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Helping farmers protect their crops

 

Some perennial weeds are so invasive that they can significantly reduce the production capacity of organic farms.

Dr. Anne Weill, the NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Protection of Organic Crops at Cégep de Victoriaville, is working to ensure the sustainability and profitability of organic farms by improving crop protection and particularly weed control.

Through research at the Cégep and farms nearby, Victoriaville researchers are attempting to find effective ways of suppressing weeds that are especially problematic for organic farms, while allowing these businesses to be profitable and minimizing greenhouse gas production. Tests are conducted in collaboration with several farmers to make sure proposed methods meet their needs.

The research program develops action research methods with the farms and tests are planned with each farmer and adapted to their farm’s situation. This allows the Chair to quickly take on more partners and research projects. After two years of operation, the program now has 14 partners and, because the research is conducted on working farms, the results obtained are easily transferable to partner farms and other farmers in the region.

The research program gives all research team members and students an opportunity to work directly on the farms, talk to the farmers, and understand the realities of farming. It also allows the team members and professors participating in the projects to improve their action research skills. Students become familiar with the techniques and challenges of organic farming and learn how to conduct applied research. They must also find potential solutions to problems encountered on farms from both business and research standpoints.

Finally, the results are sent to the professors, who use them in their courses (student and adult training) and share the innovations arising from the Chair’s work.

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