Archived — Government of Canada Boosts Agricultural Innovation

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For immediate release
February 24, 2012

Ancaster, Ontario — David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, on behalf of the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), announced today an investment of up to $900,000 that will allow Activation Laboratories (Actlabs) to develop an innovative soil testing system that will help growers make better decisions when planting crops.

"This approach will provide growers with an accurate diagnosis of crop disease and pests, which could reduce crop failure and loss of income to growers," said MP David Sweet. "The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the agricultural industry remains competitive and productive in today's changing economy."

Actlabs provides scientific and analytical testing services to clients in various industries worldwide. In its new Agriculture Division, Actlabs is refining a DNA-based testing system to identify micro-organisms found in soil. This will allow the company to further develop its screening to detect pesticide residues and nutrients.

Thanks to a contribution of up to $800,000 through FedDev Ontario's Prosperity Initiative, Actlabs will complete pre-commercialization activities on its new system, including creating a database with information on soil samples from southern Ontario that establishes benchmarks needed for DNA testing. It will also allow the company to independently validate its testing method, and then bring its test to market. This will include a marketing plan targeting the agricultural sector in southern Ontario, and eventually other global markets.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is also investing $99,900 to help Actlabs collect research on soil micro-organisms to populate the database and develop low-cost screening tests for pests and crop disease.

These investments are a good example of collaboration across government helping to foster innovation and boost farm productivity in southern Ontario, and across Canada. Growers will be able to use this test to take earlier action to improve their soil and select suitable plant varieties, which will contribute to increased yields and better returns on their investments. For more information on Actlabs' Agriculture Division, please visit: www.actlabsag.com.

"Actlabs is collaborating with Dr. Mario Tenuta, Canada Research Chair in Applied Soil Ecology, at the University of Manitoba, to develop rapid and more accurate means of detecting plant pathogens and nematodes in soil," said Dr. Eric Hoffman, President of Actlabs. "Our goal is to provide farmers with access to information of these soil organisms harmful to crops and to fully understand the plethora of information associated with nutrition and chemical interactions. This will provide farmers in Canada with the ability to make timely decisions and to improve overall management practices."

FedDev Ontario's Prosperity Initiative is designed to encourage businesses, not-for-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions in southern Ontario to undertake projects that will result in a more productive, diversified and competitive economy.

To learn more about the Prosperity Initiative, please visit www.feddevontario.gc.ca or call 1-866-593-5505.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's investment is being made through Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), a program designed to help the Canadian agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive by investing in new and emerging market opportunities that will help build an even stronger agriculture industry and Canadian economy for the future.

For more information on Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/caap.

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For more information, media may contact:

Office of David Sweet
Dan Muys
905-730-8654

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario
519-571-6879

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972

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