Biological nitrogen fixation in canola

Project Details

Status: Active
Investment: $500,000
Commodity: Canola
Organization: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Lethbridge
Investigator: Alicja Ziemienowicz

Canola is one of the world's most important oilseed crops. Canola oil, one of the world's healthiest oils, is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant, and it is also the most profitable commodity for Canadian farmers.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Nitrogen availability limits canola growth and this shortcoming has long been overcome through application of synthetic N fertilizer application, which come with costs both for the canola producers and the environment. A new revolution aiming at crops that fix their own N from atmospheric N2 would contribute to solving the nitrogen problem. It was suggested to be achieved through the introduction into non-fixing crops of either the nitrogen fixing bacteria or the nitrogenase enzyme responsible for nitrogen fixation.

Canola crop growth is limited by nitrogen availability in the soil, and this limitation is circumvented in agriculture by application of N fertilizers. However, N fertilizers present significant costs of canola production and contribute to environment pollution, including GHG emissions.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

This research would give ride to a new variety of canola with traits that would allow this crop to grow in nitrogen deficient soil due to the plant's ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen for its own needs, thus reducing the requirement for N fertilizer application in canola production. Long-term outcomes include increased crop performance, profitability, and sustainability for Alberta ag.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Research findings will be used to train students, post-docs, and technicians. Knowledge will also be shared via numerous publications, direct discussions, and industry events.