Production
Canada's producers of peas and lentils are preparing for the possibility that their largest market may soon shut down imports because of a purported problem with pests.

For more than a decade, India has allowed Canada to treat pulse shipments for pests after shipping rather than before. But that may come to an end next month.

The fumigation of pulse pests requires the use of methyl bromide, a pesticide that Canada is trying to phase out because of concerns it depletes the ozone layer. It also doesn't work well in Canada's colder temperatures, leaving pulse producers with few options.

The stakes for the country's estimated 12,000 pulse farms are high. Canada shipped $1.5 billion worth of peas and lentils to India in 2015, accounting for about a third of all pulse exports.

"That's why we're very concerned," said Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada.

Bacon said the federal government submitted documents to India in December pressing its case that the risks of Canadian pulse crops carrying pests is minimal because of the winter climate.

"India's message has become much more firm in terms of what their intention is at the end of March, which is why we're much more concerned now," he said.

Pulse producers are now eagerly waiting for a response, with an answer possibly coming in days. But shipments are already being disrupted, Bacon said, with at least one shipping firm refusing to take pulses this past Monday because of the uncertainty.

"It's hugely problematic for the industry when there's no clarity on what the policy will be," said Bacon.

The Indian government could not be reached for comment. But a notice issued by the India Pulses and Grains Association summarized a presentation that the Indian government made last month.

According to the notice, an Indian government official said methyl bromide is the only effective treatment against pulse pests, Indian exporters follow requirements of other countries and importers should do the same, and India shouldn't bear the risks to the ozone layer alone.

The association's notice said the government official also outlined potential alternatives, including the possibility of countries submitting data proving that other treatments are equally effective, a system-wide preventative approach assessed by Indian officials, or cargo pre-inspection. | READ MORE
Published in Pulses
The Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) celebrates Canada’s first national Agriculture Day (February 16th, 2017) with the launch of its Better Seed, Better Life program.

Seed is the start of it all, the entire agriculture and agri-food value chain. Through Better Seed, Better Life, CSTA plans to engage with Canadians on the role of seed as the foundation for the foods and drinks we enjoy, the clothes we wear and the fuel in our cars. This program is based on materials created by the American Seed Trade Association and is a collaborative effort between the two associations. 

CSTA’s Better Seed, Better Life program starts with the launch of the fact sheet, “The A to Z of Garden Seeds.” This is the first of a series of fact sheets to be released over the next months, connecting the seeds produced by CSTA members and the crops grown from those seeds to the products used in everyday life. The fact sheets are available at cdnseed.org. Profiles of CSTA members and a video will be added over the year to complement the fact sheets.
Published in Seeding/Planting
It may be a while before robots and drones are as common as tractors and combine harvesters on farms, but the high-tech tools may soon play a major role in helping feed the world's rapidly growing population.

At the University of Georgia, a team of researchers is developing a robotic system of all-terrain rovers and unmanned aerial drones that can more quickly and accurately gather and analyze data on the physical characteristics of crops, including their growth patterns, stress tolerance and general health. This information is vital for scientists who are working to increase agricultural production in a time of rapid population growth.

While scientists can gather data on plant characteristics now, the process is expensive and painstakingly slow, as researchers must manually record data one plant at a time. But the team of robots developed by Li and his collaborators will one day allow researchers to compile data on entire fields of crops throughout the growing season.

The project addresses a major bottleneck that's holding up plant genetics research, said Andrew Paterson, a co-principal investigator. Paterson, a world leader in the mapping and sequencing of flowering-plant genomes, is a Regents Professor in UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

"The robots offer us not only the means to more efficiently do what we already do, but also the means to gain information that is presently beyond our reach," he said. "For example, by measuring plant height at weekly intervals instead of just once at the end of the season, we can learn about how different genotypes respond to specific environmental parameters, such as rainfall." | READ MORE
Published in Precision Ag
Axter Agroscience has improved the performance of CropBooster with the addition of specific organic acids and micronutrients to create CropBooster 2.0. These modifications generate a significant yield increase.

CropBooster 2.0 in the herbicide tank mix produced an average yield increase of 3.3 bushels of wheat per acre in multiple field trials. In these same experiments, CropBooster 2.0 performed better than the original CropBooster with a higher yield increase.

By allowing crop plants to restart growth or to continue growing more quickly, CropBooster 2.0 is also proven to increase yields without reducing weed control.

Click here for more information.
Published in Herbicides
Following a vote at its annual general meeting, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) announced that the province’s wheat farmers will pay nine cents per tonne less on a single wheat check-off of $1.09 beginning in August 2017. This is subject to provincial government approval processes intended to be in place by this time. The new, single wheat check-off will combine the current AWC levy with the Western Canadian Deduction (WCD).

The move to a single wheat check-off is part of AWC’s plan to assume the funding obligations of the WCD that will sunset on July 31, 2017. In this model, AWC will assume a greater role in funding new wheat varieties and will maintain current funding commitments for the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi), which contributes to market support, education and testing services to meet the needs of Canada’s key customers. AWC will also maintain its current portfolio of programming.

The WCD check-off is currently applied to all sales of wheat delivered to licensed grain buyers in Western Canada. AWC’s western Canadian counterparts, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association, will also transition to a single check-off. The three commissions recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to absorb the responsibilities and funding obligations of the WCD.

Prior to the vote on the new check-off at its annual general meemting, AWC administered a survey of Alberta’s wheat farmers to garner producer perceptions on the new check-off value. Survey results indicated 75 percent either strongly or somewhat support the proposed $1.09 check-off. Following approval from the provincial government, AWC will work with grain companies to implement the new service charge amount.  

Learn more at albertawheat.com
Published in Corporate News
A popular fertilizer for farmers is urea, a nitrogen-rich organic compound found in human urine. Urea is water soluble and volatile, which means that irrigation or a heavy rains often sweeps it away in surface run-off or it escapes as a gas before it can be absorbed by plants.
Published in Fertilizer
A new $400 million pea processing plant is in the works to be built in Manitoba, creating more than 150 new jobs in the province. The investment between the Manitoba government and Roquette, the France-based company, was announced Jan. 18 on Global Pulse Day. 

The new plant will be the largest dedicated to pea protein processing in the world and has an estimated annual payroll of around $9 million. Construction is expected to start before the end of 2017.
Published in Corporate News
Researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have received a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, to design a low-cost, integrated system that can identify and screen for high-yielding, deeper-rooted crops.

The interdisciplinary team, led by Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor of plant nutrition, will combine a suite of technologies designed to identify phenotypes and genes related to desirable root traits, with the goal of enhancing the breeding of crop varieties better adapted for nitrogen and water acquisition and carbon sequestration.

The project is part of ARPA-E's Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration, or ROOTS, program, which is aimed at developing crops that enable a 50 percent increase in carbon deposition depth and accumulation, while also reducing nitrous oxide emissions by 50 percent and increasing water productivity by 25 percent.

The ROOTS program website explains that while advances in technology have resulted in a tenfold increase in crop productivity over the past century, soil quality has declined, leading to a soil carbon debt equivalent to 65 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This soil carbon debt increases the need for costly nitrogen fertilizer, which has become the primary source of emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. The soil carbon debt also impacts crop water use, increasing susceptibility to drought stress, which threatens future productivity.

Given the scale of domestic and global agriculture, there is tremendous potential to reverse these trends by harnessing the photosynthetic bridge between atmospheric carbon, plants, microbes and soil. Advanced root systems that increase soil organic matter can improve soil structure, fertilizer use efficiency, water productivity, crop yield and climate resilience, while mitigating topsoil erosion – all of which provide near-term and sustained economic value. | READ MORE
Published in Corn
When Meghan Moran, the canola and edible bean specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), is out at an event, soybean growers usually outnumber edible bean growers. “Sometimes the soybean growers will ask if small seeded dry beans, or edible beans, are more profitable,” she says. “And the truth is that they are!” 
Published in Pulses
Guelph, ON – The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) has launched a new partnership through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) AgriRisk Initiatives (ARI) program. The project, entitled “Controlled Tile Drainage – Calculate Your Benefits,” will partner OSCIA with scientists at the University of Ottawa to research the crop yield benefits of controlled tile drainage.

“The research indicates that there may be economic benefits to farmers under specific field conditions”, says Gord Green, President of OSCIA. “Under drought conditions, research has confirmed as high as a 25 per cent increase in corn yield where controlled drainage was used to retain water to better supply the growing crop.”

Research shows the benefits from controlled tile drainage vary depending on the crop, amount of rainfall, and timing of rainfall in relation to the stage of crop growth. Under the new partnership, a new tool will be developed to allow extension staff and farmers to better calculate the crop yield benefits of controlled tile drainage under varying conditions.

“With extremes in weather increasing due to climate change, every competitive edge counts”, says Dr. Michael Sawada, scientist at the University of Ottawa. “Additionally, controlled drainage can reduce the flow of phosphorus and other nutrients to help protect our water resources.”

The collaborative project runs until the winter of 2018.

Funding for the “Controlled Tile Drainage – Calculate Your Benefits” project is provided through Growing Forward 2, AgriRisk Initiatives, which supports the research and development, as well as the implementation and administration of new risk management tools for use in the agriculture sector.
Published in Corporate News
Stephanie Kowalski, an independent agronomist for Agronomy Advantage, says that because of the drought this past growing season, many agronomists had to help their customers mitigate further stress in soybeans, whether that was from pests, fungus-related diseases or building base fertility. Kowalski recently spoke at the 2017 Southwest Ag Conference in Ridgetown, Ont., where she was asked to share her three key lessons from 2016.

Besides the lack of rain in Ontario, one of the major players for soybean stress was the presence of spider mites. The most important factor to keep in mind for mites is to scout for them, since drought-stress holes can look very similar to spider mite damage. Once farmers notice stippling and discoloured patches, it’s important to take care of them as soon as possible.

“Spider mites are not an aphid pest, where you would wait for the threshold to build and then you take action,” Kowalski says. “You have to continually assess it and make an action decision because they won’t go away.”

She also says many agronomists thought aphids would be the big problem for growers due to the hot and dry year, which just goes to show that it can be difficult to predict pest problems from year to year.

With spider mites, Kowalski says it’s important to spray a dimethoate like Cygon or Lagon, and avoid a pyrethroid (like Matador) since it will also take out the predatory mites, increasing the spider mite pressure.

The second factor that came into soybean management this year had to do with fungicides. “Weather is only one factor of the fungicide decision,” Kowalski says. “Just because it’s a dry year, I wouldn’t write out a fungicide [prescription].”

Growers and agronomists should be looking at history (of white mould for example), row spacing and emergent population. Again, getting out and seeing what’s already in the field is important, since every year brings a different challenge.

“Proactively scouting and managing the crop throughout the growing season is never a bad idea,” Kowalski says. “Even if the growing conditions are ideal, scouting can be a very useful tool to identify ways to maximize yields economically.”

Don’t forget about the disease history of your fields either: If a field had soybeans or even canola previously, there is a likelihood that sclerotinia (the hard black bodies created by the white mould fungi) will be present following a diseased year and cause infection in that subsequent soybean crop.

Base fertility and soil health also play a role in mitigating stress in soybeans, especially in a drought year. The more soil organic matter available, the better the water retention, which helps limit drought stress due to the availability of moisture to those crops. Good fertility also means strong early season root growth and adequate nutrient levels in the root zones, resulting in more efficient water use, better nutrient uptake and less of a chance of deficiencies and stress. Early data shows managing phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) levels in soil at higher background levels has led to a good response in crops versus the current recommendations (sufficiency approach) that were established more than 30 years ago, when yields were lower.

Every year brings a different challenge for soybeans and other crops: 2014 was a terrible white mould year, 2015 had significant spring frost events and aphids and 2016 was a droughty year, so proactively scouting and managing the crop throughout the growing season is never a bad idea, Kowalski says. “Even if the growing conditions are ideal, scouting can be a very useful tool to identify ways to maximize yields economically.”
Published in Soybeans
Today many biofuel refineries operate for only seven months each year, turning freshly harvested crops into ethanol and biodiesel. When supplies run out, biorefineries shut down for the other five months. However, according to recent research, dual-purpose biofuel crops could produce both ethanol and biodiesel for nine months of the year – increasing profits by as much as 30 per cent.

“Currently, sugarcane and sweet sorghum produce sugar that may be converted to ethanol,” said co-lead author Stephen Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. “Our goal is to alter the plants' metabolism so that it converts this sugar in the stem to oil – raising the levels in current cultivars from 0.05 per cent oil, not enough to convert to biodiesel, to the theoretical maximum of 20 per cent oil. With 20 per cent oil, the plant's sugar stores used for ethanol production would be replaced with more valuable and energy dense oil used to produce biodiesel or jet fuel.”

A paper published in Industrial Biotechnology simulated the profitability of Plants Engineered to Replace Oil in Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum (PETROSS) with 0 per cent, 5 per cent, 10 per cent, and 20 per cent oil. They found that growing sorghum in addition to sugarcane could keep biorefineries running for an additional two months, increasing production and revenue by 20-30 per cent. | READ MORE
Published in Bioenergy
Thanks to the success of some unconventional crops grown last summer, western Newfoundland might soon add canola and grapes to its list of agricultural products.
Working with independent farmers, the provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods experimented with the two crops that aren't traditionally grown in the province.
The hope was those first-time crops could sow the seeds for new farming industries. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
A University of Queensland team has made a discovery that could help conquer the greatest threat to global food security: pests and diseases in plants.

Research leader Professor Neena Mitter said BioClay – an environmentally sustainable alternative to chemicals and pesticides – could be a game-changer for crop protection.

“Our disruptive research involves a spray of nano-sized degradable clay used to release double-stranded RNA, that protects plants from specific disease-causing pathogens,” she says.

The research, by scientists from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) is published in Nature Plants.

Professor Mitter said the technology reduced the use of pesticides without altering the genome of the plants.

Once BioClay is applied, the plant ‘thinks’ it is being attacked by a disease or pest insect and responds by protecting itself from the targeted pest or disease.

“A single spray of BioClay protects the plant and then degrades, reducing the risk to the environment or human health.”

She said BioClay met consumer demands for sustainable crop protection and residue-free produce.
Published in Seed/Chemical
Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay and Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart announced nearly $7.7 million in funding for 46 crop-related research projects through the province’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF).

“Research in agriculture is the key to maintaining a competitive edge, and that’s why the federal government, in partnership with provinces and agriculture organizations, invests in research," MacAulay said. "These millions of dollars invested into crops research in Saskatchewan over the years will help create growth and put more money in the pockets of farmers within the sector."

The 46 projects receiving funding this year include research on:

·      Improving plant breeding technology specifically to test for DON toxins that are the result of Fusarium head blight infection in wheat.

·      Optimizing loss-sensing technology on farm equipment to minimize losses at harvest.

·      Development of a pulse-based replacement for shortening that can be used in baked goods, to name a few.

The ADF announcement leverages significant funding from industry partners, on top of government funding.  A total of almost $3.7 million is being committed from partner organizations that include Western Grains Research Foundation, SaskPulse, SaskCanola, SaskFlax, Sask Wheat and Alberta Wheat Commission.

ADF funding is part of the $26.8 million the Government of Saskatchewan committed to agriculture research for 2016-17.  Funding for ADF projects is provided under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

For more information, and to see a complete list of funded projects, visit saskatchewan.ca
Published in Corporate News
Soybean breeders continue to focus on early maturing soybean hybrids and bring myriad stacked traits to Western Canadian growers. Seed companies have supplied Top Crop Manager with the following information on the new soybean hybrids for 2017. Growers are advised to check local performance trials to help with their variety selections. Listing is by crop heat unit (CHU)/maturity rating.
Published in Soybeans
A team led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist Jeffrey Herrick has developed an innovative cloud computing platform and suite of mobile apps. The Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) “identifies (and in the near future will deliver) knowledge relevant to specific soils to anyone with a mobile phone,” says Herrick, who is based at the ARS Range Management Research Unit in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The LandPKS mobile app, which includes the LandInfo and LandCover modules, taps cloud computing, digital and traditional soil-mapping, and GPS data to provide information on the sustainable potential of land under current and future climate conditions.

The current version of the LandInfo module allows the user to collect soil and site topographic data, while the LandCover module is used to document ground cover, vegetation height, plant density, and spatial patterns of vegetation affecting soil erosion. Domestic and international development organizations and land-management agencies are already using the app to crowd-source the local information needed to inform management decisions.

Read the full story here.
Published in Corporate News
December 23, 2016 – Results are in for the 2016 Canola Performance Trials (CPT). Data from the science-based, third-party variety evaluations for both small-plot and field-scale trials have now been uploaded to the online comparison tool at canolaperformancetrials.ca.

The searchable database now includes six years of data on yield, height, lodging and days to maturity, covering a wide range of growing season conditions. Online tools include interactive maps and the ability to refine searches by province, season zone (short, mid or long), herbicide tolerance (HT) system or trial type (small plot or field scale). Data can be viewed by searching all varieties or as a comparison between specific varieties (displaying either all available data for each or a head-to-head comparison).
Published in Canola
Douglas Cook at New York University and colleagues from the University of Nebraska are using special microphones to listen to corn plants in order to determine what leads to wind-induced corn stalk failure. It turns out, the sounds stalks make just before failure are very similar to the sounds made when breaking. "We now think that plant growth involves millions of tiny breakage events, and that these breakage events trigger the plant to rush to 'repair' the broken regions. By continuously breaking and repairing, the plant is able to grow taller and taller," says Cook. It's an idea that mimics the science behind how human muslces are built: Muscles are strengthened when tiny microtears are repaired after lifting weights. Although most of the work is still in the early stages, this marriage of mechanical engineering and plant science and the information gathered so far can help plant breeders design optimal, strong plants. | READ MORE 
Published in Corn
A new state-of-the-art grain terminal will be built on a 65-acre site on the North Shore, immediately west of the Second Narrows Bridge. It will speed the shipment of Western Canadian grain using a looped railway yard that will allow trains to move in and out of the terminal without having to uncouple cars. The terminal will also allow for larger bulk vessels, allowing more grain to move with fewer, but larger, ships. It's expected to be two to three times faster than other grain terminals. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
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