Sustainability
Researchers have made a significant breakthrough that could make barley more tolerant to waterlogging and wet conditions.

The Western Barley Genetics Alliance announced it had identified new molecular markers to target waterlogging-tolerant genes in barley, while field trials in Western Australia last year showed promising yield results.

The Alliance is a partnership between Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Murdoch University, University of Tasmania and the Zhejiang and Yangzhou universities in China.

Alliance director Chengdao Li said they worked with two universities in China, which were both located in regions prone to flooding and waterlogging. READ MORE
Published in Genetics/Traits
World demand for food is growing and innovation will help Canadian farmers and food processors meet that demand. The Government is supporting science and innovation in key growth industries, including agriculture, to secure Canada's competitive edge in global markets, increase returns for Canadian farmers, and strengthen Canada's middle class.

On behalf of the entire value chain, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Cereals Canada released the 2017 Canadian Wheat Research Priorities Report.

Wheat research priorities were developed through a national collaboration of farmers, federal and provincial governments, private development companies, public research institutions, exporters, and processors to identify the priority areas of research that public, private and producer groups should focus on for the next five years in order to ensure the strength and growth of the wheat industry in Canada.

The research priorities focus on improving wheat yield and reliability, increasing sustainability, and improving food safety such as reducing mycotoxins.

Research will also increase the ability to respond to consumer needs by developing a way to capture consumer preferences and provide this information directly to researchers and purchasers.

"Canada is one of the world's top five wheat exporters with an average of $7B exported annually. This report is a great example of how collaboration between the Government of Canada, Cereals Canada and the sector can be used to identify wheat research priorities that will help respond to the evolving business needs of producers, increase agricultural sustainability and ensure top-quality products for consumers at home and abroad," said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Published in Cereals
Soil health is the basis of successful crop production. This is why more and more growers are doing the groundwork to preserve and improve this vital part of their operations. Some, however, still avoid it because they perceive it as an economic issue – soil improvement costs money, it doesn’t make money. Not so, say Ontario soil specialists. Crop rotation trials prove if growers take a longer-term view of their operation, there will be economic rewards, yield bumps and an improved crop production environment.
Published in Soil
With a shared passion for the future of Ontario’s agriculture industry, AgScape and 4-H Ontario will co-host Your Future in Agriculture to launch a new leadership certificate course and career competition for Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) students in Ontario.

The October 26, 2017 event at the Mount Forest Sports Complex marks a new partnership between the two organizations to collaborate and share resources and networks to deliver engaging, fact-based information about the agri-food industry to Ontario students.

“There is a natural synergy between 4-H and what we are working towards every day to ensure future consumers are informed and aware of all the opportunities in the agri-food industry,” says AgScape Executive Director Colleen Smith. “Our organizations have been working together for many months to uncover new opportunities to bring ag literacy to more students across the province, and Your Future in Agriculture is the start of a great partnership.”

Your Future in Agriculture is the official launch of 4-H Ontario’s new SHSM Leadership Certificate curriculum specifically designed for SHSM students. AgScape is collaborating to deliver another SHSM component bringing real world, experiential opportunities to explore a variety of agri-food careers. SHSM students from a number of school boards have been invited to participate in the event, with the day split between getting a sample of the 4-H leadership certificate course curriculum and AgScape’s career competition.

Your Future in Agriculture is designed to meet two of the five elements of the SHSM program: sector-recognized certification and experiential learning. Both activities will feature hands-on opportunities to explore aspects of leadership and agriculture industry careers.

“This event is a new way for youth to learn and practice leadership skills in a fun environment”, says 4-H Ontario Executive Director Debra Brown. “Every night, in communities across Ontario, 4-H volunteers run clubs where youth build leadership and life skills. We are pleased to be able to bring this experience to students during a school day.”
Published in Corporate News
The amount of debt Canadian farmers collectively carried relative to the value of their assets increased in 2016 for the first time since 2009, putting operators at heightened risk of going out of business should the next two or three years treat them poorly.

Further, roughly 70 per cent of farm assets are tied up in land. The value of land is expected to continue to climb but not as fast as it has in the past, according to Farm Credit Canada (FCC), the country's largest agricultural lender.

While FCC is confident the industry's financial resilience remains healthy, many challenges remain: Interest rates are rising, growth in farm revenue is sliding and the Canadian dollar is strengthening. And farmers have not paid down any of their collective debt since the early 1990s. This means some agricultural producers across the country could hit a financial crisis if an extended stretch of unfavourable weather or volatile markets hammered the industry.

Drought in large swaths of Western Canada, coupled with excess moisture in the East, are expected to hurt this year's farm income. Agricultural producers will be able to handle this year's bumps, but need a cushion in case more "shocks" are in the cards, according to J.P. Gervais, the FCC's chief agricultural economist. READ MORE
Published in Business Management
The Canada and Manitoba governments have invested more than $880,000 in environmentally-focused projects to improve and protect Manitoba's landscape in partnership with conservation districts and farmers, Federal Agriculture Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, and Manitoba Agriculture Minister, Ralph Eichler, announced today.

A total of 23 projects will receive funding from Growing Forward 2's Growing Assurance – Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S) to enhance riparian areas, build water retention structures, protect sensitive lands with perennial cover and establish grassed waterway buffers. Funding is provided to Manitoba's conservation districts, which then work with local agricultural producers to complete the projects.

Manitoba Agriculture estimates every dollar spent on environmental projects creates a $3 economic spin-off through material purchases, use of local contractors, skilled labour and tax revenues.

"The Government of Canada is proud to partner with Manitoba Agriculture, conservation districts and farmers to support environmental practices to increase productivity and profitability in the agriculture sector and reduce negative impacts on the environment. Investments in initiatives like these not only support long-term prosperity for our farmers, but help improve the health of our ecosystems for future generations," said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Published in Business & Policy
While the benefits of cover crops for soil health have long been touted by extension staff, it’s been difficult for researchers to determine how exactly cover crops affect the soil. That is until now. In 2016, an elaborate soil health monitoring system – the first of its kind in North America – was installed at the Elora Research Station, near Guelph, Ont.
Published in Soil
A strong and competitive agriculture sector is vital to Canada's prosperity; creating good jobs, growing the middle class, and bringing high-quality products to the tables of Canadian consumers.

Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities and Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre, Kent Hehr, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, was in Calgary earlier this week to announce our Government is investing $4.4 million to help farmers stay on the cutting edge of innovation, expand markets and manage their business risk.

As part of this investment, our Government has committed $2.2 million to projects that will help support the world-class cattle industry in Alberta and across Canada.

Projects include:
  • $839,485 for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association to explore the use of remote sensing as a tool to insure forage crops.
  • $901,240 to help the Alberta Beef Producers develop satellite data to help improve forage insurance.
  • $255,000 to help the Canadian Angus Association develop tools that will improve better breeding cattle.
  • $205,500 for the National Cattle Feeders Association to develop and implement a national feedlot animal care assessment program.
  • The remaining funds, just over $2.2 million, will support a number of innovative projects that will help market development, emergency planning, competitive pricing, animal care assessments and farm software development.
  • These investments are part of our Government's plan to grow the economy in a way that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
"Pasture is the lifeblood of the beef cattle industry and when things go wrong, rapid response and alternatives for feeding the cow herd must be timely. Using satellite measurements on a very localized scale, predictions of pasture productivity field by field, week by week, will be a significant tool for producers' risk management on a yearly basis," said Rob McNabb, Canadian Cattlemen's Association General Manager.
Published in Corporate News
Though often abused and neglected, mixed forage stands can respond to fertilization. Still, some growers are hesitant to apply fertilizer to meet fertility needs, perhaps because forage yields tend to decline over time or because lack of spring rainfall can limit yield responses.
Published in Other Crops
The harvest of 2016 left many fields deeply rutted from combines and grain carts running over wet land. Many farmers had little choice but to till those direct-seeded fields in an attempt to fill in the ruts and smooth out the ground. But where it was once heresy to till a long-term no-till field, a few tillage passes won’t necessarily result in disastrous consequences.
Published in Tillage
Much of our Prairie landscape has gently rolling to hummocky topography. The parent geological material on which these soils formed is often glacial till that remained after the glaciers retreated 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
Published in Soil
In a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) urged the quick passage of Bill C-49 – historic federal legislation that promises to provide long-term solutions to Canada’s grain transportation issues which have plagued the industry for decades.

AWC’s presentation also recommended amendments to the legislation that would improve the effectiveness of long haul interswitching as a tool to improve railway competition. As currently proposed, AWC believes the new interswitching provisions may be less effective than those enacted under the former Bill C-30.

Overall, AWC is pleased with measures in Bill C-49 – the Transportation Modernization Act, that will help correct the imbalance between the market power of railways and shippers and ensure that the cost of system failures are not passed down the supply chain to farmers.

“AWC appreciates the federal government’s commitment to legislation that will improve railway competition and accountability in Canada,” said Kevin Auch, AWC Chair. “AWC has been pressing for rail reform since our organization began in 2012 and we saw the invitation to speak today as another opportunity to ensure the farmer voice is truly represented as this legislation is developed.”

As a member of the Crop Logistics Working Group (CLWG), AWC also supports a series of suggested amendments that deal with more timely reporting of railway service data and requirements that the railways provide more detailed volume forecasts and operational plans to the Minister at the beginning of each crop year. The CLWG is a regular forum for grain industry stakeholders to identify supply chain challenges and commercial solutions aimed at enhancing the transparency and effectiveness of the grain handling transportation system.

“We see our membership with the CLWG as an excellent opportunity to pass producer feedback directly to Minister MacAulay as it relates to grain movement by rail,” said Auch. “In providing these amendments, we hope to see long-awaited legislation that fosters growth of the agriculture sector and supports Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier of grain to our international customers.”

AWC encourages the federal government to continue the conversation with Canada’s agriculture sector as it works to develop the regulations to support the spirit and the intention of this legislation that seeks to create a more responsive, competitive and accountable rail system in Canada.
Published in Storage & Transport
Farmers in Alberta are being given the tools to take charge against climate change by adopting on-farm best management practices that are scientifically proven to limit the impacts of agriculture on natural resources like air, water and soil.

Fertilizer Canada is proud to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Agricultural Research & Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA) that includes integration of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place®) into the province's Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). This agreement marks a significant milestone on Fertilizer Canada's journey to create truly sustainable and climate-smart agriculture in Canada.

"We are pleased that ARECA has officially recognized 4R Nutrient Stewardship as a best practice for nutrient management on Alberta farms," said Garth Whyte, President and CEO of Fertilizer Canada. "By encouraging farmers across the province to use fertilizer effectively, Alberta is joining the front lines in the fight against climate change and ensuring their place among the world's leaders in sustainable agriculture."

"ARECA is a long-time supporter and promoter of 4R Nutrient Stewardship," said Janette McDonald, Executive Director. "There is no doubt this formalized partnership with Fertilizer Canada will aid us in expanding awareness of the program as a best practice for nutrient management planning."

4R Nutrient Stewardship is a science-based nutrient management system that is universally applicable yet locally focused. By applying the right source of fertilizer at the right rate, the right time and the right place, farmers can ensure nutrients are efficiently taken up by their crops and are not lost to air, water or soil. This increases crop productivity and reduces unwanted environmental impacts.

Managed by ARECA, the province's EFP self-assessment process encourages producers to assess and identify environmental risks on their farms and take action to improve their practices.

"While Alberta's EFPs already include a section on nutrient risks, adding information about the positive long-term benefits of 4R Nutrient Stewardship will expand awareness among the province's farmers," said Paul Watson, EFP Director at ARECA.

As growers in Alberta adopt 4R Nutrient Stewardship under the Alberta EFP, the acres they manage will be counted under Fertilizer Canada's 4R Designation program, which tracks the amount of Canadian farmland using 4R Nutrient Stewardship to boost productivity and conserve resources. Fertilizer Canada aims to capture 20 million 4R acres by 2020 – representing 25 per cent of Canadian farmland – to demonstrate to the world the commitment Canada's agriculture sector has made to adopt climate-smart and sustainable farm practices.

To learn more about 4R Nutrient Stewardship and the benefits it offers, visit www.fertilizercanada.ca

Learn more about the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan and the benefits it offers by visiting www.AlbertaEFP.com
Published in Corporate News
Crowds, new ideas, research and equipment – something’s going on with cover crops in Ontario.
Published in Other Crops
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.
Published in Business Management
Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common neonicotinoid pesticide, according to a new University of Guelph study.
Published in Insecticides
It is more important now than ever before to educate youth on how to feed a population of nine billion by 2050. Fertilizer Canada has partnered with the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to create a new Soil Lab Discovery Zone. The lab aims to educate Ottawa's youth about the overlooked foundation of agriculture: soil. Launched on Earth Day on April 22, the Soil Lab has already been met with positive response from schools and museum visitors.

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum receives over 170,000 visitors annually – teaching them, with real soil science instruments, about the 13 essential nutrients found in soil, including the three most important to soil health and food production: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The Soil Lab also highlights the chemical, physical and biological properties of soil and explains how farmers manage their cropland through sustainable fertilizer use.

Fertilizer is the primary source for replenishing essential plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in soil in order to keep fields sustainable and food on our tables. Plants absorb these nutrients as they grow, and therefore farmers must replenish the soil to keep it viable and avoid depleted fields for the future.
Published in Soil
Like it or not (and believe in climate change or not), Canada has committed to greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions, and the implementation will affect farmers. Part of GHG mitigation will certainly revolve around reducing nitrogen (N) fertilizer losses.

“Farmers already have production challenges with growing crops, and this will add another layer of complexity...We don’t know yet how it is going to impact at the farm level,” says Mario Tenuta, a soil scientist at the University of Manitoba.

Tenuta says agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and nitrous oxide is the big one for agriculture. The increase in agricultural emissions in Canada is largely related to an increase in nitrogen (N) fertilizer use. In Canada, N fertilizer use has risen five-fold since 1970. In 2009, agriculture in Manitoba, for example, was responsible for 35 per cent of total GHG emissions (excluding fuel and fertilizer production). Fifty per cent of nitrous oxide emissions came from fertilizer and crop residue, and another 27 per cent came from indirect emissions from the soil.

In December 2015, the Manitoba government committed to reduce emissions from 2005 levels by one-third by 2030 and one-half by 2050. The province is committed to being emission neutral by 2080.

“Nobody likes to be a target, but we are. It is happening so what are we going to do about it?” Tenuta says.

4Rs and enhanced efficiency fertilizers
The “4R” nutrient stewardship program focuses on getting the best nutrient use efficiency by using the right source, rate, time of application, and placement of fertilizer. It aims to improve or maintain yield and profitability, while limiting fertilizer loss and providing water and air quality benefits. From a GHG emissions perspective, Tenuta says financial incentives could be used to encourage implementation of the 4Rs to reduce emissions. In 2015 at the Manitoba Agronomist Conference he reviewed current research and outlined how using the 4Rs could reduce GHG emissions.

Two research projects in Manitoba showed how increasing the N fertilizer rate also increased nitrous oxide emissions. In a Carberry, Man., potato crop, nitrous oxide emissions increased linearly as the N rate increased from zero to 240 pounds per acre. The economic rate was about 60 pounds per acre. In another trial in Glenlea, Man., a similar increase in emissions occurred as N rates increased.

“The simple way to reduce emissions was to match application rate to crop uptake,” Tenuta says.

Crop rotation also affected emissions. Nitrogen fixing legumes such as fababean, alfalfa or soybean had little to no nitrous oxide emissions and were fixing N into the cropping system instead of emitting N. Other rate considerations to potentially reduce emissions include using variable rate N, soil testing every year, and better understanding differences in variety and hybrid N requirements.

The second of the 4Rs, placement of fertilizer, also has an impact on emissions. Subsurface banding N fertilizer reduces nitrous oxide emissions, and when enhanced efficiency fertilizers such as environmentally smart nitrogen (ESN) or SuperU fertilizers are banded, reductions are even greater, at 26 per cent less than banded urea.

“Good band closure and coverage of the band is important. We are also looking into band depth, because we are banding more shallow with crops like canola, and we don’t know enough about losses from shallow bands,” Tenuta says.

Another key component of the 4Rs is application timing. Traditional yield estimates based on N application timing showed fall broadcast/incorporated to be 80 per cent of spring broadcast/incorporated, while fall banded was equal to spring broadcast/incorporated, and spring banded was 20 per cent better. However, Tenuta has found very late fall application just before freeze-up doesn’t increase nitrous oxide emissions when compared to spring banded N. Two years of his research comparing fall versus spring anhydrous ammonia application found the spring timing had much greater nitrous oxide emissions.

“Lower emissions from fall application goes contrary to what people thought might happen. Because the soil temperature was very cool, the timing used nature to stabilize the N and freeze it in,” Tenuta says.

Fertilizer source is the final of the 4Rs to take into consideration. With conventional sources of N fertilizer, scientists generally accept that anhydrous ammonia produces the highest emissions, followed by urea, ammonium and nitrate fertilizers. Nitrification – the conversion of ammonium to nitrates – is behind most nitrous oxide emissions from N fertilizer.

The other choices in sources of N fertilizer come from enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEF). These include stabilized, controlled release, slow release and nutrient blend N products. The goal of these products is to slow the conversion of N fertilizer into forms that are more easily lost through ammonium volatilization, nitrification or denitrification, and to more closely match N availability with crop uptake.

WTCM13.5 EEF mechanismEnhanced efficiency fertilizer mechanism of action. Source: Tenuta, University of Manitoba.

“In the field, the research shows that these EEF products really do work. They tend to provide a larger benefit in wet years,” Tenuta says. “I recommend that you talk to the manufacturer representatives to make sure you are using the right product properly.”

Another source of N that reduces nitrous oxide emissions is legume plowdown as an enhanced efficiency N source. Current research at the U of M has found that, compared to conventional cropping systems with N fertilizer, a legume plowdown results in very little emission.

“You have to estimate if EEF are worth it for your system. For example, if you’re putting more N fertilizer on in the fall to compensate for winter losses, you might be able to put on a EEF in the fall at a reduced N rate and that might pay for the additional cost of the product,” Tenuta says.

He adds that uses of the 4Rs and EEF N products are currently focused on improving yield and N use efficiency for higher profitability. But they can also play a role in reducing nitrous oxide emissions and helping to meet emission reduction targets. Ultimately, if farmers are contributing to emissions reductions, the hope is that they will be compensated for those practices.

Best management practice recommendations to reduce nitrous oxide emissions
• Use the 4Rs – right rate, time, source and placement.
• Optimize N application rates through soil testing, understanding crop requirements and interactions with the other Rs.
• Consider using lower emitting sources of N fertilizer.
• Legume crops emit little nitrous oxide.
• Green manuring limits nitrous oxide emissions.
• Banding works.
• Investigate ways of making EEF products work through reduced N application rates and improved N use efficiency.
• Spring apply N fertilizer unless fall banding can be accomplished shortly before fall freeze-up.

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At the annual Federal/Provincial Agriculture Minister’s talks (FPT) in St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada’s agriculture ministers reached an agreement on a new five-year investment for the agri-food industry with the recent announcement of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP). The program officially begins on April 1, 2018 and involves a $3 billion investment to strengthen the agri-food sector in Canada.

A key component of the new partnership – that picks up where the last agricultural policy framework Growing Forward 2 wraps up – is a continuation of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs. It is great news for Ontario agriculture that there was consensus among provincial ag ministers on the need for a comprehensive review of the suite of BRM programs. For several months OFA, along with industry partners, have advocated for a review and we’re very pleased to see that this is going to happen as part of the CAP announcement. We commend Minister Leal for his hard work to gain support and agreement with his provincial colleagues to make this happen.

While the review of BRM programming is applauded, another part of the CAP announcement is not good news for farmers. OFA shares the disappointment of other groups, including the Grain Farmers of Ontario, at the unilateral decision by Lawrence MacAuley, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food that a cutback will be made to the annual contribution limit of the AgriInvest program – a key component of the BRM programs. Announcing this change prior to doing the BRM review serves to be counter-productive to the previous announcement. Farming today can be a very unpredictable occupation. As such, farmers need an effective support system that can serve the needs of Canadian farmers’ ability to manage risk, beyond disaster relief funding. We await more details on how much this dollar-matching investment program will be impacted and will be working with Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and industry partners to remind the federal government that collaborative decisions, not unilateral ones, will serve the best interest of the industry as a whole.

OFA will continue to work closely with Minister Leal and staff, along with industry partners, to ensure the needs of our members are heard and met through the BRM review.

More details on the new Canadian Agricultural Partnership are posted at ofa.on.ca.
Published in Corporate News
If climate change continues to progress, increased precipitation could mean detrimental outcomes for water quality in the United States, a major new study warns.

An intensifying water cycle can substantially overload waterways with excess nitrogen runoff – which could near 20 per cent by 2100 – and increase the likelihood of events that severely impair water quality, according to a new study published by Science. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
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