Some unique and cutting-edge technology is about to be installed at the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi), courtesy of $2 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments.
“Agriculture is changing, we need to cater to the international markets and Cigi has always been known for the testing, developing work it does,” said Manitoba’s Minister of Agriculture Ron Kostyshyn.
“These laboratories are what bring out the best in our grains,” he said.
The cash comes from Grain Innovation Hub, a joint federal-provincial initiative announced last May. It was established to provide funding for grain research and development in the province.
Cigi CEO JoAnne Buth said the money will be used to purchase more than 20 pieces of equipment, including a Ferkar Mill — a one-stage mill that mills pulses and other crops. It will also increase capacity and allow for better process control, she said.
“But one of the big pieces we’re getting is the BoMill, which is actually almost at commercial scale, so we’re currently exploring some opportunities to put it into a commercial situation where we can bring people in and commercial partners could be using it on a regular basis,” Buth said, adding it will be the first of its kind in Manitoba.
Previously Cigi researchers had to travel to the University of Saskatchewan to use a Swedish-designed BoMill, which sorts wheat using near-infrared spectroscopy.
A smaller, lab-size version of the BoMill will also be installed on site.
A Mixolab, extensograph, grain-cooking system and other technologies will also be added to Cigi’s arsenal.
“We are very excited about the work that this investment will allow us to do,” said Rex Newkirk, the institute’s vice-president of research and innovation. “This wide range of equipment will give us a huge opportunity to add value to the crops we work with.”
Fitting the equipment in might be a bit of a tight squeeze, but Buth noted that Cigi is continuing to look toward expanding its facility.
“So this is Phase 1 for us, Phase 2 will be looking at some expansion, whether that money comes from industry or from federal or provincial levels,” she said. “But we’re not actively looking for funding for a move right now, not until we nail down whether or not we stay here and expand our facility, or whether we move to a purpose-built facility.”