Suncrest College

Infrastructure investment boosts Yorkton agricultural research capacity 

Western Grains Research Foundation

New equipment is expanding the scope of crop research in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, where Suncrest College operates a research farm in partnership with the East Central Research Foundation (ECRF).

The college received $60,400 from the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) Accelerating Capacity Initiative and used the funds to construct a sample dryer and purchase a truck and weigh wagon.

“The equipment has actually expanded the type and number of trials we can do,” says Blair Cherneski, ECRF chairperson and Goodeve area farmer. “The funding is a major plus for the research farm and since it benefits research, it benefits local producers.”

Mike Hall, ECRF research coordinator, explains that a shipping container was purchased to build the sample dryer. It was filled with perforated shelves and attached to a garden shed that houses an electric furnace. The dryer works when the furnace blows air through tubing that is installed under the shelves.

“It’s been a great addition because we now have the capacity to dry a lot of plant material,” he says. “The dryer allows us to participate in a wider array of projects, including forage projects, and this year we have been using it to dry down tissue samples from grain crop projects as well.”

Hall’s team previously relied on dryers at other Agriculture Applied Research Management (AgriARM) sites in Saskatchewan.  Now, they can now dry samples in a timelier manner which has eliminated the risk of plant material starting to rot in transit.

The new truck is being used for hauling equipment and completing field work.  The weigh wagon is making field-scale plot work more efficient.

In addition to the WGRF-funded equipment, the ECRF has obtained a new seed cleaning clipper and screens, dump trailer, custom-made bleachers for plot tours and video equipment. These purchases were made possible through a $14,625 contribution from the Morris Sebulsky estate.

The research team now produces videos to share findings and posts them on YouTube (@eastcentralresearchfoundat1520). The channel, which has attracted over 27,000 views so far, has increased speaking engagement requests and media coverage of research trials.

“We’re a smaller research farm so any time we can get assistance, it’s important to the area,” says Cherneski. “Better infrastructure gives us an opportunity to provide better information to local producers and attract quality people.”

The ECRF is a non-profit organization mandated to conduct crop production research and extension activities in east central Saskatchewan. In 2013, the organization formed a partnership with Parkland College to share resources. Parkland College merged with Cumberland College to become Suncrest College in 2023.

The WGRF is a farmer-funded and farmer-directed non-profit organization investing in agricultural research that benefits western Canadian producers. To date, more than $229 million has been invested to support diverse crop research projects.

The WGRF has committed $32 million to the Accelerating Capacity Initiative to expand crop research capacity.