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Biovigilance: A holistic approach to agriculture (Video)

Researchers at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Research Centre in Quebec are working with the horticultural industry to develop effective and sustainable control methods against new diseases and pests. Learn more about this new approach to research.

Video transcript

[Upbeat electronic music fades in.]

[An aerial pan over a field at dawn. Text appears on screen.]

Text on screen: Biovigilance: A holistic approach to agriculture


Every year, horticultural crops are affected by diseases and invasive organisms that affect their health and productivity.

[Cut to a shot of peppers growing on vines.]

These pests incur losses for agricultural producers and…

[Cut to tomatoes on display at a grocery store.]

…they have an impact on everyone’s grocery bill.

[Cut to a research centre. Text appears.]

Text on screen: Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Researchers at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Research Centre in Quebec are working with the horticultural industry to develop effective and sustainable control methods.

[Cut to a worker wheeling a cart of plants down a hall.]

Many research teams, such as Odile Carisse’s team, are in biovigilance mode.

[Cut to Odile Carisse speaking with another researcher in a lab.]

Odile Carisse: Biovigilance is a new way of approaching research.

[Cut to a close-up of a microscope. Cut to Odile Carisse speaking to the camera. Text appears.]

Text on screen: Odile Carisse, Phytopathologist

Rather than studying disease and pest problems separately, we look at them as a whole.

[Cut to sped-up footage of seeds growing.]

Using a biovigilance approach, we focus on soil health…

Text on screen: Soil health

plant health…

Text on screen: Plant health

… and cultural practices that will enhance productivity and discourage pests.

Text on screen : Cultural practices

[Cut to Odile Carisse speaking to the camera.]

Using a biovigilance approach -- working on the whole system – we’ve discovered that certain herbicides facilitate soil fungi that attack plants. We would not have thought about this in the past. If researchers in herbology are working without speaking to researchers in plant pathology, well, we solve one problem while creating another.

[Cut to a woman analysing plants outdoors.]

If we look at the whole picture, we are better able to predict a new problem that might emerge. The goal is to help producers with sustainability.

[Cut back to Odile Carisse.]

The four pillars of biovigilance are…

[Cut to a timelapse of stormy weather.]

… climate change…

Text on screen: Climate change

agricultural practices…

[Cut to an irrigation system spraying plants in a field.]

Text on screen: Agricultural practices

new pests…

[Cut to a close-up of worms in dirt.]

Text on screen: New pests

and the social aspect.

[Cut to a shot of a family shopping at the grocery store.]

Text on screen: Social aspect

And the social aspect greatly influences agricultural systems.

[Cut back to Odile Carisse.]

For example, kale has become trendy. Everyone wants to eat kale.

[Cut to a close-up of kale.]

So, this means there are more acres of kale growing.

[Cut back to Odile Carisse.]

Well, this means that new pests will settle in. Let’s think about the problems that are likely to emerge and find solutions before these problems cause economic issues in our industry.

[Cut to a worker taking samples of plants in a lab.]

Narrator: Several scientific innovations developed at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu RDC are simplifying the life of vegetable growers.

[Cut to a man walking through a field.]

One example is the spore sensor. It’s a screening tool to detect the presence of the types of fungi that destroy crops. The sensor was developed in collaboration with the PRISME Consortium.

[Cut to a tractor pulling a trailer of plants through a field.]

Southern Quebec is an intensive vegetable-producing region.

[Cut to Hervé Van Der Heyden speaking to the camera. Text appears.]

Text on screen: Hervé Van Der Heyden, Phytopathologist, Phytodata Inc.

– here we produce approximately 70% of the total lettuce crop in Canada.

[Cut to hands pulling lettuce out of the ground.]

Our main competitors are our American neighbours.

[Cut back to Hervé Van Der Heyden.]

In my opinion, remaining competitive is our biggest issue.

[Cut to freshly harvested carrots on a table.]

We need to increase yields, decrease production costs and maintain a high quality product.

[Cut back to Hervé Van Der Heyden]

At this point in time, we are interested in studying the spread of diseases that are either transmitted by the wind…

[Cut to a hand sifting through soil.]

… or that are also transmitted by the soil.

[Cut back to Hervé Van Der Heyden.]

We have worked at developing integrated control approaches…

[Cut to a spore capture device in the field.]

-- using spore sensors for diseases that are transmitted by the wind for crops such as lettuce, onions, potatoes.

[Cut to a man working with the spore capture device.]

[Cut back to Hervé Van Der Heyden.]

With the spore sensors,

[Cut to the spore capture device.]

…over the last ten years, we have been able to…

[Cut back to Hervé Van Der Heyden.]

significantly reduce the use of fungicides to fight diseases.

[Cut to a man working in a lab, putting samples in a beaker.]

We calculated that we saved an average of 25% in fungicides…

[Cut back to Hervé Van Der Heyden.]

compared with the period when we were not using spore sensors.

[Cut to a man checking plants in the field.]

Producers are reacting very positively to the concept of biovigilance.

[Cut to Odile Carisse speaking to the camera.]

They are very aware that, for profitable agriculture, the equation must include sustainability and consumers.

[Cut to Odile Carisse inspecting a strawberry plant.]

The interaction between producers and researchers means, I believe, that we will be able to manage the threats.

[Cut to a close-up of a strawberry plant. Cut back to Hervé Van Der Heyden.]

Hervé Van Der Heyden: The research that is conducted at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is critical for the progress of agriculture in Quebec and across the country.

[Cut to a man standing proudly in front of a fresh vegetable display.]

[The screen dissolves to one with text.]

Text on screen: Innovate. Grow. Prosper. Learn more about agricultural science at

[Cut to the animated Canada wordmark on a white background.]

Text on screen: (c) Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2018)

[The upbeat electronic music fades out.]

[Fade to black.]

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