The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources (FLR) Agriculture Production and Research Division, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Memorial University- Grenfell Campus are the lead organizations conducting agriculture and food related research in Newfoundland and Labrador. With a shared vision for sustainability and growth, shared resources, facilities and expertise, as well as support from stakeholders, we are well positioned to drive advancements in the agriculture sector and contribute to improving food security in the Province.
As global demands for food increase, it is imperative that Newfoundland and Labrador research entities come together to embark on opportunities to sustainably intensify agriculture food production and to advance all aspects of the food system in the pristine, boreal ecosystem that is Newfoundland and Labrador.
Department of Fisheries and Land Resources: Provincial Agriculture Research and Development Program
The agricultural growth process depends on appropriate research and extension. To ensure this growth is achievable, scientists with the Agriculture Production and Research Division are working with industry to ensure the science conducted is applicable and adoptable on a local scale. The goal of the Provincial Agriculture Research and Development Program (PARDP) is to assist with sustainably intensifying agricultural production in Newfoundland and Labrador. Specifically this is being achieved through investigating opportunities to:
- Improve on-farm competitiveness and profitability
- through evaluation and demonstration of crop and livestock production practices that result in increased industry diversification, product value and accelerated adoption of techniques and practices that will benefit farmers;
- Enhance environmental sustainability
- through evaluation and demonstration of beneficial management practices that build and conserve soil health and biodiversity, mitigate greenhouse gas production, enhance carbon sequestration, manage on farm nutrients and promote integrated pest management;
- Support new opportunities/technologies for Newfoundland and Labrador
- through evaluation and demonstration of innovative technology and practices that are new, not generally available, or not widely adopted in a sector.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) mission is to provide leadership in the growth and development of a competitive, innovative and sustainable Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector. In order to achieve this, AAFC has a network of 20 research and development centres across Canada, including the St. John’s Research and Development Centre (St. John’s RDC), which was established in 1935.
The St. John’s RDC is a leader in the research, development and technology transfer of agricultural innovations that support sustainable and productive boreal-northern primary production, with a special emphasis on Newfoundland and Labrador. Research is focused on the sustainable production of horticultural (berries and vegetables) and forage crops, the development of sustainable cropping systems, biodiversity and genetic enhancement of berry crops, and innovative clean technologies and environmental practices for a boreal-northern environment.
Over the past decade, Grenfell Campus (and the university as a whole) has been making significant strides in becoming one of the leading producers of research, development and entrepreneurship around agriculture and food studies within the province. With the addition of new faculty positions, new academic programs, increased business development and entrepreneurship support, and the building of environmental and agricultural labs at Grenfell Campus, the university is well positioned to support the research needs of this sector.
One example of this development is the Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative, which includes three interconnected analytical research laboratories that provide high-level research resources to support federal, provincial, university and private sector research priorities in agriculture, forestry, and the environmental sector. There is a particular focus on the analysis of soils and plants, with significant work also being done on air quality, functional foods, and hydrology. The facility is also used as a prime research and instructional space by faculty and graduate students in the Boreal Ecosystem and Agricultural Sciences MSc degree.
The Labrador Institute, with the support of Grenfell Campus, is in the process of acquiring the lease for an established farm in Happy Valley/ Goose Bay, in order to develop a Centre for Northern Boreal Food Systems. The Centre is expected to include: 1) a collective social enterprise, which would support local food production and distribution; and 2) a collaboratively-run Northern Boreal Foods Systems research hub and experimental farm, with an emphasis on the integrated relationships among farming, foraging, and fishing. The emphasis will be on finding ways to enhance the intrinsic relationship that people have with their food systems, and to discover creative and innovative ways to enhance food production and secondary processing.