Manitoba farmers face many unique challenges when it comes to protecting their crops, particularly from unwanted plant invaders. These battles will soon be made easier with the creation of a new research chair aimed at strengthening agronomic science, decision-making tools and extension in the area of weed management.
The Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), along with Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA), Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) and Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG) are funding the Manitoba Crop Protection Chair in Weed Management position at the University of Manitoba (UM). Dr. Dilshan Benaragama started May 1, 2022, as an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences.
The new role is dedicated to excellence in research, innovation and knowledge translation in the area of integrated weed management in Western Canadian cropping systems.
Support for the Chair arose from the recognition of the need for increased communications between researchers and producers in Manitoba, through more efficient research and technology transfer activities that help researchers better understand producers’ needs, and also help producers better understand the options and value of experimentally proven systems strategies for effective crop protection.
Benaragama, who completed his graduate program at the University of Saskatchewan in weed science, has focused his research program on understanding weed adaptations to diverse crop management practices and developing integrated management strategies. He also will be focusing on integrating digital tools in weed research as well as developing precision weed management and decision-making strategies for producers.
He comes to the UM after serving as a senior lecturer in plant science at the University of Rajarata, Sri Lanka, and as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan.
“We are excited about the benefits Dr. Benaragama’s work can have for farmers. Having a dedicated researcher for integrated weed management will help producers better deal with critical issues including the mitigation and management of herbicide-resistant weeds while maintaining productivity, profitability and sustainability. WGRF has made it a priority to increase the agronomic research capacity by establishing several Research Chairs in Western Canadian universities.”
– Dr. Keith Degenhardt, Board Chair, WGRF
“The University of Manitoba’s integrated weed management research is critical to solving many current crop production problems and supporting sustainable and resilient cropping systems. We are excited to work with Dr. Benaragama in his new role, to the benefit of our farmer members, agronomists and other industry stakeholders.”
– Pam de Rocquigny, CEO, MCA
“We are very excited to work with Dr. Benaragama in the evolving area of weed management. There are so many forces at play from changing policy to changing weed populations, Dr. Benaragama’s work will help farmers get ahead of these trends to ensure they can continue to effectively protect their crops and maximize productivity of their land.”
– Delaney Ross, Executive Director, MCGA
“Pulses and soybeans are key contributors to the profitability and climate friendliness of Manitoba’s field crop industry. To sustain these critical roles soybean, dry bean, dry pea and faba bean crops must be protected from yield-robbing weeds. The Crop Protection Chair in Weed Management arrives at a time when growers are seeking innovative weed management strategies that have been developed and tested in Manitoba. As a result, Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers are keen to support this important academic position at UM.”
– Daryl Domitruk, Executive Director, MPSG
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Dilshan Benaragama, whose research program in integrated weed management will broaden our capacity to develop crop production and weed management solutions that benefit Manitoba producers. This significant contribution by our research supporters is an important step in achieving our vision of being among the best crop research student training institutions in North America.”
– Dr. Martin Scanlon, Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, UM
For more information, contact:
Crystal Jorgenson, communications specialist
Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences
crystal [dot] jorgenson [at] umanitoba [dot] ca