriculture sector and that there are scientifically proven yet underutilized approaches to increasing soil organic matter on Canada’s farmlands,” says Emma Adamo, Chair, Weston Family Foundation.

“Our Foundation is committed to supporting landscape-level efforts to find solutions to our environmental challenges and, ultimately, improve the well-being of Canadians.”

“Farmers continue to make progress in preserving and nurturing soil health and yet still have many uniquely regional, technical and economic obstacles to overcome,” said Brent VanKoughnet, project lead. “This project will support and elevate the ingenuity of farmers to accelerate the development and adoption of increasingly more targeted and effective beneficial management practices.”

This project aligns with the Russ Edwards School of Agriculture and Environment applied research strategy to respond to sector challenges and industry needs through partner-driven collaboration—efforts that will see enhanced capacity within the Prairie Innovation Centre.

“The Edwards School is continually seeking opportunities to address industry challenges, and the challenge behind this project— climate change mitigation—is something that matters to even those outside of the industry,” said Hore.

“Agriculture needs to continue to play a role in blazing a trail for sustainable practices. Education can help the industry get there. Post-secondary has an opportunity to educate the next generation of farmers, agronomists and industry.”

The Prairie Innovation Centre will dial further into the current and projected needs of the industry— the education and collaboration around sustainable practices is just one example. Providing a venue to bring together and inspire multiple stakeholder perspectives will benefit the industry now and into the future.

“Applied research, extension and education are a key part of the Edwards School and the Prairie Innovation Centre will serve as a hub for further work on projects like this one.”

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