Specialty Research
What if monitoring temperature controls was automated, and a grain bin itself could warn suppliers of low levels?

That's the theory behind an emerging category of technology called "the Internet of things (IOT)," and it's leading to better business outcomes for farms and food business across Canada.

Kyle Arbuckle, of Kitchener, Ontario-based blueRover, says agriculture and food is one key area of focus for the company, which serves clients across North America. | READ MORE
Published in Storage

When you think of a radish, you may think of the small, round, crunchy, red-and-white vegetable that is sliced into salads. You might be surprised to learn that a larger, longer form of this root vegetable is being used in agriculture as a cover crop.

Cover crops are grown between main crops such as wheat, corn, or soybeans when the soil would otherwise be bare. Cover crops can control erosion, build soil, and suppress weeds. Radish as a cover crop can provide these benefits and more. The long radish root creates deep channels in the soil that can make it easier for subsequent crops to reach water in the soil below.

Radish is also known to benefit water quality. It does so by taking up nitrogen, in the form of nitrates, from the soil. This leaves less nitrogen in the soil that can run off to nearby streams and lakes.

Matt Ruark of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues wanted to know more about the effect of this nitrate uptake in the following growing season. They established test sites in three Wisconsin locations and studied them for three years. At each site, some plots received the radish cover crop and some did not. The radish cover crop was planted in August after a wheat harvest. Corn was planted the following spring.

The research showed that radish significantly reduced the nitrate content in the soil as compared to the test plots with no cover crop. This finding confirmed the results of several earlier studies. It showed that radish did take up nitrogen, in the form of nitrates, from the soil.

This research supports the use of radish as a cover crop as a trap crop for fall nitrogen. However, what happens to that nitrogen afterward remains unknown.

There was no consistent evidence that nitrogen was returned to the soil as the radish crop decomposed. Radish did not supply nitrogen to the corn crop. The researchers concluded that in the Upper Midwest the nitrogen in radish could not replace fertilizer.

Ruark commented, “Radish grows well when planted in late summer and traps a lot of nitrogen. But the way it decomposes doesn’t result in a nitrogen fertilizer benefit to the next crop. We don’t know exactly why. We were hoping it would provide a nitrogen benefit, but alas, it did not.”

What happens to the nitrogen? The decomposition pattern of radish needs to be explored more fully to learn more. And perhaps, Ruark said, radish could be more beneficial if mixed with a winter-hardy cover crop. 

Read more about Ruark’s work in Agronomy Journal.
Published in Other Crops

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist Louis-Pierre Comeau is sifting his way through New Brunswick soil in search of answers to one of the biggest issues facing local farmers: the loss of soil organic matter and the decrease of soil health in farm fields.

Published in Soil
Reducing natural habitats in order to create more acres of farmland may become a regretful practice with negative consequences – including reducing the yield potential of canola and other oilseeds, says Melanie Dubois, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) from the Brandon, Man., Research and Development Centre. Dubois recently finished her second field season of a three-year project.
Published in Canola
Aphanomyces disease in peas and lentils is a widespread and serious problem across Western Canada. In 2017, even with dry conditions in many areas, the disease remained a significant problem in peas, with crop and yield losses in infected fields remaining high. In lentils, the incidence and severity was reduced under the drier conditions, however the inoculum is still likely present. Currently the only control option in fields with Aphanomyces is extended rotations away from peas and lentils for at least six to eight years.  
Published in Diseases
A team of researchers led by University of Guelph plant scientist and professor, Karl Peter Pauls, recently completed a three-year research project to tackle one of Ontario’s most costly bean diseases: anthracnose.
Published in Diseases
In high yielding cereal crops, lodging is a common cause of yield loss. Under the right conditions, plant growth regulators (PGRs) can reduce plant height and reduce lodging. Plant growth regulators are synthetic compounds that can beneficially modify plant growth and development. Research continues to help address the many questions around PGRs, including responsive cultivars, appropriate timing, optimal conditions and other factors.
Published in Cereals
The outlook for hard white wheat production in Western Canada nudged upward this past winter for the first time in approximately six years.
Published in Cereals
Some fungi such as Fusarium and Penicillium can infect the grain of corn, wheat and other cereals and may produce toxins under certain conditions. Preventing or minimizing the accumulation of these toxins is very important for ensuring food and feed safety and for maintaining the grain’s value in the marketplace. A recent study shows that ultraviolet (UV) light might offer another way to decrease fungi and fungal toxins in harvested cereals.
Published in Storage
One of the first research questions was to determine what we expected aeration to do and what the main objectives were,” says Ron Palmer, IHARF research engineer. “The first reason was to remove some of the moisture from the grain, especially if it is tough.
Published in Storage
Nitrogen loss is real. University of Minnesota researcher Fabian Fernandez says growers could seriously shave the fertilizer budget by taking a different approach to nitrogen (N) applications.
As the interest in fababean production continues to grow, so does the need for more up-to-date agronomic information. Researchers and the industry in general have several efforts underway – however, much of the current agronomic information available to Saskatchewan producers is either unavailable, outdated, or sourced from other growing regions. Various research projects are focused on developing Saskatchewan-based agronomic information and updating work initially done back in the 1970s.
Published in Pulses
Know the enemy. That’s the goal of a project now underway in Ontario. In this case, the enemy is soybean disease – a continually changing foe, with new pathogen species spreading into different growing areas and new strains evolving to overcome control measures.
Published in Soybeans
The fababean crop has been growing in popularity in Western Canada. In Saskatchewan in particular, it is promoted as the pulse to grow in the northern and eastern areas of the province that are not ideal for lentils or chickpeas. However, while export markets are currently limited for Western Canada’s fababeans, a recent study looking at potential markets the crop reveals opportunities closer to home that producers can tap into.
Published in Pulses
Over the long-term, crop rotation, fertilizer strategies and management practices impact field productivity, nitrogen cycling and balance, and soil properties. These long-term practices also have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions such as nitrous oxide (N2O) and provide opportunities to reduce environmental Nitrogen (N) losses.
While attending Farm Tech in Edmonton this year, Darrell Bricker, CEO for IPSOS Public Affairs, spoke as the keynote to hundreds of farmers, crop scientists and industry professionals about the future of consumers – “the new Canada” – and what this means for agriculture.
Published in Consumer Issues
As swede midge populations continue to rise in Quebec, canola growers are looking for better ways to manage the pest. Entomologist Geneviève Labrie is leading a two-year research project to help advance integrated management strategies for swede midge.
Published in Insect Pests
The food processing industry in Saskatchewan will benefit from the opening of the state-of-the-art Agri-Food Innovation Centre, a new facility operated by the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc. (Food Centre).

The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness celebrated the opening of this new $15.7 million facility, which provides fully integrated concept-to-commercialization services through applied research for agricultural products, product and process development, and incubation for entrepreneurs and agri-food processors.

In addition, he also announced two new investments totalling $417,500 for the Food Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.

The first investment of $117,500, through the Western Diversification Program (WDP), will enable the Food Centre to purchase equipment to separate and isolate protein from alfalfa and split field peas on a pilot-scale level.

The second WDP investment of $300,000 will also help the Food Centre purchase additional equipment and develop commercial uses for western Canadian pulse starch by-products, left over from the protein separation process.

The Food Centre is the primary provider of food product development, technology transfer, commercialization and food safety training for Saskatchewan's food industry. It has been instrumental in developing hundreds of products, many of which have already been introduced to market. It is also an integral part of Saskatchewan's value-added food sector, particularly in development related to cereal grains, oilseeds, pulses and edible oils.

Canada's Innovation Agenda promotes clean growth, good jobs and higher living standards for the middle class. The investments announced today are an example of this vision in action.

"With support from the Government of Canada, the Agri-Food Innovation Centre will further position our industry to be strong leaders in innovation and technology for the food processing sector. The new investments announced today, coupled with the Food Centre's expertise in applied research and development, will pave the way for new food concepts in a changing market," said Dan Prefontaine, president, Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc.
Published in Corporate News
The Government of Canada is investing in science and innovation to help meet increasing global food demand, grow exports for Canadian farmers and producers, and create good paying jobs that help grow Canada's middle-class.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, joined newly hired researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Harrington Research Farm to announce the completion of a $6.8-million upgrade of the world-class facility.
The Government of Canada is commitment to discovery science and innovation, and to reaching its goal of growing agri-food exports to $75 billion by 2025.

The upgrades included $2.97 million for 10 new and renovated laboratories and the purchase of a $1.3-million nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer for the Charlottetown Research and Development Centre, and $2.54 million for an expansion of the Harrington Research Farm greenhouse. The spectrometer allows scientists to study farm soil at the molecular level, which will help farmers improve the soil health and productivity of their land.

Three of the five scientists hired by the research centre over the past 18 months occupy new positions that expand the facility's areas of research. The five specialists are a microbial ecologist, an agro-ecosystem modeler and data scientist, a weed specialist, an environmental chemist and a cereals and oilseeds biologist.

"Having farmed on PEI and travelled around the world as Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I see how science and innovation opens markets and creates new opportunities for our farmers and ranchers. This government is committed to innovation through world-class science and to helping farmers have access to the most current tools and knowledge to continue to grow the best food in the world," said MacAulay.
Published in Corporate News
The University of Guelph (U of G) recently launched a new initiative to turn cutting-edge agri-food innovations into products and applications that will improve life and help grow the economy.

The announcement was made during an “innovation showcase” that featured leading-edge U of G agri-food projects and was attended by University, industry and government officials.

Accelerator Guelph will assist U of G researchers in commercializing their novel ideas and discoveries. It will help bolster U of G’s already strong reputation for ingenuity and inventiveness in agri-food, said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).

“The University of Guelph’s expertise and strength in agri-food innovation is unmatched,” Campbell said. “Our researchers have bold, ambitious ideas, and their work addresses gaps and helps solve problems while shaping the future of food and agriculture in Canada and beyond. They also promote industry collaboration and accelerating growth in the thriving agri-food sector.”

Campbell added that U of G’s innovation activities and goals “align, illustrate and enhance the incredible agri-food innovation supercluster that is Canada Food Nexus.” U of G is part of this collaboration of private sector firms, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

“The shared goal is fostering a culture of innovation and economic development in the agri-food sector, and positioning Canada as a world leader in food,” Campbell said.

Accelerator Guelph will help move such ideas to market, Campbell said. Modelled after some of the world’s top accelerator programs, its four-phase program will mentor U of G agri-food entrepreneurs with business planning, executive leadership training, financial and accounting expertise, and human resources management.

Accelerator Guelph will complement the successful Gryphon’s LAIRR (Leading to Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research) program, in which U of G researchers pitch creative ideas for research commercialization to a panel of industry leaders. Winners receive up to $125,000 to support their proposals, and receive assistance from industry collaborators in Ontario’s agri-food and rural sectors.

This year, 15 projects will receive funding under the Gryphon’s LAAIR program. The winners were also announced and highlighted during the innovation showcase.

Examples are:
  • Engineering professor Michele Oliver heads a team developing a cost-effective seat cushion to reduce seat vibration in farming machinery. Mobile agricultural equipment is used in virtually all Ontario farms, but its use exposes the operator to whole-body vibration levels that can harm health. Oliver’s invention will lead to cost savings and improved health for operators.
  • Blockchain technology can help trace products through the food supply-chain, but using blockchain for food traceability faces a number of challenges. Computer science professor Rozita Dara and a team are looking at soybean traceability using blockchain, developing processes to collect, analyze and store data on soybeans while also understanding the legislative and stakeholder context.
  • Researchers in U of G’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC) made the world’s first compostable coffee pods and are now pursuing new innovations. Prof. Manjusri Misra is developing products for the greenhouse industry that will reduce manual labour in growing tomatoes and other crops. Prof. Amar Mohanty is investigating the use of low-value agricultural residues to develop lightweight biocomposite products for the automotive industry.
“The diversity of these projects is a testament to the breadth and depth of our expertise in agri-food,” Campbell said. “They will help expand the commercial and societal impact of U of G innovations.”

Gryphon’s LAIRR is funded through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – U of G partnership and Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
Published in Corporate News
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