November 2, 2007
By Kirk Sibbald
Bernard Laarveld, right, strategic project leader, and Henry Classen, head of Animal and Poultry Science.
Photo by Kirk Sibbald
The College of Agriculture and Bioresources will soon have yet another facility to augment its already world-class research capabilities.
In early November, bids will be requested for construction of the $12.6 million Feed Technology Research Facility, said Bernard Laarveld, strategic project leader of biofuels, bioproducts and the bioeconomy with the college. He said the Canadian Foundation for Innovation contributed $5 million last November, and the Saskatchewan government matched that amount shortly thereafter. About $2.6 million is still required, although Laarveld said the college will soon be launching a capital campaign to raise the remaining amount for the facility, to be located within the Farmstead North Precinct at Preston Avenue and 108 Street.
The facility itself will be one of only a handful in the world where cutting-edge research is conducted on feed processing technology and animal nutrition. It will be designed as a pilot plant so that processing conditions and methods are transferable to commercial settings, said Laarveld.
“During the design process we got fairly excited with the potential for the type of research we will be able to do,” he said. “There are very few facilities like this in the world … so we do believe that with this facility we will have a world-leading, internationally-recognized centre of expertise in feed processing.”
Henry Classen, head of the Dept. of Animal and Poultry Science, said because the Feed Technology Research Facility will be fairly unique on a global scale, they expect it to attract significant international traffic. The facility’s equipment will also be offered to agricultural businesses on a rental basis, and it is hoped that U of S agriculture students – possibly even undergrads – will soon be conducting hands-on research in the building.
One major focus of the research, said Classen, will be multi-layering different materials onto the outside of feed. This could include vaccines, nutraceuticals and live organisms such as bacteria or probiotics.
Laarveld noted the potential of such research includes direct benefits to both animal and human health.
“For example, feeding fish oil to dairy cows so you have omega-3 fatty acids in the milk, which is good for humans as well,” said Laarveld. “So we’re not just feeding animals, we’re making an overall contribution to human health.”
Because the college has direct access to a variety of animal species at its own facilities and through partnerships with organizations such as the Prairie Swine Centre, researchers will be able to both develop and test custom diets. Laarveld said it is also hoped that researchers will soon begin working on advances in pet food, something that represents a significant market and requires the new facility’s sophisticated equipment.
Construction of the 1,500 m2 Feed Technology Research Facility is expected to commence in April or May and be completed next fall.