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Source: University of Saskatchewan

Innovative U of S-led Partnership Creates Oat Variety Breakthrough

November 8, 2006

Livestock producers will soon have access to a new variety of oat with a nutritional profile similar to barley, thanks to an innovative partnership among producers, the provincial government, and the University of Saskatchewan.

"This oat variety is the first designed to combine a more digestible hull with a higher fat content," said plant sciences professor Brian Rossnagel, an oat and barley breeder at the U of S Crop Development Centre (CDC).

"This is a significant development for the cattle feed and oat industries."

While oat is generally cheaper to grow and has higher yield potential, it packs less nutritional punch than barley because it has more hard-to-digest hull relative to kernel (or groat). The new variety, CDC SO-I, boasts a higher-fat groat and a more digestible hull. Its registration was recently approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Now that it has been registered, CDC SO-I will go to FarmPure Seeds Inc. of Regina to produce Pedigreed seed. Commercial planting of the new variety should begin by 2009.

"This is a superb example of technology transfer, where the university, farmers, and the government have worked together to bring a really innovative variety to market," said Trenton Baisley, president of Super Oats Canada Ltd. and CEO of FarmPure Seeds.

The name of the new variety, CDC SO-I, (CDC Super Oats, variety number one) is derived from its unique genesis. The project began in 1999 as an idea at the CDC to develop better feed oat by "fast tracking" the research cycle. Rather than developing field-ready varieties for animal testing, CDC plant breeders produced prototype varieties with the desired nutritional traits.

These prototype varieties would normally need more work to bring to commercialization. Instead, collaborators at the U of S department of animal and poultry science and the Prairie Feed Resource Centre (now the Feeds Innovation Institute (FII)) conducted feed tests on livestock with the prototypes to see if the plant breeders were on the right track.

"Doing the feed testing and variety development work simultaneously allowed the research team to determine if the prototype had promise early in the process," said Scott Wright, FII executive director at the U of S department of animal and poultry science. "This helped bring CDC SO-I to market many years earlier than the traditional route."

Funding totaling $210,000 over six years was provided through Super Oats Canada, a producer-researcher consortium created in 1999. Later, the Saskatchewan government, through its Agriculture Development Fund, was inspired to join the CDC SO-I project with matching funds totaling $207,000.

"Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food and the Crop Development Centre have a long history of working together," Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Wartman said. "The success of this project highlights the benefits of drawing on additional resources and direction from industry and other university departments."

Super Oats Canada has committed to continued funding to the CDC for improved oat varieties of this type both for the domestic market and to strengthen the position of Canada's farmers in the international arena.

"We export 90 per cent of the feeds produced in Saskatchewan," Wright said. "There are huge opportunities to create more value adding, to support and build the local feed industry, and position Saskatchewan as a world leader."


For more information, contact:

Brian Rossnagel, Professor (CDC) Department of Plant Sciences University of Saskatchewan (306) 966-4976

Trenton Baisley CEO, FarmPure Family of Companies President, Super Oats Canada (306) 791-3770 ext. 221

Scott Wright Executive Director Feeds Innovation Institute Department of Animal and Poultry Science (306) 230-7102

Michael Robin Research Communications University of Saskatchewan (306) 966-2427

Scott Brown Director of Communications Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (306) 787-4031



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