Parkland Applied Research Centre

What is Applied Research?

Simply put, applied research is solving real world problems.

At Parkland Applied Research Centre (PARC), we want to help businesses and organizations grow and improve by helping to solve problems with the input of our staff and students. As we assist businesses and organizations, we also give our students valuable work experience, and our instructors get to stay sharp in their area by contributing.

We don’t do research just to do research – it must always have a business or organization problem to solve. With our new emphasis on applied research at Parkland College, we are looking for local businesses and organizations to partner with us to improve their operations for the benefit of the region.

How do I start a project?

Businesses and organizations that are interested in our services should contact us at to discuss the project, or complete the Project Request/Information Form.
We will be able to talk about what you need for your business or organization and how/if the College can help. We are particularly interested in working in the areas of ag tech, food processing, mental health in the community, and developing projects that help our local producers to work smarter and more profitably.

Why are we involved in Applied Research?

Parkland College is the only regional college in Saskatchewan involved in applied research. We join most of the colleges in Canada in working to solve the problems of our local businesses with projects that involve our instructors, staff, and students.

We have three goals for our applied research program:

  • to assist with regional economic development by helping businesses and organizations with research that they cannot do themselves;
  • to give our students real life work experiences by working on projects for local businesses, either as part of a class project or a stand-alone project; and
  • to help our instructors stay up to date with their industry and actively contribute to that industry.

Parkland College has been involved in Applied Research for the last eight years. We started with one small agricultural project with Dutch Industries, and from there we have built a strong agronomic focused research farm in partnership with East Central Research Foundation (ECRF). Our plan is to expand our research beyond agronomy to other areas of research.

We have also successfully completed projects in education and sports administration in the last five years. We would like to expand our research into areas such as ag tech, food processing, and social science research.

How do we do Applied Research?

First, we will meet with you to talk about how or if we can help, then we identify the best approach to the problem. We can create course-based projects or standalone projects to get students and instructors involved in solving the problem.

We have two different types of projects: class-based projects and standalone projects.

Class-based projects are conducted by students as part of their program of study and can take as little as two weeks and up to six weeks. These projects require the business or organization to explain the project to the class and then participate in a presentation at the end of the project.

Class-based projects have time and subject area constraints, as everything has to be done to fit the timeline of the particular class. The business or organization will need to contribute time to meet with the class and a nominal administration fee to ensure that all of the required paperwork is completed. The business or organization may need to pay for parts if the project involved working on equipment.

Examples of this type of project include:

  • a social marketing plan for a new business expansion
  • a human resources plan to develop employees
  • finding a way to stop repeated breakdowns of a piece of equipment
  • replacing a fixed seat with a swivel seat to improve operator mobility on a plot combine

Standalone projects can be as short as a few weeks to a year or more. These projects involve hiring students and engaging staff to work on the problem either full-time (through the summer break) or part-time.

Because of the increased cost for these projects, the business or organization will need to make in-kind and/or cash contributions to the project. We will also look for external funding.

Examples of this type of project include:

  • testing a new prototype against the standard equipment
  • changing the timing/location of fertilization of a crop for greater yield
  • developing new, cost effective packaging for an existing product
  • looking at the effectiveness of a recent business innovation

Parkland College is able to access funding through a number of different sources. Much of the funding is from the federal government, while other sources include the provincial government, funding agencies, and the businesses that we assist. All research funded federally must be linked to a business or organization.

What happens when the project is completed?

When a project is finished, the results usually belong to the business or organization. We will discuss this with you before we begin the project to make sure that we are all in agreement. We are more interested in seeing your organization or business succeed than keeping any part of it for the college. We simply ask that we will be able to use your project as a teaching example in the future. However, we may agree to other arrangements.

Will my idea be kept confidential?

We will work with you to keep your ideas for your business. We will be happy to sign non-disclosure agreements if this is required. Our work on your project will be kept confidential until you are ready to tell the world – and we will be able to help you with that, too!

How can PARC help my business or organization?

We have capacity to conduct projects in:

  • Agronomics
  • Welding
  • Mechanics – agricultural, automotive, and heavy duty
  • Power Engineering
  • Safety for the workplace
  • Fire protection and firefighting
  • Education
  • Business areas including HR planning, social media planning, marketing, and many more
  • Health care fields including Continuing Care Assistant and Nursing
  • Prototype building
  • Lab testing
  • Surveys and data analysis
  • And many more

Funding Opportunities

PARC has access to funding from a number of different sources. This includes the federal government, through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the National Research Council (NRC), and others. We may also be able to access provincial level funding or private foundation funding, depending on the type of research project.

Your business or organization will be expected to support the research in the form of in-kind and/or cash contributions. We will discuss this with you before we begin a project to make sure that there are no surprises for anyone. The level of contribution depends on the stipulations of the grant being used to fund the research. In-kind contributions are typically in the form of time from you or your employees to discuss progress with researchers, and specific materials that relate directly to the project such as product for testing, seed, or specialized equipment for use in the project.

We can also conduct projects on a fee-for-service basis.

Parkland College Research Farm

Parkland College, in partnership with the East Central Research Foundation (ECRF), operates a research farm just south of Yorkton on land mostly donated by the City of Yorkton. The farm is focused on agronomy and each year has a variety of public and private research projects and demonstrations.

There are two full-time employees: Mike Hall, our senior research scientist, who has been with us since the first project; and Heather Sorestad, who started as a summer student and became a full-time research assistant after graduating from the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

Mike and Heather are supplemented with summer students each growing season, many of them returning year after year. Summer students gain valuable agronomic and research experience along the way.

Each summer we conduct upwards of 30 research projects, valued at over $300,000, involving over a thousand small plots on our farm land. The main piece of land, on York Lake Road just south of Yorkton, is leased to us by the City of Yorkton at no cost to the College.

We also use other pieces of land around the south side of Yorkton, depending on the needs for each year. We always have wheat, oats, and canola projects, but we have worked with a wide variety of crops including soybeans, lentils, fava beans, quinoa, and many more.

The research farm is funded by the provincial government, directly and through grant proposals, through agribusinesses, and through granting agencies. In 2020, the federal government awarded a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council to hire summer students and to upgrade and repair equipment. And the Western Grains Research Foundation recently awarded $60,000 to help us purchase equipment for the farm.

Every year, our research team produces numerous videos detailing our research projects. Watch them on our YouTube channel, and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with the latest developments.


Program Information

Parkland Applied Research Centre

Last Updated: April 27, 2021