January 29, 2020

SASKATOON – Twenty University of Saskatchewan (USask) projects have been awarded nearly $7 million through a joint federal-provincial government funding program to advance cattle, swine, and poultry research.

Investment from the province’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF), supplemented by contributions from industry partners, will help researchers improve health and safety for animals, reduce the environmental impact of livestock farming, and provide promising researchers of tomorrow with invaluable experience.

“This major funding commitment from our partners supports agricultural research essential to food security in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the world,” said USask Vice-President, Research, Karen Chad. “This stellar livestock research helps increase agriculture value-added revenue, grow our agri-food exports, and address climate change, while training tomorrow’s skilled workers in this sector.”

The funding includes a $3.2-million investment in the USask Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE) for the management and operations of the world-class centre. Seven of the 20 USask research projects awarded ADF funding will be conducted all or in part at the LFCE, which has a mandate to improve the sustainability of the livestock and forage industries through research and education in five key areas: soil, forage and crop systems, cow management, feedlot operations, and alternative livestock including bison.

Projects announced Jan. 29 involving USask animal health research include:

  • Developing a universal vaccine for influenza A in swine: Influenza A virus in swine is highly contagious, and has the potential to cause significant economic loss and to “jump” to humans. USask molecular biologist Yan Zhou at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization - International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) will improve an existing vaccine so it can provide broad protection against all dominant strains of the virus in swine, increase production, and reduce costs, helping farmers across Saskatchewan and throughout North America.
  • Tracking antimicrobial resistant E. coli in chickens: Infections in chickens caused by can kill up to 20 per cent of a flock, and are the leading cause of economic loss in the industry in Canada. Using whole genome sequencing, USask microbiologist and VIDO-InterVac scientist Aaron White will lead a research team to track and predict virulence and antimicrobial resistance in different strains of E. coli to better understand the cause of the infections. VIDO-InterVac scientist Jo-Anne Dillon and veterinary microbiologist Dr. Joe Rubin are part of the team.
  • Testing for Salmonella dublin in dairy herds: Salmonella dublin, a commonly multiple-drug resistant variety of salmonella bacteria, poses significant risks to cattle health and is increasingly prevalent in western Canadian dairy operations. While infections in humans are rare, and associated with consuming unpasteurized milk products and undercooked meat, the symptoms can be severe—S. dublin causes more frequent and longer hospital stays than do other strains. USask cattle researchers Dr. Christopher Luby and Dr. Kamal Gabadage are aiming to improve existing testing methods to increase accuracy in identifying which cows carry the bacteria.

Examples of livestock research projects with potential to reduce environmental impact include:

  • Using pea starch for swine feed: Increased global demand for pea protein has led to a surplus of pea starch, leftover from the extraction process. USask researcher Rex Newkirk, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Endowed Research Chair in Feed Processing Technology, will determine safe levels of the starch to include in pig feed to increase efficiency and help producers.
  • Hybrid fall rye as a new forage source for beef cattle: Hybrid fall rye, a new crop developed in Germany, is a hardy winter crop with potential to dramatically increase yields, protect the environment, increase resistance to disease, and improve farmers’ bottom lines. USask cattle researcher Greg Penner will study the rye for suitability to feed cattle and inform producers of the results.
  • Strategies to address mineral nutrition in the face of poor water quality: Sulfate-contaminated water is a major potential problem for livestock in Saskatchewan, causing nutrient deficiency and reproductive problems in cows. Penner has also been awarded an ADF grant to test whether supplementing cattle with the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol or other dietary additives may be the solution.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cattle feedlots: USask engineering professorTerry Fonstad will determine the most environmentally friendly, efficient way to store, transport, and fertilize soil with cattle manure, examining the economics and total environmental footprint of various practices. Fonstad will also measure greenhouse gases in a closed cattle barn in order to compare different strategies.

The funding commitment also includes $375,000 to support 10 undergraduate summer research projects per year over five years. Co-ordinated by Dr. Elisabeth Snead with help from Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture scientists, the projects provide doctor of veterinary medicine students with exposure to both research and hands-on experience working with food animals and other animals important in agriculture, with the goal of making students more comfortable and confident dealing with these species during their professional careers after graduation.

Read a backgrounder from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture with details on all the projects.

The ADF program is supported through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year $388-million investment by the federal and provincial governments in strategic initiatives for Saskatchewan agriculture.


January 28, 2020

SASKATOON – University of Saskatchewan (USask) research has received a $675,000 boost from the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) to investigate social science impacts on food security and barriers to agri-food innovation.

The grant from GIFS will fund collaborative studies with experts in USask’s Centre for the Study of Science and Innovation Policy (CSIP) in the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) and in the university’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

The work will be led by JSGS Distinguished Professor Peter Phillips in CSIP and USask Industry Funded Research Chair Stuart Smyth, who is an associate professor in the university’s department of agricultural and resource economics.

“Agriculture and the agri-food sectors are vital to Canada and Saskatchewan’s economy, and advancing these sectors requires new thinking and collaboration with diverse stakeholders,” said Stephen Visscher (CBE), GIFS’ director of strategic partnerships and chief operating officer. 

“This alliance with skilled social scientists supports GIFS’ collaborative approach to discover, develop and deliver novel production agriculture solutions that are economically and environmentally sustainable, and have the social license to operate.”

Social science plays an important role in research, providing tested and factual information about the adoption and adaptation of new products and services. During the three-year alliance, Phillips and Smyth will work with GIFS scientists, performing necessary research with the goal of accelerating the process from innovation to commercialization of products for safe, nutritious and accessible food.  

“Innovation is much more than invention. Demonstrating an innovation will create market demand, and scaling up and commercializing new technologies and products is an art,” said Phillips. “Getting all this right takes significant research and analysis and this is what we will undertake.”

Social science research provides necessary information about the socio-economic factors that shape and sustain innovation, to limit impediments from research through to commercialization.

“With the uncertainty regarding the speed or frequency of climactic changes on Canadian agriculture, it is more important than ever to have efficient commercialization and regulatory systems that are capable of rapidly delivering new crop varieties,” said Smyth. “This will help ensure Canada’s contribution to improving global food security.”


January 22, 2020 (Vancouver, BC) -  Plastic Oceans Canada is pleased to announce the Run Against Plastic, a cross-country initiative encouraging the public to help eliminate plastic pollution in Canada's lakes, rivers, and oceans. The yearlong event represents the largest consolidated cleanup in Canadian history. 

The Run Against Plastic is built around a national tour following Andy Sward, an avid runner who has run from coast to coast three times, clearing litter along the way (to see how his 2019 journey unfolded visit @millionbottlepledge). This year, Plastic Oceans Canada is encouraging the public to support Andy's efforts by purchasing plastic offsets, like their early business adopter 100 brand Water. The public can also get involved by attending the organized cleanups or engaging in community advocacy. The 2020 tour starts in St. John's, Newfoundland on April 12 and ends in Tofino, British Columbia on October 18.

"Run For Plastics and Andy's dedication to preserving the environment, allows us to carry our message and efforts across Canada, from east to west," said Adrian Midwood, executive director of Plastic Oceans Canada. "We look forward to meeting as many local organizations as possible along the way, establishing new relationships, and learning how they tackle the plastics issue on their home shores."

"Every time I run across our country, I witness firsthand the overwhelming impact of our single-use lifestyle - a lifestyle that has become the North American norm, and is taking an obvious toll on the environment," said Andy Sward. "If every person started to make conscious purchasing decisions and reduced single-use items, we could significantly turn the dial on environmental preservation. I feel confident that partnering with Plastic Oceans Canada will spread awareness of this message across our country. We hope you'll follow our journey, and we appreciate your support along the way!"

Plastic Oceans Canada is a CRA-registered charity that shares free resources supporting public efforts to reduce the single use plastic. The organization's programs include film screenings, educational presentations, and workshops that aim to inspire communities to organize pubic clean-ups and reduce their overall plastic footprint. The charity is currently creating a central database that lists Canadian organizations involved in the pursuit of the issue of plastic pollution.

To support the Run Against Plastic and contribute to both Plastic Oceans Canada and Andy's goal of executing Canada's largest consolidated clean-up purchase a plastic offset. For more information visit

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Janaury 20, 2020

Vacuum technology specialist, Leybold, has developed two new online tools to assist customer’s pump choice and layout of complete vacuum systems: The Pump Finder and the calculation tool LEYCALC. With these new web-based tools, users can select and build their vacuum solutions online. They are designed to be used for two different use cases: The homepage leads to both the Pump Finder and LEYCALC, the vacuum system calculation tool. Users with vacuum know-how can use LEYCALC to calculate the behavior and performance of vacuum systems in detail. The Pump Finder guides even beginners to suitable products by a questionnaire.

Step by step to the right offer

The Pump Finder is designed to navigate vacuum users step-by-step to find the ideal pump for their application. Throughout the selection tool, pumps can be refined by entering values for chamber size, target pressure and pipe dimensions. There are two calculation options for modelling different vacuum applications: process flow and vacuum chamber pump down. A process gas flow is a continuous gas flow where the constant pressure is conveyed. A vacuum chamber pump down is an application where the chamber is pumped/evacuated to a specific target pressure. The result is a selection of vacuum pumps that meet the customer's requirements.

Targeted product selection

LEYCALC can be used for detailed engineering of vacuum systems using the same powerful algorithms as Leybold’s application experts. The tool allows customers to calculate their vacuum systems fully independently and for complex scenarios, the experts offer their full support. "Previously, we had to adjust parameters such as chamber size, process gases, cycle times, pipe length and pressure values during the initial contact with the customer. With the help of the simulation software, the user can independently calculate configurations and get an initial idea of the vacuum performance," explains Dr. Tom Kammermeier, Global Application Manager, Industrial Vacuum. "In the past, there were often lengthy dialogues about such details," says Kammermeier. Now users can perform their calculations independently – with the result that the entire process leads to a more targeted and faster selection of the right solutions for the application. "We expect LEYCALC to improve the contact quality with our customers," summarizes Kammermeier.

Efficient communication and fast solutions Once the user of the online tool has defined the pump’s chamber and the target pressure, LEYCALC performs the calculation of a pump down curve: The result is immediately displayed in a diagram. This shows exactly how long it takes to pump the air out of the chamber to a defined pressure and how the pressure develops over time. Alternatively, the user can calculate the pumping speed curve of a pump system. This shows which pumping speed is provided at a certain pressure. All calculation data is stored centrally and can be called up at any time and from any device by customers who have registered. Calculation results can also be shared with specialists at Leybold. This allows a detailed discussion about the respective vacuum application. Overall, the platform leads to considerably more efficient customer communication and faster solutions in complex projects. Leybold’s vacuum experts will be happy to answer any questions regarding specific calculations in a timely fashion.

Conductivity losses immediately apparent "In addition to the chambers and pumps of a vacuum system, the different influences of pipelines are also taken into account. These include the conductance effects in all pressure ranges and flow regimes, blocking and, of course, the volume of the lines," explains Hannes Kamecke, the IT manager responsible for the online configurator. In some cases, it then becomes apparent that a pump with higher individual performance would not improve the overall vacuum performance because the reductions are caused by an incorrectly dimensioned pipeline. "However, the diagram immediately shows that the pipe diameter needs to be increased," explains Hannes Kamecke.

Further development planned

Navigation through the web-based software solution is conveniently possible on all kind of devices like tablets, smartphones. Sections in need of explanation are linked to more detailed background information on vacuum technique. In future, LEYCALC will comprise the whole Leybold product portfolio, covering also high vacuum applications. "With the publication of the new calculation tools, Leybold makes its vacuum know-how collected over decades available to its customers and thus lays the foundation for modern digital customer communication. The offer thus represents an important building block in the digital customer experience strategy of the vacuum specialist," concludes Hannes Kamecke.


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