Researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) conducted a three-year study across Western Canada from 2011 to 2013 to determine if seed treatments could improve crop competitiveness of winter wheat and whether or not there were differences in responses between active ingredients, which target a different spectrum of the pathogen/insect complex in the soil. They also wanted to assess if fall application of foliar fungicide improved crop health, vigour, and competitiveness, and yield alone or in combination with particular seed treatments.
“We set out to identify alternative strategies that would help ensure good stand establishment and overwintering success of winter wheat crops across the Prairies,” explains Kelly Turkington, research scientist with AAFC at Lacombe, Alta. “We also wanted to look at options that would help manage disease development the following spring, such as stripe rust and leaf spot diseases like tan spot or septoria. Research from other areas, like Australia, shows that seed treatments with the right active ingredients can help slow down early rust development. We compared different seed treatments with different actives as a way to assess which factors were the most important. We also wanted to determine if a fall application of fungicide would provide any benefits for crop survival from one growing season to the next.”
This direct-seeded study was conducted at nine sites across Western Canada over three growing seasons. The trials assessed the response of the winter wheat cultivar CDC Buteo to seed treatments and fall-applied fungicides. Five levels of seed treatment were compared: check–no seed treatment, tebuconazole, metalaxyl, imidacloprid and a dual fungicide/insecticidal seed treatment of tebuconazole + metalaxyl + imidacloprid. Two levels of fall-applied fungicide were compared, a check–no application or a foliar-applied prothioconazole performed in mid-October.
Overall, the results showed a yield benefit by using seed treatments, with the dual fungicide/insecticide seed treatment providing the highest yield and net returns. The neonicotinoid seed treatment, imidicloprid, and the fungicide seed treatment, tebuconazole, generally provided intermediate grain yields and net returns, while the check and the fungicide seed treatment, metalaxyl, produced similar low grain yields and returns. Fungicide seed treatments have been effective in improving winter wheat stand establishment and yield when seed infection with Fusarium graminearum is a concern.
“The study showed some benefit from the fall foliar fungicide treatment, however the increase was small and resulted in decreased net returns,” says Turkington. “In areas with confirmed stripe rust in the fall, the yields gains were a bit better, however the cost of application is prohibitive at this point compared to no application. For now, a timely spring foliar fungicide application focusing at either the flag leaf emergence stage for leaf spot management or a bit later at anthesis timing for managing Fusarium head blight and leaf spot disease is still recommended when there is a risk of disease. We need to do more research on fall foliar fungicide application alone or in combination with a spring application to see if there are economical benefits. We also need to do additional work on seed treatments to determine if early season leaf disease management can be improved in both winter and spring cereals.”
Another four-year study is underway in Western Canada comparing four winter wheat varieties of various levels of resistance with the timing of four different foliar fungicide treatments: check–no application, fall application only, spring application at flag leaf, and a dual fall and spring application. “The preliminary results after the first two years aren’t showing much of a benefit from the fall foliar fungicide application, similar to our recent study,” Turkington says. “Some of the results suggest a dual fall and spring application does not provide any additional benefit over a spring application in Western Canada.”
Turkington adds that overall, when comparing the study data on stand establishment, overwintering and yields, one of the biggest factors was moisture at the various sites. If diseases are a concern, select a more resistant variety. Using higher seeding rates, good quality seed and seed treatments are recommended for good winter wheat stand establishment, overwintering and improved yields.
“One of the other important factors is field selection, in particular with cereal stubble and the potential risk of a green bridge and transmission of the wheat streak mosaic virus in some areas,” says Turkington. “We have been getting a number of calls over this spring and summer about potential issues with wheat streak mosaic, which is caused by the wheat curl mite and for which there are limited control options. If volunteer wheat or other cereals and grassy weeds are not controlled before seeding a winter wheat crop, then there can be a transmission or vectoring of the virus from the spring crop into the volunteers and then into the winter wheat crop. Selecting non-cereal stubble and controlling volunteer cereals and grassy weeds to remove the potential for a green bridge is generally the best strategy for managing wheat streak mosaic virus.”
Turkington and his colleagues are continuing their research into seed treatments, foliar fungicide applications and other alternative seeding and crop management practices to help improve stand establishment, overwintering and yield for winter wheat production in Western Canada. Researchers will continue to make their findings available through field days, extension events and publications.
The half-day course is available in English or French, online or in class in towns across Ontario and at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus. To register, call 866-225-9020, or visit www.IPMcertified.ca.
Ontario has taken action on pollinator health, working towards an 80 per cent reduction in the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 2017.
The free training is available until April 30th, 2017.
Okra is one such crop.
Over six million kilograms of okra is imported into Canada every year and the demand climbs annually. India is the top producer of the world's okra, growing more than 70 per cent of the global crop. Other big producers are Nigeria, Sudan, Iraq and Pakistan.
The United States is the 20th largest producer, accounting for only 0.1 per cent of the world’s production. In the U.S, okra is grown in southern states like Florida, Texas and Louisiana, where the vegetable is used in the popular gumbo dish. It’s a subtropical crop that thrives in a hot and dry environment, so Canada hasn't always been the most logical place for production.
Dr. Viliam Zvalo is a research scientist in the area of vegetable production at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland). A native of Slovakia, he joined the team in 2014 with a mandate to investigate opportunities for world crop production for Canadian farmers.
The biggest challenges in growing okra in Canada are the shorter growing season and the labour requirements. During the harvest season, plants need to be harvested daily to give the immature pods time and space to grow, which requires a big staffing commitment.
To help boost the crop's potential and maximize growing time, seeds are started in greenhouses and then transplanted into fields covered in black plastic mulch to increase heat to the plants. Spacing of the plants is critical - the further apart, the higher their yields.
To date, crop trials have shown that three particular varieties - Lucky Green, Elisa and Jambalaya - do the best in Canada.
Last year, 22 farmers grew small trials across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and have had similar results in all areas. This year the number will increase to about 30 growers.
The crops are planted into fields in late May and bloom a month later. Peak production is between the middle of July and the end of September. Each plant (which can grow seven feet high) can generate 60 to 70 okra pods. Pods are light though - between seven and 10 grams each - so the entire harvest per plant is about 0.6 to 0.7 kilograms.
Growers, researchers and retailers are all optimistic about the results to date and the work is garnering international attention.
Recently, an Indian company contacted Zvalo to see about providing seeds from a late season variety for Vineland to test in Canada.
"Attention like this will help us continue to look for better varieties,” Zvalo noted.
"Okra's an interesting crop. It can be quite finicky but there's great potential," Zvalo said.
He concluded, "It's a matter of finding the right varieties, the right location and the right buyers."
The project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
“The Canadian Drought Monitor is kind of an early warning system. It provides a clear picture of what is occurring in near real-time. We’re tracking drought conditions continuously so that we know where we’re at and we can respond quicker to problems,” explains Trevor Hadwen, an agroclimate specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). AAFC leads the Canadian Drought Monitor initiative, working in close collaboration with Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada.
He notes, “There is a very large process around developing the Drought Monitor maps that is unique to this particular product. It is not as simple as feeding climate data into a computer and having it spit out a map.” That’s because drought is difficult to measure. It can creep up on people as the cumulative effects of ongoing dry conditions gradually mount up. Its effects are often spread over broad areas. And different groups define drought conditions differently, depending on their interests and needs.
So, the Canadian Drought Monitor draws together diverse information like precipitation amounts, water storage levels, and river flow amounts, as well as information about drought impacts on people. And it combines various drought indicators used by the agriculture, forestry and water management sectors into a single composite indicator.
“All that information is put together to create one easy-to-read map product, with just five classes of drought or dryness. Users can get a very clear picture of the areal extent and severity of the drought with one look at the map,” Hadwen says.
The five drought classes are: D0, abnormally dry – an event that occurs once every three to five years; D1, moderate drought – an event that occurs every five to 10 years; D2, severe drought – an event that occurs every 10 to 20 years; D3, extreme drought – an event that occurs every 20 to 25 years; and D4, exceptional drought – an event that occurs every 50 years. The monthly maps are available in an interactive form that allows users to see the changes in drought location, extent and severity over time.
The Canadian Drought Monitor provides useful information for people in many sectors. Hadwen gives some examples: “For agriculture, the information helps with things like where people might want to market grains, where there might be shortages, where there might be areas of good pasture, where livestock reductions might be taking place, all those types of things. The information is also very valuable outside of agriculture, in terms of water supplies, recreational use, forest fires – the list can go on for quite a while.”
The Canadian Drought Monitor maps feed into the North American Drought Monitor maps. “The North American Drought Monitor initiative started about 12 years ago. The U.S. had been doing the U.S. Drought Monitor project for a number of years, and Mexico and Canada were interested in doing similar projects,” Hadwen notes. “So we joined forces to create a Drought Monitor for the continent.” All three countries use the same procedures to monitor, analyze and present drought-related information.
The continent-wide collaboration provides a couple of big benefits. “Number one, drought doesn’t stop at the borders,” he says. The North American initiative provides an integrated view of drought conditions across the continent.
“Also, the Drought Monitor is extremely powerful in terms of the partnerships that have developed and the linkages to some of the best scientists in North America. We share ideas and build off each other, developing better and more accurate ways of assessing drought. We can utilize some of the information generated from U.S. agencies, like NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and the National Drought Mitigation Center, and agencies in Mexico. This collaboration effort helps increase the efficiency of the science and the technical aspect of drought monitoring.”
According to Hadwen, the continental collaboration has been really helpful in building Canadian agroclimate monitoring capacity. “Over the last decade or so we have certainly matured a lot, and we’ve started to develop some really interesting tools and applications for Canadian producers and agricultural businesses to help deal with some of the climate threats to the farming industry, including droughts, floods, and everything else,” Hadwen says.
AAFC’s Drought Watch website (agr.gc.ca/drought) provides access to the Canadian Drought Monitor maps and to
other agroclimate tools such as maps showing current and past information on precipitation, temperature and various drought indices, and the Agroclimate Impact Reporter (scroll down to see sidebar).
WHEN COMPLAINING ABOUT THE WEATHER MAKES A DIFFERENCE
If you love to talk about the weather's impacts on your farming operation, the Agroclimate Impact Reporter (AIR) could be for you. If you want your comments about these impacts to make a difference, then AIR is definitely for you. And if you want to find out how the weather is impacting agriculture in your rural municipality, your province, or anywhere in Canada, then AIR is also for you.
AIR is a cool online tool developed by AAFC that grew out of a previous program to collect information on some drought impacts. "We have had a program in place to monitor forage production and farm water supplies in the Prairies for well over 15 years. Then about three years ago, we started to develop a tool to replace that program – a tool that would be national in scope and that could gather information on a whole range of agroclimate impacts," Hadwen explains.
AIR taps into a volunteer network of producers, AAFC staff, agribusiness people and others. "We use crowd-source data for this, gathering information from a whole wide variety of people. Some of them we know through our registered network, and others have a subscription to our email box and provide comments to us on a monthly basis," he says.
"We're trying to gather as much information from as many people as possible on how weather is impacting their farming operations. We ask the participants to do a short [anonymous] monthly survey, usually about 25 quick multiple choice questions, to let us know how things are going."
AIR is collecting impact information in several categories including: drought, excess moisture, heat stress, frost, and severe weather (like tornadoes and hail storms).
"We plot that information and produce a whole bunch of individual maps showing very subject-specific information from each survey question," Hadwen notes. "We also have a searchable online geographic database. On a map of Canada, you can zoom in on different regions and see where we're getting reports of a large number of impacts or not as many impacts. You can even drill down into that map and see the exact comments that we are getting from [the different types of respondents, in each rural municipality]."
The information collected through AIR provides important additional insights into the weather conditions and related issues and risks. He says, "Sometimes the data we have in Canada isn't as fulsome as we would like, and sometimes it doesn't tell the whole story. For instance, the data [from weather stations in a particular area] might show that it didn't rain for a very long period and the area is in a very bad drought, but the producers in the area are telling us that they got some timely rains through that dry period that helped their crops continue to grow. Or, the data might show that we received a lot of rain in a season – like we did in 2015, if you look at the overall trend – but the farmers are telling us that there were big problems in the spring. So, combining both those types of information certainly helps draw the whole story together a little better."
AIR information feeds into the Canadian Drought Monitor to help in assessing the severity of drought conditions. As well, the AAFC's Agroclimate group incorporates AIR information into its regular updates to AAFC's Minister and senior policy people; it helps them to better understand what is happening on the land, and that knowledge can help in developing policies and targeting programs.
Information from AIR is also valuable for businesses that work with producers, such as railroad companies wondering about regional crop yields and where to place their rail cars, and agricultural input companies wondering if they need to bring in extra feed or fertilizer.
AAFC is in the process building AIR into a national program. "We want to collect agroclimate impact information from right across the country. We have a history in the Prairie region, so we have more Prairie producers providing information. We've made inroads into B.C., so we're getting some reports from there already," Hadwen says. "[Now] we're going out to Atlantic Canada and Ontario. And over the next couple of years, we'll be expanding AIR right across the country."
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer AIR reporter, visit www.agr.gc.ca/air.
Our common experiences, beliefs and values create a dominant paradigm that is held across segments of society at a given time. The organic food debate is a good example of the different paradigms about food and the connection that people want to have with their food production. A commercial farm’s paradigm is to produce a safe and abundant food supply as efficiently as possible using the best available tools. The urban consumer has a paradigm that is centred on their experience with food. An organic shopper wants fresh food that is produced “naturally” to fit their food paradigm.
The beliefs within a paradigm can be difficult to define as we attempt to draw the lines between the different ideas. For example, how to define a chemical can be debated when different groups analyze the same data and see different trends and results based on their paradigms. This is why the GMO debate continues 20 years after GMO crops were introduced.
A paradigm shift occurs when our views change in response to the accumulation of theories or evidence. Consider that farmers once had a reverence for worked ground and the smell of the earth following the plow. But over time, our paradigms shifted to value minimum tillage for the benefits it provided.
Precision agriculture contains a paradigm shift in how we approach farming. Each of us can look at farm fields and have different perspectives and judgments as to the merits of what we see. My farmland has rolling hills and a range of soil organic matter that produces a range of yield results from the uniform crop input applications. To me, it always seemed odd to apply the same rate of fertilizer to good areas and poor areas of the field, but my older equipment wasn’t capable of varying the rates automatically.
I remember looking at the combine yield monitor for the first time and seeing the near-infrared (NIR) images of crop vegetation, which reinforced what I knew about my fields and their natural variability. But now with precision agriculture, I had a framework to do something about it. I could see the layers of data to better understand crop variability across the fields and could take action to manage it.
Many of the components of precision agriculture, which monitor and measure the soils, vegetation, water and yields, are now in place. The equipment is capable and there are precision agronomists and technicians ready to meet the farmer demand for precision agriculture services. Crop inputs are used across millions of acres and we generally understand how they work and are expected to perform. But when a farmer is facing a stressed crop, he doesn’t care what the normal or average results are on millions of acres. He wants to understand his unique field situation.
Research and product development strive to identify regional differences in product performance, potential crop injury and rotational carry-over for specific soils. We know that landscape and soils determine the variability of the vegetation and that specific weather will affect the crop in predictable ways. How we look at fields will determine what you can see. When you ride a horse across a field, drive by in a car or gaze down from the air, you see different things. As more farmers and researchers get access to satellite imagery and UAV-drone imagery to see the fields in new ways, such as NIR, which human eyes can’t see, it will change how we see agriculture and provide the tools to understand things that may have been difficult to explain in the past.
Are you ready for a paradigm shift in agriculture? The next time you are at the coffee shop, start a discussion about precision agriculture and try to identify the paradigms expressed in the dialogue. All farms are selecting crop inputs, making management decisions and measuring results in some way. Our paradigms define our present actions and also influence the future by dictating when and how new ideas are adopted.
Rarely do we critique successful businesses or winning sports teams, but it is a reasonable response to critique the results in the face of challenges and hardships. Does agriculture have to experience tough times before the mass adoption of new technology? In any business, you will hear some potential customers say they can’t afford the new services while other customers say they are making good money, so they don’t require any new services. Some farms have the paradigm that hiring a crop consultant is like an admission they don’t understand farming, while other farms view crop scouting services as seasonal extensions of their farm labour.
Growing a great crop is more complicated than filing the annual farm taxes, but most farms readily hire an accountant before they hire an agronomist. More farms are recognizing the value of crop consultants and trusted advisors with experience in the increasingly complex business of agriculture. Every farmer doesn’t need to become an expert in remote sensing because experienced precision agronomists can now use the tools to service hundreds of thousands of acres to identify production issues that were difficult to identify on the ground.
Whether or not a farmer adopts precision agriculture may have less to do with the technology than their paradigm of how they evaluate technology to begin with. Changing the way we do things begins with changing the framework to define our way of looking at things as much as changing the tools we use.
Plants require a specific amount of heat and water to develop from one point in their life cycle to another. Unexpected events such as a late season spring frost, early fall frost, extended saturating rain and hail are just some of the weather factors farmers must frequently contend with.
The Food & Farm Champion Award is bestowed upon individuals, organizations or businesses who have taken the initiative to speak up about agriculture in our province. Nominees have used their skills to help engage consumers or correct misinformation about production practices, and have done a measureable job of promoting the agriculture sector.
FFC SK is a non-profit organization that seeks to build confidence in Saskatchewan food production - to let consumers know that the food we produce is healthy, safe and responsibly grown; that farmers and ranchers are innovative, technologically advanced and care deeply about the animals and land they work with. With less than 2% of Canadians having a direct link to the farm, concerted consumer outreach is more important than ever.
"We need to share what we do, how we do it and why it matters to all of us in a language and in ways that consumers can understand and appreciate," says Adele Buettner, CEO of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan.
This award was designed to recognize those in our community who have helped FFC SK with their mission of enhancing public trust and confidence in food and farming. As the use of social media grows, and misinformation spreads, farmers and ranchers need to join the conversation to ensure that public perception is not swayed by too many people who know very little about food production.
"It's about making the connections between our food and the farmers who produce it," Buettner affirmed. "It's time to encourage the experts to give voice to what they do best to safeguard their futures and build public confidence."
Nominations are to be submitted to the FFC SK office by September 30, 2016. The selection committee will choose a winner from the nominations and award winners will be honoured at the Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan Annual Conference on December 14 & 15 in Saskatoon. Those who are nominated but do not win in the current year will stay in the nomination pool for two more years with two more opportunities to receive recognition for their hard work.
Farm Management Canada (FMC) will host an Eastern Ontario Family Farm Safety Day in Douglas, Ont., on July 16. This event is supported by the FCC Ag Safety Fund administered by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) with funding from Farm Credit Canada (FCC).
“Land classification for irrigation in Alberta is a multi-faceted process,” says Ravinder Pannu, soil and water specialist, AF, Lethbridge. “It begins with the systematic examination, description, appraisal, and grouping of land. Grouping is based on the physical and chemical characteristics affecting its suitability for sustained production under irrigated agriculture Land selection for irrigation also involves predicting how land will respond after development and the application of irrigation water.”
The factsheet includes sections on standards for classification, irrigation factors, land classes and topography classification.
“Land classification for irrigation is now completed by a professional consulting agrologist,” says Pannu. “A list of land classification consultants is available on AF‘s webpage.”
June 16, 2016 - Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC), Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) invite producers to a grading workshop following last year's successful event.
This year's Making the Grade workshop will take place July 26 at Lakeland College in Vermilion and will include sessions from experienced industry speakers on barley, wheat and canola, and new for this year is the addition of pulse grading.
"Last year's Making the Grade proved to be a valuable tool in addressing knowledge gaps in grain grading," said Terry Young, AWC and ACPC director and member of the Western Grain Standards Committee's wheat subcommittee. "Understanding grain grading and factors affecting quality is important for all crop producers as it affects their bottom line."
Producers will participate in hands-on grading workshops for barley, canola, wheat and pulses. Speakers representing organizations such as the Canadian Grains Commission (CGC) and the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi) will guide participants through the details of grading parameters and practices.
Space is limited and early registration is encouraged. Early bird registration is $75 until July 14, and $100 from July 15 until tickets are sold out. Complete registration information and details are available on each host commission's website or at www.making-the-grade-2016.eventbrite.ca.
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Canada Young Farmers ConferenceFri Feb 24, 2017
AgExpoWed Mar 01, 2017
Central Ontario Agriculture Conference Fri Mar 03, 2017
National Farmers Union - Ontario ConventionFri Mar 03, 2017
Re-Tooling the Diagnostic Toolbox Soils and Crops 2017Mon Mar 06, 2017