Occasional tillage OK to get rid of ruts on long-term no-till soils

Occasional tillage OK to get rid of ruts on long-term no-till soils

Following a wet harvest, many farmers had little choice but to till those direct-seeded fields in an attempt to smooth the ground.

Winter wheat and cover crops for improved soil health

Winter wheat and cover crops for improved soil health

Long-term rotation studies show the value of using cover crops and adding winter wheat into a rotation

Intercropping trials show promise; research continuing to expand options

Intercropping trials show promise; research continuing to expand options

A few growers in Saskatchewan are adopting intercropping systems

BMPs for variable rate planting

BMPs for variable rate planting

Five tips to capitalize on variable rate planting

The highest recorded corn yield is 532 bushels per acre set by David Hula at Charles City, Virginia in 2015 in an annual contest conducted by the National Corn Growers Association in the United States. By comparison, the highest yield in 2016 in Manitoba Corn Growers Association’s annual yield contest was 274 bushels per acre (bu/ac) set by the Baker Colony at MacGregor, Man. Both impressive yields indeed, given growing conditions at those locations. But how can new corn growers reach those yields?
Flea beetles (Phyllotreta spp.) in canola and cutworms continued to be at economical levels in many areas of Manitoba in 2017. Aphids were at high levels and resulted in insecticide applications in small grain cereals, field peas and soybeans. Diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) were controlled in many canola fields. Bertha armyworm (Mamestra configurata) got to economic levels in some canola fields in Western Manitoba. Alfalfa weevil (Hypera postica) was at high levels in many alfalfa fields. Thistle caterpillars (Vanessa cardui) caused concern in some soybean and sunflower fields. 'Summary of Insects on Crops in Manitoba in 2017' is a report based on observations from John Gavloski, Ph.D., entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture, as well as his summer students, observations and reports from agronomists, farmers, farm production extension specialists, and extension co-ordinators. To read the full report, click here. 
Evidence of feeding in 2017 once again was over a wider range than in previous years. The range of pea leaf weevil activity has expanded dramatically in central Alberta since 2013.The annual pea leaf weevil (Sitona lineatus L.) survey was carried out in late May and early June, 2017. The 2017 survey was based on damage ratings in 203 fields from 46 municipalities. Survey locations shown with black circles had no evidence of pea leaf weevil feeding on any of the plants assessed. For more information, click here. Related: Keeping an eye on fababean insect pests
IDC [iron deficiency chlorosis] was much more of a concern [this year] than in previous years,” says Dennis Lange, pulse specialist with Manitoba Agriculture. Symptoms persisted for 14 to 21 days rather than 10 to 14 in typical years.
With full global export approval, 2017 was a major breakthrough year for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean acreage in Canada. Approximately 700,000 acres were grown in Canada with about 250,000 acres grown in the West, mostly in Manitoba.
The wheat midge forecast for 2018 shows an overall lower level of wheat midge across Alberta. There is very little risk of midge in the Peace Region, with the lowest level of midge found in the survey since the outbreak in 2013. Individual fields or small pockets of wheat midge may still exist so it is important to remain vigilant.The midge population in central Alberta east of Edmonton appears to be lower but this may be in part due to increase in midge tolerant wheat. Wheat midge in that area in that area will remain a concern, especially if there is late seeding and higher than average rainfall in the spring. Areas west and south of Edmonton have seen individual fields with midge numbers at levels of concern as far south as Red Deer county.The population remains low in southern Alberta and the only midge found was associated with irrigated fields. For more information, click here.Related: Monitoring for wheat midge
Severe weather and hail events in field crops seem to be more prevalent over the past few years. In 2015 and 2016, The Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) estimated crop-hail loss payments to Manitoba producers from all sources at $54.1 million and $77.7 million, respectively.
More farmers are showing interest in and using an approach called bio strip-till, where specific cover crops are planted in individual strips after the harvest of an early season crop.Goals for using this approach typically include a combination of creating a dark strip in the field with residue to simulate strip till, opening up the soil for cash crop root growth, to keep competitive winter annual species like cereal rye out of the cash crop planting row, and residue management to keep problematic residue out of the planting strip.For the full story and a few examples of bio strip-till being used by farmers in North Dakota, click here.Related: Strip tilling for higher yields
Quinoa, the ancient South American grain that’s been touted as a gluten-free superfood, is gaining popularity with Canadian farmers, but in commercial terms, it remains a small niche crop in this country.
Alireza Navabi is amazed by the wide adaptability of wheat across the world.
In the Peace River region where production of creeping red fescue, alsike clover and red clover has been a mainstay for many farmers, tighter canola rotations have gradually displaced forage seed production. While this threatens the sustainability of the seed industry, more intense canola rotations may be costing farmers profit as well. That is the finding of a crop rotation study conducted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at Beaverlodge, Alta.  
New research has identified genes that control vitamin E content in maize grain, a finding that could lead to improving the nutritional profile of this staple crop.Cornell University scientists and colleagues from other institutions combined different types of genetic association analyses to identify 14 genes across the genome that were involved in the synthesis of vitamin E. Six genes were newly discovered to encode proteins that contribute to a class of antioxidant compounds called tocochromanols, collectively known as vitamin E. Along with antioxidant properties, tocochromanols have been associated with good heart health in humans and proper functioning in plants. READ MORE
The Herbicide Resistance Summit is a bi-annual conference brought to you by Top Crop Manager (TCM) and a group of generous sponsors that aims to facilitate a more unified understanding of herbicide resistance and promote awareness that all industry members have a role to play in managing the growing threat of herbicide resistance.
AMVAC Chemical Corporation recently announced its new broad spectrum, low use rate corn herbicide, ImpactZ, has received federal registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ImpactZ herbicide will give growers a new safe and flexible solution for control of tough broadleaf and grass weeds - including glyphosate resistant species - in corn.ImpactZ herbicide is registered for use in field corn, seed corn, popcorn and sweetcorn, with no restrictions on soil type, tank mix partners or insecticides. ImpactZ herbicide contains both Impact and Atrazine for highly effective control of grass and broadleaf weeds in corn."Impact herbicide has long provided value to corn growers as an excellent tool for weed resistance management," said Jim Lappin, AMVAC crop marketing manager, corn and soybeans. "ImpactZ herbicide provides safe, effective broad spectrum control in corn."ImpactZ herbicide provides excellent control of tough grass weeds, including barnyardgrass, crabgrass and foxtails. It also controls a broad spectrum of broadleaf weeds, including waterhemp, palmer amaranth, lambsquarters and velvetleaf.Corn growers will have flexibility to apply ImpactZ herbicide from weed emergence until corn reaches 12-inches in height as a sequential, early post or total post emergence program."AMVAC recognizes the challenges that corn growers face, and we work to deliver products that offer superior performance, crop safety and flexibility," said Lappin. "ImpactZ herbicide is an excellent tool to take on key grasses and broadleaf weeds that challenge yield potential in corn"Individual state registrations for ImpactZ herbicide are pending. For more information on ImpactZ herbicide or additional AMVAC products and crop protection technologies, visit www.amvac-chemical.com.
A large, prospective cohort study conducted among agricultural workers, farmers and their families in Iowa and North Carolina in the United States reports that there are no associations between glyphosate use and overall cancer risk or with total lymphohematopoietic cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and multiple myeloma.The long term study updated the previous evaluation of glyphosate with cancer incidence, and is part of the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a large and important project that tracks the health of agricultural workers and their families. Led by AHS principal investigator Laura Beane Freeman, the study results state that among 54,251 applicators studied, 44,932 (82.8 percent) used glyphosate. "Glyphosate was not statistically significantly associated with cancer at any site," the study said. For the full story, click here.
Two of the most commonly used insecticides around the world are imidacloprid (neonicotinoid) and chlorpyrifos (organophosphate). In a new paper, published in the journal Scientific Reports, they have been found to be toxic to seed-eating songbirds, even affecting their migration. University of Saskatchewan biology professor Christy Morrissey stated in a press release, “Studies on the risks of neonicotinoids have often focused on bees that have been experiencing population declines. However, it is not just bees that are being affected by these insecticides.” | READ MORE
The World Health Organization’s cancer agency dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with its final conclusion that the chemical probably causes cancer.Documents seen by Reuters show how a draft of a key section of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) assessment of glyphosate - a report that has prompted international disputes and multi-million-dollar lawsuits - underwent significant changes and deletions before the report was finalised and made public. For the full story, click here. 
Harvest quality of milling oats is very important, and growers sometimes utilize harvest aids such as pre-harvest glyphosate. A properly timed application can help growers control perennial weeds and improve crop harvestability, while meeting maximum residue limit (MRL) requirements. However, some buyers have placed restrictions on the use of pre-harvest glyphosate on oats they purchase.Christian Willenborg, associate professor with the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, initiated a small study in 2015 to collect some initial research data and find a way to lend science to the decision-making process.“We were surprised at the announcement that some milling quality oats would not be accepted if treated with glyphosate, and frankly, this didn’t sit well with me. But there was no science on this and so we immediately established a one-season ‘look-see’ trial in 2015 at two locations near Saskatoon to compare different harvest systems and their effects on quality of milling oats,” he says. “We compared two different oat cultivars: CDC Dancer, a medium maturity cultivar, and AC Pinnacle, a later maturing cultivar. The oats were managed using typical agronomy practices, including a seeding rate of 300 seeds per square metre (seeds/m2) targeting 250 plants per square metre (plants/m2) and fertilized for a target yield of 150 bushels per acre.” The second factor was a comparison of three different harvest systems, including swathing at the optimum timing of 35 per cent moisture, direct combined (at approximately nine per cent seed moisture content alone and direct combined with a pre-harvest glyphosate application. The pre-harvest glyphosate was applied according to label requirements at 30 per cent seed moisture content using the recommended label rate. The project compared various harvest quality parameters, as well as functional quality characteristics and residue testing across the different treatments. Through funding from the Prairie Oat Growers Association and the Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund, the initial 2015 trial has been expanded into a fully funded, much larger three-year project that will involve several additional experiments. “We gained some very good insights in the initial trial, but these very preliminary results will be compared again in this larger expanded trial over the next three years. Until we get the final results at the end of 2018, these early one-season informational highlights have to be considered very preliminary,” Willenborg says. The 2015 preliminary results showed that, as expected, cultivar had an impact on all of the quality parameters, such as yield, plump kernels, 1,000 kernel weight and test weight. However, there was no cultivar by harvest system interaction – the effects of the harvest system were consistent regardless of which cultivar was planted. “The harvest system did have an impact on several of the quality parameters, however the preliminary results did not show any negative effects of a pre-harvest glyphosate application,” Willenborg explains. “In terms of yield, swathing resulted in a 15 to 18 per cent yield reduction compared to direct harvest, however some of that reduction may be a function of our plot harvesting equipment, and this may be different with field-scale grower systems. The direct harvested plots, with and without a pre-harvest glyphosate treatment, had virtually equal yield. Swathing produced the highest test weight, with direct harvest plus pre-harvest glyphosate equal to the swathing treatment; direct harvest with no glyphosate had a significant lower test weight.”The swathing treatment also produced the highest percentage of thin kernels, with direct harvest and no glyphosate intermediate and the lowest percentage of thin kernels with direct harvest plus glyphosate treatment. On the other hand, the percentage of plump kernels was the same in both direct harvest treatments, but slightly lower for the swathing treatment. Overall, the pre-harvest glyphosate reduced the percentage of thin kernels in the sample, which is a benefit for growers. “For the initial and longer term project, we partnered with Dr. Nancy Ames at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to compare the functional aspects of the oat cultivars under the different treatments,” Willenborg says. “Her preliminary functional test results were similar to the seed quality results, with no major impacts on functional quality among the treatments. For the glyphosate testing, we partnered with Dr. Sheryl Tittlemier at the Canadian Grain Commission to develop a glyphosate residue test for oat. Her initial test results from the 2015 treatments showed that the direct harvest plus pre-harvest glyphosate treatment did have very small levels of residues at four [parts per million], which is well below the MRL threshold levels in North America. We will continue to use this test for the larger project.”The expanded three-year study will include the same harvest treatments, with some additional trials assessing seeding rate and stand uniformity. Stand uniformity is related to the question of whether or not additional tillers in the stand may be a factor with potential glyphosate issues. The three harvest treatments will also be compared at a range of different moisture contents, from 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 per cent at the time of swathing, or direct harvest alone and direct harvest plus pre-harvest glyphosate. Willenborg will also be investigating alternative cultural and herbicide combinations for managing perennial weeds in oat. The full analysis and final project results will be available in 2019, including seed quality and functional analysis. “So far it doesn’t appear that glyphosate is having an adverse effect on oat seed quality or functionality, and if anything is showing a small quality benefit to having glyphosate applied prior to harvest,” Willenborg says. “The key is to follow the label directions for pre-harvest application and make sure the crop is at 30 per cent moisture or lower, which corresponds roughly to the hard dough stage of development. All of our research treatments have been completed according to the label, but once you get off label in terms of timing we don’t know what will happen with glyphosate residues. “For example, in some of our earlier work with lentil, the results were fine as long as label directions were followed, but as soon as application got off label in terms of timing and at higher moisture content, [that’s] where problems with quality and MRLs showed up. We expect that may be similar to oat, which is often harvested late in the season, when growers are between a rock and a hard place, with frost or heavy rains threatening harvest.”Although it can be a challenge to apply glyphosate at the proper timing, there can be serious consequences due to not adhering to the label timing. Always follow the label, and check with your grain buyer about the acceptance of all pre-harvest and other product use and MRLs for all crops, including oats.
A group of international scientists is meeting in the national capital to try to convince parliamentarians there is no longer any doubt that common agricultural pesticides are proving toxic to ordinary honey bees. Jean-Marc Bonmatin of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, represents a task force on pesticides within the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which in 2015 released a comprehensive review of more than 1,100 peer-reviewed research studies on neonicotinoids. READ MORE
Corn and soybean growers in Canada have a new tool in the fight against tough and resistant weeds. ZIDUA™ SC is a new Group 15 herbicide from BASF that contains the active ingredient pyroxasulfone."BASF focuses on providing Canadian growers with tools that support current and emerging resistance challenges," said Deven Esqueda, Crop Manager, Corn and Soybeans for BASF. "ZIDUA SC, backed by ten years of research, allows growers to add residual Group 15 activity to their weed management strategy and become less reliant on glyphosate."Recently registered by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, ZIDUA SC herbicide will be available for use in the 2018 season. ZIDUA SC is currently labelled for use in herbicide-tolerant soybeans and field corn.ZIDUA SC is a stand-alone solution and can also be tank-mixed with glyphosate, ERAGON®LQ, MARKSMAN® or ENGENIA™ in Eastern Canada, and HEAT® LQ, ENGENIA™ or ARMEZON® in Western Canada, to provide multiple modes of action for resistance management.Resistance has been increasing across Canada in pigweed species, including waterhemp and redroot pigweed. A study by the Canadian Journal of Plant Science states glyphosate-resistant waterhemp was first identified in Ontario in 2014. In Alberta, Group 2-resistant redroot pigweed was identied by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 2010.The residual Group 15 activity in ZIDUA SC helps to inhibit early root and shoot growth in these tough to control weeds, maximizing corn and soybean yield through the critical period for weed control. ZIDUA SC also provides flushing control of barnyard grass, crabgrass, green and yellow foxtail, common waterhemp and redroot pigweed.For more information on ZIDUA SC herbicide, contact AgSolutions® Customer Care at 1-877-371-BASF (2273), or visit agsolutions.ca. Always read and follow label directions.
The U.S. environmental agency is considering banning sprayings of the agricultural herbicide dicamba after a set deadline next year, according to state officials advising the agency on its response to crop damage linked to the weed killer.Setting a cut-off date, possibly sometime in the first half of 2018, would aim to protect plants vulnerable to dicamba, after growers across the U.S. farm belt reported the chemical drifted from where it was sprayed this summer, damaging millions of acres of soybeans and other crops.A ban could hurt sales by Monsanto Co (MON.N) and DuPont which sell dicamba weed killers and soybean seeds with Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant Xtend trait. BASF (BASFn.DE) also sells a dicamba herbicide.It is not yet known how damage attributed to the herbicides, used on Xtend soybeans and cotton, will affect yields of soybeans unable to withstand dicamba because the crops have not been harvested.The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discussed a deadline for next year’s sprayings on a call with state officials last month that addressed steps the agency could take to prevent a repeat of the damage, four participants on the call told Reuters.It was the latest of at least three conference calls the EPA has held with state regulators and experts since late July dedicated to dicamba-related crop damage and the first to focus on how to respond to the problem, participants said.A cut-off date for usage in spring or early summer could protect vulnerable plants by only allowing farmers to spray fields before soybeans emerge from the ground, according to weed and pesticide specialists.Monsanto spokeswoman Christi Dixon told Reuters on Aug. 23, the day of the last EPA call, that the agency had not indicated it planned to prohibit sprayings of dicamba herbicides on soybeans that had emerged. That action “would not be warranted,” she said.The EPA had no immediate comment.EPA officials on the last call made clear that it would be unacceptable to see the same extent of crop damage again next year, according to Andrew Thostenson, a pesticide specialist for North Dakota State University who participated in the call.They said “there needed to be some significant changes for the use rules if we’re going to maintain it in 2018,” he said about dicamba usage.State regulators and university specialists from Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and North Dakota are pressuring the EPA to decide soon on rules guiding usage because farmers will make planting decisions for next spring over the next several months.Tighter usage limits could discourage cash-strapped growers from buying Monsanto’s more expensive dicamba-resistant Xtend soybean seeds. Dicamba-tolerant soybeans cost about $64 a bag, compared with about $28 a bag for Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans and about $50 a bag for soybeans resistant to Bayer’s Liberty herbicide.Already, a task force in Arkansas has advised the state to bar dicamba sprayings after April 15 next year, which would prevent most farmers there from using dicamba on Xtend soybeans after they emerge.Arkansas previously blocked sales of Monsanto’s dicamba herbicide, XtendiMax with VaporGrip, in the state.“If the EPA imposed a April 15 cut-off date for dicamba spraying, that would be catastrophic for Xtend - it invalidates the entire point of planting it,” said Jonas Oxgaard, analyst for investment management firm Bernstein.Monsanto has projected its Xtend crop system would return a $5 to $10 premium per acre over soybeans with glyphosate resistance alone, creating a $400-$800 million opportunity for the company once the seeds are planted on an expected 80 million acres in the United States, according to Oxgaard.By 2019, Monsanto predicts U.S. farmers will plant Xtend soybeans on 55 million acres, or more than 60 percent of the total planted this year. READ MORE 
Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common neonicotinoid pesticide, according to a new University of Guelph study.
All soils are not equal. Rich loams support the world's most productive agricultural regions, including swaths of the American Midwest. But in some parts of the Midwest, including areas in Missouri and Illinois, claypan soils dominate. And where claypans reign, problems for producers abound. New research from the University of Missouri could help claypan farmers improve yields while saving costs. | READ MORE
There are both environmental and agronomic concerns surrounding the management of livestock manure. The major environmental concerns are: potential risk of nutrient accumulation in soil – particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) – and risk of nutrient movement into surface or groundwater. Poor manure management can also cause accumulation of salts in soil, surface water or groundwater and pathogenic micro-organisms in surface water.
Messages and the medium must change to improve food literacy among future consumers, according to a new study released today by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). The Food Literacy Attitude and Awareness Research Project set out to gain a better understanding of the current state of food literacy among Ontario consumers, and use the insights to guide future programs, resources and information.OFA, together with an advisory committee including the Nutrition Resource Centre – Ontario Public Health Association, Ontario Home Economics Association, AgScape, and Farm and Food Care Ontario, surveyed three distinct consumer groups to measure their level of food literacy and provide baseline information, with support from the Government of Ontario in partnership with the Greenbelt Fund.“We wanted to gauge the current knowledge level of parents with kids at home, teenagers and early millennials,” says Keith Currie, OFA president. “Food literacy is a very timely topic, and one that needs more attention and support because it is so closely tied with public health. We need to understand what consumers – both current and future – are aware of so we can accurately focus resources and information in the future. This study provides an insightful starting point.”The project included two in-person focus groups to gather qualitative information on food literacy that was used to gather 1,003 online surveys for quantitative information on local food, meal planning, purchasing, preparation and consumption in the home, and information sources used by consumers.According to the study results, the current ways of reaching teenagers with food literacy messages are neither effective nor impactful. Dietitians generally target their messages to parents and should revise their messages and focus to target teens directly. Most food skills are learned at home, passed from parent to child, making it vital that parents are comfortable with food preparation and have a good knowledge and understanding of health and nutrition.Other study highlights include: Nearly 25 per cent of all respondents didn’t know any of the food groups Millennials seek health and nutrition information from a wide variety of sources, compared to other consumer groups surveyed Less than 50 per cent of parents surveyed know the safe cooking temperatures for a variety of meat and poultry items Overall, there is a clear understanding of local food products but not of farming practices or food production Local food knowledge does not differ significantly depending on where the respondents live (rural, urban, suburban) “The information we gather now serves as a guide for OFA and other partners to identify future needs, including public policy, to develop stronger food literacy components in our curriculum and through other programs and resources,” says Currie. “We are already working with a registered dietician to develop a meal plan for teenagers to help them understand how to put together a properly, balanced meal. This will be a great addition to our www.SixbySixteen.me program.”“It is important for Ontarians to know about where the food on their plate comes from and the great benefits our agriculture sector brings to the economy,” said Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Fund. “These insights provide an important benchmark to measure progress on local food literacy, and I am confident that our ongoing work with the OFA and other farm organizations will continue to move the needle, particularly among younger Ontarians.”The complete Food Literacy Attitude and Awareness Research Project report is available at www.ofa.on.ca.
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, issued the following statement today on the export of Canadian pulses to India:“The Government of Canada is deeply concerned and disappointed with the recent regulatory and tariff decisions made by the Government of India affecting Canadian pulse trade.“We have been steadfast in our efforts to find a mutually acceptable way forward with the Government of India to provide stable, sustainable access for Canadian pulse exports to India.“In addition to efforts by Government of Canada senior officials to seek a long-term solution, we have also been actively engaged with our counterparts directly, most recently during the Government of Canada’s mission to India by Ministers Champagne, Bains, and Garneau. Despite these efforts, progress has stalled and a solution to this important issue remains elusive.“The most recent derogation for the fumigation of pulses expired on September 30, 2017 and, for the first time since 2004, a renewal of the extension has not been granted by the Government of India to Canada. Other trade partners have received extended derogations to December 31, 2017, indicating that India is applying discriminatory treatment to Canada.“To this, on November 8, 2017, India announced a 50% tariff on dry pea imports from all countries, a decision that was made without advance notice.“The Government of Canada stands ready to work constructively with the Government of India, in close consultation with the Canadian pulse industry, to resolve this issue and obtain a commercially viable solution, helping to ensure India’s long term food security.“Canada is a safe and reliable global supplier of pulses, which account for a large share of Canada’s exports to India. In 2016, Canada’s exports of pulses, including dry peas, to India were worth over $1.1 billion and accounted for 27.5 percent of Canada's global pulse exports.”
Argentina recently authorized the use of genetically modified soybean seeds resistant to herbicides other than glyphosate, as the European Union (EU) debates whether to extend the license of weed-killers containing the ingredient.The EU debate comes amid concerns the active ingredient in Monsanto Co.'s popular weed-killer Roundup causes cancer. That has caused concern in the South American country, the number one exporter of soybean meal and soybean oil and number three raw soybean exporter, that its exports to the EU could be in jeopardy.In a statement, the Agriculture Ministry said the SYN-000H2-5 seed needed different herbicides which had not raised health concerns around the world. Syngenta AG and Bayer AG had requested government approval for the seed. For the full story, click here.
India’s decision to impose a steep tariff on pea imports could jeopardize $1 billion worth of pulse trading with Canada, which may cause farmers there to trim their pea acreage by nearly one-third.Earlier this month, India imposed a 50 per cent import tax on peas, as pulse prices fell below their government-set support levels because of record output.The duty is expected to lift domestic pulse prices and spur farmers in India, the world’s biggest buyer of pulses, to boost pulse plantings, reducing import requirements in 2018. READ MORERelated: Statement by the Government of Canada on pulse exports to India
Despite being at opposite ends of the planet, Canada and Australia have long been soul sisters, But it’s in agriculture where the similarities come to the fore, with very similar commodity profiles, particularly for grain, dairy and protein.And despite very different target markets, trade agreements and government attitudes, each country’s agricultural communities are after one thing — a profitable and expanding appetite for their produce. | READ MORE
A meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership countries in Vietnam this week provides a window of opportunity for Canada to take the next step in TPP implementation, increasing the value of canola exports and benefiting the entire canola value chain. The 11 country members are meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Week, November 6 to 11.“The canola industry is urging the federal government to advance the TPP during these discussions,” says Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada. “Implementing the TPP will increase value-added processing in Canada, maintain existing markets and ensure that Canada remains competitive to other oilseed producing countries.”The United States has decided not to proceed with TPP negotiations. However, implementing an agreement with the remaining 11 countries would provide Canadian canola a competitive advantage over competing oilseed products entering TPP countries, such as U.S. soybean oil into Japan.Japan is a long-standing and consistent market for canola seed, but tariffs of approximately 16 per cent have prevented oil exports. As agreed to during the TPP negotiations, the TPP would open new markets for value-added canola products by eliminating canola oil and canola meal tariffs and establishing more effective rules to prevent non-tariff barriers. When tariffs are fully eliminated in Japan and Vietnam over five years, exports of Canadian canola oil and meal could increase by up to $780 million per year.In addition, Australia already has a free trade agreement with Japan that is eliminating tariffs on Australian canola oil. As a result, Canadian canola oil currently faces a six per cent higher tariff than Australian canola oil – a competitive disadvantage that will grow each year that the TPP is not implemented.“Australia is able to ship value-added product to Japan, while Canada cannot,” says Everson. “Each year that passes without implementation means that Canada falls further behind our main competitor in the Asia-Pacific region – risking our current $1.2 billion annual exports to Japan.”The TPP is an important enabling step for the canola industry to increase value-added processing and productivity. The industry’s strategic plan, Keep it Coming 2025, includes the objective of nearly doubling the amount of canola processed in Canada over the next 10 years. Processing 14 million tonnes of canola in Canada requires that barriers to exporting canola oil and meal are removed – such as tariffs that the TPP would eliminate.
Colin Penner teaches farm business management at the University of Manitoba. Earlier this fall, while his family was taking off another crop of wheat, oats, canola and soybeans near Elm Creek, Man., he was beginning his fourth year of instruction.
The latest calculator was released in January and is an update on a tool called CROPPLAN Financial Analysis. It was designed by two farm management specialists from Manitoba, Roy Arnott of Killarney and Darren Bond of Teulon.
With large dollars and major tax implications hanging in the balance, farmers need to take the time to carefully weigh financing options for any and every acquisition of farm equipment. Whether you should lease or buy your next major farm purchase cannot be answered with a one-size-fits-all set of rules, says Rick Battistoni, chartered professional accountant, and a partner with MNP, a national accounting, tax and business consulting firm. Rather, he says, one’s financing decisions depend on your farm’s specific needs, priorities and financial reality.
More New Brunswick students are digging into agriculture this year thanks to the launch of the new Agriculture in the Classroom program.The program supports teachers with educational resources and provides hands-on learning experiences to students. The program is designed to connect more students with agriculture and nurture an appreciation for the nutritious food grown in the province.The Agriculture in the Classroom project will receive $60,000 from the New Brunswick Food and Beverage Strategy. It will also receive $19,900 from the Growing Forward 2 program that is cost-shared on a 60-40 basis between the federal and provincial governments. For the full story, click here. Related: Government invests over half a million dollars to develop education surrounding the agriculture sector
Following is a statement from Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) President Ron Bonnett in reaction to the announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish Chaggar of small business tax changes."The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) welcomes today's announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish Chaggar that the 10.5 per cent small business tax rate will drop to 10 per cent in 2018 and 9 per cent in 2019.A reduced overall small business tax rate will help to drive growth in the agriculture sector and boost the competitiveness of Canadian farmers. As well, changes announced to 'Tax Planning Using Private Corporations' proposals are a positive sign that the government understands the concerns voiced by farm groups in recent months.Simplifying the income sprinkling rules is a step in the right direction and farmers look forward to more clarity around tax changes. CFA is also pleased that the government will not proceed with limiting access to the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption.Minister Morneau has said that he'll ensure family farm transfers aren't affected by the tax changes and farm groups await details on how the proposals will be revised in this regard.While today's news resolves some uncertainty, farmers remain apprehensive about other proposed tax measures, particularly on passive investments, which are vital for managing year-over-year risks due to weather or market-related volatility. CFA has also noted concern with plans that would affect the conversion of income into capital gains.CFA executives are in regular contact with Finance Canada officials and other government representatives, and we understand these outstanding issues will be addressed in the near future."
Improving food literacy – the ability to make healthy food choices – through activities such as hands-on cooking, exposure to new foods, and farm and gardening activities can help build the skills required to plan, purchase and prepare healthier foods. These activities help encourage children to make healthy eating choices and supports healthy living.The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, recently announced funding for the Farm to School: Canada Digs in! Initiative. This innovative program, launched today, aims to empower and educate students in schools and on campuses about healthy eating. She was joined by Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.Farm to School: Canada Digs in! will bring healthy, locally grown food into schools, and provide students with hands-on opportunities to learn about healthy food options, meal preparation, sustainable food systems, local food production, marketing and distribution. Program activities will allow children and youth to benefit from greater availability of healthy, local and sustainable foods in schools and on campuses across Canada. This project also supports the Government of Canada's Healthy Eating Strategy, which aims to make healthy food choice the easy choice.
John Deere has introduced its latest advanced guidance and machine data sharing technology with the addition of three new AutoTrac applications and a new In-Field Data Sharing application for its Generation 4 Displays.AutoTrac Turn Automation, AutoTrac Implement Guidance, AutoTrac Vision for Tractors, and In-Field Data Sharing applications are being sold as bundled activations for the John Deere 4600 CommandCenter and as bundled subscriptions for 4640 Universal Displays.“These new applications are machine-specific bundled activations with the 4600 CommandCenter and provide late-model John Deere machine owners with outstanding technology value,” said John Misher, precision agriculture product marketing manager with John Deere. For owners of machines equipped with a 4640 Display, the applications are offered as bundled one- or five-year subscriptions.AutoTrac Turn Automation makes end turns smooth, consistent and comfortable for operators during tillage, planting, seeding or other pre-emerge applications when using straight-track guidance modes. Mishler said the new application for tractors provides automation across the field rather than just between headlands. It allows operators to focus on machine and job performance while reducing operator fatigue.When AutoTrac Turn Automation is activated, the machine functions previously required at the end of the field, when operating drawn implements, no longer require user input. “For example, making end turns, raising and lowering the implement, PTO control, 3-point hitch functions and speed can be established in sequences from one setup page to become automated,” Mishler explained.AutoTrac Implement Guidance (passive) enables the tractor to move off the intended path or guidance line in order to achieve expected accuracy of the implement. Mishler said implement drift can diminish accuracy of the implement while the tractor is traveling on the guidance line. “AutoTrac Implement Guidance helps operators improve pass-to-pass accuracy by placing the implement consistently on the guidance line, helping to reduce the impact of implement drift,” he explained.AutoTrac Implement Guidance is ideal for first-pass tillage, planting, seeding, strip till or other applications with drawn implements when using straight- or curve-tracking modes and when operating on hillsides. Differential-correction signals can be shared between the receiver on the tractor and the implement. Mishler said the application is easy to install, calibrate and operate.AutoTrac Vision Guidance was previously released for John Deere 30-Series and newer sprayers. Now, Deere is expanding the application to include 7X30 large-frame, 8X30 and 8X30T, 7R and 8R/8RT tractors. AutoTrac Vision can be utilized in post-season crop applications to detect the crop row and provide input to the machine’s AutoTrac system to keep the tractor’s wheels or tracks between the crop rows. This level of precision can be beneficial when side-dressing fertilizer, post-emerge spraying and cultivating.“This application is supported when the tractor is working in corn, soybeans and cotton at least 6 inches tall with up to a 90 per cent canopy. This level of advanced guidance minimizes crop damage, reduces operator fatigue and maximizes tractor productivity in fields with 20- to 40-inch row spacing,” Mishler added.In-Field Data Sharing makes it easier for producers to co-ordinate multiple machines working in the same field. Operators can use the application to share coverage, application, yield and moisture maps along with straight tracks and circle tracks with up to six other machines.The application helps machines to work together more efficiently, reducing skips, overlap, fuel and input costs for producers. During planting, seeding, harvesting, spraying and nutrient application, In-Field Data Sharing helps producers maximize each pass through the field.“It’s easy to share and check maps with In-Field Data Sharing. Operators can monitor machines’ as-applied maps to see if they’re properly calibrated and performing in a similar manner, thus maximizing machine performance,” Mishler said. “In-Field Data Sharing also lets users transfer guidance lines between machines without manually moving a USB stick from one machine to another. This is a real time-saver wheral machines are working in the same field. By using the application, operators can more efficiently manage nurse trucks, tenders and grain carts while decreasing operating costs.”Each of the four new applications is compatible with the John Deere 4640 Universal Display and with Gen 4 4600 CommandCenter displays. Activations and subscriptions are immediately available for ordering. Delivery will take place beginning in February 2018.Producers should visit their local John Deere dealer for additional information about hardware requirements and tractor platform, display and differential-correction signal compatibility. 
Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) is calling on the Senate of Canada to pass Bill C-49, The Transportation Modernization Act as quickly as possible. This Bill will give grain farmers and shippers important tools that will create a more accountable, fair and efficient rail transportation system. Growers are concerned that without these powers in place, there will be increasing delays and costs in getting grain to market.“International customers are always looking to Canada for our top-quality grains and oilseed products, but over the years our reputation as a reliable supplier has been put into question, in large part due to our rail logistics system,” said Jeff Nielsen, GGC president. “We are anxious to have the C-49 measures in place as they will not only give us some competitive options but will allow shippers to hold the railways accountable when they fail to meet their contractual service obligations.”The grains sector in Western Canada is now into its most critical time as the value chain works together to move another very large crop. “We are already experiencing signs of deteriorating service,” continued Nielsen. “With car order fulfilments decreasing, growers are becoming increasingly concerned we will find ourselves in another devastating grain backlog like we experienced in 2013-14.”To rebalance the relationship temporary measures were put in place to address the 2013-14 grain crisis, including extended interswitching distances up to 160km. Those provisions expired in August 2017 and shippers have been left with no meaningful tools to secure accountable, fair and efficient service from the railways. Bill C-49 contains legislative amendments that will give shippers permanent tools, including access to reciprocal penalties, long haul interswitching and improved data collection and transparency.“The measures contained in C-49 have been a long time coming for the grain sector,” said Art Enns, GGC Vice-President. “We cannot afford another year without provisions in place that are critical to rebalancing commercial relationships and creating a more competitive and efficient rail environment. Grain farmers across Canada urge the Senate to do the right thing and pass Bill C-49 as quickly as possible.”
The more tools we can use, the better yields and the healthier our crops – the basis of precision agriculture. Precision ag has grown incredibly over the last few years, and many growers, technicians and equipment specialists are eager to get on board.
A need for accurate, current weather data was the reason behind the development of a new weather system that gives farmers access to real-time information.The AGGrower Daily Dashboard is powered by a network of 80 weather stations in southwestern Ontario that capture rain fall, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction data minute by minute and push it to a farmer-accessible website every 15 minutes.Project collaborators AGRIS Co-operative, Wanstead Farmers’ Co-op and Haggerty Creek realized a need among their customers for a web-based, field-specific risk management tool based on real-time weather data.“We talk about weather so much in agriculture – both the forecast and the weather that just occurred play into management decisions,” explains Dale Cowan, Senior Agronomist with AGRIS and Wanstead Cooperatives. “So we got together and decided to build this network to push real time weather data out to customers. We are trying to make extension advice real-time.”The dashboard lets farmers plot individual fields and remotely access wind and rainfall data from each station to help make decisions about spraying and nutrient management, as well as establishing crop maturity and insect or disease pressure.“There’s a lot of management advice that comes with the impacts of weather and the growth stages of the crop. We can predict when tasseling is going to occur, for example, and what management should be considered at that time for plant health and nutrition,” Cowan says.Interest in the subscription-based system has been high, with uptake varied by what farmers want to know. Rain fall and wind data have been big in 2017. Precipitation has been extremely spotty and then very intense in some regions and wind has made spraying a challenge.Dave Gillespie grows corn, soybeans and wheat in the Thamesville area. His home farm is a weather station host and he is an avid user of the dashboard. This year, it was particularly helpful in managing spraying.“Often times I need data when I’m out in the field making minute by minute management decisions and now, instead of just seeing what the predicted wind speed and direction is, I can actually login and see what conditions are being logged on the specific fields,” he explains, adding this lets him react quickly to avoid unsuitable spraying conditions.“We’ve always known there’s a difference in conditions from here to Ridgetown, but now we know exactly how much the difference can be between two spots that are only 10 to 15 km apart,” Gillespie says.The collaborators accessed Growing Forward 2 funding for both phases of the project – an investigation into feasibility and execution, as well as the actual implementation, which included establishing the weather stations and working with participating farmers to connect them to the network and get them working with the available data.“If we didn’t have the funding, we likely wouldn’t have started with this venture at all. It was a great tool for de-risking the venture by having assistance up front to help get it developed,” Cowan says.This project was 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 New Holland T6.175 Dynamic Command tractor was crowned Machine of the Year 2018 in the Mid Class Tractor category at the Agritechnica trade show in Hanover, Germany. The machine received the coveted award for its technical innovation and the benefits it brings to customers, with selection criteria focusing on innovative features, performance, productivity, cost of operation, ease of use and operator comfort.“This award is testament to New Holland’s long-standing leadership of the mixed farming and dairy segment. It is a well-deserved recognition of the hard work and dedication of all those involved in the development of the T6.175 Dynamic Command tractor, who worked tirelessly to produce a tractor that meets the specific requests of our customers,” said Carlo Lambro, President of New Holland Agriculture Brand.In August 2017, New Holland announced it is expanding its acclaimed T6 Series offering with the new T6 Dynamic Command option. These new T6.145, T6.155, T6.165 and T6.175 are the only tractors in the segment featuring a 24x24 semi powershift transmission on the market. They are versatile tractors that will be an asset to the fleets of dairy, livestock, and hay and forage operations.For more information, visit: http://www.newholland.com/na
The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, recently announced at the Farms.com Precision Agriculture Conference, the launch of the Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform into Western Canada for the 2018 growing season. With Climate’s analytics-based digital tools, more Canadian farmers will be able to harness their data in one connected platform to identify and more efficiently manage variability in their fields, tailoring crop inputs to optimize yield and maximize their return on every acre.In September 2016, the company first announced the introduction of the Climate FieldView platform in Eastern Canada, where hundreds of farmers across nearly one million acres have been experiencing the value of data-driven, digital tools on their operations. Now, farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta will have the ability to use the Climate FieldView platform to uncover personalized field insights to support the many crucial decisions they make each season to enhance crop productivity.“The Climate FieldView platform is a one-stop shop for simple field data management, helping Canadian farmers get the most out of every acre,” said Denise Hockaday, Canada business lead for The Climate Corporation. “Through the delivery of the platform’s powerful data analytics and customized field insights, farmers across Canada have the power to tailor their agronomic practices more precisely than ever before, fine tuning their action plans for the best outcome at the end of the season.”Over the past year, the Climate FieldView platform had a strong testing effort across many farm operations in Western Canada, enabling the Climate team to further develop the platform’s compatibility with all types of farm equipment and crops, including canola and wheat, to collect and analyze field data from multiple sources.“Part of the challenge with data is managing all of the numbers and having an adequate cloud system to store and effectively analyze the information,” said farmer D’Arcy Hilgartner of Alberta, who participated in testing the Climate FieldView platform on his operation this season. “The Climate FieldView platform instantly transfers the field data gathered from my farm equipment into my Climate FieldView account, which is especially useful during harvest season because I’m able to see where various crop inputs were used and analyze the corresponding yield. I’ve really enjoyed having this digital platform at my disposal, and I’m excited to see the positive impacts on my business this coming year.”As Climate continues to expand its digital technologies to help more farmers access advanced agronomic insights, additional new data layers will feed the company’s unmatched R&D engine, ultimately enabling the development of valuable new features for farmers in the Climate FieldView platform. In August 2017, the company announced the acceleration of R&D advancements through the company’s robust innovation pipeline, along with new product features and enhancements to help farmers manage their field variability more precisely than ever before. Launched in 2015, the Climate FieldView platform is on more than 120 million acres with more than 100,000 users across the United States, Canada and Brazil. It has quickly become the most broadly connected platform in the industry and continues to expand into new global regions.Climate FieldView Platform Offering in Western Canada Data Connectivity - Farmers can collect, store and visualize their field data in one easy-to-use digital platform through the Climate FieldView Drive, a device that easily streams field data directly into the Climate FieldView platform. FieldView Drive works with many tractors and combines across Canada, in addition to anhydrous applicators and air seeders, helping farmers easily collect field data for the agronomic inputs they manage throughout the season. Recently, The Climate Corporation announced a new data connectivity agreement with AGCO, providing more farmers even more options to connect their equipment to the Climate FieldView platform. In addition to the FieldView Drive, farmers can connect their field data to their Climate FieldView account through Precision Planting LLC's monitors, cloud-to-cloud connection with other agricultural software systems such as the John Deere Operations Center, and through manual file upload. Yield Analysis Tools - With Climate’s seed performance and analysis tools, farmers can see what worked and what didn’t at the field level or by field zone, and apply those insights to better understand field variability by quickly and easily comparing digital field maps side-by-side. Farmers can save regions of their fields in a yield-by-region report and can also save and record a field region report through enhanced drawing and note taking tools, retrieving the report at a later date for easy analysis on any portion of their field to better understand how their crops are performing. Advanced Field Health Imagery - Through frequent and consistent, high-quality satellite imagery, farmers can instantly visualize and analyze crop performance, helping them identify issues early, prioritize scouting and take action early to protect yield. Climate's proprietary imagery process provides consistent imagery quality and frequency by using high-resolution imagery with vegetative data from multiple images, in addition to advanced cloud identification. Farmers can also drop geo-located scouting pins on field health images and navigate back to those spots for a closer look, or share with agronomic partners. Seeding and Fertility Scripting - Farmers can manage their inputs to optimize yield in every part of their field with manual variable rate seed and fertility scripting tools. Through Climate’s manual seed scripting tools, farmers can easily create detailed planting plans for their fields to build a hybrid specific prescription tailored to their unique goals, saving time and improving productivity. Additionally, Climate offers a manual fertility scripting tool, enabling farmers the ability to optimize their inputs with a customized management plan for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and lime tailored to their unique goals. 2018 Availability and PricingThe Climate FieldView platform is currently available for purchase in Western Canada on a per-acre basis so that farmers can begin using it on their farms in time for the 2018 growing season. To experience the complete value of the platform throughout the entire growing season, farmers should sign up for a Climate FieldView account by Jan. 1, 2018. For more information about the Climate FieldView platform and pricing, contact Climate Support at 1.888.924.7475 or visit www.climatefieldview.ca.
A scientist from Agriculture Canada and an engineer from the University of PEI are teaming up on a project they hope will revolutionize how farmers deal with weeds in their fields. Their idea is to mount a camera and sensors on a sprayer.It then uses software to identify what's a plant and what's a weed and turn the sprayer on and off to target the weeds. This summer's work was the start of a five-year project, researchers are hoping to do field-scale demonstrations by year three. READ MORE
HORSCH, a global manufacturer of seeding, planting, tillage, and application equipment, is proud to introduce Canola Ready Technology for its Maestro SW row crop planters. The new Canola Ready Technology consists of a small seeds kit, including a set of stainless steel seed discs and quick-change meter components for fast conversion from row crops to canola. The kit allows producers unmatched precision seed placement and significant input savings when seeding canola.With the Maestro SW row crop planter equipped with Canola Ready Technology, canola producers are experiencing seed cost savings of 50 per cent or more per acre versus air seeders without sacrifice to yield, due to lower seed mortality rate and improved precision seed placement. “The seed savings alone in canola gains an extra $30-40+ per acre of margin. Features such as individual row shut off to control seeding overlap, curve compensation, and auto row unit downforce control add even more seed savings,” says Jeremy Hughes, product manager at HORSCH. “Beyond seed cost savings, the uniform emergence and consistent crop development seen in seeding canola with the Maestro is adding tremendous benefits to crop health management and harvest quality. These all have positive benefits on the farmer’s bottom line”.”“The Corn Belt is moving north,” adds Hughes. “The changes in crop rotations are shifting more toward canola/soybeans/small grains/corn in areas such as northern North Dakota and into the Prairie Provinces of Western Canada. The past two generations of farmers have primarily used air seeder technology for seeding crops. As our producers seek more precise seeding technologies for canola along with incorporating significant acres of soybeans and corn into their rotations, row crop planters become more viable in these areas. Maestro SW’s row unit and singulation technology provides superior seed placement precision for all of these crops.”The Canola Ready Technology is available to use on all Maestro SW row crop planter models. Maestro SW planters are available in 40’ and 60’ toolbar widths with row spacing of 15”, 20”, 22” or 30”.For more information, contact HORSCH LLC, 200 Knutson Street, Mapleton, SD 58059; call 1-855-4HORSCH; email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; or visit www.horsch.com.
Precision mapping technology is increasingly user-friendly. In fact, Aaron Breimer, general manager of precision agriculture consulting firm Veritas Farm Business Management, says some precision map-writing software is so simple a producer can segment zones or draw a boundary around a field with little more than the click of a mouse. The challenge is that the maps are only as accurate as the information used to create them.
Growers now have a new option to access and manage their irrigation system from anywhere at any time. Reinke introduces RC10, a remote monitoring device providing advanced control options for improved irrigation management and better overall water management.“When we talk with growers about their irrigation system needs, saving time and increasing efficiencies and productivity are often at the top of the list,” said Reinke President Chris Roth. “RC10 is designed to address these needs and more with its ease of use and advanced command and control capabilities.”RC10 is cellular or satellite based, providing 24/7 mobile access from anywhere. Growers can monitor and control their irrigation system using the advanced control features such as sector, end gun and auxiliary programming.The device is the latest addition to the ReinCloudÔ platform, Reinke’s ag data service. ReinCloud allows growers to manage and monitor their irrigation system, analyze soil moisture data, check the weather and more from a single mobile web application. Through the platform, irrigation system data is collected, stored and analyzed for the grower. Growers can organize their operation by property, zone and equipment, making it easier to quickly gain access to control and monitor their ag-based equipment.RC10 is housed within Reinke’s patented, double wall tower box and can be mounted at the main control or end of the system. The device is compatible with most irrigation systems.Reinke RC10 is now available through Reinke dealers. For more information on RC10, visit www.reinke.com.
In a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) urged the quick passage of Bill C-49 – historic federal legislation that promises to provide long-term solutions to Canada’s grain transportation issues which have plagued the industry for decades.AWC’s presentation also recommended amendments to the legislation that would improve the effectiveness of long haul interswitching as a tool to improve railway competition. As currently proposed, AWC believes the new interswitching provisions may be less effective than those enacted under the former Bill C-30.Overall, AWC is pleased with measures in Bill C-49 – the Transportation Modernization Act, that will help correct the imbalance between the market power of railways and shippers and ensure that the cost of system failures are not passed down the supply chain to farmers.“AWC appreciates the federal government’s commitment to legislation that will improve railway competition and accountability in Canada,” said Kevin Auch, AWC Chair. “AWC has been pressing for rail reform since our organization began in 2012 and we saw the invitation to speak today as another opportunity to ensure the farmer voice is truly represented as this legislation is developed.”As a member of the Crop Logistics Working Group (CLWG), AWC also supports a series of suggested amendments that deal with more timely reporting of railway service data and requirements that the railways provide more detailed volume forecasts and operational plans to the Minister at the beginning of each crop year. The CLWG is a regular forum for grain industry stakeholders to identify supply chain challenges and commercial solutions aimed at enhancing the transparency and effectiveness of the grain handling transportation system.“We see our membership with the CLWG as an excellent opportunity to pass producer feedback directly to Minister MacAulay as it relates to grain movement by rail,” said Auch. “In providing these amendments, we hope to see long-awaited legislation that fosters growth of the agriculture sector and supports Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier of grain to our international customers.”AWC encourages the federal government to continue the conversation with Canada’s agriculture sector as it works to develop the regulations to support the spirit and the intention of this legislation that seeks to create a more responsive, competitive and accountable rail system in Canada.
Plant-based sensors that measure the thickness and electrical capacitance of leaves show great promise for telling farmers when to activate their irrigation systems, preventing both water waste and parched plants, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.Continuously monitoring plant "water stress" is particularly critical in arid regions and traditionally has been done by measuring soil moisture content or developing evapotranspiration models that calculate the sum of ground surface evaporation and plant transpiration. But potential exists to increase water-use efficiency with new technology that more accurately detects when plants need to be watered.For this study, recently published in Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, lead researcher Amin Afzal, a doctoral degree candidate in plant science, integrated into a leaf sensor the capability to simultaneously measure leaf thickness and leaf electrical capacitance, which has never been done before.The work was done on a tomato plant in a growth chamber with a constant temperature and 12-hour on/off photoperiod for 11 days. The growth medium was a peat potting mixture, with water content measured by a soil-moisture sensor. The soil water content was maintained at a relatively high level for the first three days and allowed to dehydrate thereafter, over a period of eight days.The researchers randomly chose six leaves that were exposed directly to light sources and mounted leaf sensors on them, avoiding the main veins and the edges. They recorded measurements at five-minute intervals.The daily leaf-thickness variations were minor, with no significant day-to-day changes when soil moisture contents ranged from high to wilting point. Leaf-thickness changes were, however, more noticeable at soil-moisture levels below the wilting point, until leaf thickness stabilized during the final two days of the experiment, when moisture content reached 5 percent.The electrical capacitance, which shows the ability of a leaf to store a charge, stayed roughly constant at a minimum value during dark periods and increased rapidly during light periods, implying that electrical capacitance was a reflection of photosynthetic activity. The daily electrical-capacitance variations decreased when soil moisture was below the wilting point and completely ceased below the soil volumetric water content of 11 percent, suggesting that the effect of water stress on electrical capacitance was observed through its impact on photosynthesis."Leaf thickness is like a balloon—it swells by hydration and shrinks by water stress, or dehydration," Afzal said. "The mechanism behind the relationship between leaf electrical capacitance and water status is complex. Simply put, the leaf electrical capacitance changes in response to variation in plant water status and ambient light. So, the analysis of leaf thickness and capacitance variations indicate plant water status—well-watered versus stressed."The study is the latest in a line of research Afzal hopes will end in the development of a system in which leaf clip sensors will send precise information about plant moisture to a central unit in a field, which then communicates in real time with an irrigation system to water the crop. He envisions an arrangement in which the sensors, central unit and irrigation system all will communicate without wires, and the sensors can be powered wirelessly with batteries or solar cells."Ultimately, all of the details can be managed by a smart phone app," said Afzal, who studied electronics and computer programming at Isfahan University of Technology in Iran, where he earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural machinery engineering. He is testing his working concept in the field at Penn State.Two years ago, he led a team that won first place in the College of Agricultural Sciences' Ag Springboard contest, an entrepreneurial business-plan competition, and was awarded $7,500 to help develop the concept.Growing up in Iran, Afzal knows water availability determines the fate of agriculture. In the last decade, the Zayandeh River in his home city of Isfahani has dried up, and many farmers no longer can plant their usual crops. "Water is a big issue in our country," said Afzal. "That is a big motivation for my research."Afzal's technology is very promising, noted Sjoerd Duiker, associate professor of soil management, Afzal's adviser and a member of the research team. Current methods to determine irrigation are crude, while Afzal's sensors work directly with the plant tissue."I believe these sensors could improve water-use efficiency considerably," Duiker added. "Water scarcity is already a huge geopolitical issue, with agriculture responsible for about 70 percent of world freshwater use. Improvements in water use efficiency will be essential."In a follow-up study, Afzal has just finished evaluating leaf sensors on tomato plants in a greenhouse. The results confirmed the outcomes of the just-published study. In his new research, he is developing an algorithm to translate the leaf thickness and capacitance variations to meaningful information about plant water status.
Biofuelnet Canada (BFN) has launched a call for expressions of interest (EOI) for our proposal to the Agri-Science Cluster program of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC) later this fall.Through mutual agreement, your EOI may also be used in future BFN proposals to other funding programs, including those run by the Networks of Centres of Excellence.The purpose of this new Agri-Science cluster is to engage Canada’s agricultural operators, industry, universities, government and other R&D organizations to sustainably increase food and biomass production, in the context of a changing climate.This call for EOI is focussed on advancing the emerging technologies that will help agricultural producers across Canada sustainably meet the needs of Canada’s and the world’s growing population, and provide the biomass (crop residues, purpose-grown on marginal lands, animal residues) needed by the bioenergy and bioproducts industries.The new cluster will bring together Canada’s considerable entrepreneurial and technological strengths to: Extend agricultural production to northern latitudes, by using advanced greenhouse technologies such as biomass combined heat and power (CHP) to extend the growing season, CO2 enrichment and biologicals to accelerate growth and improve stress resistance in plants being grown locally as biomass for the greenhouse operation. Increase agricultural production and reduce input costs by developing biologicals for Canadian applications on a range of important economic crops and biomass for bioenergy. The choice of biologicals must pass all government health and environmental assessment requirements. Increase agricultural production and reduce input costs by accelerating the uptake of advanced information technologies, including novel instrumentation, remote sensing, automation, precision farming, use of “big data”, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things etc., to increase the profitability of food and biomass production for the agricultural sector. Develop evidence-based agri-economic models, tools and policies to enable the agricultural sector to benefit from the emerging carbon markets. This call is open to companies incorporated in Canada at the federal or provincial levels, R&D organizations, universities, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals. Applicants are also encouraged to include self-funded participants such as municipalities, government research labs and international partners.The Agri-Science Cluster program requires that the cluster be industry-led and that industry provide 25 per cent co-funding.The deadline for the EOI is Sept. 15, 2017. Learn more here.
US researchers have maintained that miscanthus, long speculated to be the top biofuel producer, yields more than twice as much as switchgrass in the US using an open-source bioenergy crop database gaining traction in plant science, climate change, and ecology research. "To understand yield trends and variation across the country for our major food crops, extensive databases are available — notably those provided by the USDA Statistical Service," said lead author Stephen Long, Gutgsell professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. He added: "But there was nowhere to go if you wanted to know about biomass crops, particularly those that have no food value such as miscanthus, switchgrass, willow trees, etc." To fill this gap, researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology created BETYdb, an open-source repository for physiological and yield data that facilitates bioenergy research. The goal of this database is not only to store the data but to make the data widely available and usable. | READ MORE.  
According to research by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, extraction with deep eutectic solvents (DESs) offer an efficient, sustainable and easy method for dissolving proteins from agrobiomass by-products. DESs are mixtures of solids that form a liquid solution at low temperatures when mixed in suitable ratios. The method has been tested on separating protein from BSG, rapeseed press cake and wheat bran, all of which contain significant amounts of protein. These food industry by-products contain significant amounts of fibre, which decreases their suitability as feed for production animals that are not ruminants. Brewer's spent grain responded best to protein separation with DES: almost 80 per cent of the protein in BSG could be separated, while conventional extraction methods can achieve no more than 40 per cent. The separation of other substances, such as carbohydrates, can be optimised through the choice of DES. This new protein enrichment method can particularly benefit breweries and animal feed producers, but there are hopes that after further research, this method could also find applications in the food industry. | READ MORE.
As OMAFRA’s industrial crop specialist based at the Simcoe Research Station, Jim Todd works with non-food crops that have a variety of industrial uses – including energy production, or as a source of specialty oils, chemicals or medicinal compounds.  Although predominantly used as an energy source, petroleum also serves as an industrial feedstock for the manufacture of many products used in daily life. For various reasons, countries around the world are searching for renewable replacements for petroleum. One promising alternative comes from the seed oils of plants. There are hundreds of different types of plant seed oils, many of which contain fatty acids that are structurally similar to those obtained from petroleum and so could be used in the manufacture of sustainable, environmentally friendly designer oils with specific end uses. Researchers from OMAFRA and the University of Guelph are currently investigating the potential of growing two unique plants, Euphorbia lagascae from the Mediterranean and Centrapalus pauciflorus from Africa, as sources of vernolic acid, a naturally occurring epoxidized fatty acid that can directly substitute for the synthetic vernolic acid made from petroleum, soy or linseed oil.  Epoxidized fatty acids are useful as raw materials for a wide variety of industrial processes including the synthesis of chemicals and lubricants.  Vernolic acid is most commonly used as a plasticizer in the manufacture of plastic polymers such as polyvinyl chloride or PVC.  The main goal of the three-year study is to test the suitability of Euphorbia and Centrapalus for commercial cultivation under Ontario’s climatic conditions. Trials to identify suitable varieties and provide information on the agronomic requirements for successful cultivation are ongoing. Other factors being evaluated include seeding practices, fertility and water requirements, harvesting methods, and weed/pest control. Oil has been extracted and analyzed to determine the range of total oil yield and vernolic acid content. Overall, both plants have performed well, but researchers have identified a few key areas that need further research.  Field germination rates remain low, indicating a need for breeding to improve this trait and efficient harvest of Centrapalus will require the development of specialized harvest and seed cleaning equipment. 
As foreign competition and falling U.S. demand are hurting American tobacco farmers, a Virginia company is preparing the crop’s second act as a biofuel. Tyton BioEnergy Systems of Danville is testing its technique for extracting the plant’s fermentable sugars on a small scale and plans to start industrial production in 2017, Peter Majeranowski, the company’s co-founder and president, said during a recent investor webinar. Tobacco has a lot to recommend it as a biofuel source. Most industrial crops are high in either sugar or oil. Tobacco has both, and Tyton’s plant breeders have doubled or tripled the content of both in the company’s specialized lines, Majeranowski says. Tobacco is relatively low in lignin, the compound that gives plants their rigidity. “It’s kind of a soft plant and requires a less aggressive or more mild process to break it down,” Majeranowski says. Easier breakdown leads to lower processing costs, he says. | READ MORE.
The Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative (CSPC) and its partners have almost finished putting all the pieces in place for a southern Ontario value chain to turn crop residues into sugars. Those pieces include a feasibility study, a technical-economic assessment and a collaboratively developed business plan. Some important steps still have to be completed, but they are aiming for processing to start in 2018.
Jan. 20, 2017 - The Vancouver Declaration resulting from the First Ministers' Meeting in March 2016 saw the beginning of a co-ordinated national approach to carbon risk mitigation. Buoyed by support from high-profile business groups (including key oil and gas sector leaders), the First Ministers' Meeting on Dec. 9, 2016 in Ottawa saw the adoption of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which included several significant announcements regarding federal investment in green infrastructure, public transit, and clean technology and innovation. Canada's industrial powerhouse, Ontario, is ahead of the pack when it comes to low-carbon electricity policy, and has been for quite some time. Ten years after the launch of the province's early procurement programs for wind, solar, hydro and other forms of renewable energy, the province enjoys a vibrant renewable energy sector with leading-edge manufacturing capabilities, a coal-free electricity system, and a project development and finance sector that is active around the globe. Across the U.S. border, things have changed somewhat recently, at least, at the federal level.  | READ MORE.
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
Dec. 9, 2016 - The federal and provincial governments have teamed up to help implement a bioeconomy strategy for Northern Ontario. The two senior levels of government are providing a total of $216,792 to help put a plan into action aimed at creating new renewable energy opportunities throughout the North. Developed in 2015 by the Biomass North Development Centre, in partnership with the Union of Ontario Indians, the strategy will look to reduce policy and regulatory barriers for the industry, develop a skills and training road map for future workers and better inform the public and potential partners about biomass applications and concepts. “This is an opportunity of partnerships and benefits for all of the North,” said Dawn Lambe, the biomass development centre's executive director. | READ MORE.
Dec. 1, 2016 - An Italian company is interested in turning biomass into a new southern Alberta industry. And the Alberta government is providing the data to show what would work. Representatives from Alberta Economic Development and Trade, along with a spokesperson for Beta Renewables from Tortona, Italy, outlined the potential to Lethbridge County Council on Monday. Earlier this year, the county was one of five Alberta jurisdictions to sign onto a formal biomass mapping project across the province. The study found 12 million tonnes of biomass available annually in the form of straw and other byproducts of the region’s grain and speciality crop production – plus 633,000 tonnes of waste from livestock production. “This is good news,” Reeve Lorne Hickey said, as council members asked for more details. For Lethbridge-area farms growing flax, one councillor pointed out, it could provide a way to get rid of flax straw – too strong to be used like other straw. | READ MORE.
The president of a new farm co-op says it's working to sign up 200 to 300 members to supply corn stalks and leaves, also known as stover, as well as wheat stalks, to a proposed new plant in Sarnia, Ont., that will turn the biomass into sugar. The Sarnia Observer reports. | READ MORE
August 10, 2016 - A UBC professor’s flax research could one day help Canadian farmers grow a car fender. In a recent study, UBC researcher Michael Deyholos identified the genes responsible for the bane of many Canadian flax farmers’ existence; the fibres in the plant's stem. “These findings have allowed us to zero in the genetic profile of the toughest part of this plant and may one day help us engineer some of that toughness out,” says Deyholos, a biology professor at UBC's Okanagan campus. “With further research, we might one day be able to help farmers make money off a waste material that wreaks havoc on farm equipment and costs hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to deal with.” As part of his research, Deyholos and his former graduate student at the University of Alberta dissected thousands of the plant’s stem under a microscope in order to identify which genes in the plant's make up were responsible for the growth of the stem, and which weren’t. Due to the length of the Canadian prairie’s growing season, where flax is grown, farmers typically burn the stems, known as flax straw, as opposed to harvesting the material. In many European countries, flax straw is used as an additive in paper, plastics and other advanced materials such as those used in the production of automobiles. Currently, Canadian flax is used only for the value of its seeds, which can be eaten or broken down into flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is used in the manufacturing of paints, linoleum, and as a key element in the manufacturing of packaging materials and plastics. According to the Flax Council of Canada, Canada is one of the largest flax producers in the world with the nation’s prairie provinces cultivating 816,000 tonnes of the plant in 2014/15 on 1.6 million acres of land.Deyholos’ research was recently published in the journal Frontiers of Plant Science.

Subscription Centre

 
New Subscription
 
Already a Subscriber
 
Customer Service
 
View Digital Magazine

Latest Events

CropSphere
Tue Jan 09, 2018
Agronomy Update 2018
Tue Jan 09, 2018 @ 8:30AM - 04:30PM
Ag Days
Tue Jan 16, 2018