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Pulse Researcher Profile – Manjula Bandara (PCN Winter 2013) JAN 1 2013 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Driven to work in the agriculture industry because of his “curiosity and passion for discovery and facing challenges,” Dr. Manjula Bandara, Research Scientist – Pulse and Special Crops at the Crop Diversification Centre in Brooks, graduated with a Ph.D. in Whole Crop Physiology / Agronomy from the University of Saskatchewan in 1989.

After working as a researcher in Sri Lanka for two years, Dr. Bandara returned to Saskatoon and soon began working as a researcher at the Crop Development Centre until 1999. Since then, he has worked with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development as the lead of the Pulse and Special Crops Program at the Crop Diversification Centre South in Brooks. Dr. Bandara is also an Adjunct professor of the Biological Sciences of the University of Lethbridge and the Department of Plant Sciences of the University of Saskatchewan.

Read on to learn more about the work that Dr. Bandara is doing in the pulse industry.


“I have been involving in lentil and chickpea cultivar development for Alberta, in collaboration with the Pulse Crops Breeding Program at the University of Saskatchewan. I am very happy to state that I was able to be involved in developing several red lentil cultivars, including CDC Redcliff, CDC Rosebud, CDC Redbow, CDC KR-1, CDC Maxim, CDC Rosie, and CDC Asterix, and Kabuli chickpea cultivar CDC Orion.”

Research Interests

“I really enjoy working on pulse crops and other speciality crops that are new to this region. Selecting and developing new crops to extreme growing environments are challenging, so I amtrying my best to face those production obstacles. I am interested in the areas of crop improvement, manipulation of growth and development of crop plants to suit to growing environment, and manipulation of secondary metabolites (functional compound composition) by manipulating the growing conditions. My favourite area of research is studying the relative contribution of yield components for pulse crop yields.

Currently, I am working three major research areas with my research and technical team.

1. Pulse crop improvement in collaboration with the Pulse Crops Breeding Program at the University of Saskatchewan, mainly on red lentil and Kabuli chickpea. In addition, some lines received from ICARDA, Syria, and ICRISAT, India are being tested in southern Alberta for adaptability. I am working on new pulses, such as mung bean, black gram, moth bean, and cowpea, to develop new varieties of these crops. In collaboration with other researchers and specialists, I am working on winter pulses (field peas and lentils) too. I am also involved in conducting cultivar evaluation and irrigation schedule development for soybean with fellow researcher Ted Harms of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

2. Agronomic/physiological studies. As a team member, I am involving in developing a production package for Clearfield lentils (Robyne Bowness is the project lead). In this project, we look at the effect of soil nitrogen content on rood nodulation, plant population density, and efficacy of different ‘Imidazolinones’ herbicides on weed control and crop tolerance of Clearfield lentils. This is a Ph.D. graduate level project, and I serve as co-supervisor to the student at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge. Another project that I am involved in is the growth and development of Kabuli chickpeas, using plant growth regulators. This M.Sc. level project is conducted at Brooks and Bow Island, and the graduate student, whom I supervise, is studying in the Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan.

3. I am also involved in conducting production system studies, in collaborating with Dr. Yantai Gan, AAFC Swift Current, to optimize frequency and sequence of annual pulse in cereal-based cropping system. In the study, chickpea, field pea, and lentil have been included as pulse crops in the spring wheat-based crop rotation.

The occurrence of relatively warm, dry, and long frost-free growing conditions in the southern region of Alberta is favorable for the production of high-quality pulse crops, particularly lentils, chickpeas, soybean, mung bean, and black gram, provided suitable varieties are available. Thus, cultivar development activities on pulse crops are necessary.”