The global demand for food is expected to increase by 35–50% by 2050. To meet this demand and alleviate strain on agriculture, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are increasingly applied to oilseeds and cereal crops to maximize yields. However, nitrogen fertilizer contributes to nitrous oxide emissions, a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG) that is approximately 300 times more potent at trapping heat than CO2. Increasing the acreage of nitrogen-fixing pulse crops will help reduce use of nitrogen fertilizer. Of these crops, field pea has the lowest carbon footprint, fixes a large amount of nitrogen and is exceptionally climate efficient. Making the switch to pea instead of wheat or canola in crop rotation could reduce GHG emissions by an estimated 22–37%. To increase acreage and the frequency of crop rotation with peas, producers need access to improved pea cultivars that are root rot-resistant, climate-change resilient, and high-yielding with improved nutritional traits.
The PeaCE project will use an interdisciplinary approach and state-of-the-art genomic technologies to enhance the quality, profitability, and resilience of peas grown in Canada. Cutting-edge sequencing, genomics technologies, and predictive data analytics approaches, will be applied to reveal the genomic variations underlying climate resilience and root rot resistance traits. The results of this project will provide breeders with the elite germplasm needed to generate improved pea cultivars that will enable producers to enhance crop rotation with carbon-efficient pea instead of carbon-intensive crops. Increasing the cultivation of climate/stress resilient and high-yielding pea cultivars will reduce GHG emissions while simultaneously boosting the Canadian agricultural industry. This will provide direct benefits to farmers and enhance the sustainability of crop production allowing Canada to remain competitive into the future.