Dr. Sajjad Rao standing over a table full of small potted plants with a person standing beside him, and tall tomato plants in the background. He is holding one of the plants in his hand. Both people are smiling and looking at the camera.

Applied Research

Russ Edwards School of Agriculture & Environment has been offering agricultural, horticultural, and environmental programs for more than 45 years. The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is renowned for its comprehensive training in agriculture and horticulture, producing skilled graduates who excel in these fields.

Beyond education, the faculty is recognized as a premier applied research institution in Manitoba, contributing significantly to advancements in agricultural practices, sustainable horticulture, and environmental stewardship. Through collaborative projects and innovative research, Assiniboine College continues to lead in addressing the challenges and opportunities in the agricultural sector.

Meet Our Research Team

Meet the dedicated researchers at Edwards School, where innovation and expertise drive impactful discoveries and advancements in various fields, and explore the innovative research projects and initiatives driving advancements in technology, sustainability, and community development.

our researchersProjects and InitiativesFacilities

Advancing Agriculture and Food Systems

Edwards School research focuses on crop sustainability, pest management, protein sources, and clean technologies, addressing industry and regional food production challenges. Collaborative efforts enhance food self-reliance, environmental sustainability, and economic growth. Supported by prestigious grants, these initiatives culminate in the Field-to-Fork cluster, uniting expertise to improve food security and community health.

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Given the urgent issues associated with the impact of climate change on sustainable food production systems and increasing global food insecurity, Assiniboine's ultimate goal is to research and develop innovations to support industry sustainability across the food production value chain while preparing students to meet workforce needs. From environmentally safe, high-quality inputs to sustainable harvesting practices and production systems using clean technology, Assiniboine’s expertise in the agricultural, and horticultural sector, is invaluable to creating viable future national and global systems.

Applied research at Edwards School aims to discover, interpret, apply, and disseminate knowledge in response to problems relevant to its industry partners. Outcomes can include the development of new knowledge and technologies, new or enhanced product designs, and/or improved processes or services which improve business productivity and competitiveness. Sector needs are identified through extensive discussions with Assiniboine's partners in industry, academia and government. Assiniboine uses integrated planning to respond to industry challenges, and to monitor the economic, environmental, and ecological trends affecting Manitoba and Canada. Edwards School uses interdisciplinary approaches to explore crop health, integrated pest management and bio-control systems, extension agriculture, and learning projects designed to increase awareness of community resilience and ecological conservation issues.

Soil Health and Sustainability

Environment & Conservation

Wireless and IoT

The foundations of digital agriculture solutions include data collection and analytics; Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) implementation of control, based on data; and autonomy. The team’s research explores reliable and ubiquitous wireless connectivity in a rural environment, while responding to the food security and environmental sustainability needs of agricultural producers, agribusinesses, system integrators, and technology solution providers.

Development, testing and implementation of ML and AI to support crop management decision-making in real time will improve productivity and reduce operating costs and food security through higher yields, and environmental sustainability through decreased environmental footprints. Research in ML and AI will move Digital Ag to Smart Ag, where decisions are being made without the operator being involved, reducing manpower and eliminating possible errors. To build a meaningful end-to-end solution, the college will work with, and incorporate, several of these technologies with a plan to specialize in one or two areas, in partnership with industry.

The tools and instruments acquired by the college to support digital agriculture research activities include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) with various capabilities, GIS/GPS equipment, sensors, instrumentation for machine-to-machine and Internet of Things (IoT) development, radiofrequency equipment, greenhouse environmental monitoring and management systems, and a wide range of bench and portable equipment.

Greenhouse and covered crop production

Applied research to address needs of greenhouse horticultural producers, fruit and vegetable growers, growers’ associations, nursery propagators, and plant material producers. Providing affordable, flexible crop production and management options outside typical growing seasons, will impact local and regional food production capacity and food security, particularly for Indigenous communities in the North; and reduce fossil fuel consumption impacting the environment and sustainability of small-scale growers and farmers in the local food production system.

Research exploring local media replacement options for peat such as sawdust/tree wood fibers, compost, and fish fertilizers. This will impact climate change mitigation, production costs, and environmental sustainability.

Research benefiting sustainable food production innovation, especially in northern and Indigenous communities where arable land is scarce and food insecurity is critical. Research will explore affordable clean technology heating options to extend capacity for food production in year-round growing environments; address climate change mitigation needs with high- and low-tech solutions to optimize plant-growing conditions, quality, and yield; and examine the influence of “closed greenhouse” environments on crop productivity for energy savings, reduced CO2 emissions, and reduced pest pressures and water requirements. This work will realize significant and sustainable impacts on food security and the environment.

Crop production and protection

Research will fulfill the innovation needs of a top economic driver within the agricultural sector. Research will ensure stability and market growth through the development of improved crop pest management strategies; and advances in soil and soil fertility, forages, and crop agronomy on field crops to design more cost- and yield-effective field practices building soil health and protecting the land, water, and air from environmental contamination.

Memberships & Affiliations
  1. Manitoba Industry-Academia Partnership (MI-AP)
  2. Manitoba Protein Consortia
  3. Manitoba Potato Science and Technology Strategy
  4. Protein Industries Canada
  5. Advisory Board Vermillion Growers
  6. Research Advisory Board Manitoba Beef & Forage Initiative
  7. Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative (EMILI)

academic partners:

  1. Brandon University
  2. Kwantlen Polytechnic University BC
  3. Olds College
  4. University of Manitoba
  5. University of McGill
  6. University of Winnipeg
  7. Ontario Tech University

academic association:

  1. CiCan-Colleges and Institutes Canada

Local, provincial and federal government departments:

  1. Agriculture/Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC)-Brandon Research Station
  2. City of Brandon - MB
  3. City of Morden
  4. Govt of MB-Department of Agriculture and Resource Development
  5. Govt of MB-Natural Resources & Northern Development-Fish & Wildlife
  6. NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP)

Indigenous groups:

  1. ATEC-Atoskiwin Training and Employment Centre of Excellence
  2. Manitoba Metis Federation

for-profit companies:

  1. Ag-Quest/Minto BioProducts Ltd.
  2. Atom-Jet Industries
  3. Brandon Fresh Farms
  4. Bushel Plus ltd.
  5. Carbon Lock Technologies
  6. Decision Works - Industry - Digital AG
  7. Enns Brothers
  8. Farmer Hive's
  9. Garo Foods BC
  10. GreenSpot Nurseries - Brandon MB
  11. Hamiota Feedlot
  12. Harvest Today
  13. Hespler Farm Winkler MB
  14. Hylife Foods
  15. Innovative Heating Technologies Inc.
  16. Jeffries Nurseries Ltd -Portage MB
  17. Jonique Farms
  18. K & C Solar Solutions
  19. Koch Fertilizers
  20. Lupin Platform Inc.
  21. Manitoba Pork - "Squeal on Pigs" initiative
  22. Maple Leaf Foods
  23. Mayfair Farms – Portage MB
  24. Myera Group
  25. North Star Agriculture
  26. Peak of the Market
  27. Prairie Mountain Hops (Manitoba)
  28. Rourke Farms
  29. Shelmerdine Garden Centre Ltd
  30. Smilie Worms Organic Farms
  31. South East Research Farm
  32. T&T Seeds Ltd.
  33. Timac Agro
  34. Typha and Co.
  35. Vanderveen's Greenhouse Lid.
  36. Vermillion Growers

industry associations:

  1. Farm Management Canada
  2. Manitoba Canola Growers Association
  3. Manitoba Landscape and Nursery Association
  4. MFGA-Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association
  5. MPSG-Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers
  6. Prairie Fruit Growers Association
  7. Vegetable Growers Association of Manitoba

industry-government consortiums:

  1. Manitoba Association of Watersheds
  2. MHPEC-Manitoba Horticulture Productivity Enhancement Centre
  3. Whitemud Watershed District

not-for-profit companies:

  1. International Peace Garden
  2. MBFI - Manitoba Beef & Forage Initiative
  3. Canadian Council on Invasive Species
  4. Protein Industries Canada
  5. Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
  6. YBUSA-YouthBuild USA
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