The mission of the Green Crop Network (GCN) is to engage the best microbial, soil and plant scientists in Canada, in a collective research program designed to enhance the understanding of the genetic, physiological and ecological processes of crop plants, and to discover ways that these processes may be exploited to reduce net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If a “crop” is considered to include both the crop plant and the system of water, nutrients and air that supports its growth and development, then a “green crop” is one that has been developed to produce food, feed, fibre or biomass for biofuel production or carbon sequestration under current and future carbon dioxide (CO2) conditions, with a minimal environmental impact.
The vision of the GCN is to develop the insights necessary to breed or engineer crops and cropping systems that will manage GHG emissions and contribute to an alternative and sustainable energy supply.
The Green Crop Network is a unique Canadian nation-wide research network for sustainable GHG management in agricultural production systems. With the support of NSERC, BIOCAP Canada, the federal government, the Government of Quebec, Canadian universities and three industry partners, the GCN provides a national research structure for advancing our understanding of the carbon and nitrogen cycles within plants, and the influence of these and similar cycles on the crop production environment.
The Green Crop Network, led by Dr. Donald L. Smith, Scientific Director, is headquartered at the Department of Plant Science, McGill University. This Network is organized to capitalize on the world-class expertise of 50 respected Canadian scientists and more than 46 graduate students in 14 universities across Canada, focusing on providing the scientific insights and technologies needed to develop high-performing crops ideally suited for the Canadian climate.
The Green Crop Network focuses on developing tools and understanding to facilitate the manipulation of crops and management systems, so that net GHG emissions may be reduced. Thus, the Network focuses on advancing the scientific insights and technologies needed to develop high-performing crops ideally suited for the Canadian climate, that also:
Each of these four goals is addressed by a team of researchers working on targeted projects designed to enhance understanding in the theme areas of N20 emissions, soil carbon stocks, plant responses to elevated CO2 and biofuel crops. All four themes are integrated through a flow of information relating to the carbon or nitrogen cycles within, or external to, the study plant. Adjusting one cycle invariably induces a response in the other, and a broad understanding can only be achieved through the collaboration of experts working in an interactive milieu.
The vision of the Green Crop Network is to develop the insights necessary to breed or engineer crops and cropping systems that will manage GHG emissions and contribute to an alternative and sustainable energy supply. The Network will achieve the vision by developing new understandings of the plant-microbe relationships and soil-plant relationships that affect the production and uptake of GHGs in cropping systems, as well as the underlying genetic control of the flows of carbon and nitrogen through the air-plant-soil continuum. In addition, the Network also provides many opportunities for the training of students and technicians, further strengthening Canada’s leadership capacity in this key area.