Farmer-Funded Research: Investing in research that will maximize net income for canola farmers through sustainable production

Quality, relevant and up-to-date information is key in making decisions that benefit our farms – economically, ecologically and environmentally. Farmer-led and funded research is crucial to making this happen.

As public-funded research has declined over the years, it’s more important than ever for grower-funded organizations to step up and fill the void.

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“It’s unbiased research without the goal of selling the farmer a product,” states Ron Krahn, chair of Research Committee for the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA). “It gives farmers control of what the priorities should be and we work with researchers on what is most relevant on our farms today. It allows us to be proactive with the research that is being done rather than just reacting to current problems and demanding an answer ‘yesterday’.”

Plus seed and chemical companies are not doing a significant amount of practical research on agronomic practices that benefit growers and offer solutions that can improve the bottom line at very little cost. Knowing how clubroot is transmitted and what strains are in an area prevents spread and offers guidance in variety selection. Understanding how swede midge works and what the economic thresholds are before you need to spray helps avoid unnecessary expenses.

Our purpose

Manitoba Canola Growers Association is governed by a specific regulation under the Manitoba Government’s Agricultural Producers’ Organization Funding Act. The purpose of this regulation is to stimulate, increase and improve the production and marketing of canola and canola products in Manitoba.

MCGA reviews their priorities annually and carefully considers proposals, with farmers’ best interests always in mind. Only a fraction of researchers’ Letters of Intent received are considered for funding, based on growers’ priorities and the amount of funds available.

Krahn believes both short and long-term goals should be considered. Basic research that can be implemented immediately on the farm – optimal seed placement, ideal crop rotation, preventing spread of disease, knowing economic thresholds for insect and disease controls, etc – as well as genetic-based research may take years to yield results and offer improvements.

The MCGA research committee of Ron Krahn, Chuck Fossay, Clayton Harder and John Sandborn works closely with Dane Froese, industry development specialist for oilseeds at Manitoba Agriculture, as well as Canola Council of Canada agronomists Angela Brackenreed and Justine Cornelsen.

Nearly all of the research done is in collaboration with other groups to create the greatest possible return on investment and avoid unnecessary duplication of trials. In 2017-18 MCGA spent an estimated $611,575 on research, which was about 22 per cent of our total checkoff revenue.

For every dollar invested, an additional $8 in research investment is realized through partnership with other industry members and government funding for a total of $5.6 million Partners include the Canola Council of Canada, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission (SaskCanola), the Western Grains Research Foundation, other Manitoba commodity groups as well as provincial and federal governments.

Agronomic research partnerships include the Pest Surveillance Initiative (PSI) Lab, Canola Agronomic Research Program (CARP) and Canola Performance Trials (CPT).

PSI is a molecular detection laboratory funded by MCGA and Manitoba Agriculture and provides testing to detect low concentrations of clubroot, identify glyphosate resistant kochia and determine specific gene identification in blackleg. MCGA is currently offering one free blackleg gene test per member ($200 value).

Both CARP and CPT are jointly funded by MCGA, SaskCanola and Alberta Canola with the programs administered by the Canola Council of Canada.

Since 1985, CARP has supported canola agronomic research focused on increasing yield and profitability for growers and reducing production risk while enhancing sustainability.

Visit to review the latest research on a NEW Manitoba Canola Grower Research Database.

CPT began in 2011 and provides relevant and unbiased performance data that reflects actual production practices, and comparative data on leading varieties and newly introduced varieties. Trials vary widely in size, location and type addressing a wide range of issues for canola production. See results at

In MCGA’s strategic plan, maximizing your next income and sustainable research are a priority. Independent, unbiased research is a key to achieving both.

When farmers sit at the table as your representatives, they direct funds accordingly to ensure those goals are being met. They want the research to yield quality, applicable information for all growers as well as creating opportunities for market expansion. When we know better, we do better, not only our individual farms but as an industry.

4 Research Priorities

Current MCGA priorities are as follows:

1. Agronomy Research
a) Diseases (priorities include clubroot, sclerotinia, blackleg, and verticillium)
b) Insects (priorities include flea beetles, swede midge, bertha armyworm, cutworms and diamondback moth)
c) Weeds
d) Agronomic Practices (priorities include practices that cut costs or increase productivity)

2. Market Development
a) Canola oil
b) Canola meal
c) Canola-based biodiesel
d) Other canola products

3. Variety Assessment
a) Canola varieties that do well in water saturated soil
b) Post commercial variety evaluation

4. Other Research
a) Human health benefits of canola products
b) Animal health benefits of canola products