With the demand for bio-pesticides growing, research scientists at the Crop and Livestock Research Centre say $4 million in new federal money will help find new ways to protect crops.

Chris Kirby

Research scientist Chris Kirby says the $4 million in federal funds will help with bio-pesticide research. (CBC)

Research scientist Chris Kirby says the funds will be used to find natural ways for farmers to ward off pests from their plants.

"To be able to be sprayed, or either use a different rotation crop that has a chemical in it that can naturally be used," said Kirby.

Half of the money will be used to renovate the labs at the Crop and Livestock Research Centre in Charlottetown.

Kirby says the new labs are what researchers need to keep up with the growing demand to find alternatives to traditional pesticides.

"All of the major chemical companies are just starting to introduce these. It's about three per cent, maybe four per cent of the total market currently. And they're expecting it to hit ten per cent by 2020," said Kirby.

"Hopefully, it will continue to grow as we see the importance of environment especially in an island like Prince Edward Island, where farming is everywhere. We really don't want to have chemicals affecting our lives as much, so bio-pesticides will allow us to have less environmental impact."

The other $2 million will go towards renovating and building new greenhouses at the Harrington Research Farm.

Research scientists at that site will look at the best ways to farm naturally and rotate crops like grains and oilseeds.

"We're looking at it in soybeans, different planting dates. We're looking at different row spacings, like how wide the soybeans are planted," said Atlantic Grains Council chair Allan Ling.

"In corn we're looking at different nutrient levels, different nitrogen levels in corn, and it's a pretty impressive research program that we're carrying on."

36 Maritime farms are involved in the study. Each farm is growing plots of barley, wheat, oats and other grains.

Agriculture Canada officials say the research being done at these labs could have a major impact across the country in the next few years.