Seed World

New USask Position to Bolster Pollinator Health

BASF Canada Agricultural Solutions (BASF) has committed $250,000 to the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) to help establish a research chair position focusing on pollinator health and biodiversity. The contribution is supporting the WCVM’s goal of raising $750,000 to form the position that will serve as an important partnership between industry stakeholders and the supply chains they mutually support.

Located in Saskatoon, the new research chair will build a team of researchers who will generate valuable data, knowledge and insights around pollinator health and agricultural sustainability. The chair’s role will also include translating critical data and research directly to beekeepers and farmers, which will enhance the agriculture industry’s profitability and sustainability.

“As an agricultural solutions provider committed to balancing productivity and sustainability, we understand the need to support modern agriculture, while ensuring the responsible use of plant science technology, including the protection and creation of biodiverse communities,” said Jeff Bertholet, Manager, Technical Service at BASF. “When we learned of this role and its mission, we immediately recognized the tremendous value it would bring to the Canadian agricultural industry, and we are proud to enable vital research and future innovations that will benefit the community.”

The new veterinary research chair at WCVM — to be supported by partnerships among industry stakeholders — represents an important step forward in strengthening sustainable agriculture and beekeeping, the partners said in a news release. The exchange between farmers and pollinators will allow both industries to thrive, providing pollinators with the benefits of abundant nectar and pollen from commercial crops and native grassland, while enhancing crop and forage yields through increased pollinator activity, they added.

“As the first veterinary college in North America to establish a honeybee research and teaching program, the WCVM is the ideal home for a new research chair dedicated to pollinator health,” said WCVM Dean Dr. Gillian Muir. “With such tremendous funding support from BASF, this research chair will address critical health issues of pollinators that are essential for agricultural sustainability and food security.”

Once total funding is secured, the WCVM plans to conduct a search to fill the research chair’s role — a recruiting process that the college hopes to begin in 2022.

The Canadian Prairie region is home to 70 per cent of Canada’s honeybee colonies, as well as the Prairie grasslands, which supports 387 species of bees. The WCVM’s honeybee health research group currently focuses on understanding and better managing the effects of pesticides and disease on honeybee colonies.

BASF has longstanding and highly successful relationships with Canadian academic institutions and industry partnerships, all of which seek to enhance understanding, knowledge and resources to better tackle agronomic challenges Canadian farmers face from coast-to-coast. This initiative with WCVM is an important part of BASF’s North American sustainability initiative, Living Acres, which holistically supports agricultural sustainability through putting farmers first, driving smart stewardship, and partnering for innovation and influence.

“We could not deliver solutions for any crop without strong collaboration with our industry partners,” Bertholet said. “This initiative and collaboration with agricultural stakeholders across the industry is one way BASF is supporting efforts to ensure farmers remain successful, while protecting natural habits and biodiversity for generations to come.”