“Most plants are sensitive to extreme changes in soil temperature,” said Samuel Haruna, a researcher at Middle Tennessee State University. “You don’t want it to change too quickly because the plants can’t cope with it.”
Many factors influence the ability of soil to buffer against temperature changes. For example, when soil is compacted the soil temperature can change quickly. That’s because soil particles transfer temperatures much faster when they are squished together. When farmers drag heavy machinery over the soil, the soil particles compact. Soil temperature is also affected by moisture: more moisture keeps soils from heating too quickly.
Research has shown that both cover crops and perennial biofuel crops can relieve soil compaction. Cover crops are generally planted between cash crops such as corn and soybeans to protect the bare soil. They shade the soil and help reduce soil water evaporation. Their roots also add organic matter to the soil and prevent soil erosion. This also keeps the soil spongy, helping it retain water.
But Haruna wanted to know if perennial biofuel and cover crops could also help soils protect themselves from fluctuating temperatures. Haruna and a team of researchers grew several types of cover and perennial biofuel crops in the field. Afterwards, they tested the soils in the lab for their ability to regulate temperature.
“I was amazed at the results,” Haruna said. He found both perennial biofuel and cover crops help soils shield against extreme temperatures. They do this by slowing down how quickly temperatures spread through the soil. Their roots break up the soil, preventing soil molecules from clumping together and heating or cooling quickly. The roots of both crops also add organic matter to the soil, which helps regulate temperature.
Additionally, perennial biofuel and cover crops help the soil retain moisture. “Water generally has a high ability to buffer against temperature changes,” said Haruna. “So if soil has a high water content it has a greater ability to protect the soil.”
Although Haruna advocates for more use of cover crops, he said it’s not always easy to incorporate them into farms. “These crops require more work, more financial investment, and more knowledge,” he said. “But they can do much for soil health.” Including, as Haruna’s research shows, shielding plants from extreme temperature changes.
“Climate change can cause temperature fluctuations, and if not curtailed, may affect crop productivity in the future,” he said. “And we need to buffer against these extreme changes within the soil.”
Haruna hopes to take his research from the lab and into the field. He says a field experiment will help him and his team collect more data and flesh out his findings
Read more about Haruna’s research in Soil Science Society of America Journal. A USDA-NIFA grant funded this research (Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Corn-based Cropping Systems).
His efforts have earned him the 2017 Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) Soil Champion Award, which is handed out annually to recognize leaders in sustainable soil management.
“There is no one practice that defines conservation farming, it’s a management system and every component has a part to play,” says Kaiser, who has a civil engineering degree from the Royal Military College. “Sustainability has many components, but the preservation of top soil must be the final result.”
Kaiser bought his first 300 acres in 1969; today, the now-1,300 acre Kaiser Lake Farms is owned by his youngest son Max. It’s on the shores of the Bay of Quinte and Hay Bay recreational area that is also the drinking water source for the Kaisers and their non-farming neighbors.
The farm’s heavy soils don’t drain water well naturally, so Kaiser has spent decades minimizing soil erosion by installing diversion berms, dams and surface inlets to control surface water and direct it into the underground tile system. Using a map he keeps track of all the agronomic information he’s gathered on the farm since 1986, including soil tests, and pH, organic matter and phosphorous levels.
“We’re egg farmers so we have manure to spread, which comes with big soil compaction concerns if we travel on fields with heavy equipment,” Kaiser says, adding that’s why he built laneways and grass waterways throughout the farm long before this became a recommended Best Management Practice.
Kaiser farmed conventionally until the mid-1980s, which meant regularly working the soil, but became an early Ontario adopter of no-till production to reduce erosion risk and maintain soil health – seeding his crops directly into the stubble of last year’s plants without plowing the soil.
He has also experimented with many different cover crop varieties for more than 30 years, ultimately settling on a few that do well on their land, like barley, sorghum, tillage radish, oats, peas and sunflowers. Cover crops improve soil health by boosting its organic matter and nitrogen levels.
Constant change, too, is part of Kaiser’s approach to farming; for example, there’s not a single piece of equipment on the farm that hasn’t been modified and improved somehow to be better suited to the unique needs of their land.
“We never do the same thing every year, but we do the things we think are important for this farm,” says Kaiser. “We hope to keep this place sustainable in the future; we need to be more productive so we need to be more sustainable.”
“The canola industry is urging the federal government to advance the TPP during these discussions,” says Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada. “Implementing the TPP will increase value-added processing in Canada, maintain existing markets and ensure that Canada remains competitive to other oilseed producing countries.”
The United States has decided not to proceed with TPP negotiations. However, implementing an agreement with the remaining 11 countries would provide Canadian canola a competitive advantage over competing oilseed products entering TPP countries, such as U.S. soybean oil into Japan.
Japan is a long-standing and consistent market for canola seed, but tariffs of approximately 16 per cent have prevented oil exports. As agreed to during the TPP negotiations, the TPP would open new markets for value-added canola products by eliminating canola oil and canola meal tariffs and establishing more effective rules to prevent non-tariff barriers. When tariffs are fully eliminated in Japan and Vietnam over five years, exports of Canadian canola oil and meal could increase by up to $780 million per year.
In addition, Australia already has a free trade agreement with Japan that is eliminating tariffs on Australian canola oil. As a result, Canadian canola oil currently faces a six per cent higher tariff than Australian canola oil – a competitive disadvantage that will grow each year that the TPP is not implemented.
“Australia is able to ship value-added product to Japan, while Canada cannot,” says Everson. “Each year that passes without implementation means that Canada falls further behind our main competitor in the Asia-Pacific region – risking our current $1.2 billion annual exports to Japan.”
The TPP is an important enabling step for the canola industry to increase value-added processing and productivity. The industry’s strategic plan, Keep it Coming 2025, includes the objective of nearly doubling the amount of canola processed in Canada over the next 10 years. Processing 14 million tonnes of canola in Canada requires that barriers to exporting canola oil and meal are removed – such as tariffs that the TPP would eliminate.
In an effort to shine a light on the current status of herbicide resistance in Canada, Top Crop Manager (TCM) has launched the Herbicide Use Survey!
As an industry leader providing up-to-date information and research, TCM is looking to gather input from producers across the country in order to develop a more thorough understanding of the state of herbicide resistance in Canada.
TCM’s Herbicide Use Survey will offer participants the ability to help tell the story of these important crop protection tools by having farmers like you share how herbicides are being used.
The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and will ask details like soil and farm acreage, types of weeds being targeted, as well as management practices. All submissions will remain anonymous.
Those who complete the survey will be entered into a random draw for a $500 visa card! Complete the survey here.
The Herbicide Use Survey ends December 8th. Results will be collected and presented at the 2018 Herbicide Resistance Summit in Saskatoon, Sask., on February 27 and 28.
Don't forget to Sign up for the TCM E-Newsletter to stay informed.
The disease does unsightly things to the plant, producing galls and deformities that will effectively choke it to death.
The effect of clubroot on yield is just plain nasty — yields can be reduced to zero.
Plus, the fact that the only effective control is abstinence from growing canola, which is typically one of the biggest cash earners on Prairie farms, is causing some ugly confrontations between farmers and their local governments. For the full story, click here.
The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program's Agriculture Stream supports Canada's economy by permitting employers to hire temporary foreign workers for positions in agriculture and agri-food when qualified Canadians and permanent residents are not available.
Employment and Social Development Canada, in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, recently announced that the Government is looking for research on the primary agricultural sector to support a review of the TFW Program's Primary Agriculture Stream.
Canadians with an interest in primary agriculture, which is work that is performed within the boundaries of a farm, nursery or greenhouse, are being asked to share available, objective and evidence-based research on the primary agricultural sector.
Submitted research can be on a number of issues related to primary agriculture and will inform future changes to the program, including methods for determining wages and labour shortages. For instance, research on why certain populations such as women, youth and Indigenous people are underrepresented in the agriculture industry could help in the development of future recruitment and retention efforts.
Research can be submitted through the call-out on the Consulting with Canadians web page. The call-out will be open until November 24, 2017.
"Our government embraces science and research and we know that evidence is the key to making informed decisions. High-quality research and feedback from Canadians will play an integral role during the Primary Agriculture Review as we continue ensuring the TFW Program works for workers, for employers and for the Canadian economy," said the honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour in a press release.
Soil is a vital natural resource and the foundation of agricultural production. The many benefits of a healthy soil are important - underpinning the long-term sustainability of the farm operation, our agri-food sector and our environment.
What is a healthy agricultural soil? Essentially it refers to a soil's ability to support crop growth without becoming degraded or otherwise harming the environment.
While a soil can be degraded through particular practices, the good news is that many best management practices (BMPs) can build back and safeguard soil health.
The draft strategy builds on the vision, goals, objectives and concepts presented in the 2016 'Sustaining Ontario's Agricultural Soils: Towards a Shared Vision' discussion document.
It also builds on the extensive soil health efforts of agricultural organizations and OMAFRA. It was developed in collaboration with the agricultural sector, and it reflects feedback received during public engagement on the discussion document, from farmers, Indigenous participants and other interested groups and individuals.
OMAFRA would like to hear your thoughts and feedback on the draft strategy. Your input will help guide the development of a final Soil Health and Conservation Strategy for Ontario which will be released in spring 2018.
For more information, click here.
The award recognizes the contributions of Canadian farmers in protecting and creating environments where pollinators can thrive.
John has also been active in spreading awareness of pollinator health and encouraging practices to support biodiversity. He hosts both private and public farm tours, and also hosted a television show on the FoodTV channel for several years. In addition to carrots and leeks, his fields and greenhouses yield at least 50 different organic vegetables used primarily for gourmet salad mixes. The farm supplies produce to restaurants, markets and homes, both locally and in the Greater Toronto Area.
It is difficult to single out a single project that earned the award for John, as the entire Soiled Reputation farm is based around one main crop, which he would tell you is "biodiversity". Aspects of the farm that help attract pollinators include:
- Huge flower gardens and plantings interspersed through crops to provide pollen and nectar
- 30-foot buffer strips seeded with legumes that are allowed to flower around a 40-acre field
- A two-acre meadow that is home to over 20 beehives
Over $2 billion of Canadian produce sold annually is reliant on pollinators, including staples like apples, berries, squash, melons and much more. These species are integral to the continued health of both the environment and agriculture sector, and Canadian farmers like Antony John are integral to ensuring that our environment will be healthy for generations to come.
The Prairie Pothole Region extends from Canada south and east, and through parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. In Iowa, many potholes are found in the Des Moines Lobe, an area that spans the north-central part of the state, ending around the Polk-Story county line and the vast majority of them are farmed.
These areas in crop fields habitually yield poorly and drag field yield averages down, and they are prone to nutrient loss and leaching, raising questions about the benefits of continuing to grow corn and soybeans in them. For the full story, click here.
The program supports teachers with educational resources and provides hands-on learning experiences to students. The program is designed to connect more students with agriculture and nurture an appreciation for the nutritious food grown in the province.
The Agriculture in the Classroom project will receive $60,000 from the New Brunswick Food and Beverage Strategy. It will also receive $19,900 from the Growing Forward 2 program that is cost-shared on a 60-40 basis between the federal and provincial governments. For the full story, click here.
Related: Government invests over half a million dollars to develop education surrounding the agriculture sector
Hueppeisheuser kindly provided an update to the situation.... The initial true armyworm damage reported earlier did not relent and a second generation of voracious larvae continued to cause damage in late August through to late September in southwestern British Columbia. READ MORE
"The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) welcomes today's announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish Chaggar that the 10.5 per cent small business tax rate will drop to 10 per cent in 2018 and 9 per cent in 2019.
A reduced overall small business tax rate will help to drive growth in the agriculture sector and boost the competitiveness of Canadian farmers. As well, changes announced to 'Tax Planning Using Private Corporations' proposals are a positive sign that the government understands the concerns voiced by farm groups in recent months.
Simplifying the income sprinkling rules is a step in the right direction and farmers look forward to more clarity around tax changes. CFA is also pleased that the government will not proceed with limiting access to the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption.
Minister Morneau has said that he'll ensure family farm transfers aren't affected by the tax changes and farm groups await details on how the proposals will be revised in this regard.
While today's news resolves some uncertainty, farmers remain apprehensive about other proposed tax measures, particularly on passive investments, which are vital for managing year-over-year risks due to weather or market-related volatility. CFA has also noted concern with plans that would affect the conversion of income into capital gains.
CFA executives are in regular contact with Finance Canada officials and other government representatives, and we understand these outstanding issues will be addressed in the near future."
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, recently announced funding for the Farm to School: Canada Digs in! Initiative. This innovative program, launched today, aims to empower and educate students in schools and on campuses about healthy eating. She was joined by Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.
Farm to School: Canada Digs in! will bring healthy, locally grown food into schools, and provide students with hands-on opportunities to learn about healthy food options, meal preparation, sustainable food systems, local food production, marketing and distribution.
Program activities will allow children and youth to benefit from greater availability of healthy, local and sustainable foods in schools and on campuses across Canada. This project also supports the Government of Canada's Healthy Eating Strategy, which aims to make healthy food choice the easy choice.
The expansion will allow The Good Food Machine to reach 20,000 students across Canada, providing them with both access to healthy food plus education on how to grow, harvest and prepare nutritious food.
First launched in Canada in 2016, The Good Food Machine, an adaptation of the educationally acclaimed Green Bronx Machine, aims to transform the health and eating habits of students through experiential education on how to physically grow and cook healthy food – right in the classroom. By doing this, the Good Food Machine is seeking to help advance three of the priority goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:
- End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
The Good Food Machine aims to help by donating Good Food Machine kits to teachers so kids can learn to grow, harvest, cook and eat healthy food, creating a year-round, indoor edible classroom. The program focuses on student communities who face high external barriers to school success, including some Indigenous communities.
In its first year, The Good Food Machine has seen positive results among students with 93 per cent saying they know eating fruits and veggies is important since experiencing the Good Food Machine, 87 per cent knowing more about growing food and 66 per cent saying their eating habits have changed for the better.
"After just one year we are thrilled to see the positive impact The Good Food Machine is having on students across Canada," says Angela Simo Brown, Head of Social Impact Strategy and Innovation at LoyaltyOne. "Working together with these schools, we are helping to change eating habits of Canadian children for the better, connecting them with fresh food and providing them with the tools they need to grow, learn and be healthy for life."
LoyaltyOne is an expert in driving behaviour change and aims to use The Good Food Machine program to educate and motivate students to choose fruits and veggies over less healthy options. The Good Food Machine partner, FoodShare supports the program with expert food educators who are skilled in teaching food literacy and growing to students and teachers.
"As educators, we see the negative effects of poor eating habits and lack of healthy food literacy among students first-hand," says Brian Hill, Principal Eastdale Collegiate Institute. "The Good Food Machine has played a pivotal role in helping us educate our students about the importance of healthy eating and how to grow and prepare healthy food. It helps change their eating habits, gives them skills and instills in them lifelong knowledge to make healthy food choices."
LoyaltyOne's current focus is to optimize the program for all 23 schools for this school year, and then next year will continue to expand the program to new communities across Canada.
"Farm operations already contribute a fair share of needed federal tax revenue. It is critical that any proposed ideas or changes to tax law be fully exposed to genuine consultation, including impact assessments, with those most affected" said James Mann, President of FNA-STAG.
To protect the future of our farms, FNA-STAG is asking for a complete stop to the process until the matter can go through full Parliamentary process.
While hearings should be held by the House of Commons Finance Committee, because these changes significantly impact farm families, the Standing Committee on Agriculture should also hold hearings with relevant testimony which would provide for a more in-depth accounting of the true impact.
Even before that however, the proposed changes should be brought back to the farm community to provide opportunity for meaningful discourse. Decisions without patience and attention to detail may result in irreversible consequences.
False assumptions have taken over much of the discussion. The proposed changes present a complex set of scenarios that may be completely different for different farmers, and they need time to consult with their financial advisors.
There is an assumption that only the rich will be impacted. Nothing could be further from the truth. This will knee-cap farmers that find making ends meet a daily challenge and penalize those who have taken the government's advice – using experts to plan for the future.
Meaningful consultation, adequate research and a more deliberate targeted approach would serve all sectors much better.
FNA-STAG is a not-for-profit institute that collaborates with other organizations to improve agriculture policy and regulation where it impacts directly on farm profitability. Farmers of North America (FNA) is a national farmers' business alliance, a private sector solution provider that negotiates lower input prices and develops programs for farmer members to maximize their profitability.
On one hand, it is an essential nutrient for crops.
However, excess nitrogen in fertilizers can enter groundwater and pollute aquatic systems. This nitrogen, usually in the form of nitrate, can cause algal blooms. Microbes that decompose these algae can ultimately remove oxygen from water bodies, causing dead zones and fish kills.
In a new study, researchers have identified nitrate removal hotspots in landscapes around agricultural streams.
“Understanding where nitrate removal is highest can inform management of agricultural streams,” says Molly Welsh, lead author of the study. “This information can help us improve water quality more effectively.”
Welsh is a graduate student at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She studied four streams in northwestern North Carolina. The streams showed a range of degradation and restoration activity. One of the streams had been restored. Two others were next to agricultural lands. The fourth site had agricultural activity in an upstream area.
The researchers analyzed water and sediment samples from the streams. They also analyzed soil samples from buffer zones next to the streams. Buffer zones are strips of land between an agricultural field and the stream. They often include native plants. Previous research showed they are particularly effective at absorbing and removing nitrate.
Welsh’s research confirmed previous findings: Nitrate removal in buffer zones was significantly higher than in stream sediments. “If nitrate removal is the goal of stream restoration, it is vital that we conserve existing buffer zones and reconnect streams to buffer zones,” says Welsh.
Within these buffer zones, nitrate removal hotspots occurred in low-lying areas. These hotspots had fine-textured soils, abundant soil organic matter, and lots of moisture. The same was true in streams. Nitrate removal was highest in pools where water collected for long times. These pools tended to have fine sediments and high levels of organic matter. However, pools created during stream restoration by installing channel-spanning rocks did not show high levels of nitrate removal. Creating pools using woody debris from trees may be more effective than rock structures for in-stream nitrogen removal.
The researchers also tested simple statistical models to understand which factors promote nitrate removal. Bank slope and height, vegetation and soil type, and time of year explained 40% of the buffer zone’s nitrate removal. Similar to the hotspots identified in the field experiment, fine sediment textures, organic matter, and dissolved carbon content were key to removing nitrates in streams.
“Our results show that it may be possible to develop simple models to guide nitrogen management,” says Welsh. “However, more work is needed in terms of gathering and evaluating data. Then we can find the best parameters to include in these models.”
Welsh continues to study how stream restoration influences the movement of water and nitrate removal. She is also examining how steps to increase nitrate removal influence other aspects of landscape management.
Read more about Welsh’s work in Journal of Environmental Quality.
Funding was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.
2017 Manitoba Farm Women's Conference Sun Nov 19, 2017
Canadian Weed Science Society Annual MeetingMon Nov 20, 2017
Canadian Western AgribitionMon Nov 20, 2017
Grain Farmers First Aid CourseMon Nov 20, 2017
Agricultural Excellence ConferenceTue Nov 21, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Workshop: SaskOrganics transition and productionThu Nov 23, 2017