Dr. Kate Congreves (PhD) has been appointed the Jarislowsky and BMO Chair in Regenerative Agriculture at USask (credit: Christina Weese)
Dr. Kate Congreves (PhD) has been appointed the Jarislowsky and BMO Chair in Regenerative Agriculture at USask (credit: Christina Weese)

USask establishes Jarislowsky and BMO Chair in Regenerative Agriculture

Dr. Kate Congreves (PhD) has been appointed the Jarislowsky and BMO Chair in Regenerative Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) to lead research supporting the wider-scale adoption of beneficial production and environmental practices necessary for food security.

“As the new chair, Dr. Congreves will strengthen Canada’s agriculture sector by providing leadership in regenerative agriculture, working with producers to identify and evaluate best practices, and creating new teaching and mentoring opportunities for students,” said Dr. Angela Bedard-Haughn (PhD), dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at USask. “This investment in USask research means new potential to maximize environmental benefits of agricultural systems and minimize environmental impacts, all while maintaining and increasing food production.”

The Jarislowsky and BMO Chair in Regenerative Agriculture was established by a $4 million endowment with a donation of $2 million from the Jarislowsky Foundation, $1 million from BMO, and $1M from the USask Greystone Heritage Trust to significantly expand research capacity in regenerative agriculture at USask.

“Building a more sustainable future has been a long-standing priority for the Jarislowsky Foundation,” said Stephen Jarislowsky, founder and president of the foundation. “The research led by Dr. Congreves and her team will make an impact on agriculture, climate, and food production through advancing the science and encouraging the adoption of sustainable farming practices across Canada and beyond.”

The Jarislowsky Foundation supports research chairs to promote excellence in teaching, mentoring and research.

“At BMO, we are long-time supporters of the agricultural sector and proud of our clients, who are among the most innovative producers in the world in regenerative agriculture,” said Allison Hakomaki, head of Agriculture, Public Sector and Emerging Industries, BMO. “We know how vital sustainable practices are to the resilience of our farmers and the future of food in Canada and, driven by our purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life and our commitment to a sustainable future, we recognize the importance of supporting initiatives like the University of Saskatchewan’s research in this field.”

During the chair’s five-year term, Congreves’ research will inform sustainable nitrogen (N) management for healthy agroecosystems. Nitrogen is simultaneously an essential nutrient for crop production and a major environmental concern. Better understanding of N cycling is necessary and is a timely priority with policymakers interested in developing strategies to better manage N. Congreves will explore interdisciplinary collaborations with agricultural researchers in other areas of expertise such as water, livestock and health, and with social scientists, economists, and philosophers to develop evidence-based recommendations that will be pertinent to Canada’s progress towards a sustainable future.

“Regenerative agriculture is an ecosystem-based approach to crop production—one that embodies reciprocity with the land by improving soil health, enhancing biodiversity, and reducing negative impacts of inputs like N fertilizer. A promising strategy to design regenerative agroecosystems is the diversification of cropping systems,” said Congreves, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

Understanding how diversification can tighten the N cycle for sustainable soil management and regenerative agriculture is a major focus. Congreves’ work explores the controls on soil N transformations, plant N uptake, and N losses, and is aimed at better understanding the flow of N and its cycling in diversified agroecosystems.

Congreves joined USask in 2017 and leads an internationally recognized research program focused on sustainable agriculture and horticulture with an emphasis on diversified field crop and vegetable crop production systems. She specializes in soil health measurement and management, nitrogen cycling and use efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation. Congreves is an award-winning researcher and serves USask as a Sustainability Faculty Fellow.

The chair’s research will be supported by the BMO Soil Analytical Lab at USask, recently established to help alleviate a critical bottleneck in digital agriculture research and providing key analytical capabilities for research in regenerative agriculture.

Together, we will undertake the research the world needs. We invite you to join by supporting critical research at USask.