Swift Current Research and Development Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Post Office Box 1030
Swift Current, Saskatchewan
Indian Head Research Farm
Post Office Box 760
Indian Head, Saskatchewan
Search Scientific Staff and Expertise (Swift-Current Research and Development Centre) to learn more about the expertise of agricultural scientists working at this centre, and to find a list of their research publications.
The Swift-Current Research and Development Centre was established in 1920 in Swift-Current, Saskatchewan, in the semi-arid prairie region. The region where the Centre is situated encompasses 20 per cent of the arable land in Canada (the Brown soil zone). In addition, Swift-Current RDC research extends across the Dark-Brown and Thin-Black soil zones via the associated research site at Indian Head.
Canada is known worldwide for producing high performance and quality wheat, which researchers located at Swift-Current have played, and continue to play a key role developing. Long-term-rotation field experimental plots have been in place at Swift-Current for more than 40 years and at Indian Head for more than 50 years.
The Centre’s mandate is to address severe drought, erosion, frost, pests, and crop disease related problems, and to provide support to the expanding settlements in the region characterized by a semi-arid climate.
Facilities at the Swift-Current Research and Development Centre include:
- Research land base of 930 hectares in Swift Current. Forage researchers use about 575 hectares for forage and pasture, of which 140 hectares are native grasslands.
- Research land base of 535 hectares in Indian Head.
- Facilities for analytical chemistry, biotechnology, plant pathology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, soil chemistry, soil physics and salinity research.
- Greenhouse and growth facilities, design and maintenance shops, field services laboratory, and animal husbandry facilities.
Current research activities
At the Swift-Current Research and Development Centre, the research activities focus on dryland farming systems. The Centre's areas of core research are aligned with national priorities to help the sector adapt and remain competitive in domestic and global markets.
New products, new users, new markets
- Identifying crop species to produce specialty grains for niche markets such as alternative dietary foods and specialty materials for industrial use
- Finding new food and non-food products for crops that are grown in and are unique to western Canada
- Identifying species that will diversify crops, reducing production risks associated with a single-product use of land
- Breeding and developing common wheat, durum, rye and triticale (a high yield hybrid of wheat and rye) varieties that can adapt to dry land prairie conditions
- Developing native plant materials for pasture and animal grazing
- Developing the end-use quality of cereal varieties to meet the rigorous demands of domestic and export markets
Improving production and management practices for sustainable growth
- Conducting research in sustainable practices for cereal, oilseed, pulse and green manure production
- Developing best management practices for specialty and alternative crops
- Conducting research in pasture and grazing management systems for beef that contribute to conserving and protecting the environment
- Conducting research in the management of tame and native pasture and grazing lands
- Developing land management systems to enhance soil and water quality
Protecting the environment and stimulating biodiversity
- Conducting studies on climate change and how it affects prairie agriculture.
- Quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from beef cattle
- Determining the effects of pasture and grazing lands on the containment of carbon dioxide
- Determining the impact of agriculture on biodiversity, in particular native grasses, legumes and shrubs
Sector support and competitiveness through research
- Conducting genetic research to accelerate the breeding of new cereal products with desirable traits
- Conducting research and identifying the genes in grain that confer resistance to insects, diseases and weather, and that control grain quality
- Conducting research on specialty and alternative crops for Canada's prairies and determining how well they will adapt to their environment
Results of our research
Cereal and pulses
- Developed 77 new varieties: 29 hard red spring wheat, 11 Canada Prairie Spring, 3 hard white, 19 durum, 6 winter rye, 7 triticale and 2 General Purpose. In 2010 Swift Current Research and Development Centre varieties accounted for 99 per cent of Durum, 36 per cent of hard red spring, 100 per cent of Canada Prairie Spring White, 54 per cent of Canada Prairie Spring Red, 95 per cent of rye and 75 per cent of triticale acreages grown in western Canada.
Forages and beef
- Developed the majority of dryland forages grown in the southern prairies; generated ecological varieties for native species. Demonstrated that seeding native species and diversifying seeding mixtures benefit livestock.
- Supported the ideological shift from production (1986) to environmental issues (biodiversity, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gases).
- Improved rangeland nutrition for cattle while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving rangeland health.
Agro-ecosystem productivity and health
- Evaluated, improved and propagated over 50 tree and shrub species; genetic collection for breeding, climate change adaptation and preservation.
- Developed riparian buffers to protect fish habitat from agricultural chemical run-off.
- Improved fertilizer management techniques (fertilizer rates, timing, nutrient sources, application methods) enhance grain yield and protein content, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and maximize economic returns.
- Developed minimum and zero tillage practices (cereals, oilseeds and pulses) increase yields, conserve soil moisture, enhance soil organic matter and soil carbon sequestration, reduce greenhouse gases, protect soils from wind and water erosion, and increase energy use efficiency and economic returns.
- Developed methods to conserve surface crop residue, to protect soil from erosion, increase soil water conservation (snow trapping), and maintain/enhance soil organic matter and environmental sustainability.
- Developed and validated soil and crop models (Swift Current Research and Development Centre wheat, Century) and decision support systems for the Prairies.
- Used long-term-rotation plots to assess sustainable production, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, net returns/risk and energy use, and the impacts of climate change; influenced Canadian GHG reduction targets/international negotiations.
- Seabuckthorn - Healthy Opportunity (2015-05-15)
- Soil Nutrients and Phosphorus: The Molecular View (video) (2015-12-03)
- Pulses in Western Canadian crop rotations (2016-03-16)
- Long-term Study of Legacy Phosphorus (2015-07-30)
- Land of the Living Soil (2014-01-30)
- Microorganisms: An Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Way to Help Crops Grow (2013-10-18)
- Natural Resistance to Spots and Rots (2014-05-14)
- Pulses in Western Canadian crop rotations (2016-03-16)
- Wheat Breeding and Molecular Genetics: A Needle in a Haystack (2015-11-26)
- Foraging into the Future (2015-11-26)
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