Agricultural crops are a major component of the agriculture sector in Canada and around the world. As consumer preferences shift toward more fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein food sources, the way we produce crops to feed a growing population will be increasingly important for our planet’s health.
Food from Thought scientists are conducting cutting-edge research that enables the intensification of agricultural production, while protecting ecosystem services. Research in this area explores how to enhance plant, soil and landscape biodiversity to intensify agricultural productivity without reducing ecosystem services.
Elora Research Station
One of the largest agricultural research farms in Canada, covering 2,310 acres.
School of Environmental Sciences
Integrated approach to address important environmental problems in forest, aquatic and agro-ecosystems
Crops research spans the micro level with cellular and genetic research; the field level with economics, soil health, cover crops, management zones, and nitrogen use efficiency; and the landscape level with landscape management, pollinator health, advanced applications, and satellite imagery.
VIDEO: Plant Communication
Researchers are measuring the effects of modifying conventional production systems to increase diversity by understanding mechanisms of plant competition in order to enhance crop tolerance to weeds and cover crops. Projects are examining the impacts on yield of inter-seeding cover crops, identifying and fallowing unprofitable or low producing zones within fields, planting pollinator strips in field margins, planting crop variety mixtures, and increasing symbiotic associations between crops and plants in order to enhance nitrogen fixation. From a management perspective, our researchers are looking at how crop management influences ecosystem services, including pollination and soil health. Researchers are also developing and testing new approaches and applications for precision agriculture and precision conservation using high resolution and high temporal frequency data.
This work will ultimately provide farmers with evidence-based information to make informed decisions on how to manage their fields and crops, including whether to set aside agricultural lands for ecosystem services, and how to increase yields on the most productive lands while ensuring the long-term health of soils.