Programs, Grants & Awards

April 11, 2016, Ontario – The Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative, working in collaboration with the Ontario Forage Council, has received Growing Forward 2 funding approval from the Agricultural Adaptation Council for a comprehensive feasibility study and business plan for its double-compaction hay processing facility. The Growing Forward 2 funding of $81,116 will enable the co-operative to build a strong business case for its plan to build a facility capable of processing up to 100,000 tonnes of premium quality Ontario hay annually.

The recently formed co-operative is aiming to tap into export markets for superior forages to support growing dairy, equine, and livestock markets, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. The co-operative’s goal is to increase returns for producers by enabling them to obtain higher prices for their hay. 

By working with producers to establish on-farm hay-drying facilities, and building a facility to compact their hay into compressed square bales for overseas shipment, the co-operative intends to offer a premium product to buyers in the livestock and equine sectors. 

The Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative has been structured as a “new generation co-operative” which means that producers will be both entitled and obligated to deliver hay to the co-operative. Members will invest in the co-operative in proportion to the volume of hay they commit to deliver to the co-operative.

Profits from the venture will be shared among members based on the volume of hay they ship to the co-operative. An incentive structure will be developed to reward member producers for premium quality hay. Producers interested in joining the co-operative can get more information on the co-operative’s website (

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.

Published in Business Management

Mar. 21, 2016 - Six new enhancements to the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation's (AFSC) AgriInsurance programs will benefit crop and bee producers across the province. The developments include a new malt barley insurance product, the first of its kind in Canada.

AFSC, the Government of Alberta, the Government of Canada, and various producer groups worked together to make the enhancements based on producer feedback. AFSC worked with various producer groups, including the Alberta Alfalfa Seed Commission, the Alberta Beekeepers Commission, Organic Alberta, the Alberta Barley Commission, and the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission to make the enhancements.

Highlights of the other five program enhancements include:

  • Amendments to the Annual Insurance Program to include winterkill as a designated peril for pedigreed alfalfa seed production loss insurance.
  • Implementing individual coverage as part of the Bee Overwintering Insurance Program.
  • Making organic producers eligible for production insurance. This new option will work similarly to AFSC's standard production insurance programs.
  • Continued changes to field pea insurance as the crop shifts to an edible end-use.
  • The creation of a distinct category for yellow dry beans.

Additionally, AFSC clients will pay an average of six per cent less in multi-peril Annual Crop Insurance Program premium rates compared to 2015 levels. The reduction is based on the average of all crops in risk areas, and is related to the positive-loss experience in recent years. In certain risk areas, the premium reductions will be higher or lower than the six per cent average.

Clients will also see a 14 per cent increase in dollar coverage per acre in 2016. This increase is due to a combination of increasing spring insurance prices and yields.


Published in Corporate News

Mar. 21, 2016 - Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers' (OYF) program is once again offering two $1000 scholarships to Canadian agriculture students. Applications for the 2016 awards will be accepted until June 30, 2016.

The OYF Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to one individual entering post-secondary education from high school, and one individual who has already completed at least one year of post-secondary study. Applicants must be pursuing a diploma or degree in agriculture.

The late Martin Streef, OYF alumnus, established this scholarship program to help future generations of Canadians pursue their passion for agriculture. Streef was the 1996 winner of both Ontario's and Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers and president of Streef Produce Ltd, a family-run fresh fruit and vegetable business in Woodstock, Ont.

For more information and to apply, visit Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers' program scholarship page on their website.

Published in Imports/Exports


March 3, 2016, Ontario – Kettle Creek Conservation Authority (KCCA) wants to engage local landowners to take positive actions to improve soil health and water quality through the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI).

“This is part of a broad outreach and education campaign to motivate positive agri-environmental action,” says Betsy McClure, KCCA’s stewardship program supervisor. “We want to inspire landowners to source out practical solutions for their properties that will reduce phosphorous loadings into local waterways but still provide them with the results they need for their farm business.”

KCCA is working in partnership with three other conservation authorities in Elgin County (Catfish Creek Conservation Authority, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, and Long Point Region Conservation Authority) along with the Elgin Federation of Agriculture, Elgin Soil and Crop Improvement Association, and local agronomists.

Planned activities across the county over the next two years include hosting cover crop workshops and tours, engaging producers in the Farmland Health Check-Up, developing interactive displays for local farm shows and rural events, developing a workshop focused on the implementation of erosion control structures for contractors, producers and certified crop advisors, and engaging producers through social media.

“We hope the project will draw attention to the phosphorus and sediment loading issues affecting Elgin County waterways and Lake Erie,” said McClure.

This outreach campaign fits nicely with the Elgin Clean Water Program that was established in 2012.  “This project will allow us to get out on the landscape, raise awareness of the factors contributing to poor soil health and water quality across the County while the Elgin Clean Water Program is there for landowners as a source of funding to assist in implementing best management practices on the ground,” said McClure. 


Published in Corporate News

Feb. 23, 2016 - 4-H Canada and Syngenta Canada are partnering for the third year on Proud to Bee a 4-H'er, an initiative where 4-H club members learn about bees and other pollinators by planting and tending pollinator-friendly gardens in their communities.

Participating 4-H clubs have the opportunity to create pollinator-friendly habitats using Proud to Bee a 4-H'er pollinator-friendly seed packets. This fun activity encourages 4-H members to learn all about the amazing and fascinating work of bees, get outside and enjoy nature, and raise funds for their local clubs. Approximately 80,000 seed packets have been distributed over the first two years of the program and the hope is that 2016 will see the total number move to over 100,000 packets distributed.

Syngenta support for Proud to Bee a 4-H'er is through its Operation Pollinator program, which is focused on research and other initiatives that contribute to enhanced biodiversity and habitat in support of healthy pollinator populations.

4-H clubs that register for the program receive Proud to Bee a 4-H'er pollinator-friendly seed packets, planting instructions and information about pollinator habitats. 4-H'ers can plant the seeds themselves or use them to support activities in their communities. This year, participating 4-H'ers will also have the chance to share their pride in taking part in this initiative by submitting a short video describing why they are #ProudtoBeea4Her. The winners will be chosen through public voting in late-summer 2016, with prizes to be awarded.

For additional information and resources on the Proud to Bee a 4-H'er initiative, visit To locate 4-H clubs near you, go to



Published in Corporate News

Feb. 17, 2016, Ontario – There’s nothing that makes Tyler Vollmershausen happier than sticking a shovel into a field to see what’s happening underground.

Feb. 12, 2016, Ontario – A new group has formed to celebrate the innovation and contribution provided by the agriculture and forestry sectors to the economy of northern and rural Ontario.

The group, Growing Ontario, will increase awareness of the important contributions of forestry and agriculture to the entire province, according to a press release. "By highlighting the history of responsible environmental stewardship, commitment to local municipalities and dedication to innovative solutions that provide sustainable prosperity, Growing Ontario will demonstrate the relevance these sectors have in the lives of Ontarians," the release says.

While farmers and foresters are providing sustainable management of our key natural resources, Growing Ontario will become the voice of their concerns and their achievements. The group will honour the best of these industries, raising awareness for the difficulties they face as well as showcasing the true impact they have on the province.

Initiated by the Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association and stakeholders from the forestry sector, Growing Ontario brings together voices that represent the interests of 28,000 grain farmers, 50,000 forestry workers and over 120 municipalities that rely on thriving resource sectors to survive. It is further supported by the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, the which represents the interests of rural and northern municipalities.

“Forestry and agriculture represent approximately $30 billion dollars in economic activity in the Province of Ontario and the are foundation of local economies in many community across our province. Foresters and farmers built our province and continue to contribute to it’s success today, and for that reason we felt it was important to work together with these economic sectors to highlight that contribution,” said Al Spacek, president of FONOM and the mayor of Kapuskasing, in the press release.

“In many respects, forestry and agriculture face many of the same pressures and will benefit from working together to raise awareness of our work so that Ontarians have a better understanding of what is actually going on in our forests and fields,” said Mark Brock, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario, in the release. 

Published in Corporate News


Feb. 8, 2016, Ontario – The University of Guelph's Ridgetown Campus is offering integrated pest management training for growers.

Anyone needing to buy and use neonicotinoid-treated corn or soybean seed must complete integrated pest management training and become certified, among other requirements, starting Aug. 31, 2016. Once completed, certification is valid for five years and a certified person can supervise up to seven people to help with planting. The course is free of charge if successfully completed by Aug 31, 2016.

The course covers topics such as IPM principles including corn and soybean pest identification, planting best management practices, the new regulatory requirements regarding Class 12 pesticides and pollinator protection from neonicotinoid exposure. The courses are taught by experienced instructors, many of whom are farmers. Courses take half a day in class, or over two days online where participants enjoy the convenience of learning at their own pace.

To register for one of the more than 600 courses offered in English or French across the province in the next few months, sign-up online at or call 1-866-225-9020.


Published in Seed Treatment

February 3, 2016 - In March 2016, Farm & Food Care Ontario will take an important soil health message to farmers across the Lake Erie and southern Lake Huron watersheds with its Soil Health Road Show.

Funded by the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI), each of the six workshops will include presentations and demonstrations from members of OMAFRA’s soil team. Topics include soil fertility, organic matter and erosion control with a focus on cover crops and conservation tillage.

In each location, a panel of local farmers and crop advisors will also discuss their experiences and offer practical solutions to improving both soil health and water quality in their areas.Farmer participants will also learn more about cost-share opportunities for on-farm environmental projects through the GLASI program. They are also encouraged to bring recent soil test results to the workshop in order to take a deeper look with OMAFRA Soil Team members.

These workshops run from 9:30am to 3:30pm. They are free to the farming community and include lunch.

Space is limited to the first 50 people to register for the following locations:

  • Elmwood March 1
  • Brodhagen March 2
  • Delhi March 3Parkhill March 8
  • Thamesville March 9
  • Leamington March 10

To register, visit or for more information, contact Melisa Luymes, Farm & Food Care's Ontario environmental coordinator via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 519-837-1326 x291

Published in Soil

Jan. 15, 2016 - Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG), in partnership with BASF, honoured Robert (Bob) Tyler Ph.D. from the University of Saskatchewan by presenting him with the Pulse Promoter Award at their annual general meeting in Saskatoon January 11.

Tyler was recognized for his contribution to the pulse industry through his work in the area of research and development (R&D), specializing in pulse ingredient utilization.

"Bob Tyler has been a long-time member on the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers R&D Committee," says Tim Wiens, chair of SPG. "He has provided assistance to SPG in the development of R&D priorities, and continually dedicates his time to review and evaluate research project proposals for alignment with our organization's goals."

Tyler, who is professor of food and bioproduct sciences, and associate dean of research and graduate studies in the college of agriculture and bioresources, has focused 35 years of research on the utilization of pulse crops, with a particular focus on peas. His research group has under taken projects on the modification of pea starch, the extrusion of pea protein concentrate from pea flour, and the manufacturing of pasta, snacks and breakfast foods from pulse flours, amongst others.

He is a long-time member of the pulse and special crops committee of the Prairie grain development committee, and currently serves on the board of directors for Ag-West Bio and the council of the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists, in addition to his role as the chair of the Saskatchewan Agri-Food Council.

Tyler's impact on the industry expands even beyond the organizations and the projects he is directly involved in," says Carl Potts, executive director with SPG. "He instills his passion for pulses in everyone he encounters, which has allowed the pulse industry to retain many of his former students who are now actively involved in the pulse research and innovation community."



Published in Pulses

Jan. 26, 2016, Camrose, Alta. - Last year's drought conditions in some areas on the Prairies had many farmers looking for greener pastures, and this year's forage program recently launched by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and Crop Production Services (CPS) might be the perfect solution.

Available to agricultural producers in the three Prairie provinces, the DUC/CPS forage program offsets the cost of Proven Seed forage varieties when producers convert cultivated land to hay or pastureland. In Alberta and Saskatchewan, producers receive a rebate of $100 per 50 lb. bag of forage seed; in Manitoba, producers receive a rebate of $50 for every new forage acre seeded as part of the program.

The response to this year's forage program has been very positive, says Craig Bishop, DUC's regional forage lead, especially in light of recent economic and climatic conditions.

"Declining prices for wheat and other cereal crops, as well as a simultaneous increase in beef prices, are leading many landowners to seriously consider the move to increase their cattle herd," explains Bishop. "This, in turn, spurs a demand for increased forage. The drought of 2015, in particular, resulted in many poor hay crops in several areas and further motivated producers to convert additional land to forages. That year, we saw 25,000 acres of cultivated fields across the Prairies be put into grass with this program with CPS — a significant increase from previous years."

Bishop adds that reducing input costs, especially at a time when expenses are rising more quickly than revenues, makes a real difference to a farmer's or rancher's bottom line. "Offering an incentive to producers to convert their cultivation to forage is an extremely cost-effective means for increasing grassland and makes good agronomic sense. Essentially, the program covers approximately 40–50 per cent of the producer's seed investment."

In addition to helping cattle producers and their herds, more seeded forage acres also benefits waterfowl. Bishop explains that research shows that the level of waterfowl nesting and success is significantly higher in areas of perennial cover or grasslands than in cultivated fields. It also helps with other conservation measures such as critical wetland restoration efforts.

"The link between wetlands, associated grasslands and waterfowl productivity is well understood," says Bishop, "and initiatives like the DUC/CPS forage program ensures that farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba also receive the benefit from increasing their forage base."

The DUC/CPS forage program is best suited for producers in the parkland and prairie regions. Anyone interested in the program or who wants more information should contact their local CPS retailer or DUC conservation program specialist.


Published in Insect Pests

Jan. 27, 2016 - The Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) selected esteemed pulse researcher Ken Lopetinsky as the winner of the second annual Alberta Pulse Industry Innovator Award.

"Each year APG recognizes a person whose progressive thinking and tireless efforts helped build Alberta's pulse industry into the flourishing industry that it is today," said APG Chair Allison Ammeter. "I cannot think of a more deserving recipient for the award to be bestowed upon during the International Year of Pulses than Ken Lopetinsky. He is considered one of the fathers of Western Canada's modern day field pea industry, and influenced many of the researchers who continue to develop improved pulse genetics."

Lopetinsky was raised on a mixed livestock and grain farm near Star, Alta. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with distinction in 1973 at the University of Alberta, he joined Alberta Agriculture as a district agriculturist, and later as forage and special crops specialist, pulse and special crops specialist, and pulse research agronomist until his retirement in 2008. In 1976, Lopetinsky received education leave and completed his Master of Agriculture (soil science) in 1977. In 1983, Lopetinsky became involved with the Alberta Pulse Growers Association, which later became the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission.

Throughout his career, Lopetinsky worked closely with producers, industry representatives and other researchers on applied research projects including field pea and faba bean variety development, fertilization, herbicides, seeding depth, land rolling, crop rotations, direct seeding and the value of pulse crops in rotation. He co-authored and co-edited the publication Pulse Crops in Alberta, which was awarded a certificate of excellence by the American Society of Agronomy. Lopetinsky mentored numerous agrologists over the course of his career, and many still work in the industry today.

Lopetinsky said that he was honoured to learn that he was chosen as the recipient of the second annual Industry Innovator Award sponsored by ATB Financial.

"I am surprised and humbled to receive this award," Lopetinsky said. "I have to give a lot of credit to the team over the years because it has been said that 'you're only as good as your team'. The pulse industry came through with full support, and that was very, very rewarding."

The Alberta Pulse Growers Commission represents 5,000 growers of field pea, dry bean, lentil, chickpea, faba bean and soybean in Alberta. Our vision is to have Alberta pulses recognized by consumers as environmentally friendly, healthy, nutritious, and recognized by all producers as being an essential element in a sustainable cropping system.


Published in Pulses

Jan. 27, 2016 - Ontario farmers Janet and John Parsons were recently honoured as recipients of the 2015 W.R. Motherwell Award by Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) program. The Sturgeon Falls couple have been participating, innovating and promoting the agriculture industry since they bought a dairy farm in 1975.

Janet and John's involvement in OYF began in 1988 when they were selected as honourees for the Central Ontario region, and went on to win the national OYF title that same year, along with farm couples from Quebec and Manitoba. Their support of OYF blossomed after they became alumni of the program.

"The Motherwell Award is presented on behalf of the national OYF program to those who have unselfishly given their time and talents to promote the value of excellence and opportunity within Canadian agriculture," says Luanne Lynn, president of Canada's OYF program. "The Parsons have devoted more than 40 years to the industry at every level and in every way. They are part of an extraordinary group of people that exemplifies what OYF is all about. And the energy and ideas they have contributed, and encouraged in others, has made a lasting impact on our industry. OYF is proud to honour them with the 2015 W.R.Motherwell Award."

Janet and John worked side-by-side on their new dairy farm for five years. When John decided to become a certified general accountant, Janet became managing partner of the farm, operating it for the next 13 years with the help of Leona, her hired hand. After raising three boys, the Parsons have sold their dairy and crop farm to their oldest son James, and provide family support for the business. John continues to operate his accounting practice, working primarily for farm clients. Janet is a certified financial planner, working side-by-side with John once again.

The Parsons continued to support the OYF program after their national win. They produced the national OYF newsletter for five years, and helped establish an early database of members that is still used today. John has been a columnist since 1995, for Farm Business Journal and Ontario Farmer – and has been able to promote OYF alumni and the program through some of his writing. And John served as auditor for Ontario and national OYF program for several years.

Janet has served on several provincial agricultural boards including Farm Products Appeal Tribunal, Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and as chair of the Grain Financial Protection Board. John has been general manager of the West Nipissing East Sudbury Agricultural Support Projects – a non-profit corporation that supports large group projects in agriculture in the Districts of Nipissing, Sudbury and Parry Sound.

And their work to advance the agricultural industry continues. Janet and John have twice been awarded Ontario Premier's Awards – in 2007 for spearheading a service arrangement with a John Deere dealership 400 km away to service their remote community, and in 2012 for the development a Field Tracker Pro, an on-the-go crop recording app for farmers that they developed in a joint venture with two of their sons.

Dr. Motherwell, the namesake of the W.R. Motherwell Award, was born near Perth, Ontario in 1860. His leadership in Canadian agriculture spanned more than 50 years and he is regarded by many as the "grand old man of Canadian agriculture." His career highlights include minister of agriculture in Saskatchewan's first provincial government, and minister of agriculture for Canada in the 1920s. Having attended agricultural college in Guelph, Ontario, his move to Saskatchewan resulted in his instrumental role in establishing the agriculture facility at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Motherwell died in 1943 at the age of 83.

On the 25th anniversary of the OYF program, the W.R. Motherwell Award was established. The award is presented annually, on behalf of OYF alumni across Canada, to an individual or couple who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and dedication to both the OYF program and Canadian agriculture.

More information about the OYF W.R. Motherwell Award is available at under Scholarships. The deadline for nominations for the 2016 award is March 31, 2016.

Celebrating 36 years, Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers' program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.

Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016 will be chosen at the National Event in Niagara Falls, Ontario from November 29 – December 4, 2016.



Published in Corporate News

Jan. 25, 2016 - Former Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) researcher Jim Helm, Ph.D., has been awarded the prestigious American Society of Agronomy Distinguished Service Award. This award is given only to highly distinguished nominees that have made a transformational contribution to the agronomy profession.

Helm spent over four decades as head of research at the Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC), located in Lacombe, and oversaw the release of 42 cereal cultivars bred specifically for conditions in Alberta and western Canada, including 32 barley varieties, nine triticale varieties and one winter wheat variety.

Born and raised in Washington state, Helm had the opportunity as a master's student to work with legendary Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug at Washington State University.

After obtaining his Ph.D. from Oregon State University, Helm found his way to Alberta in 1973 to become the sole worker at the brand new provincial barley breeding program, later known as FCDC.

Under Helm's leadership, the FCDC grew from its humble beginnings into a world class cereal breeding facility, with 10 scientists and over 30 staff working in pathology, biotechnology, quality and breeding labs. Initially focusing on feed barley, the FCDC's breeding programs have since expanded to include malt barley, spring and winter triticale, and wheat.

Helm prides himself on being a practical scientist for the practical farmer, and brought a common sense approach to the technical world of research. He retired from FCDC at the end of 2014.

Helm has also received the Canadian Society of Agronomy's Distinguished Agronomist award, the Alberta Centennial Medal for outstanding service to the people and province of Alberta, the Alberta Science and Technology Award for Innovation in Agricultural Science, and was inducted into the Alberta Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2002.


Published in Cereals

Jan. 4, 2015 - The University of Lethbridge's incomparable iGEM program achieved a gold medal standing at iGEM 2015 recently, debuting a project that may soon eradicate a widespread agricultural problem.

It was the ninth time that a U of L team participated in the annual International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition in Boston, Mass., which invites the world's brightest university and high school students to showcase innovative new biologically-engineered systems that solve real-world challenges. Over those nine years, the University has achieved eight gold medals, more than any other Canadian team.

"Given the fact that we are a small place without an engineering school, I think we're sitting in a very good spot in terms of our performance over the years," says Dr. Hans-Joachim Wieden, chemistry and biochemistry researcher, Alberta Innovates Technology Futures Strategic Chair in Bioengineering, and iGEM supervisor. "I think we're in the top five per cent of all Canadian teams that attend iGEM, and worldwide, we are clearly seen as a contender. Nobody asks us where Lethbridge is anymore."

This year's project is especially intriguing in that it was arrived upon through consultation with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and tackles an issue of local, regional and global relevance – how to combat the fungal species Fusarium graminearum (Fg).

Affecting crops such as corn and wheat, Fg fungi infection results in millions of dollars in economic losses. Current methods of controlling outbreaks include the use of broad-spectrum fungicides, biological control agents, crop rotation and the planting of Fg resistant wheat strains. Each of these methods has its limitations, from building up resistance in Fg, to difficulties of application, effecting off-target species and bioaccumulation.

"Currently there are no really good treatments for it," says iGEM team member Graeme Glaister, a fourth-year neuroscience student who was competing in his third iGEM competition. "There is a fungicide but you can only spray it once per year because it builds up resistance and is extremely toxic, so you have to be a certain distance from bodies of water. We wanted to find a new approach to this that would not bioaccumulate like a lot of pesticides, and would be species specific."

The group looked to the insect world and the work that had been done developing RNA-based insecticides. In that instance, double-stranded RNA is introduced to insect species, with a goal of knocking down a specific essential gene within the insect. It's called RNA interference (RNAi) and allows the pesticide to be species specific, selectively taking out genes in the targeted insect. Its specificity means other insects, with a different RNA makeup, are not affected, nor are there toxicity or bio accumulation concerns.

"Based on that, we decided to see if we could expand on RNA-based insecticides and make it for fungicide use," says Glaister.

Targeting specific regions within an essential gene of Fg, the group was able to knock down the pigment they were aiming at, successfully proving the concept of their approach.

Part two of their project was to find a way to optimize the process and make it cost-effective to produce a fungicide using this technique.

"It's hard to make a lot of RNA, in fact it's far more expensive than making a pesticide because people generally just study RNA, so it isn't made in large quantities," says Glaister.

The group tackled this problem by developing a bacterial chassis (a harmless bacterial strain of E. coli) for expression of RNA, then created a novel purification scheme to harvest the product.

"We've shown it works, which is really cool, so now we need to optimize it and make it more efficient so that it actually reduces costs," says Glaister.

With funding from the University's new AGILITY program, designed specifically for enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship activities such as these, the team has the makings of a marketable product.

"What we're seeing here is a great example of how the innovation pipeline works. Knockdown and RNAi, we did not invent that, that was a basic researcher on a lab bench who discovered that machinery not too long ago," says Wieden. "But the knowledge transfer, that's for people like our students, that's why we have to expose them to the current developments in basic research so that they can pick these ideas up and then move them into the marketplace."

For team member Rhys Hakstol (BASc '14), a first-year master's in biochemistry student, the opportunity to take the group's lab work to market and benefit the local community is especially gratifying.

"With our local approach motivating this, we saw there was a problem facing farmers and were able to develop a potential solution to it," he says. "I think being able to take our research and potentially apply it in a real-world scenario in the future is super exciting for us as a team and also for the University."

Aside from the indispensible support of the Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute at the U of L, Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, through its GeekStarter program, provides financial support for programs such as iGEM, helping to create future innovators and entrepreneurs who will drive the economic diversification of our province.


Published in Soybeans


Dec. 18, 2015, Ontario – Besides Environmental Farm Plan and Growing Your Farm Profits workshops, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association is now also offering biosecurity, food safety and traceability workshops.

Workshops may be required in order to access cost-share funding. Be sure to review cost-share program details, also available on OSCIA's website.

Biosecurity workshops  
In this free, one-day commodity-specific workshop, an experienced veterinarian or certified crop advisor will show you the benefits of having an on-farm biosecurity program, and identify key practices, which will help you in increasing the biosecurity on your farm. Having a biosecurity program in place helps to protect the investment of your farm business.  

Dairy biosecurity: Jan. 8, 2016, 10 a.m., Woodstock
Dairy biosecurity (French): Jan. 13, 2016, 10 a.m., Casselman
Bee biosecurity: Jan. 19, 2016, 10 a.m., Ancaster Fairgrounds, Jerseyville
Poultry biosecurity: Jan. 21, 2016, 10 a.m., Listowel
Generic livestock biosecurity: Jan. 25, 2016, 10 a.m., Thunder Bay
Generic Livestock biosecurity: Jan. 26, 2016, 10 a.m., Rainy River
Crop biosecurity: Jan. 28, 2016, 10 a.m., Carp (Eastern) 
Crop biosecurity: Jan. 29, 2016. 10 a.m., Thunder Bay
Poultry biosecurity: Feb. 1, 2016, 10 a.m., Thunder Bay
Crop biosecurity (French): Feb. 3, 2016, 10 a.m., Thunder Bay
Crop biosecurity: Feb. 11, 2016, 10 a.m., Lindsay

Traceability workshops: maximizing your traceability investment  
This free one-and-a-half-day workshop focuses on how you can gain a competitive advantage and improve your bottom line with your traceability system. Real life examples and business profiles focused on traceability best practices will be examined throughout the workshop.   

Jan. 22 and 29 2016, 10 a.m., Ridgetown
Jan. 27 and Feb. 3, 10 a.m., Colborne
Feb. 24 and March 2, 10 a.m., Simcoe (OMAFRA)
Feb. 29 and March 7, 10 a.m., Sarsfield (French)
March 3 and 10, 10 a.m., Spring Bay, Manitoulin
March 17 and 24, 10 a.m., Elora

For more detail or to register for any workshop, visit:


Published in Business Management

Dec. 3, 2015 – Mark Brock is the winner of the second annual Robert (Bob) L. Ross scholarship program. The Ontario crop farmer from Staffa, Ont., will receive free tuition to Agri-Food Management Excellence’s CTEAM program as well as up to $4,000 towards travel expenses.

The scholarship is offered by Agri-Food Management Excellence in collaboration with Farm Management Canada, Family Farms Group and the Ross Family.

The scholarship was created in 2014 in memory of Bob Ross, a dairy farmer and passionate farm business consultant from St. Marys, Ontario, who lost his courageous battle with cancer in March 2014.

The scholarship was awarded at the recent Agricultural Excellence Conference in Regina, Sask. Brock farms with his wife Sandi at Shepherd Creek Farms Ltd. where they raise crops and sheep. They crop 1,500 acres of wheat, soybeans, corn, edible beans and hay as well as raise 500 breeding ewes.

Brock is the chair of the board of Grain Farmers of Ontario and has been involved in farm organizations for several years. “I’m very honoured to receive the scholarship knowing how much Bob Ross has contributed to improving the financial skills and awareness for Canadian farm operators,” says Brock.

“This scholarship has allowed financially for Sandi and I to both participate in CTEAM. We hope to come away from the program with a strategic plan and direction for our business built from a solid understanding of our financial situation and an awareness of the business environment in which we operate.”

“The aim of this scholarship is to provide a Canadian farmer with the opportunity to continue on the path of farm management excellence, which Bob Ross was dedicated to,” says Heather Broughton, principal of AME. “We’re excited to have Mark in our next CTEAM class.”

CTEAM is a program of Agri-Food Management Excellence which provides farmers and ranchers training on farm business management. Participants use their own farm data during the program. Eligible applicants must demonstrate a progressive operation and entrepreneurial spirit, passion for the industry, and how the value gained from the program will be used.

Published in Business Management

Dec. 7, 2015, Ontario – The founding board of directors of the Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative Inc. have formed Ontario’s newest producer co-operative. The co-operative’s goal is to increase the value of producers’ hay and forages by on-farm drying of hay which will then be compacted by the co-operative for sale to export markets.  More than 50 hay producers turned out to the first public meeting of the co-operative held on Dec. 1 in Mount Forest.

The Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative is undertaking a comprehensive feasibility study to determine the economic viability of a major double-compacting hay facility in southern Ontario. A positive feasibility study would also determine the size, location, and type of facility to be built. The proposed hay compacting facility, currently planned to handle up to 100,000 tonnes annually and estimated to cost between $10 and $15 million, would target growing export markets for high quality hay, including markets in Asia, the Middle East and the European Union. 

The co-operative will be speaking about its plans at the Ontario Forage Council’s Forage Focus conference in Shakespeare on December 15 and in Winchester on December 16.  Details can be found on the OFC’s website

Founding Directors of the Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative are Fritz Trauttmansdorff (chair), Don Rowntree (vice-chair), Jonathon Blydorp (secretary-treasurer), André Larocque, Chris Martin, Chris Riach, and Larry Davis. The co-operative has retained the services of co-op business consultant George Alkalay of Northfield Ventures Ltd. to prepare the feasibility study and provide support with overall project development.

Published in Corporate News

Dec. 7, 2015, Paisley, Ont. – Vince and Heather Stutzki of ElmCrest Farms, sheep farmers in Bruce County, have been named this year’s Innovative Farmers of the Year by the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario.

The Stutzkis use a system of rotational grazing, pasture remediation, manure and compost application, double cropping and minimum tillage. By building their soil, their 200 acre farm supports their large flock, and their family.

The Stutzkis moved to their rolling property near Paisley in 1988 and there they raised a daughter and three sons, two of whom bought a farm down the road and farm with their parents. “When we came here the whole place was cropped,” says Vince. He recalls how he and Heather ‘fell into’ raising sheep: “One day, we had ten ewes and a ram that just showed up here because people wanted to get rid of them. We had an old bank barn with a roof that was leaking, the walls were collapsing.”

In Ontario, there are about 4,000 shepherds and the average flock size is about 85. The Stutzkis are part of a loose network of large flock producers, numbering fewer than 50 in the province. They raise 850 sheep on 200 acres and lamb five times a year, shipping every two weeks into a value chain that brings lamb products to Metro shelves. The Stutzkis were early innovators with traceability technology, and give back to their industry through sharing data and mentoring young farmers. Vince is also a past director of the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency Board. For the Stutzkis, managing the risks of a fluctuating global market means creating cost and labour efficiency, and so they have designed their operation and crop rotation to the very last detail.

And when it comes to innovation, they have had to look to other commodities for inspiration. “In the dairy industry, for example, there are lots of systems to look at and get ideas from but in the sheep industry, there’s not many places to look,” says Vince. The Stutzkis have been all across Ontario, Quebec and Michigan to see how others manage their livestock and pasture, and even made a trip to Scotland. They have plans for New Zealand next, as farmers there manage flocks in the tens of thousands of sheep.

The Stutzkis rotate their flock on 36 acres of pasture located on the hilliest section of the property. They have subdivided this into 27 sections and use an innovative Spider fencing system imported from New Zealand to manage flock movement between pastures. Water lines are run to every section and the intensive rotational grazing keeps both the pastures and the sheep healthy.

“Pasture is one of those things that is forgotten,” says Vince, who goes to great lengths to maintain soils in his pasture. The Stutzkis take four acre sections out of pasture on a rotational basis for two years to ‘renovate’ the soil. They use a crop of corn, sorghum sudan grass or mixed grains for the break year and they will graze it, followed the next year by a cover crop they will harvest for forage before planting the area back to grass, which they might even graze again that fall.

On such hilly ground, they never plow and use a light disking if needed. The "renovation" is important not only for thistle and other weed control, but it also breaks the worm cycle, to control parasites and worms that can build up in a pasture that isn’t properly managed. Building soil health builds up pasture health which in turn builds the health of the animals. “There’s quite an art involved in managing the pastures,” says Vince.

Vince and Heather have also had to be innovative with livestock mortality, as there are no deadstock services available for the sheep industry. A few years ago, they constructed a three-bin deadstock composting system behind the barn. The first two areas serve to alternate as the primary intake piles, with the start date marked on each and the third pile is for secondary aeration, at which point nearly everything is broken down. Soybean stubble serves as the substrate, though they use sawdust or corn silage in the winter because it will generate more heat.

The manure storage was built to hold over a year’s capacity in order to give them flexible timing of application. The addition of manure and compost into a diverse rotation has helped to build soils on the Stutzki’s farm.

Vince, Heather and the family are constantly learning, innovating and evaluating as they strive to farm in a difficult industry with limited marketing options and services available. At ElmCrest Farms, necessity is the mother of innovation.

The Stutzki family will be recognized at the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario’s Conference on Feb. 23 and 24, 2016 in London, Ont. More details on the conference are available at

Published in Corn

Dec. 1, 2015 - The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) has named Cynthia A. Grant, Ph.D., as the winner of the 2015 IPNI Science Award.

The IPNI Science Award recognizes outstanding achievements in research, extension, or education; with focus on efficient management of plant nutrients and their positive interaction in fully integrated cropping systems that enhance yield potential. A committee of noted international authorities selects the recipient. Grant receives a special plaque along with a monetary award of US$5,000.

Grant received her B.S.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1980; her M.Sc. from the University of Manitoba in 1982; and her Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba in 1986. Since 1986, Grant worked as a research scientist at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Brandon, Man. She retired early in 2015.

Throughout her decades long career, Grant has earned respect and recognition from her colleagues and the industry for her valuable research on soil fertility, crop nutrition, as well as the trace element contaminant Cadmium.

Since the 1990s, Grant has worked to assess the usefulness of Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs) in cropping systems and in Canada. She has published 17 scientific papers, two review articles, a chapter on EEFs, and has prepared dozens of technology transfer articles and presentations on the topic in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Grant also worked to develop and assess beneficial management practices (BMPs) for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and chloride to improve nutrient use efficiency, becoming one of the first Canadian researchers supported by the international Fluid Fertilizer Foundation.

Grant has published 165 journal articles on nutrient management, co-authored chapters on soil fertility management in dryland agriculture and sulphur management and co-edited a book on Integrated Nutrient Management. Her research has been recognized with several awards including, the International Fertilizer Industry Association Award, The Robert E. Wagner Award, the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation Researcher of the Year Award, and the Manitoba-North Dakota No-Till Non-Farmer of the Year Award. She also served on the editorial board of several scientific journals and as Associate Editor of the Journal of Environmental Quality, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, and Canadian Journal of Plant Science.


Published in Genetics/Traits

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