University of Manitoba - Faculty of Agricultural & Food Sciences - AG e-news
AG e-news

the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences newsletter

January 16, 2014


The Faculty is hosting an Ag Alumni Coffee on the first day of Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon on Tuesday, January 21. All grads of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences are invited to the STAR FM Viewing Lounge in the Keystone Centre from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm for a coffee break. It will be a great opportunity to visit with friends and colleagues, catch up on memories and learn what is new at the University!

Also at Ag Days, there will be a Grass Fed Beef Workshop on Tuesday, January 21 in the Organic Hospitality Room – Upper City Square Viewing Lounge, 10 am - 4:30 pm. Coffee and registration 9:30 am. For more information on topics or to register, contact Laura at or 204-871-6600. Note: if you plan to stay for lunch, a $20 fee will be charged at the door. (There is no charge if you're not staying for lunch.) On Wednesday, January 22, it will be Consumer Day (free for all interested participants) in the Organic Hospitality Room – Upper City Square Viewing Lounge with a number of presentations scheduled (RSVP not required). Then on Thursday, January 23, take in the Hemp Workshops (free for all interested participants) in the Curling Club Lounge. Topics will include licencing and regulations; field selection and fertility; hemp varieties; and harvesting.  RSVP is required to or call 204-871-6600.  Check out the entire Ag Days schedule at

A Human Nutritional Sciences Graduate Seminar entitled "The Impact of Fatty Acid Ethanolamines on Molecular Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Health, Energy Expenditure and Body Weight Change in a Golden Syrian Hamster Model”s" will be presented by Jyoti Sihag, Human Nutritional Sciences, on Tuesday, January 21 at 3:00 pm in E2-155 EITC.

The fourth seminar in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Seminar Series will be held on Wednesday, January 22 at 3:30 pm in the Richardson International Auditorium, 172 Agriculture Building. Rob Currie, Entomology will be presenting "When honey bee colonies collapse --- you can see the queen bee -- but to solve the problem 'we crave a different kind of buzz'".  Refreshments will be served at 3:00 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The University of Manitoba Visionary Conversations series will host "Who Gets Fed First? Global Population Boom: 9 Billion Mouths to Feed" on  Wednesday, January 22 starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Robert B. Schultz Lecture Theatre. Join our panelists as they explore the ethics of food production. Building on our 2012 Visionary Conversation The Food We Eat, this conversation will shift the discussion to questions around whether we need to increase production, the role of genetically modified food and the ethics of who gets fed first. Panel includes Digvir Jayas, Karin Wittenberg and Vaclav Smil. For more details on the event, visit  RSVP at

A seminar hosted by the University of Manitoba Water Environment Federation will be held Thursday, January 23, at 4:45 pm in Room E2-160 EITC. Nazim Cicek, Biosystems Engineering, will present "Anaerobic Co-digestion of Agricultural Wastes: Current Investigations at the University of Manitoba". Discussion will follow; coffee and cookies provided. RSVP by Wednesday, January 22 to Nicholas Svenda at Note: Parking in most parking lots at the University of Manitoba is free after 4:30 pm.

A Department of Entomology Seminar will be held on Tuesday, January 28 in Room 220 Animal Science/Entomology Building at 10:10 am. David Levin, Biosystems Engineering, will be presenting “Infection and Pathology in Balsam Fir Sawfly Larvae by the Neodiprion abietis nucleopolyhedrovirus (NeabNPV)”.  Refreshments served at 10:00 am.

A Department of Animal Science Seminar will be held on Tuesday, January 28, in Room 220 Animal Science Building at 11:30 am.  Kolawole Aluko, M.Sc. student, will be presenting "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE): zoonotic and economic perspectives.  All are welcome to attend.

As part of the Guelph Organic Conference, there will be a workshop on "Plant Breeding for Organics: The Future of Organic Seed Diversity in Canada" on Friday, January 31, 1:15 pm – 4:15 pm. Cost in-advance: $35, at-the-door: $55. Features panelists Dr. Duane Falk – Cereal Breeder, Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph; Iris Vaisman – Plant Technician, University of Manitoba; Kate Storey – Organic Farmer, Manitoba; and Jodi Koberinski – Executive Director, Organic Council of Ontario. Find out more at

A Department of Animal Science Seminar will be held on Tuesday, February 4, in Room 220 Animal Science Building at 11:30 am.  Hamidreza Khazanehei, Ph.D. student, will be presenting "Effects of dry period management on dairy cows performance".  All are welcome to attend.

The Manitoba Soil Science Society 57th Annual Meeting entitled "Nutrient Management: Connecting Soil and Water through the 4Rs" will be held February 6-7 at the Holiday Inn Winnipeg South, 1330 Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg.  Visit for more information.

The Food Development Centre is planning a one-day seminar entitled “Developing Functional Food Products” to be held at the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, on Thursday, March 20. The focus of the seminar is to demonstrate the role and benefits of functional ingredients in food products. Participants will learn about the functionality, nutritional and health benefits of these ingredients and how they can be positioned to gain competitive advantage for food processors and meet consumer demands for healthy products with clean labels. For more information about the seminar, please contact Jackie Simpson-Cleaver at the Food Development Centre at 204-239-3150 or 1-800-870-1044 or email:


Barbara Sharanowski and Alejandro Costamagna, Entomology, recently received funding of $179,672 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation John E. Evans Leaders Fund to determine which natural enemies (insect pests) exist in agroecosystems, which species provide the most effective pest control, and which habitats in agricultural landscapes increase their abundance  and efficiency. The team will develop new molecular technology to harness the power of beneficial insects to naturally control agricultural pests and thereby reduce pesticide usage in Canada. Not only will this research increase profits for producers through reduced inputs, it will also lead to healthier and more sustainable food production and reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment, including our air, soil, water, and native biodiversity.  Genevieve Ali, Geological Sciences and junior chair of watershed systems, received $148,242 for MHyLAB: Mobile Hydrobiogeochemical LABoratory for water research in intensively managed watersheds. This research will investigate the interplay between surface and subsurface runoff, nutrient export and plant-water use in artificially-drained agricultural watersheds. The MHyLAB instruments will be operated outdoors in near real-time during snowmelt and rainfall events, thus providing technical capabilities not currently available in the Prairies.

Digvir S. Jayas, Vice-President (research and international) and distinguished professor in Biosystems Engineering, has been elected as a Foreign Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India for his contributions to global grain preservation through research and innovation. He is the first Manitoban and only seventh Canadian to be bestowed this honour since the establishment of the Academy in 1930. The academy is equivalent to the Royal Society of Canada.

Digvir has also been reappointed as vice-president (research and international) of the University of Manitoba for a five-year term, effective July 1, 2014. He has served the University of Manitoba with distinction as vice-president (research and international) since 2009, leading a research enterprise that annually attracts almost $160 million in sponsored research income.

Carol McLennan, agronomy student, received the Manitoba Seed Growers Association 2013 scholarship award. Sons and daughters of active seed grower members who are pursuing post-secondary studies are eligible to apply for the $1,200 scholarship.

Dilantha Fernando, Plant Science was invited by the Department of Plant Science, University of Saskatchewan in December 2013, to give a seminar on his research on Fusarium head blight in wheat. Dilantha also gave an oral presentation on a similar subject at the Cereal Biotechnology Conference held in Budapest, Hungary.

Sakaria Liban, Plant Science M.Sc. student with Dilantha Fernando, won first place in the oral graduate student competition at the Canadian Phytopathological Society's Regional Conference held at the Ian N. Morrison Research Farm's auditorium in Carman, MB. Sakaria's presentation title was "Genetic variation between globally isolated sub-populations of Leptosphaeria maculans".

Dilantha Fernando, Plant Science was invited by the Plant Pathology Sub-Committee of the Western Canada Canola and Rapeseed Recommending Committee to give a presentation on his research findings on identification of resistance genes against the Blackleg pathogen in canola varieties grown in Canada and on the avirulence and virulence genes found in the pathogen population in the Canadian Prairies.

Sean Asselin, Plant Science Ph.D. Student with Doug Cattani, attended PAG conference in San Diego, CA, January 12-16, and presented a poster on his PhD. project “Genomics of regional adaptation and breeding challenges in the perennial sunflower species Helianthus maximiliani Schrad.”. S.R. Asselin, D.J. Cattani and A.L. Brûlé-Babel.

Doug Cattani, Plant Science,will be presenting a seminar entitled "The Potential for Perennial Grains" on January 16 at the Grain Research Laboratory monthly seminar series.

Hooman Derakhshani and Elnaz Azad, Ph.D. students in Animal Science working with Ehsan Khafipour, attended the second Thunen Symposium on Soil Metagenomics: Mining and Learning from Metagenomics, which was held December 11-13, 2013 in Braunschweig, Germany.

Ehsan Khafipour, Animal Science, was an invited speaker at the Canada Next Generation Sequencing Symposia held at Genome Quebec, Montreal, November 14, 2013. Ehsan presentation was titled "Microbiome as a predictive tool for health and disease”. He also travelled to Sherbrooke, QC to give a talk at AAFC – Lennoxville on “Microbiome from Animal-Agriculture to Human Health". He also presented at the Department of Immunology Seminar Series, University of Manitoba, on “Microbiome in health and disease: a new therapeutic target”.

The Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre is launching a new series of commodity-based programs for grade school students. By following the commodity from the farmer’s field to the students’ table, these day-long programs investigate the science behind wheat, eggs, dairy products and potatoes. The field trips start with learning about on-farm production practices and end in the kitchen where the raw ingredients are turned into tasty treats. The programs are designed to be hands-on, inquiry based, and student focused. Students who are involved in the programs learn about their food, how it is produced and transformed, and the health benefits involved. Last week saw the pilot of the World of Wheat program when a small class of grade 1-2-3 students from Earl Grey School spent the day at the FFDC. During the field trip the students learned all about growing wheat while taking in the centre’s displays. Students had many hands-on experiences with harvesting  wheat, milling wheat to create flour, chewing wheat to stimulate gluten formation and baking bread. Working in small groups, the students were responsible for choosing the blend of flour they used for their loaf (from 100% white to 100% whole wheat and any blend in between). Students were enthusiastic about kneading bread, watching the loaves rise during proofing and baking, and taste-testing at the end.  The baked loaves were investigated using all of the students’ senses to learn about the benefits of whole grains, the role of gluten, the positive and negative consequences of bran, and more. The feedback from both the students and the teacher was excellent; they enjoyed the unique opportunities at the FFDC and how this complimented classroom learning. The next program to launch will be focused on Manitoba Eggs and will have students using their detective skills to determine what hen laid their egg in a CSI-style investigation, followed by an exploration of the magical properties of eggs in the kitchen. These programs are meant to increase awareness and interest in the food products of Manitoba and provide a connection to agriculture for urban students.

At the end of December, Kelwin Management Consulting completed a business plan to complement an earlier feasibility study that proposes adding several new components to the existing platform at the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. A major capital request form has been submitted to the Vice President of Administration outlining the proposed new capital project and for consideration in the next capital campaign.

The 6th Annual Chili Smackdown was held last week during Hoe Down week.  It was stiff competition again this year and after the judges tallied their scores, Wendy Kramer came out the winner – again!  This is Wendy's 3rd win over the six-year history of the event. We would like to thank judges Jared Carlberg, Acting Associate Dean (Academic), Brian Amiro from Soil Science and Nick Lea, FASO Senior Stick for their culinary expertise and willingness to put themselves in potential gastrointestinal harm for a good cause!! This year entrants included Wendy Kramer - Curling Devil Chili; Val Diakiw - Red Devil 3 Bean Smoky Chili; Sue Clayton – Squirrel Devil Chili; Hayley Senkowski & Melissa Thoms of FASO - Pick me! Pick me! I'm a Weiner! Chili; and Brian Amiro - Bald is Beautiful Chili. Thanks to all who came out and supported the event - FASO raised $962 for Siloam Mission.

Check out the NCLE November-December 2013 Newsletter featuring the article "Connection with public important for sustainable agriculture". The NCLE Newsletter is a feature from the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment. Read this and past newsletters at

The NSERC - CWSE January newsletter has been released. One highlight - on December 11, CWSE (Prairies) hosted a workshop on Becoming Leaders: An Introduction to Leadership Skills and Strategies for women in science, engineering, technology, and trades -

It’s that time of year when people are returning from or departing on leave. The following have just returned: Don Petkau, Biosystems Engineering; Belay Ayele, Plant Science; Genyi Li, Plant Science; and Claudio Stasolla, Plant Science.  Two have just headed off on six-month leave: Brian Amiro, Dean’s Office and Barb Sharanowski, Entomology.


Web of Science has a new interface and their online video tutorials have all been updated to reflect this at


Michele Rogalsky, director of the School of Agriculture, was interviewed by Golden West Radio on the increase of students taking the farm safety course. Last winter 35 students completed the diploma program's initial farm safety class, and enrolment in the elective course has jumped to 80 for this term.  Michele was also interviewed about the new online option for the Manitoba Arborists Training Program.

Don Flaten, Soil Science, was quoted in the article "New fertility tools" in the Country Guide (January 14). In a discussion about specialty fertilizers, Don notes that understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different nitrogen sources is an important part of making sure you use them properly. See page 62 at

Don, along with Francis Zvomuya in Soil Science and Nazim Cicek in Biosystems Engineering, are quoted in the article "Modern mix" in the Country Guide (January 14). They are exploring ways to extract struvite from manure, and how to use this slow-release fertilizer. See page 64 at

Paul Bullock, Soil Science, was quoted in the article "Warmer West good for corn/soybean expansion" on the Manitoba C-operator website (January 9). Paul says that even though much of Western Canada is getting more frost-free days on average than it used to, which bodes well for expanding corn and soybean acreage, we will continue to have just as much variability.

David Levin, Biosystems Engineering, was interviewed for the article "Understanding biofuels", a two-part series in Grainews (January 7). David notes that fuel has to be low cost to be feasible, so when petroleum fuel costs go up, alternative fuels become more attractive. See page 13 at

Brian Oleson, Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics, was interviewed for the article "Political, marketing ideology changes wipe out pools" in the Western Producer (December 26). Brian says the demise of the pool movement was a precursor to the demise of the CWB single desk last year. See page 55 at

Paula Parks, Plant Science, was highlighted in the Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba Movers section for receiving the Rady Jewish Community Centre's Ken H. Kronson Kehilla Award, given annually to individuals who demonstrate outstanding volunteer contributions and commitment to the Rady JCC and the community.


Please see the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Awards and Financial Aid website at for updated information and application forms for the following awards: University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship Eligibility and Funding (UMGF); Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Awards; and University of Manitoba Undergraduate Research Awards.

Undergraduate Research Awards provide students with an opportunity to compete for 1 of up to 80 awards; to be mentored with a professor of their choice for 16 weeks, to receive $6000, and to gain experience in a field of interest to them. The process requires each student who plans to compete for one of the awards to meet with and interview two separate researchers; describe their research, scholarly work and creative activities in short 150 word paragraphs each and; then select one researcher and describe their rationale for choosing that faculty member and that particular research program.  Once a student is selected to work with a professor, you will be asked to provide a description (250 words maximum) of how you will expose the student to your research and mentor him/her for the 16 week period.  The deadline for students to submit is February 15, 2014.  URA application forms are online:

The Office of the VP (Academic) is pleased to announce the establishment of the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF). This fund will support projects (ranging from $5,000-$15,000) that explore new pedagogical approaches (such as blended learning), and the impact on learning, the scholarship of teaching and learning, the integration of research and teaching in the classroom, and more. Guidelines and application form are available online at academic/awards.html. Please have applications submitted to the Dean's Office by January 27 so that we can rank applications and submit by January 31.

AG e-news > January 16, 2014