ACTIVATing genomics to accelerate climate-smart crop delivery
Reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture is critical for Canada to achieve net zero by 2050. By developing and applying innovative genomic breeding strategies, this project aims to reduce synthetic fertilizer use and N2O greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and to increase synergies between wheat and lentils through crop rotation. In the face of a changing climate, researchers will develop new resilient crop varieties that require less synthetic nitrogen and are more efficient at translating CO2 into grain yield. They will make targeted crosses to wheat lines carrying genes that reduce losses from soil nitrogen cycling and microbiome interactions. Incorporation of these genes will ensure less nitrogen will be lost, increasing the amount of nitrogen available to the plants. A new genomic breeding strategy will improve nitrogen-use efficiency during crop rotation between lentils and wheat. These approaches will deliver climate-smart crops and microbiomes that use soil nitrogen more efficiently and reduce GHG emissions from soil. Ultimately, the project will create a model for multi-species genomic breeding of climate-smart crop rotation that can be applied globally. Over the next 20 years, climate-smart cultivars and microbiomes from the project could lead to more than $1.2 billion in fertilizer cost savings while reducing around 3Mt of fertilizer-related emissions. Productivity benefits from improved crop rotations and varietal improvement could yield another $1 billion in benefits to farmers over the same period.