Programs, Grants & Awards

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

Dec. 1, 2015, Ontario – The Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Association has partnered with industry to launch the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist Certification in Ontario in early 2016. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place) framework incorporates the careful selection of best management practices validated by research in support of sustainable crop production. 

The pilot project, funded by an Ontario Memorandum of Cooperation between Fertilizer Canada, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA) will incorporate a specialized CCA exam and study resource and will serve to meet the growing demand for qualified advisers with focused knowledge and skills in nutrient management. 

Local retail and agronomic providers are often a Canadian farmer's first choice for reliable resources and advice when making on-farm decisions. Providing formal, recognized training to CCAs will ensure that Ontario farmers receive trusted information about 4R Nutrient Stewardship. 

Published in Corporate News

Nov. 27, 2015 - Six individuals will be inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame for 2016. Three inductees were announced at Canadian Western Agribition last week in Regina: Byrnne Rothwell, Florian Possberg and Barry Andrew.

Byrnne Rothwell:  Byrnne spent much of his early life on the family farm gaining an appreciation for the value of family and rural life. After graduating from Ontario Veterinary College in 1964, he worked as a veterinarian in Mission, B.C. and Wakaw, Sask. before building a home and a clinic at Shellbrook, Sask. in 1970. In 1986-87, the practice was sold and Byrnne joined Agriculture Canada working in animal health, meat hygiene and food inspection in locations that included Moose Jaw and Saskatoon. He had a long history of volunteerism with organizations that included the Saskatchewan Horse Federation, Canadian Western Agribition and the Prince Albert Exhibition. He was highly respected across Canada for his dedication to equine welfare. Dr. Byrnne Rothwell passed away in January 2014.

Florian Possberg:  Florian has been a tireless supporter and advocate for the hog industry in Saskatchewan and Canada. Together with his wife Betty, he started his farming career by building and managing a 60 sow operation near Humboldt in 1976. Florian was one of the founders of Big Sky Farms which grew to become the second largest hog producer in Canada. Big Sky Farms in now owned by Olymel, a large agricultural co-op based in Quebec. In 2009, he partnered with his son Brian to form B&F Polar Pork Farms Ltd. Darrel Possberg, another son, has joined the operation and the expanding farm now includes four of Florian and Betty's eight children. Florian has been a leader and an ambassador for the Canadian pork industry through Sask Pork, Canadian Pork Council and Prairie Swine Centre.

Barry Andrew:  Barry, a grain and cattle producer from the Foxleigh district north of Regina, was a founding member and director of Canadian Western Agribition. He served as president in 1980 and 1981, and played a key role in lobbying all levels of government for funding of bulidings and for show promotion around the world. Barry served as president of both the Saskatchewan and Canadian Shorthorn associations. His Duncairn Shorthorns were promoted and sold across Canada and the U.S. for more than 40 years. From 1982 to 1990, Barry was program director of the provincial counselling and assistance for farmers program which was developed to assist producers struggling with high interest rates and difficult economic times. Barry Andrew passed away in December 2012.

The induction ceremony for these three new members, along with three that will be named in January at CropSphere in Saskatoon, will take place on Aug. 6, 2016.


Published in Corporate News

Nov. 27, 2015 - The Canadian Weed Science Society / Société canadienne de malherbologie (CWSS-SCM) honored several individuals for their extraordinary contributions to the field of weed science. The awards were presented during the organization's 69th annual meeting, held Nov 22-26, 2015 in Edmonton, Alta.

Excellence in Weed Science Award (sponsored by Dow AgroSciences): CWSS-SCM honored Stephen Darbyshire, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa, Ont. Stephen's research focuses on developing new information on the taxonomy, phylogeny, and distribution of weeds and invasive plants. He has collected approximately 10,000 specimens of plant, bryophyte, and fungal specimens, primarily from Canada. Darbyshire has served on the board of directors for CWSS-SCM and has held numerous leadership positions within the society, including publications director. He has published more than 95 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 50 monographs or book chapters, supervised and co-supervised several graduate students, and presented over 30 papers at scientific conferences.

Excellence in Weed Extension Award (sponsored by Valent): CWSS-SCM honored Danielle Bernier, a weed scientist and extension specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture in the Province of Quebec. Bernier has developed great expertise locally, and is well known across the country for her tireless efforts in extending weed science to growers and industry personnel. Bernier has made dozens of presentations each year to producers and at scientific meetings, has produced over 65 extension bulletins for the province of Quebec, as well as serving in various capacities within the CWSS-SCM.

Outstanding Industry Member Award (sponsored by CWSS-SCM): CWSS-SCM honored Mark Lawton, technology development lead with Monsanto, based in Guelph, Ont. Lawton is responsible for the team that provides technical support for current products and the development of new products within Monsanto. In addition to serving in this technical capacity, he has published 18 peer-reviewed manuscripts, given over 25 papers at scientific conferences, and has served on the committee of numerous graduate students at the University of Guelph.

Meritorious Service Award (sponsored by CWSS-SCM): CWSS-SCM honoured Ken Sapsford, an independent consultant from Kaleden, BC. Sapsford was formerly a research assistant at the University of Saskatchewan. Sapsford has been very active within the CWSS-SCM, serving on three local arrangements committees, and as a member of the board of directors for six years. Beyond his dedication to the society, he has been very active in extension to agronomists and growers throughout his career. Sapsford's research contributions include authoring or co-authoring five peer-reviewed manuscripts, 66 conference and workshop proceedings, 20 technical reports to industry, 106 extensions presentations, and over 65 media interviews.

Student Scholarships and Travel Awards

  • 1st Place Award for a Ph.D. student (sponsored by Monsanto) was presented to Breanne Tidemann, from the University of Alberta. Tidemann's research focuses on the potential impact of collecting weed seeds at crop harvest on the contribution to subsequent populations. She is supervised by Drs. Linda Hall (University of Alberta) and K. Neil Harker (AAFC Lacombe, Alta.).
  • 2nd Place Award for a Ph.D. student (sponsored by Syngenta) was presented to Charles Geddes from the University of Manitoba. Research by Geddes covers optimization methods to reduce populations of volunteer canola in subsequent soybean crops. He is supervised by Dr. Rob Gulden.
  • 3rd Place Award for a Ph.D. student (sponsored by CWSS-SCM) was presented to Holly Byker from the University of Guelph. The work of Byker focuses on the biology and management of glyphosate-resistant common ragweed. Drs. Peter Sikkema and Darren Robinson are her supervisors.
  • 1st Place Award for a M.Sc. student (sponsored by Monsanto) was presented to Katherine Stanley from the University of Saskatchewan. Stanley's work focuses on the potential of mechanical weed control in organic pulse crop production. She is supervised by Dr. Steve Shirtliffe.
  • 2nd Place Award for a M.Sc. student (sponsored by Dow AgroSciences) was presented to Christopher Budd from the University of Guelph. Budd's work focuses on the control of glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane in soybean. He is supervised by Dr. Peter Sikkema.
  • 3rd Place Award for a M.Sc. student (sponsored by CWSS-SCM) was presented to Amy Mangin from the University of Alberta. The work of Mangin focuses on optimizing the efficacy of pyroxasulfone on wild oat. Dr. Linda Hall is her supervisor.


Published in Identity Preserved

Nov. 27, 2015, Ontario – The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE2) is a software program designed to help farmers estimate the potential for soil erosion under different land management and cropping practices. The software overcomes many of the limitations of the previous USLE equation.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has adapted the RUSLE2 for Ontario farmers by incorporating climate, soil and management practices common to the province.

Five interactive tutorials have been created to help you use RUSLE2 for Ontario. The easy-to-follow audio/visual guides give step-by-step instructions on using RUSLE2 to help you assess the cropping and tillage practices you use on your farm.

Find out how you can prevent soil erosion from your fields! Visit the OMAFRA website to watch the tutorials and to download RUSLE2.

For more information visit:

Published in Soil

Nov. 25, 2015, Regina, SK - 4-H Canada and CN have announced a unique partnership to advance youth leadership and promote farm safety in rural Canada.

Made possible through a commitment from CN of $600,000, the new annual 4-H Canada Leadership Excellence Awards of Distinction (L.E.A.D.) recognize exceptional 4-H senior youth members and showcase their accomplishments in the area of leadership excellence. The CN commitment also allows 4-H Canada to establish a 4-H Farm Safety Fund that will support 4-H clubs, districts, regions and provincial organizations across Canada with farm and community safety initiatives.

Four recipients of the inaugural 4-H Canada L.E.A.D. scholarships were revealed today at the Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Sask. The recipients are outstanding 4-H'ers who epitomize 4-H youth empowerment, and who demonstrate personal and community impact, and leadership excellence in each of 4-H Canada's four Leadership Development Pillars:

  • Cameron Choquette (Saskatchewan) - Community Engagement & Communications
  • Meghan McGillivray (British Columbia) - the Environment & Healthy Living
  • Louise Pickard (New Brunswick) - Science & Technology
  • Austin Pizzey (Manitoba) - Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security

L.E.A.D. recipients will each benefit from four-year scholarships in the amount of $5,000 per year toward their post-secondary studies. They also will be matched with a mentor who plays a leadership role in their industry and community. This mentorship relationship is an important component of the award program and will help the L.E.A.D. recipients as they forge their careers. Recent studies have estimated that from 2013 to 2022 there will be almost 74,000 job openings in Canadian agriculture, but only 49,000 projected job seekers. This represents a huge opportunity for the country's youth and it starts with mentorship opportunities and skills transfer.

Published in Corporate News

Nov. 24, 2015, Ontario – Chris Brown was named Ontario Forage Master for 2015 at a recognition event hosted by the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on Nov. 11. Chris and his wife Brianne operate Beslea Farms Limited near Yarker in Lennox & Addington County. He credits high quality forage as the foundation for their 100-head dairy herd (25 Jersey and 75 Holsteins).

The Ontario Forage Master competition is an annual event sponsored by Pickseed Canada Inc., SGS/Agri-Food Laboratories, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). There were close to 200 entries this year representing 22 different counties and districts, with 14 4-H participants. Local winners are declared based on judging of field management and forage quality and storage. From there, local winners have the opportunity to move to the public speaking portion of the competition, staged at the provincial level. Participants present how forages are selected, grown, harvested, stored and utilized for top production on their farms. Judging is done by a panel of experts.

“All of our five finalists in this year’s Ontario Forage Masters competition were dairy producers that had no difficulty expressing their views on the value of forages in their cropping and feeding programs,” says Alan Kruszel, OSCIA president. “That made the judges decision difficult, but Chris Brown’s presentation had just a little extra polish that made him this year’s winner. Chris is an excellent speaker and provided a clear and organized presentation detailing techniques in forage production that are easily applicable and transferable. He demonstrated that the real value of forages is realized by farming practices that focus on producing quality forage with proper management.”

“We aim for top quality forage without sacrificing yield or plant health,” declares Chris. “Quality never lets you down. In today’s dairy industry it is more important than ever to produce top quality forages. As margins tighten and input costs continue to rise, top quality forages can help to reduce feed costs and increase animal health, helping your bottom line.”

Chris now qualifies to compete in the 2016 American Forage and Grassland Council’s Forage Spokesperson Competition to be held January 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Published in Corporate News

Nov. 24, 2015 - Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers for 2015 are hog farmers Mike and Amy Cronin of Bluevale, Ont., and dairy farmers Patrick and Cherylynn Bos of Ponoka, Alta. These two farm families were chosen from six regional farm couples across Canada at Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) annual national event held last week in Edmonton, Alta.

Strength and ingenuity in the face of adversity and a penchant for taking the right risks to advance their operations appeared as a common thread for the Bos and Cronin families, who are the newest additions to the family of OYF ambassadors for Canadian agriculture.

"Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers provides a wonderful platform to recognize and celebrate Canada's agricultural entrepreneurs and leaders," says Bev Yee, Alberta Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

The Cronins both grew up on Ontario dairy farms, and when it came time to start their own operations, saw opportunity in the hog industry. Though they entered during a severe downturn in 1998, the Cronins have expanded their operation from their first 1,800 farrow-to-wean operation to the 17,000 sows they run today between several farms in Canada and the U.S.

The Boses have built a milk cow and goat farm business where they operate a herd of 1,400 dairy goats. Following the closure of the goat milk and cheese processing facility they were selling to in 2004, the Boses decided to see the challenge as an opportunity and built their own facility. Today, Rock Ridge Dairy is a successful cow and goat milk and cheese processing facility selling to major grocery chains across Western Canada.

"Every year, our organization recognizes and welcomes more innovation and more passion with farm families who are helping shape the dynamic future of Canada's agri-food sector," says OYF President Luanne Lynn. "The Cronin and Bos families both exhibit the values of OYF and the agriculture industry in their unique and successful farm businesses. We are thrilled to welcome them to join 35 years of OYF winners."

Mike and Amy Cronin share their win with their six children, all of whom have a keen interest and involvement in their hog operations. With risk management at the centre of their business plan, the Cronins have managed to expand their operation in size and advance to meet new supply chain needs. In 2014, they built the first crate-free farrowing system in North America after researching the newest technology from around the world. Their barn includes a thumb print entry system, electronic sow feeders and video cameras.

"Every one of us has worked hard and dedicated our whole lives to family, farming and our communities," Amy Cronin said of her fellow OYF honourees at the awards ceremony on Friday.

The Bos family, including their four children, shares a passion for farming and sharing their story with their customers, hosting more than 600 guests on their farm yearly for tours. Their new goat milking rotary system, expected to be up and running in the next several weeks, will be one of the most technologically advanced systems of its kind in North America. Passionate about giving back to their communities, the Boses currently donate 2.5 cents for every litre of milk they sell to the Calgary Food Bank as part of their Children's Milk Program.

"It's very humbling to be chosen to represent this year's honourees," said Cherylynn Bos. "We wouldn't be here without the support of our families."

Patrick and Cherylynn Bos from Alberta and Mike and Amy Cronin from Ontario were chosen from the six 2015 regional finalists – including the following honourees from the other four regions: David and Sara Simmons (Atlantic region), Christian Bilodeau and Annie Sirois (Quebec region), Mark and Cori Pawluk (Manitoba region), and Jeff and Ebony Prosko (Saskatchewan region).

Celebrating 35 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 CropScience, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.



Published in Markets


Nov. 19, 2015, Ottawa The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) needs producer volunteers to participate in focus groups that examine the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for the commodities of apples, crops, honey, mushrooms, potatoes and turf.

These standards will then be further developed into meaningful tools and inform training programs based on what producers indicate are the best ways of doing business. To date, 20 National Occupational Standards have been developed with input from 270 industry stakeholders for the pork, sheep, aquaculture, beef and poultry commodities.

Producers can find dates, times and places for focus groups across Canada at Participant expenses will be reimbursed.

The research is in support of two projects being conducted by CAHRC: the National Agricultural Occupational Framework and Labour Market Support (NAOF) and the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-food Workforce Action Plan (WAP).

NAOF is an in-depth study of the jobs and skills involved in today’s agricultural workforce with specific focus on 10 commodities. The information gathered through this research is being used to develop training and support tools for producers and workers, as well as a curriculum mapping tool that will assist educators to enhance and develop new curriculum that reflects the modern work done on farms today. In addition, this research is helping to develop a job matching tool that links employers with qualified job seekers and student interns.

The WAP examines issues of industry labour management and shortages. It is led by the national Labour Task Force and functions as a solution-oriented forum made up of industry representatives from across Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sectors. The consultative process has identified two recommendations: one is to increase the supply of agricultural labour (skilled and unskilled workers) and the other to improve the knowledge and skills of workers already in the industry. To date, 65 organizations are confirmed as implementation partners, lending support, credibility and a sense of urgency to addressing labour issues for the industry.

Industry participation is the cornerstone of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council’s research with input, direction and guidance for all activities sought from agriculture and agri-food employers, employees, associations, education, and government at regional, provincial and national levels. Likewise, product development is done with similar consultations to ensure quality, accuracy and relevance of prepared solutions. This requires grass root participation in consultations at all stages.


Published in Corporate News

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