How Manitoba canola farmers get value from farmer-funded research

With research being a key priority for Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA), have you ever wondered how your commodity organization sets and funds research priorities? Or who is involved in those decisions? The MCGA research committee is a farmer-directed committee responsible for selecting projects and directing research funds to find better ways to grow canola, control pests and protect the ongoing productivity of Manitoba’s number one crop.

Recent research has helped farmers recognize situations that lead to higher losses, and to see the value in checking for combine losses.

The research committee takes an active and holistic approach to setting its research priorities, reviewing the research priorities of other Canadian canola organizations annually and considering them alongside the needs of Manitoba canola farmers. Research priorities include:

  • practical projects on all aspects of agronomy and crop production;
  • market development projects to improve and expand the market uses for canola;
  • variety assessment work to help farmers make the best variety decisions and;
  • additional research to support all aspects of canola and canola production.

The research committee reviews and approves all research projects, often working in collaboration with multiple partners to select and jointly fund projects that benefit canola farmers in Manitoba and across Canada. The committee consults topic experts to confirm that project methodology is sound, that they are relevant, a valuable investment, and that they meet the greatest priorities of Manitoba canola farmers.

How does MCGA decide how to distribute research investments?

MCGA works through several funding streams to fund research projects. These include:

  1. Canola AgriScience Cluster funding is negotiated among the Canola Council of Canada, SaskCanola, Alberta Canola and MCGA. The research committee submits a ‘wish list’ of projects, which gets adjusted based on the initiatives Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada agrees to support. Funding is often based proportionately on the volume of canola sold in each province, so smaller organizations like MCGA pay a smaller share.
  2. Canola Agronomic Research Program funding is also negotiated among the provincial canola groups. Funding shares may vary based on the interest level and budget for each organization. Some projects are split evenly among all three groups while others might be a partnership. MCGA funds as many projects as possible within its limited budget and rarely funds projects
    on their own.

There are additional funding options and partners MCGA collaborates with to ensure significant projects are selected. “MCGA seeks to stretch member dollars as far as possible with funding partners,” says Delaney Ross Burtnack, executive director of MCGA. “In recent years, MCGA has typically leveraged its research funding dollars 8:1, so for every dollar invested, it is matched by an average of $8 of partner funding. This maximizes the number of research projects supporting canola farmers in the province.”

As one of the smaller canola organizations in the Prairies, MCGA focuses each aspect of its programming on stretching every dollar. In research this means seeking funding partners wherever possible and ensuring research projects achieve multiple objectives within the same budget.

Nicolea Dow, Chuck Fossay and Clayton Harder are the directors
on MCGA’s research committee. The committee is welcome to input
that will help them understand the challenges that may benefit from
further research. If you have research ideas for them, please email

Why should farmers fund research?

Farmer-funded research fills an important gap in the research field ensuring the interests of farmers are not only voiced, but met by investing in the most relevant projects. This research often fills gaps not met through private research and ensures the outcomes are brought back to farmers as they are a key stakeholder. The research results in solutions that can be applied on farms such as:

  1. Comparing canola seeded using a planter and an air seeder to help farmers understand whether other seeding methods can save costs while getting the same yield, without having to invest in a planter and testing for themselves.
  2. Without proper calibration for harvest conditions harvest loss research has shown losses up to four bu./ac. out of the back of the combine. Proper calibration and confirming the settings using harvest loss measurement tools like drop pans and the combine optimization tool could save up to 10 per cent of yield, leaving more dollars in farmers’ pockets.

The dollars MCGA invests are done on behalf of members. The decisions are farmer directed with very careful consideration of members’ needs, priorities and dollars.

The research committee is always open to gaining a better understanding of the challenges facing canola farmers across Manitoba that may benefit from further research.

Canola farmers in Manitoba are encouraged to share their areas of concern and interest with any of the MCGA directors. “This communication is important so MCGA can investigate funding research proposals that are of greatest value to members, and it helps direct researchers on the priorities of greatest interest to farmers,” adds Ross Burtnack.

One of the many ways our farmer directors bring value to the canola industry and the province is by sitting on the research committee and supporting investment decisions on behalf of MCGA’s membership. If you are a farmer interested in becoming more involved in canola research decisions in Manitoba, contact MCGA and help build a stronger future for your farm and for future generations of canola farmers. Find our contact information at

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