Yesterday, Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced that the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will receive an investment of over $2.7 million to bolster their expertise in water security and agricultural technologies.

Goodale made the announcement today on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.

“Post-secondary institutions like the University of Saskatchewan play a vital role in innovation, job creation and economic growth,” said Goodale. “The Government of Canada is investing in the food and water institutes at the University of Saskatchewan because the brainpower and expertise they produce improve the quality of life of all Canadians.”

The Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) will receive more than $1.3 million to establish the Smart Water Systems Laboratory (SWSL) to deliver transformative technological capabilities for water-related observation and data collection. SWSL will develop sensors for measuring snowpacks, ice, open water, flooding, floodplains, streamflow, soil moisture, wetlands, vegetation, and algal growth, according to announcement from GIWS. “Many of these sensors will be deployed on specialized all-weather drones (unmanned aerial systems) for rapid deployment across Canada with first applications in the prairies and the mountain headwaters of the Saskatchewan River Basin.”

Drone with water sensor technology attached. Credit: GIWS.

“With this major investment, the University of Saskatchewan is developing some of the most advanced snow and water sensors in the world and will use these sensors and observations from made-in-Saskatchewandrones to bring Canada to the forefront of cold region water science and prediction,” said John Pomeroy, director of GIWS.

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The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) will receive more than $1.3 million for the creation of the Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL), which supports state-of-the-art precision agriculture using high-throughput digital phenotyping of crops integrated with genomics data and analysis expertise. Precision agriculture processes and products developed by OPAL will be clean technologies that can improve crop yields and quality, while mitigating negative environmental impacts and over-use of valuable resources like soil nutrients and water.

“With the impact of climate change becoming starkly clear, food security and water security have emerged as key imperatives around the world,” said Karen Chad, vice president research, U of S. “This critical federal investment of $2.7 million toward these new state-of-the-art facilities valued in total at more than $13 million will support cutting-edge research that will build a sustainable water future for Canada and help feed a hungry world.”

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