Diverse Field Crops Cluster research advances special crops to increase sustainability for Canadian agriculture

Ground flaxseed.

Ag-West Bio has announced that the 2018 to 2023 Diverse Field Crops Cluster (DFCC) Research Report is now available. Over the past five years, scientists across Canada have been working on 16 activities for special crops within the DFCC research program: flax, camelina, canary seed, sunflower, hemp, quinoa, mustard and carinata.

Diversification is essential for the agriculture sector to be sustainable. Canola, wheat and pulses are important, high value crops and staples in Canadian agriculture, but including other crops in rotations is key to keeping the land healthy and productive.

Ag-West Bio provided management and administrative support for the program. President and CEO Karen Churchill said: “The goal of DFCC is to increase the value of high-potential, special crops through research, to supply producers with more cropping options. This will break disease and pest cycles, help producers cope with changing weather patterns and volatile commodity prices and provide market opportunities.”

Carol Ann Patterson, DFCC project manager, said: “This cluster has been a tremendous success and showcased the diverse nature of research on special crops. I extend our sincerest appreciation to the public and private funding partners who believed in and supported this group of crops.”

The report showcases the 16 activities and highlights successes for crops within the DFCC program, such as: improved new varieties of mustard, flax and camelina; data that shows the efficacy and safety of hempseed meal for livestock feed; improved varieties of confection sunflower and quinoa that fit market demands; processes to make shelf-stable canary seed flours for the food industry; and much more. The full report is available on the DFCC website.

“Canary seed has attracted the attention of the food ingredient market for its starch and protein composition, as well as its healthful fibre. It is very versatile and has potential for a wide variety of foods including gluten-free items,” said Dr. Nancy Ames, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

 “Hemp fibre has the potential for resins and plastics, as well as composites for industrial applications, like car panels, to replace plastics with a lightweight and durable alternative. This could have environmental and economic benefits,” added James Frey, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development.

About the Diverse Field Crops Cluster

The Diverse Field Crops Cluster (DFCC) is an agri-science cluster whose purpose is to support the research and development of high potential, special crops. DFCC is led by Ag-West Bio, with funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Partnership program and industry partners.

The crops are represented by Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, Smart Earth Camelina Corporation, Manitoba Crop Alliance, Mustard 21 Canada Inc, and Northern Quinoa Production Corporation.

About Ag-West Bio

Ag-West Bio is Saskatchewan’s bioscience industry association. The company works as a catalyst for industry growth in the bioeconomy through investments, aiding strategic alliances, and providing business planning support, regulatory advice, and communications.

Jim Cornall is editor of Future Food Today and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.