Sustainability
The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association’s BadgerWay program is now accepting applications for projects that support on-farm habitat for the province’s endangered badgers.
Published in Corporate News
Most eastern Canadian producers have considered whether tile drainage is right for their operations. According to Harold Rudy, executive officer of research and business development for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), more than 50 per cent of the agricultural land in southern Ontario is tile drained. In many areas of the province, tile drainage facilitates timely field operations and helps decrease the risk of crop damage during heavy rainfall events.
Published in Other Crops
Agri-food stakeholders from across the value chain are invited to attend the second annual National Environmental Farm Plan (NEFP) Summit in Ottawa, November 1-2, 2017. As Co-Chair of the NEFP steering committee, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) encourages producers and farm groups to be part of this initiative that seeks to harmonize the many different environmental farm plan programs in Canada.

An Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is a voluntary, whole-farm, self-assessment tool that helps farmers and ranchers identify and build on environmental strengths, as well as mitigate risks on their operations. A National EFP (NEFP) would not be a replacement program, but rather a harmonization effort across the existing EFP programs nation wide.

Building on an inaugural event held last year, summit attendees will further develop a national standard designed to connect environmentally sustainable practices at the farm level with global food buyers' growing need to source sustainable ingredients.

The NEFP program is well into development, led by a steering committee comprised of participants from across the agri-food value chain. Four sub-committees are working toward developing a national protocol as it relates to data collection, standards and verification, all of which will be supported through comprehensive communications and stakeholder outreach. Summit attendees will hear from each committee, along with subject matter experts, about the progress to-date - information that will further guide steps toward this national standard.

Learn more and register for the 2017 National EFP Summit by visiting nationalefp.ca. The NEFP is always seeking to add to its list of stakeholders involved in shaping this made-in-Canada solution. Interested organizations should contact co-chairs Drew Black or Paul Watson.
Published in Business Management
Wheat is an important crop in Canada, representing nine per cent of total farm cash receipts in 2015, and averaging 16 per cent of crop receipts in Canada from 2011 to 2015, according to Statistics Canada. And Fusarium head blight caused by Fusarium graminearum is the most important wheat disease. Fusarium head blight also infects barley and is a problem in malt barley production. With increasing corn acreage in Manitoba, there is a greater incidence of ear rot caused by F. graminearum as well.

The first and worst epidemic in Manitoba was in 1993. Since then, Fusarium has slowly spread to new areas across the Prairies, and by 2008, it was commonly found in the Dark Brown and Black soil zones in all three Prairie provinces.

There has been an emergence of new Fusarium populations and shifts in existing populations since 2000. A possible cause is the accidental introduction of isolates from one area to another, or one country to another.

Fusarium head blight is a concern because of the mycotoxins that can be produced by the pathogens. Fusarium graminearum produces two toxicologically relevant groups of mycotoxins. These mycotoxins have major impacts on swine feeding, resulting in poor feed intake and poor growth. Swine feed intake is reduced 7.5 per cent for every one part per million (ppm) of deoxynivalenol (DON) found in the diet.

The first mycotoxin group is the Trichothercens, which includes DON and the acetylated derivatives such as 15-ADON and 3-ADON. The DON mycotoxin is very stable during storage, milling, processing and cooking and doesn’t degrade at high temperatures. The other mycotoxin group in the Trichothercens is Nivalenol (NIV) caused by F. cerealis. It is not a virulent but is 10 times more toxic than DON. This group could become a concern and we don’t have a good monitoring system for NIV.

The second major mycotoxin group is Zearalenone and its derivatives.

The current issues with Fusarium mycotoxins in the Canadian feed supply is that Fusarium pressure in Canada is widespread and may be increasing because of wet seasons that promote the disease. There is also the additional risk of mycotoxin exposure from new feed ingredients such as distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) that are corn or wheat based. There is an increased risk in livestock feed with DDGS, since DON concentrates in in DDGS by approximately three times.

There appears to be a shift in the pathogen population with 3-ADON becoming more prevalent. This is a concern since 3-ADON makes significantly more toxin that is also more toxic. The LD50 for swine with 15-ADON is 113 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) while it is 49 mg/kg for 3-ADON. Analysis conducted by Ward et al in 2008 found that 3-ADON was found in six per cent of Alberta samples tested, 11 per cent of Saskatchewan samples, and 39 per cent of Manitoba samples.

We have looked at genetic chemotyping of DON isolates. On winter wheat, we found 3-ADON accounted for 82.4 per cent of F. graminearum isolates in Winnipeg and 84.6 per cent in Carman, Man. At Melfort, Sask., 3-ADON accounted for 100 per cent of the DON population. Canadian Grain Commission samples of CWRS wheat in 2015 indicated a shift to 3-ADON in the Black and Dark Brown soils zones.

This shift to a greater prevalence of 3-ADON brings new issues in managing the disease because of the increased virulence of 3-ADON. And because of the higher toxin production, there will be new issues at the elevator, in DDGS feeding and at the trade level because of potential downgrading.

The accidental discovery of NIV producing isolates in winter wheat at Carman by Chami Amarasinghe at the University of Manitoba is also a concern. Five of 132 Fusarium isolates were found to be NIV. In these isolates, 65 per cent were identified as 3-ADON, 31 per cent 15-ADON, and four per cent NIV. The presence of NIV is a concern, since it is 10 times more toxic to livestock than DON.

The identification of NIV is a concern because F. cerealis and F. graminearum are very similar and difficult to distinguish from each other. Until 2012, NIV had only been detected in a few barley samples in Canadian grain. However, testing for NIV in Canada is not routinely conducted at grain mills or elevators.

Amarasinghe also investigated the possibility of masked mycotoxins in our grains. These mycotoxins are masked because their structure has been changed in the plant. This process occurs when plants detoxify DON by converting it to DON-3-Glucosides (D3G). Masked mycotoxins are also known as modified mycotoxins and can’t be detected by conventional chemical analysis. However the danger is that gut microbes in livestock digestive systems may be able to convert D3G back to DON.

Findings from Amarasinghe’s research showed Canadian spring wheat cultivars produced D3G upon Fusarium infection, and there were significant differences among wheat cultivars. The susceptible cultivars showed a lower D3G to DON ratio (less D3G content) compared to the moderately resistant/intermediate cultivars. She found the level of resistance might have an effect on the production of D3G during the infection.

Looking into the future, Canadian wheat production may be at greater risk of Fusarium infections. An increase of 3-ADON, the potential for NIV to establish, and masked mycotoxins in our grain may be food safety issues. Additionally, with climate change, there is a possible threat of an increase in mycotoxins or having new mycotoxins such as the new NX-2 population establish.

Historically, in Canada we have seen shifts in the past. In the Great Lakes area, we saw a shift from ZEN to DON in the mid-70s, similar to the shift from 15-ADON to 3-ADON on the Prairies in the 2000s.

There are now some wheat varieties that have resistance to Fusarium in winter wheat and Canadian Spring wheat. Other classes also have varieties that are moderately resistant to Fusarium as well. These are important and should be considered as management tools.

This article is a summary of the presentation "War of the titans: The battle for supremacy in wheat-fusarium interactions," delivered by Dr. Dilantha Fernando, University of Manitoba, at the Field Crop Disease Summit, Feb. 21-22 in Saskatoon. Click here to download the full presentation.

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Published in Diseases
Worker and queen honeybees exposed to field realistic levels of neonicotinoids die sooner, reducing the health of the entire colony, a new study led by York University (Your U) biologists has found.
Published in Corporate News
Fertilizer Canada and the federal and provincial governments, through the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) framework, have awarded contributions of $24,000 and $100,000 (respectively) to eight producer-led Agriculture-Applied Research Management (Agri-ARM) sites in the province of Saskatchewan. The sites will implement 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place) demonstration projects in order to increase awareness and adoption of the program among local producers.

Project concepts were submitted to the GF2-funded ADOPT (Agriculture Demonstration of Practices and Technologies) program which supports local demonstration projects to provide Saskatchewan producers and ranchers the opportunity to evaluate new practices and technologies under local conditions. Funding for GF2 is provided on a 60/40 basis through the federal and provincial governments.

4R Nutrient Stewardship is a science-based system that tailors the use of fertilizer products – essential plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur – from farm field to farm field to create optimal soil nutrient conditions for growing specific crops. By applying the right source of fertilizer at the right rate, the right time and at the right place, the system is proven to improve and protect soil quality, increase crop yields and reduce unwanted nutrient losses to the environment.

Last year, Fertilizer Canada and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to solidify both parties' shared commitment to protecting and conserving the province's soils, improving nutrient management and supporting sustainable agriculture. This MOC was a catalyst for creating opportunities to host 4R demonstration projects in the province.

Agri-ARM's sites enable producers to enhance their knowledge and pilot innovative and sustainable Best Management Practices (BMPs) through 4R Nutrient Stewardship demonstration projects. Each of the eight sites will host three or four demonstration projects, including field tours and outreach to local producers, under three main theme categories: Demonstrating 4R Phosphorus Principles in Canola, Demonstrating 4R Nitrogen Principles in Canola, and Demonstrating 4R Nitrogen Principles in Wheat.

Implementing these 4R demonstration projects in Saskatchewan is another positive step toward Fertilizer Canada's goal of obtaining 20 million 4R acres – acres of farmland managed by 4R Nutrient Stewardship – by 2020.
Published in Corporate News
Farm Management Canada (FMC) and the Canadian Association of Diploma in Agriculture Programs (CADAP) have announced the selection of the winners of the 2016-2017 Excellence Award for Ag Students Competition. 

FMC and CADAP collected submissions from agricultural students across Canada and selected three winners who will receive scholarships towards furthering their education in agriculture. 

The award is designed to help students develop their communication skills by having the opportunity to voice their opinion on a on a subject related to farm management.

Students were asked to submit a multimedia presentation, a video, a Twitter chat, a blog or a Wiki, responding to the following question:

Certain segments of the general public question the way food is produced, and have misgivings about the use of new technology. What concrete steps would you, as a future member of the agricultural industry, propose to bridge the information and awareness gap?

This year's winners are:

Shanthanu Krishna Kumar
University of Guelph, Ont.

Jasmin Bautz
University of Saskatchewan, Sask.

William Lacasse
Institut de Technologie Agroalimentaire, campus de La Pocatière, Que.

Visit fmc-gac.com for more details on the winners and their competition entries.
Published in Corporate News
As a response to declining Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark populations across the province, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) has teamed up with researchers to launch a platform for farmers to record sightings of these two species at risk. GrassLander, a web-based map, gives Ontario farmers the ability to easily collect data on grassland bird behaviour. The data will contribute to a better scientific understanding of population trends that can help to inform science-based decision-making.

GrassLander is designed to be accessible to farmers, whether they’re out in the field or sitting at the kitchen table; the platform is optimized for computer, tablet or smart phone. Completely free, an online tutorial is available to take registrants through the steps of how to use GrassLander. All the information collected through GrassLander is secure; and to protect the privacy of GrassLander participants, the data is aggregated and only you are able to see your individual information.

GrassLander is ideal for producers who work agricultural land that includes pastures, meadows, native grasslands, restored grasslands, hayfields, or any other agricultural grassland spaces. Ontario producers and OSCIA have contributed to grassland bird conservation across the province in a variety of ways, including cost-share programs, research, education, and awareness initiatives; GrassLander is the latest addition to these valuable conservation efforts.

For more information on GrassLander or to get involved and start recording your sightings, visit ontariograsslander.ca.
Published in Corporate News
Local Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia and Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Agriculture, announced $2.9 million in funding at a press conference for two McGill projects aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions caused by water and fertilizer use in agriculture.
Published in Emerging Trends
There are both environmental and agronomic concerns surrounding the management of livestock manure. The major environmental concerns are: potential risk of nutrient accumulation in soil – particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) – and risk of nutrient movement into surface or groundwater. Poor manure management can also cause accumulation of salts in soil, surface water or groundwater and pathogenic micro-organisms in surface water.
Published in Fertilizer
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is rolling out a total of 21 new soil health publications. These publications provide best management practices to help you preserve and conserve soil while improving soil health and crop production.

The first five titles include: 
  • Adding Organic Amendments
  • Erosion Control Structures
  • Cropland Retirement
  • Soil Health in Ontario
  • Field Windbreaks

You can find these, and more titles as they are added, here.
Published in Corporate News
Blackleg is caused by two species of the pathogen. The major one is called Leptosphaeria maculans. The other one is a much less virulent species called Leptosphaeria biglobosa. For control of the disease, pathologists look at some of the weak links where we can apply most of the impact on the disease. The pathogen only survives on residues. If you don’t have a residue, it doesn’t survive well in the soil. That’s why rotation is important.

The pathogen produces a fruiting body in the spring called a pseudothecium or another type called a pycnidium. They produce spores that land on the cotyledons of canola. If you have insect damage from pests like flea beetles, the infection can be worse. With wounding, the pathogen can get into the cotyledon tissue even without moisture. From there the infection develops and you see the cankers at the base of the stem later on in the growing season.
Slide 4
Photo courtesy of Gary Peng.

There are three important things that can lead to an infection:
·      there’s residue to harbour the pathogen inoculum
·      you need to have early infection to get into the stem
·      insect damage may help the infection to occur more severely. 

The disease was very prevalent in the late ’80s, early ’90s. Then we introduced some resistant varieties in the early ’90s, which brought down the occurrence for many years. Partially that was resistance bred into varieties, but we also had three- or four-year rotations. That was a big part of the whole management effectiveness.

In the last five to six years, the disease incidence has been creeping back up to 20 to 25 per cent in Alberta and Manitoba, and about 10 per cent in Saskatchewan. However, the average severity remained below level 1 (light). Research by Sheau-Fang Hwang in Alberta indicates that in most years, this level of severity could result in a yield loss of about two to eight per cent on a susceptible variety. But from a trade perspective, our trading partners want to see the disease level trend going down.

Why the upward trend?
The first reason for an increase in blackleg incidence is likely the change of the pathogen population, which is adapting to the resistant varieties. The pathogen population may be becoming more virulent or with a greater proportion of virulent isolates in it. 

Plant breeders have used major gene resistance to control the disease. The resistant gene blocks the infection by the pathogen carrying the corresponding avirulence gene. For example, an Rlm3 resistant gene would block the pathogen with avirulence AvrLm3 gene (abbreviated to Av3). It might be like a lock-and-key, but for some reason, over time, the Av gene may change and the resistant gene may not be able to recognize it.

My colleague, Randy Kutcher, looked at the change in pathogen populations in 2007 when he looked at the avirulent gene prevalence on the Prairies. In his work looking at 800 isolates of L. maculans, the percentage of Av2 and Av6 genes were very high in the population, and the others at more moderate to low levels. Further work in 2010 and 2011 with Dilantha Fernando at the University of Manitoba found the picture had changed quite a bit. The presence of the Av3 and Av9 genes had decreased quite a bit, but at the same time Av7 seemed to be increasing quite a bit. That means the Rlm3 gene would be less likely to be effective across the Prairies because the Av3 gene had changed mostly to the virulent type. The Rlm3 gene was first introduced back in early 1990s and has been used for over 20 years.

Other research in Fernando’s lab also looked at what resistant genes are present in 206 varieties/breeding lines in Western Canada. The resistance gene that was predominantly found was Rlm3 in around 70 per cent of the varieties/breeding lines. There was also a bit of Rlm1 detected as well. Overall, the diversity of R genes is still quite limited in the germplasm tested. The important message is that Rlm3 is not going to remain effective on the Prairies because the corresponding Av3 gene is already fairly low in the pathogen population. 

However, when we looked at field data in Alberta and Manitoba, while the occurrence of other Av genes was high, disease levels ranged widely. This told us there was something else going on, which we called non-specific resistance in our varieties, although the effect was definitely less than the major gene resistance.

We further investigated this non-specific resistance in our varieties. We tested commercial varieties with a pathogen without a corresponding Av gene so any resistance observed would be due to non-specific gene resistance. Almost all the varieties had a slightly smaller amount of the disease on inoculated cotyledons than the susceptible Westar. At the same time, it’s a totally different kind of resistance reaction as opposed to the major gene resistance. It would not stop the infection completely – it just slowed it down a little bit, and on some varieties, substantially.

A further look at three of those varieties found the progress of plant mortality originated from cotyledon or petiole inoculation was somehow reduced, but varied between the varieties. Using a fluorescent protein gene labeled isolate, photography was able to show the reduced spread of the pathogen in the cotyledon compared to the susceptible Westar variety.

If you can slow down the movement from the cotyledon via the petiole into the stem, there may not be enough of the pathogen getting into the stem before the cotyledons drop off. This is one of the reasons that non-race-specific resistance works in some of those varieties we have.
SLIDE 22
Photo courtesy of Gary Peng.
Click here for part two: management strategies

This article is a summary of the presentation “Managing blackleg of canola in Western Canada,” delivered by Dr. Gary Peng, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon, at the Field Crop Disease Summit, Feb. 21-22, 2017. Click here to download the full presentation.

Don't forget to subscribe to our email newsletters so you're the first to know about current research in crop management.

Top Crop Manager's Herbicide Resistance Summit has been announced! Sign up today for early-bird pricing: https://www.weedsummit.ca/event/registration

Published in Diseases
Landscape characteristics including crop diversity or field size have less of an effect on the amount of insecticide used than the kind of crop a new study shows.

Over the past half century, food production has intensified to meet the growing demand. And as agricultural fields have become ever larger, more pesticides are required to enhance yield. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
World demand for food is growing and research and innovation will help Canadian farmers and food processors meet that demand. The Government of Canada is supporting science and innovation with key global partners to build the capacity necessary to take advantage of growth opportunities and create good, well-paying jobs.

As part of this effort, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, today joined the Honourable Christian Schmidt, German Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, in Prince Edward Island to announce that Canada and Germany will work closer together in four areas of agricultural research:
  • Sustainable agriculture and climate change, particularly in the areas of protecting soil and water and breeding crops that are more resistant to the effects of climate change;
  • Agri-food, including crop breeding for nutrition and health and reducing food waste and loss;
  • Sharing best management practices for knowledge and technology transfer to farmers and industry; and
  • Personnel exchange, including exchanges of scientists and students between Canada and Germany to build on opportunities for collaboration.
Canada and Germany enjoy close and friendly relations, reflected in their active cooperation on the international stage as well as their healthy economic and investment partnership. Germany has been a strong science partner with AAFC for over a decade, especially in the areas of crop development and animal health.

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will give Canadian farmers, processors and exporters duty-free access to more than half a billion consumers across the EU, the world's largest import market for agriculture and agri-food. This agreement will help generate jobs and grow the middle-class.

Germany continues to be a significant trading partner for Canada and is growing in importance both as an export destination and as a source of imports.
Published in Corporate News
Tree-based intercropping – growing trees together with crops – is a historical agricultural practice. These days primarily smallholder farmers use it in tropical systems, but researchers are focused on potential applications in the temperate soils of southern Ontario and Quebec.
Published in Other Crops
By 2050, we will need to feed 2 billion more people on less land. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide levels are predicted to hit 600 parts per million –a 50 per cent increase over today’s levels – and 2050 temperatures are expected to frequently match the top 5 per cent hottest days from 1950-1979. In a three-year field study, researchers proved engineered soybeans yield more than conventional soybeans in 2050’s predicted climatic conditions.| READ MORE
Published in Plant Breeding
Largely overlooked and previously not studied a lot in Canada, weed seed predation provides the second-largest loss of weed seeds from the seed bank, second only to germination. Although research has been almost exclusively carried out in Europe and the United States, recent research at the University of Saskatchewan proves weed seed predation is occurring in western Canadian cropping systems and can be measured.
Published in Weeds
There was a time on the Prairies when heat and lack of moisture stress were more common than excess moisture and cool temperatures. Indeed, the movement to direct seeding and no-till was in response to droughts in the 1980s and early 2000s. Even though the last decade has seen more challenges with excess moisture than lack of moisture, for some growers the start of the growing season in 2016 was a reminder that dry conditions are never far off. With that in mind, a review of several research studies reinforces the value of surface residue on root heat stress and crop yield.
Published in Soil
I call them my second herd,” says Brian Slenders, an alfalfa and canola seed and livestock producer near Scandia, Alta., and president of the Alfalfa Seed Commission of Alberta.
Published in Other Crops
Send five soil test samples to five different labs and you’ll likely get five different recommendations. Understanding why will help you get the most out of your fertilizer dollars and optimize yields over the long term.
Published in Soil
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