Seed World

University of Guelph Receives $2M Gift for Field Crops Research

The University of Guelph (U of G) can now better protect grain crops from damaging and costly plant diseases from climate change and other factors thanks to a $2 million gift from Grain Farmers of Ontario.

The new funding will support a Grain Farmers of Ontario professorship in Field Crop Pathology for U of G’s Ridgetown campus. U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC)’s Department of Plant Agriculture will appoint a new faculty member this year.

“This funding support from Grain Farmers of Ontario is significant for farmers and farms across Ontario,” said Brett Shepherd, director of the Ridgetown Campus, in a release. “It’s critically important that we be proactive, not just reactive, in identifying and developing strategies against these pathogens.”

The emerging position was created to maintain U of G’s position as a leader in field crop research and teaching, according to Shepherd.

“Expanding our understanding of diseases that affect agriculture is a vital component of safeguarding crops and building more sustainable food systems,” shared U of G president Charlotte Yates. “We are grateful to the Grain Farmers of Ontario for investing in and partnering with our Ridgetown campus through this new professorship that will support farmers and consumers through critical field crop pathology research.” 

“Through this support, we can recruit a top-notch new faculty member to support the ever-evolving needs of Ontario’s farmers,” added Rene Van Acker, dean of OAC.

Ontario grain crops bring in nearly $4.1 billion a year, supporting 75,000 jobs throughout the province. Grain crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and oats make up six million acres grown by 28,000 farmers in the province. These grains are then used for food, animal feed and various Canadian products.

“Field crops are the foundation of every food system in the world and ensuring a focus on excellence in field crop research is vital to farming and the food security enjoyed by Canadians. Grain Farmers of Ontario recognizes the need for this position and supports the University of Guelph’s ongoing commitment to understanding disease, crop resiliency and more,” explained Brendan Byrne, Grain Farmers of Ontario chair.

Established in 2022, the Grain Farmers of Ontario Legacy Fund is the source of the new gift. The provincial organization is a longtime supporter of U of G research and teaching.