Sustainability
Join us March 13, 2018, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern for an interactive webinar for updates on a special crop sequencing study in Saskatchewan.
Published in Webinars
Canadians looking for the real story about their food can now visit five additional farms and food processing facilities in virtual reality.

Using 360° cameras and virtual reality technology, the FarmFood360° website gives Canadians the chance to tour real, working farms and food processing plants, without having to put on workboots or biosecurity clothing. It’s the latest version of the highly successful Virtual Farm Tours initiative, which was first launched by Farm & Food Care in 2007.

Farm & Food Care teams in both Ontario and Saskatchewan partnered with Gray Ridge Eggs, CropLife Canada, Ontario Sheep Farmers and the Canada Mink Breeders Association to publish new virtual tours of a sheep farm, an enriched housing egg farm, an egg processing facility, a western Canadian grain farm and a mink farm. Visitors can access these tours on tablets and desktop computers, as well as through mobile phones and VR (Virtual Reality) viewers. Interviews with the farmers and plant employees have also been added.

“We know from experience that bringing Canadians to the farm is a highly effective way to connect people with their food and those who produce it. The same certainly goes for food processors. But unfortunately, many Canadians never have the chance to visit either a farm or a food processing facility. Utilizing this new camera technology helps us take this tried-and-true outreach method to a much wider audience,” says Kelly Daynard, executive director of Farm & Food Care Ontario. The website now gets almost a million visitors a year, enabling many more Canadians to visit farms from the comfort of their own home.

These new additions – as well as three dairy farm and food processing tours published earlier in 2017 – were launched as part of an interactive exhibit at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. More tours will be filmed and added to the FarmFood360° library in 2018.

“So many Canadian farmers grow grain. Touring a Saskatchewan farm that grows crops like canola and wheat showcases the technology and innovation that farmers use every day on their farms,” says Nadine Sisk, vice-president of communications and member services for CropLife Canada. She added, “The videos also highlight the care that grain farmers put into their work, and the food they produce while at the same time ensuring that they take care of the environment.”

Farm & Food Care is a coalition of farmers, agriculture and food partners proactively working together to earn public trust and confidence in food and farming. Find out more at www.FarmFood360.ca or www.FarmFoodCare.org.
Published in Consumer Issues
The Organic Agricutural Complex at Cégep de Victoriaville is seeking Canada’s budding organic farmers. The school, home to a three-year technical program in agricultural study, is preparing an additional 4,400 sq. m in new facilities that include ultra-modern greenhouses, along with an investment in state-of-the-art equipment and an increase in room outdoors for young farmers to do their work.

Until recently, most of the CEGEP’s experimental farming had been done off their property, which limited research possibilities. In 2016, the school invested $550,000 to acquire 55 hectares now dedicated to development, crop breeding and vegetable production.Thanks in part to a $4.28-million grant from the federal government, which was matched by private donations and provincial funding, the complex should fully open its doors in 2018. Once complete, it will be among the largest agricultural campuses in the country. For the full story, click here
Published in Corporate News
A pilot project connecting Prince Edward Islanders in need of jobs with work on farms has had an added bonus.

The Harvest and Prosper Project ended in December, but some of the participants have been offered full-time employment this winter, helping fill a void on P.E.I. farms.

The Harvest and Prosper project helped newcomers, people on social assistance or disability support, to find short-term work in the agriculture industry without affecting any benefits they were receiving. For the full story, click here
Published in Corporate News
A crop related research project will look at how to better manage the production of oats in Saskatchewan.

Northeast Agriculture Research Foundation (NARF), located at Melfort, received $80,255 in funding from the province’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) for the three-year study that will start this spring. Western Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission and Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission are also dedicating a combined $110,255 to the project.

Research manager Jessica Pratchler said specifically she will look at not just relying on fungicides for disease control in oats. For the full story, click here
Published in Harvesting
Engineers at Rice University’s Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) Center have found a catalyst that cleans toxic nitrates from drinking water by converting them into air and water.

The research is available online in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis.

“Nitrates come mainly from agricultural runoff, which affects farming communities all over the world,” said Rice chemical engineer Michael Wong, the lead scientist on the study. “Nitrates are both an environmental problem and health problem because they’re toxic. There are ion-exchange filters that can remove them from water, but these need to be flushed every few months to reuse them, and when that happens, the flushed water just returns a concentrated dose of nitrates right back into the water supply.”

Wong’s lab specializes in developing nanoparticle-based catalysts, submicroscopic bits of metal that speed up chemical reactions. In 2013, his group showed that tiny gold spheres dotted with specks of palladium could break apart nitrites, the more toxic chemical cousins of nitrates.

“Nitrates are molecules that have one nitrogen atom and three oxygen atoms,” Wong explained. “Nitrates turn into nitrites if they lose an oxygen, but nitrites are even more toxic than nitrates, so you don’t want to stop with nitrites. Moreover, nitrates are the more prevalent problem.

“Ultimately, the best way to remove nitrates is a catalytic process that breaks them completely apart into nitrogen and oxygen, or in our case, nitrogen and water because we add a little hydrogen,” he said. “More than 75 percent of Earth’s atmosphere is gaseous nitrogen, so we’re really turning nitrates into air and water.”

Nitrates are toxic to infants and pregnant women and may also be carcinogenic. Nitrate pollution is common in agricultural communities, especially in the U.S. Corn Belt and California’s Central Valley, where fertilizers are heavily used, and some studies have shown that nitrate pollution is on the rise due to changing land-use patterns.

Both nitrates and nitrites are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, which sets allowable limits for safe drinking water. In communities with polluted wells and lakes, that typically means pretreating drinking water with ion-exchange resins that trap and remove nitrates and nitrites without destroying them.

From their previous work, Wong’s team knew that gold-palladium nanoparticles were not good catalysts for breaking apart nitrates. Co-author Kim Heck, a research scientist in Wong’s lab, said a search of published scientific literature turned up another possibility: indium and palladium.

“We were able to optimize that, and we found that covering about 40 percent of a palladium sphere’s surface with indium gave us our most active catalyst,” Heck said. “It was about 50 percent more efficient than anything else we found in previously published studies. We could have stopped there, but we were really interested in understanding why it was better, and for that we had to explore the chemistry behind this reaction.”

In collaboration with chemical engineering colleagues Jeffrey Miller of Purdue University and Lars Grabow of the University of Houston, the Rice team found that the indium speeds up the breakdown of nitrates while the palladium apparently keeps the indium from being permanently oxidized.

“Indium likes to be oxidized,” Heck said. “From our in situ studies, we found that exposing the catalysts to solutions containing nitrate caused the indium to become oxidized. But when we added hydrogen-saturated water, the palladium prompted some of that oxygen to bond with the hydrogen and form water, and that resulted in the indium remaining in a reduced state where it’s free to break apart more nitrates.”

Wong said his team will work with industrial partners and other researchers to turn the process into a commercially viable water-treatment system.

“That’s where NEWT comes in,” he said. “NEWT is all about taking basic science discoveries and getting them deployed in real-world conditions. This is going to be an example within NEWT where we have the chemistry figured out, and the next step is to create a flow system to show proof of concept that the technology can be used in the field.”

NEWT is a multi-institutional engineering research center based at Rice that was established by the National Science Foundation in 2015 to develop compact, mobile, off-grid water-treatment systems that can provide clean water to millions of people and make U.S. energy production more sustainable and cost-effective. NEWT is expected to leverage more than $40 million in federal and industrial support by 2025 and is focused on applications for humanitarian emergency response, rural water systems and wastewater treatment and reuse at remote sites, including both onshore and offshore drilling platforms for oil and gas exploration.

Additional study co-authors include Sujin Guo, Huifeng Qian and Zhun Zhao, all of Rice, and Sashank Kasiraju of the University of Houston. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the China Scholarship Council.
Published in Consumer Issues
A 20-year study of soil health on P.E.I. is showing an overall decline in organic matter. The study was launched by the provincial Department of Agriculture in 1998. Over the course of three-year cycles soil samples have been taken from 600 sites around the Island and compared over the years. READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
Throughout the month of December, Top Crop Manager has been giving away 10 passes per week to the Herbicide Resistance Summit, taking place Feb. 27 and 28, 2018, in Saskatoon. All entries submitted by Dec. 22 were entered in the final grand prize draw and we are happy to announce Cyril Anderst is our 2018 Herbicide Resistance Summit grand prize winner!

Along with our grand prize winner, we would also like to congratulate the final ten winners of the Herbicide Resistance Summit Sweepstakes!

Congratulations to this week’s lucky winners:
  • Haider Abbas
  • Raymond Howling
  • JP Pettyjohn
  • Hardy Entz
  • Jerry Banbury
  • Kevin Edmundd
  • Bill Gilmour
  • Karen Skarberg
  • Normand Boulet
  • Jason Claeys

The Summit – which is approved for 5 CCA-CEUs and 7.5 CCSC-CEUs – will give you the opportunity to hear directly from leading researchers on key issues surrounding the challenges herbicide resistance poses to agricultural productivity in Canada.

The 2018 Herbicide Resistance Summit Sweepstakes has now concluded. Thank-you for your interest and participation!

For more information, on the upcoming summit, visit https://www.weedsummit.ca/

Published in Corporate News
A new computer-generated hydrology model of the southern Saskatchewan River basin is giving researchers a better understanding of this unpredictable, and at times deadly, water system.

The model not only takes into account water movement through the river itself, but also how water drains through the surrounding landscape and moves from one point to another on its way to the river. The program can not only account for weather events, prevailing winds, but also evapo-transportation, the affects of prolonged drought and how the different kinds of soil or cropland, down to the bedrock level, create the flow of ground and surface water toward its eventual migration down to the river. For the full story, click here.
Published in Corporate News
Scientists say they have made a step forward in the fight against a wheat disease that threatens food security.

Researchers from the UK, U.S. and Australia identified genetic clues that give insights into whether a crop will succumb to stem rust.

They discovered a gene in the fungus that triggers a wheat plant's natural defences. A second pathway has been discovered which switches on a wheat plant's immune response. READ MORE
Published in Cereals
Few agricultural technologies capture people’s imaginations as much as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones. Since the first day a UAV looked down on a crop field, farmers have dreamed up a million ways that a bird’s eye view and remote access could improve agricultural operations.
Published in Precision Ag
Matt Dykerman hopes that creating a division of Farm & Food Care in Prince Edward Island will help teach Islanders where their food comes from, including family farms like his.

“Sometimes in the business, farmers like myself can forget to share our stories with the people who are consuming the fruits of our labour,” says Dykerman, owner of Red Soil Organics in Brookfield. “I am hopeful that Farm & Food Care PEI will engage consumers in a meaningful discussion on how food is produced and the hard work that goes into making it grow.”

Farm & Food Care is a coalition of farmers, agriculture and food partners and government working together to provide credible information on food and farming. Prince Edward Island is the third Canadian province to launch the organization, and the provincial government will invest $100,000 in it over the next year. For the full story, click here.

RELATED: Farm & Food Care Ontario unveils updated flagship publication
Published in Consumer Issues
The European Commission recently published an implementing decision that will allow Canadian canola continued access to the EU biodiesel market. The decision affirms the greenhouse gas emission reductions achieved when Canadian canola is used to make biodiesel according to a detailed life cycle methodology that reflects the entire canola growing process.

“This decision means continued access to an important market for Canadian canola,” says Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada (CCC). “The Canola Council has worked hard on this over the past two years and this confirmation is very good for the entire value chain.”

The European Commission’s decision details the greenhouse gas emission intensity of Canadian canola production, a requirement for access to the EU biodiesel market. As of January 2018 all EU biodiesel must demonstrate greenhouse gas emission reductions that are greater than 50 per cent compared to fossil diesel, a requirement that must also be met for canola biodiesel in the U.S.

According to the values published by the EU Commission, biodiesel produced from Canadian canola will meet this requirement, resulting in emission reductions of more than 50 per cent versus fossil diesel.

“This decision shows the environmental benefits of using canola for biodiesel,” says Everson. “The EU is far ahead of North America in using renewable fuels which creates a good export opportunity for us.”

To arrive at its decision, the Commission considered a report on the lifecycle emissions of Canadian canola that was submitted by the Government of Canada. It outlined emissions from all stages of canola production including fertilizer, field emissions and fuel used by farm equipment. It calculated how these emissions change based on specific geographical differences such as moisture levels and soil types. Over the last two years this involved close cooperation between the CCC and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“We’re thankful for the efforts of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, including Minister Lawrence MacAulay, in helping to support today’s decision,” says Everson. “The value of canola is determined by export demand, and today’s decision allows us to keep serving the EU market.”

Over the last three years, average annual exports of seed, oil and meal to the EU have totaled approximately $200 million. In 2016, 597,000 tonnes of canola seed and 37,000 tonnes of canola oil were shipped to the EU.
Published in Imports/Exports
The federal government has proposed tighter restrictions around the two insecticides: clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

Under proposed changes, the product will be banned from some uses such as orchard trees or strawberry patches, and restrictions are on the way for other uses such as on berries and legumes. New measures will also require new labelling for seed treatments.

"Scientific evidence shows that with the proposed restrictions applied, the use of clothianidin and thiamethoxam does not present an unacceptable risk to bees," says Margherita Conti, an official with Health Canada's pest management regulatory agency. | READ MORE
Published in Seed Treatment
The government of Canada is moving forward with the development of a much needed Food Policy for Canada, which will incorporate the social, environmental and economic aspects of the food system into an integrated policy framework. To support the successful implementation of this multifaceted policy, a broad alliance of more than 50 food industry, civil society and farming groups is calling on the federal government to create a National Food Policy Council.

A National Food Policy Council would bring together key stakeholders from across the food system to work collaboratively with the government. It would provide diverse expertise and evidence-based advice on how to progress toward a food system that better promotes a healthier, more equitable, sustainable and prosperous Canada.

A Food Policy for Canada is expected to support Canada's ambitious agri-food economic growth targets while integrating critical food security, health and safety, and environmental sustainability requirements. While the policy will provide a framework for action, much work will remain to further address the challenges and opportunities within our food system, engage stakeholders, and move from policy formulation to implementation. Some of these challenges include four million Canadians living in food insecurity, high levels of diet-related disease, and climate change mitigation and adaptation; while there are significant opportunities to build public trust and advance Canada's international trade objectives.

Recognizing this complexity, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food recommended a series of actions to support the development of A Food Policy for Canada. In its report released on Dec. 11th, the Committee recommended that the government create a permanent advisory council consisting of multiple stakeholders.

"I applaud the federal government's leadership and consultative approach to building a national food policy as the foundation for a more sustainable food system," says Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. "But governments can't do it all - business and civil society must engage and be part of the solution. An inclusive National Food Policy Council is the best way to drive bold action on the strength of evidence and collaboration."

"A national food policy is a long-standing priority for Canadian farmers," says Ron Bonnett, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. "CFA supports a multi-stakeholder governing council as a means of ensuring that farmers have a place at the food policy development table. We see it as an important forum for sharing perspectives and encouraging dialogue. Through joint discussions, we can clarify misperceptions and identify opportunities where farmers can help meet emerging consumer demands."

"The non-profit sector is deeply knowledgeable and engaged in advancing a more equitable and sustainable food system and provides an important voice that has not yet been integrated in food policy making," says Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada. "Bringing more diversity to the table will ensure that social, health and environmental issues are given proper attention as well as bringing innovative community practices to the policy-making table."

"Working with the academic and research community was a necessary part of the process," says Evan Fraser, Director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph and a Canada Research Chair in the Department of Geography. "And through a rigorous research process, we were able to distill best practices from food policy councils from around the world to inform our recommendations to the Canadian Government."

Over 40,000 Canadians responded to the online consultations for A Food Policy for Canada, demonstrating clear interest in the future of our food system. A National Food Policy Council would create a forum in which this conversation can continue and incorporate the diverse voices of all Canadians.

The ad hoc working group was formed in early 2017 with the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Food Secure Canada, Maple Leaf Foods and the McConnell Foundation as founding members. This proposal has garnered support from a broad cross-section of businesses, non-profits and sectoral organizations from across Canada in a letter sent to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay last week.

For additional background see the joint letter and The Case for A National Food Policy Council report.

RELATED: Canada's agriculture ministers and farm leaders discuss strategies to grow ag-food sector
Published in Corporate News
Overshadowed by variable rate nitrogen (N), variable rate phosphate (P) is coming to the forefront to help farmers get the biggest bang for the fertilizer dollar, as soils on the Prairies continue to decline in P fertility.
Top Crop Manager is pleased to announce the next 10 winners of the Herbicide Resistance Summit Sweepstakes!

Throughout the month of December, we’re giving away 10 passes per week to the Herbicide Resistance Summit, to be held Feb. 27 and 28, 2018, in Saskatoon, Sask.

Congratulations to this week’s lucky winners:
  • Tom King
  • Jennifer Bogdan
  • Brianna Lummerding
  • Leon Cipywnyk
  • Monique Cousin
  • Allan Gifford
  • Greg Wieben
  • Dan Petker
  • Roxanne Stewart
  • Allen Price
Each week’s winners are determined on Friday by 4 p.m. (EDT) Winners will be notified via e-mail the following Monday before 5 p.m.

Be sure to enter every week before Dec. 22, 2017 for your chance to win the grand prize of two free passes and a one-night stay at the Holiday Inn Saskatoon Downtown on Feb. 27! The grand prize winner will be announced Dec. 28.

Didn’t win this week? Click here to enter next week’s draw!

The Summit – which is approved for 5 CCA-CEUs and 7.5 CCSC-CEUs – will give you the opportunity to hear directly from leading researchers on key issues surrounding the challenges herbicide resistance poses to agricultural productivity in Canada.

For more information, visit https://www.weedsummit.ca/
Published in Corporate News
Severe weather and hail events in field crops seem to be more prevalent over the past few years. In 2015 and 2016, The Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) estimated crop-hail loss payments to Manitoba producers from all sources at $54.1 million and $77.7 million, respectively.
Published in Soybeans
The Herbicide Resistance Summit is a bi-annual conference brought to you by Top Crop Manager (TCM) and a group of generous sponsors that aims to facilitate a more unified understanding of herbicide resistance and promote awareness that all industry members have a role to play in managing the growing threat of herbicide resistance.
Published in Herbicides
Messages and the medium must change to improve food literacy among future consumers, according to a new study released today by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). The Food Literacy Attitude and Awareness Research Project set out to gain a better understanding of the current state of food literacy among Ontario consumers, and use the insights to guide future programs, resources and information.

OFA, together with an advisory committee including the Nutrition Resource Centre – Ontario Public Health Association, Ontario Home Economics Association, AgScape, and Farm and Food Care Ontario, surveyed three distinct consumer groups to measure their level of food literacy and provide baseline information, with support from the Government of Ontario in partnership with the Greenbelt Fund.

“We wanted to gauge the current knowledge level of parents with kids at home, teenagers and early millennials,” says Keith Currie, OFA president. “Food literacy is a very timely topic, and one that needs more attention and support because it is so closely tied with public health. We need to understand what consumers – both current and future – are aware of so we can accurately focus resources and information in the future. This study provides an insightful starting point.”

The project included two in-person focus groups to gather qualitative information on food literacy that was used to gather 1,003 online surveys for quantitative information on local food, meal planning, purchasing, preparation and consumption in the home, and information sources used by consumers.

According to the study results, the current ways of reaching teenagers with food literacy messages are neither effective nor impactful. Dietitians generally target their messages to parents and should revise their messages and focus to target teens directly. Most food skills are learned at home, passed from parent to child, making it vital that parents are comfortable with food preparation and have a good knowledge and understanding of health and nutrition.

Other study highlights include:
  • Nearly 25 per cent of all respondents didn’t know any of the food groups
  • Millennials seek health and nutrition information from a wide variety of sources, compared to other consumer groups surveyed
  • Less than 50 per cent of parents surveyed know the safe cooking temperatures for a variety of meat and poultry items
  • Overall, there is a clear understanding of local food products but not of farming practices or food production
  • Local food knowledge does not differ significantly depending on where the respondents live (rural, urban, suburban)
“The information we gather now serves as a guide for OFA and other partners to identify future needs, including public policy, to develop stronger food literacy components in our curriculum and through other programs and resources,” says Currie. “We are already working with a registered dietician to develop a meal plan for teenagers to help them understand how to put together a properly, balanced meal. This will be a great addition to our www.SixbySixteen.me program.”

“It is important for Ontarians to know about where the food on their plate comes from and the great benefits our agriculture sector brings to the economy,” said Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Fund. “These insights provide an important benchmark to measure progress on local food literacy, and I am confident that our ongoing work with the OFA and other farm organizations will continue to move the needle, particularly among younger Ontarians.”

The complete Food Literacy Attitude and Awareness Research Project report is available at www.ofa.on.ca.
Published in Consumer Issues
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