By Top Crop Manager
Keeping in touch
By Top Crop Manager
Worldwide biotech growth
Biotech crops experienced the second highest growth on record in 2004 to reach
81 million hectares (200 million acres). According to a report by Clive James,
chairman and founder of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech
Applications (ISAAA), global area for biotech crops grew 20 percent in 2004,
an increase of 13.3 million hectares (32.9 million acres).
The study reported that approximately 8.25 million farmers in 17 countries
planted biotech crops in 2004. That is 1.25 million farmers more than the number
who planted biotech crops in 2003. Notably, 90 percent of these farmers were
in developing countries. In fact, for the first time, the absolute growth in
biotech crop area was higher in developing countries (7.2 million hectares)
than in industrial countries (6.1 million hectares).
"The continued rapid adoption, especially among small, resource-poor farmers,
is a testament to the economic, environmental, health and social benefits realized
by farmers and society in both industrial and developing countries," says
James. "Further, in 2004, we continued to see a broadening base of support
for biotech crops as many of the countries participating in biotech crop production
significantly increased biotech crop hectarage."
The number of 'biotech mega-countries' (countries growing 50,000 hectares or
more biotech crops) increased from 10 to 14 in 2004 with the addition of Paraguay,
Mexico, Spain and the Philippines reflecting the participation of a broader
group of countries adopting biotech crops. The number of countries accounting
for the majority of the global total of biotech crop area grew from five to
eight and included the US (59 percent of the global total), Argentina (20 percent),
Canada (six percent), Brazil (six percent), China (five percent), Paraguay (two
percent), India (one percent) and South Africa (one percent). In addition to
Mexico, Spain and the Philippines, Uruguay, Australia and Romania complete the
In Canada, farmers grew 5.4 million hectares of biotech crops in 2004, up 23
percent from 2003 and comprising six percent of the global total of biotech
crops. Canada increased its combined area of all biotech crops: corn, soybeans
and canola. Currently, 77 percent of the canola hectares in Canada are planted
to biotech varieties. Future biotech crop growth is expected to continue with
the introduction of new traits, specifically for biotech corn. -30-
Helped break the prairie
Machinery history enthusiasts can brush up on the inside story of the Cockshutt
business, how it was founded in 1877 by James Cockshutt and how it succumbed
to corporate raiding of the late 1950s. Beginning as a plow maker, with single
furrow horse and oxen drawn plows, the company's subsequent single and double
furrow units, plus riding plows and gang plows designed for steam power helped
to break the prairie. Later machines included the first combine disc (discer),
lightweight swather, tractors and pull-type and self-propelled combines. The
rotary threshing system finally used by White Combines (now Massey-Ferguson)
were originated in the Cockshutt engineering offices at Brantford, Ontario,
as was the world's first 'live PTO' tractor.
By 1950, "Only Cockshutt and Massey-Harris remained of the 114 Canadian
farm equipment manufacturers," writes author Bill Cockshutt, who in the
1950s served in various sales capacities in western Canada.
While it is unusual for Top Crop Manager to review publications not
directly related to current and future crop management technologies, About Cockshutt
(ISBN 0-9660751-5-3, Driveline Publishing) provides a perspective of how political
and market forces helped establish, shape and improve the Canadian agricultural
industry. Price is $43.95 including GST and postage.
Reference Top Crop Manager: Bill Cockshutt may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org,
#24, 14 Doon Drive, London, Ontario N5X 3P4. -30-
The University of Saskatchewan's Dr. Bert Vandenberg has been selected as the
pulse industry's top promoter. The award is sponsored by BASF Canada and is
presented annually to an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution
to the development of the pulse industry. The selection is made by the board
of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, an organization representing more than 20,000
growers of peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans in that province.
"Dr. Bert Vandenberg has spent countless hours on the growth and development
of Saskatchewan's pulse industry," says Shawn Buhr, last year's chairman
of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. "It is a personal honour for me to present
this award to an individual who has devoted himself to advancing the science
of our pulse crops, educating our growers and investigating new markets for
Vandenberg specializes in the genetics, breeding, production and management
of pulse and special crops, but is also a well-known authority on the topics
of market development and research policy. As a pulse crop breeder, Vandenberg
has developed or co-developed about 50 crop cultivars including dry beans, field
peas, lentils and chickpeas. He has initiated new breeding programs for several
new pulse crops and new market classes. He has been involved in pulse crop research
and development for nearly 20 years and is considered one of the world's foremost
experts in this area. -30-
Construction begins on pulse research lab
Construction began in November 2004 on a $3 million, unique-in-Canada pulse
field research laboratory attached to the University of Saskatchewan Crop Science
Field Laboratory. The university will manage the construction of the addition,
as well as own and operate it. Occupancy is scheduled for the fall of 2005.
The expanded centre for pulse breeding and research is intended to advance
Saskatchewan's leadership as a producer and researcher of pulse crops such as
peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans. The project was spearheaded and initiated
by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers which continues to lead fund-raising efforts.
Industry players are pledging major funding towards the project.
"Research is the key to keeping Canada's growing pulse industry profitable
in the long-term," says Rick Holm, director of the University of Saskatchewan
Crop Development Centre. "This world-class centre will advance development
of new varieties, improved disease management and agronomy, and improvements
in quality that will provide value to the industry."
Saskatchewan has more than 22,000 pulse producers who see the lab as a major
step forward for the industry. The centre, which will involve both faculty,
graduate students and eventually visiting scientists, is expected to meet the
crop breeding and research needs of the industry for the next 30 years.
Top Crop Manager welcomes news from individuals,
organizations and suppliers to agriculture. Please send industry news
to: Top Crop Manager 145 Thames Road West Exeter, Ontario N0M 1S3
fax (519) 235-0798