Organic Cluster III Grant

Organic Cluster III Recipients

Three linked UBC Farm projects led by Cluster members have been awarded funding through Organic Science Cluster III, an initiative of the Organic Federation of Canada funded by the AgriScience Program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The overarching goals of OSCIII are to fund research that targets environmental challenges in agriculture, support new crop and variety development to diversify risk management options, identify low-risk solutions to address pest problems, explore options for improving the health and welfare of livestock, transfer scientific knowledge to stakeholders in a form that they can use, and build scientific capacity in ecologically-based agricultural production.

Participatory variety trialing and breeding for commercial organic vegetable growers and seed producers in Canada

Led by Dr. Wittman, Dr. Rieseberg, Dr. Isaac, and Dr. Lyon, this project will contribute to the resilience and growth of Canada’s organic vegetable sector through the characterization and development of varieties that excel in regional organic farming systems. The international project team, composed of researchers and extension specialists, will support two graduate students and build on an existing collaborative varietal development research network of researchers, farmers, and stakeholders to:

  • Evaluate existing commercial varieties and breeding lines of vegetable crops for agronomic and quality traits well-suited to Canada’s heterogeneous organic farming conditions.
  • Collect crop functional trait data that will be used to assess crop trait response to environmental stimuli and key traits for performance in organic systems.
  • Implement an on-farm participatory plant breeding program to create new breeding populations and finished varieties of three crops.

Ultimately, this project aims to ensure that Canadian organic vegetable farmers and seed producers have access to high quality vegetable seeds that can perform competitively in Canadian organic farming systems.

Ecological pest management for Spotted Wing Drosophila

Led by Dr. Carrillo, Dr. Haney, and Dr. Castellarin, this project will develop multiple strategies for spotted wing drosophila (SWD) pest management, with a focus on ecological and organic methods of control. The international project team, composed of academic, government, and industry partners, will support six graduate students over 5 years and evaluate four independent but potentially synergistic strategies:

  • Develop an intercropping system for berries and small fruits to reduce SWD presence in crops, through repelling the pest and attracting beneficial natural enemies.
  • Document the forecasted safety and efficacy of using two Asian parasitoids for biological control, to support a petition for their release within Canada and to provide long-term self-sustaining control of SWD.
  • Evaluate microbial bio-products and novel plant growth promoters for enhanced crop resistance in greenhouse and farm trials.
  • Document biogeographical variation in SWD metabolism, behaviour, and reproductive capacity to detect signatures of local adaptation that could impact control measures.

Improving organic vegetable farm sustainability through enhanced nutrient management planning

Led by Dr. Smukler and Dr. Mehrabi, this project will increase the capacity of organic vegetable farmers to efficiently utilize nutrients and thus increase the economic and environmental performance of their farming systems. The project team, composed of academic and industry partners, will support one graduate student and undergraduate work-learn students, and will accomplish three objectives over three years:

  • Identify improved nutrient management strategies for enhanced production, environmental, and economic outcomes.
  • Refine models and laboratory methods for estimating plant available nitrogen for British Columbia’s organic vegetable production.
  • Develop an online tool for effective organic nutrient management planning.
Find more information about the Organic Science Cluster III Grant here.