Boosting Canada’s Global Expertise in Water Security and Precision Agriculture Research

News Release

November 15, 2017 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Western Economic Diversification Canada

Two innovative research centres at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will bolster their expertise in water security and agricultural technologies thanks to an investment of over $2.7 million from the Government of Canada.

The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, 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.

The Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) will receive more than $1.3 million to establish the Smart Water Systems Laboratory to deliver transformative technological capabilities for water-related observation and data collection. The facility will develop and commercialize sensors and software to improve forecasting and prediction tools for water-related threats such as floods and droughts.

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. 


“Post-secondary institutions like the University of Saskatchewan play a vital role in innovation, job creation and economic growth. 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 Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness 

“With the impact of climate change becoming starkly clear, food security and water security have emerged as key imperatives around the world. 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.”

Karen Chad, Vice-President Research, University of Saskatchewan 

“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-Saskatchewan drones to bring Canada to the forefront of cold region water science and prediction.”

John Pomeroy, Director of the U of S-led Global Water Futures program 

“With world population expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, Canada’s agriculture will be critical to global food security. We are very grateful to the Government of Canada for partnering with us on the development of this major initiative that will greatly improve our ability to digitize plant traits. Using computational data and analysis enabled by this investment, we will dramatically enhance plant breeding in major Canadian crops.”

Maurice Moloney, Executive Director and CEO, U of S Global Institute for Food Security 

Quick Facts

  • Water is essential for our well-being, economic development and ecosystem. By gathering key information, GIWS is increasing our safety and security by reducing the risks of water-related threats.

  • Precision agriculture is a key component to ensuring that the Canadian agriculture sector continues to boost production capacity and crop nutrition, while maintaining and building a prosperous economy for the future.  

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Rhonda Laing
Director, Policy, Planning and External Relations
Western Economic Diversification Canada
Telephone: 306-975-5944

Jennifer Thoma
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan
Telephone: 306-966-1851

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