Marketing Matters: The evolution of PYO farms

Marketing Matters: The evolution of PYO farms

In the last five to six years, a new breed of PYO customer has started to emerge.

Lasers shine a light on bird control

Lasers shine a light on bird control

Protecting fruit crops from birds and other predators has never been easy.

Succulent strawberries throughout most of the year

Succulent strawberries throughout most of the year

More growers across Canada are marketing day-neutral strawberries.

Biocontrol expanding in berry fields

Biocontrol expanding in berry fields

The use of biocontrol pest methods in horticulture is growing,

Decades of potatoes from processing to seed

Decades of potatoes from processing to seed

There are now seven generations of farmers involved in British Colombia's Pacific Potato Corp.

As producers across Canada continue to struggle with finding and keeping skilled labour, three innovative Canadians have partnered up to explore a highly sought-after solution – Robotics.
Canada currently imports millions of dollars’ worth of seed every year, despite mild winters in the southwest of B.C. that position the province as a viable climate for seed production.
The corn salvage benefit for 2018 covers cases where DON (deoxynivalenol) levels in harvested corn exceed five parts per million (5 ppm). The benefit is designed to help producers cover costs to harvest and then market, use as feed or find an alternative use for damaged corn.
Most on-farm marketers would agree that the seventies were the pinnacle of the pick-your-own (PYO) era. The majority of families at that time had one wage earner and by going to a farm to pick your own fruits and vegetables and preserve them for the winter, families were able to stretch the single salary a little bit further.
Researchers at the Fort Valley State University have been working to develop a robotic solution for monitoring and spraying peach orchards.
If a recent demonstration in Canada is any indication, the digital vineyard of the future might very well receive scientific data in real-time gathered by drones and transferred via a cell network.Global UAV Technologies Ltd., Jöst Vineyards, VineView (Scientific Aerial Imaging Inc.) and a major Canadian telecommunications company recently completed a 4G proof-of-concept mission in in Malagash, N.S., to demonstrate a real-word application of drone technology for a project called the “Digital Vineyard of the Future.”“Fine wine making is in the growing of grapes with specific qualities, where many variables have to be taken into consideration,” said Jonathan Rodwell, director of viticulture and winemaking for Jöst Vineyards. “We see these emerging technologies offering excellent opportunities for integrated measurement and management of our vineyards and focus on precision viticulture.” | For the full story, CLICK HERE. 
Women in agriculture around the world, whether in developing or developed countries, say widespread gender discrimination persists and poses obstacles to their ability to help feed the world, according to a new study from Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont.The study was released to coincide with the celebration of the International Day of Rural Women. Corteva Agriscience commissioned the 17-country study to underscore the importance of women in agriculture and to identify barriers to their full and successful participation. The study included 4,160 respondents living in both the developed and developing world on five different continents."We conducted this study to further understand the current status of women farmers around the world - from the largest farms in the most advanced economies to the smallest subsistence farms in the developing world - and to create a baseline from which we can measure progress going forward," said Krysta Harden, vice president external affairs and chief sustainability officer of Corteva Agriscience.Identifying barriers to success The survey's findings reveal that although women are overwhelmingly proud to be in agriculture, they perceive gender discrimination as widespread, ranging from 78 per cent in India to 52 per cent in the United States. Only half say they are equally successful as their male counterparts; 42 per cent say they have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, and only 38 per cent say they are empowered to make decisions about how income is used in farming and agriculture.Almost 40 per cent of the respondents reported lower income than men and less access to financing. High on the list of concerns were financial stability, the welfare of their families and achieving a work/life balance.Many said they need more training to take advantage of the agricultural technology that has become essential for financial success and environmental stewardship. This desire for training emerged as the most commonly cited need among the respondents for removing gender inequality obstacles. The numbers significantly exceeded 50 percent for all 17 countries, with Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico and South Africa leading the way.Removing the obstaclesThe majority of women reported progress toward gender equality, but 72 per cent said it would take one to three decades or more to achieve full equality. Five key actions, according to the respondents, were identified to remove obstacles to equality: More training in technology (cited by 80 per cent) More academic education (cited by 79 per cent) More support – legal and otherwise – to help women in agriculture who experience gender discrimination (cited by 76 per cent) Raise the public's awareness of the success women are achieving in agriculture (cited by 75 per cent) Raise the public's awareness of gender discrimination in agriculture (cited by 74 per cent) "While we know women make up almost half of the world's farmers, this study validates challenges continue to persist, holding back not only the women in agriculture but also the people who depend on them: their families, their communities, and the societies. Identifying the existence of these challenges is the first step in removing obstacles for rural women farmers to achieve their full potential," Harden said.
A recent survey from the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity reveals that most Canadians are disconnected from the people who grow their food and how it is grown. Perceptions of farming are often outdated, inaccurate and cliched. In fact, 93 per cent of Canadians say they know little-to-nothing about farming.
United Fresh Produce Association announces the release of the Produce Operations Training Checklists, a new tool for companies to use when developing onboarding resources for their warehouse and driver staff.
Protecting fruit crops from birds and other predators has never been easy. Scarecrows, reflective tape, netting, shotguns, propane-powered bangers and other audible bird scare devices, as well as traps and falcons, number among the most popular tools at growers’ disposal.
Canadians clearly love having fresh local strawberries several times a year and Canada’s day-neutral strawberry industry is growing to meet the demand.
Cornell University’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure. Both varieties produce large fruits with vibrant colors that maintain peak flavor for longer than most heritage varieties.The new berries are the handiwork of berry breeder Courtney Weber, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences based at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.Dickens is a traditional, June-bearing strawberry with high yields and bright red fruit that continues bearing late into the season. The berries are firm, so they hold well on the plant and in the container, Weber said, but not so firm that they have no flavor.The Dickens strawberry was first discovered in Weber’s breeding fields in 2002 and was originally noticed for the plant’s hardiness in surviving cold winters, making it especially suitable for New York and other cold-winter climates. Production trials throughout the region have shown Dickens to be an adaptable and consistent producer of high-quality fruit.Weber has named his strawberry varieties after his favorite authors, including L’Amour, Clancy, Herriot, Walker and, most recently, Archer. Because this newest berry “yields like the dickens,” Weber decided to name it after prolific English author Charles Dickens.The new raspberry, Crimson Treasure, is also very high-yielding, with larger fruit than traditional varieties grown in the region. The well-known Heritage raspberry produces fruit of approximately 2.5 grams, while Crimson Treasure produces berries twice as large – averaging between 4 to 6 grams. That’s typical of what you see with supermarket raspberries, Weber said.Crimson Treasure is a fall-bearing raspberry with bright-red fruit that holds its color and texture well in storage.The name continues another Weber tradition. This is the third raspberry in the “Crimson” series. Two previously released raspberries were named Crimson Giant and Crimson Night.Cornell’s berry breeding program is the oldest in the country and is the only one in the Northeastern U.S. The university’s berries are grown all over the world: Crimson Treasure has been planted in trials in New York, California, Mexico and the European Union. The berry program works with commercial partners across North America, in Morocco, Spain and Portugal. Heritage, the most commonly grown raspberry variety in Chile, was developed at Cornell, and two Cornell raspberry varieties, Crimson Night and Double Gold, are under license in Japan.
The Agriculture and Agri-Food (AAFC) website is undergoing a renovation, and as a result the Pest Management Centre pages have been relocated to join the AAFC Research and Development Centres’ web pages. Along with this migration, the pest management centre homepage has been updated.
New for 2019, BASF will introduce Serifel, an innovative, new fungicide with three modes of action to target powdery mildew and botrytis in grapes.
Syngenta Canada Inc. is pleased to announce the registration of Vibrance Ultra Potato as a new seed piece treatment for the suppression of pink rot and control of key seed- and soil‑borne diseases, including late blight.
Wageningen University & Research uses computer models to develop sustainable management strategies in the control of potato late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans. At the moment, large amounts of fungicides are used to control the disease. Organic farmers face an additional challenge because they are not allowed to use these chemicals. From an environmental point of view, these chemicals are also very polluting and therefore sustainable late blight management strategies are needed. In Ph.D research study, computer models have been used to investigate how the disease spreads in an agricultural landscape and to analyze the effect of growing resistant varieties.In Francine Pacilly's Ph.D. research, computer models have been used to investigate how the disease spreads in an agricultural landscape and to analyze the effect of growing resistant varieties. These models show that an increase in the number of potato fields with resistant varieties increases the risk that aggressive strains of the pathogen emerge and spread. This risk decreases if more than 50 per cent of the acreage of potato fields consists of resistant varieties. So, many resistant potatoes are not yet available so alertness is required. Various strategies are available to limit the consequences of a breakthrough, for example the spatial allocation of crops in combination with the use of small amounts of fungicides to limit the environmental impact. In addition, growing resistant varieties with multiple resistance genes reduces the risk of susceptibility to the potato disease. It is expected that these type of varieties will enter the market soon.Last year workshops with farmers were organized to increase awareness about the risk of resistance breakdown. In these workshops, the computer model was used to present several model scenarios to conventional and organic farmers. These workshops were very useful for showing farmers how the disease spreads in a landscape over time and space and for showing the effects in the long term. After the workshop farmers agreed that resistance management is important to increase the durability of resistant varieties and that collaborative action is needed. The workshops were useful to bring farmers together and to discuss strategies in the control of late blight to reduce the impact of the disease.In order to develop sustainable strategies it is important to consider all factors that influence late blight control such as the disease, the crop and control strategies of farmers. This research is part of the Complex Adaptive Systems program of Wageningen University where the goal is to identify these factors and to analyze how they influence each other. Potato late blight as one system brings a future without chemical control closer.
The use of biocontrol pest methods in horticulture is growing, whether it’s trap crops, pheromone traps, predatory insects or biopesticides.
Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency [PMRA] recently announced it is restarting the review process for mancozeb. All current final decisions and proposals regarding MRLs for mancozeb products will be removed and a new proposal for consultation will be posted. The PMRA released its evaluation for mancozeb and metiram products in June 2018. According to that decision, all uses of products containing mancozeb (Manzate, Penncozeb, Dithane, Ridomil Gold MZ and Gavel) and metiram (Polyram) were to be cancelled with the exception of foliar applications to potatoes. Representatives from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and the Canadian Horticulture Council met with PMRA to voice their concerns about the loss of these products and a new review process was agreed upon. The decision for metiram could not be reversed for legal reasons. This means that as of June 2020, Polyram cannot be used on any crop except potatoes and the label will reflect that change.
Five new fertilizer-compatible products are expected to be available from Vive Crop Protection for U.S. corn, sugarbeet and potato growers in 2019. Each product includes a trusted active ingredient that has been improved with the patented Vive Allosperse Delivery System.AZteroid FC 3.3 is a high-concentration, fertilizer-compatible fungicide that improves plant health, yield and quality of key field crops, including potatoes, sugarbeets and corn. AZteroid FC 3.3 controls seed and seedling diseases caused by Rhizoctonia solani and certain Pythium spp. It contains azoxystrobin, the same active ingredient as Quadris.Bifender FC 3.1 controls corn rootworm, wireworm and other soil-borne pests in corn, potatoes and other rotational crops. Bifender FC 3.1 has a new high-concentration, fertilizer-compatible formulation and contains bifenthrin (same as Capture LFR).TalaxTM FC fungicide provides systemic control of pythium and phytophthora, similar to Ridomil Gold SL but in a fertilizer-compatible formulation. Talax FC contains metalaxyl and helps potatoes and other crops thrive right from the start, resulting in improved yield and quality.MidacTM FC systemic insecticide is a fertilizer-compatible imidacloprid formulation that controls below-ground and above-ground pests in potatoes and sugarbeets. It provides the same long-lasting protection of Admire PRO but with the convenience of being tank-mix compatible with fertilizers, micronutrients and other crop inputs.AverlandTM FC insecticide is a fertilizer-compatible abamectin formulation that controls nematodes in corn. It also controls potato psyllid, spider mites, Colorado potato beetle and leaf miners in potatoes. In-furrow application trials for nematode control in a wide range of crops are under way.All of these fertilizer-compatible products use the Vive Allosperse Delivery System - the first nanotechnology registered for U.S. crop protection. Products containing Allosperse are the best mixing products on the market, whether they are used with each other, liquid fertilizer, other crop protection products, micronutrients or just water.Brent Petersen, president of Cropwise Research LLC, performed trials on behalf of Vive Crop Protection to test mixability of the company’s products. During spring 2018, he mixed all five of the new products together with liquid fertilizer and observed, “We didn’t see any separation or settling out. It was nice to see because we often see products that aren’t compatible with other products, and especially with liquid fertilizer.”EPA registration is pending for Talax FC, Midac FC and Averland FC and the new formulations of AZteroid and Bifender.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently announced that it will be cancelling the use of the group M3 chemicals mancozeb and metiram in a wide range of crops, including field tomatoes. In 2020 products like Manzate, Penncozeb, Dithane and Polyram will no longer be available for sale and in 2021 use will be banned completely. This will ultimately have an effect on how we control diseases, including anthracnose, early blight and, most importantly, late blight. Although mancozeb is currently an important player in fungicide programs, tomato growers do have other options available.For best control it is always good to start with preventative or protectant fungicides once environmental conditions are conducive to disease development and before symptoms appear. | READ MORE
Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has released its decision on the re-evaluation of mancozeb and will continue registration only for foliar application to potato crops.“All other uses of mancozeb are being cancelled due to unacceptable risks to human health and will be removed from the labels,” states a summary of the decision.Foliar application on potatoes has been limited to 10 applications per year at a maximum application rate of 1.68 kg of active ingredient per hectare with a seven-day interval between applications and a one-day pre-harvest interval using aerial or ground spray only.Product labels must be changed within 24 months. Registration of products being cancelled as a result of the review will expire 36 months after the release of the decision. Chemical companies have 12 months and retailers 24 months to sell old product.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of minor use label expansion registrations for Venture L Herbicide for control of labeled weeds on rhubarb, the bulb onion subgroup 3-07A, green onions, caneberries subgroup 13-07A and lettuce in Canada. Venture L Herbicide was already labeled for use on a number of crops in Canada for control of several weeds.These minor use projects were submitted by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Pest Management Centre (AAFC-PMC) as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel. | READ MORE
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of minor use label expansion registrations for Entrust and Success insecticides for control of cabbage maggot on Brassica leafy greens crop subgroup 4-13B and Brassica head and stem vegetables, crop group 5-13 in Canada. Entrust and Success insecticides were already labeled for use on a wide variety of crops in Canada for control of several insects.These minor use projects were submitted by Quebec as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel. | READ MORE
If you were going to tank mix chemical pesticides, you would of course read the label to check for compatibility before mixing products. The same concept applies when using living organisms for pest control. Whether you are using parasitoid wasps, predatory mites, microorganisms, or nematodes, you need to know whether your biocontrols are compatible with each other and any other pest management products you plan to use. For example, a biocontrol fungus might be killed if you tank mix it with (or apply it just before) a chemical fungicide. Insecticides (whether or not they are biological) could be harmful to natural enemy insects and mites. Even some beneficial insects are not compatible with each other because they may eat each other instead of (or in addition to) the pest. | READ MORE 
Fresno, CA – Jain Irrigation, Inc. recently announced it is acquiring ETwater, a supplier of intelligent irrigation technology and smart irrigation controllers. ETwater’s patented technology integrates data science, machine learning and predictive analytics about weather forecast and environmental variables to automatically, optimally adjust site-specific irrigation schedules. Connecting over the Internet, ETwater smart controllers get their schedules through secure, cellular data networks, and users are able to remotely monitor and manage controllers from any mobile or smart device. “We’re very proud of the positive impact on outdoor water conservation we’ve had in the U.S. market and raising awareness to the necessity of irrigating in harmony with nature,” said Pat McIntyre, CEO of ETwater. “The Jain acquisition will expand ETwater efficiencies throughout the U.S. and now worldwide to become a gold standard in sustainable water management globally.” “Jain is an early leader in the IoT for agriculture,” said Aric Olson, president of Jain Irrigation, Inc. “ETwater will improve our position in agriculture and helps us make a bigger impact in reducing water waste in landscape irrigation." “We are thrilled to have ETwater join our family. After several successful irrigation technology acquisitions, the addition of ETwater … adds key technologies that can be deployed globally to our growing technology customer base.”
Working in the intense heat of the summer sun can put workers at risk of heat stress, but heat stress can also hit you in places you wouldn't expect."Any job that causes your body temperature to rise has the potential to cause heat stress," says WSPS occupational hygiene consultant Michael Puccini. "Even jobs carried out in air-conditioned environments."Left unchecked, heat stress can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heart attack, and other physical health effects. Plus, it can be damaging to business, by way of lost productivity, disability costs, and fines and penalties.Prepare for the heat nowThese heat waves may last only a week or two, but in this time workers can suffer debilitating effects and even death. A few simple steps taken now can keep your people thriving and productive even in the hottest weather."Based on the internal responsibility system, everyone has a role to play," says WSPS occupational hygienist Warren Clements. "Employers, supervisors and workers can all make a difference in their workplaces."Steps for employers:Put a policy and procedures in place, based on a risk assessment. Ask questions, such as: Have workers been affected by heat in the past? Is work done in direct sunlight? Are there heat producing processes or equipment in the workplace? This will help you understand the magnitude of the issue. If heat stress may be a hazard, you may want to conduct heat stress measurements so you can develop a control plan. The plan should include engineering controls, such as insulating hot surfaces.Train all employees during orientation on the policy and procedures to manage the hazard. Include heat stress symptoms, how to prevent it, and what to do if someone starts showing symptoms. Heat stress training is particularly critical for young and new workers, as well as all manual workers. Research conducted by the Institute for Work & Health shows that heat strokes, sunstrokes and other heat illnesses disproportionately affect those on the job less than two months. Steps for supervisors: Acclimatize workers to hot conditions, and watch out for de-acclimatization. Workers can lose their tolerance in only four days. Schedule work in the hottest locations for cooler times of day. Build cool-down breaks into work schedules. Adjust the frequency and duration of breaks as needed. "Taking a break means going to a cooler work area or providing workers with periodic rest breaks and rest facilities in cooler conditions," says Warren. Get to know your workplace and your workers. "Are there certain jobs at elevated risk? Is anybody working outside today? 'Is so-and-so looking a little different from how he normally looks? A little more flushed? Sitting down more?'" Ensure ready access to cool water in convenient, visible locations. Workers need to replenish their fluids if they are becoming dehydrated. Supply protective equipment and clothing as needed, such as water-dampened cotton whole-body suits, cooling vests with pockets that hold cold packs, and water-cooled suits. Monitor weather forecasts. "If it's Tuesday and you know superhot weather is coming on Thursday, ask yourself, 'Who will be working then? What will they be doing? Who... or what... should I watch out for?'" Be extra vigilant in extreme conditions. "Check on workers frequently. If you can't do this, then assign a temporary pair of eyes to do it for you." Steps for workers: Watch out for each other and speak up. "People suffering from heat stress don't always recognize their own symptoms. If anyone's behaviour is 'more than usual' - more sweating, more flushed, hyperventilating - it could be a sign of heat stress." Other signs could include rashes, muscle cramping, dizziness, fainting, and headaches.For more information, visit: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
Manfredi Cold Storage recently expanded the facility by 70,000 sq. ft., for 400,000 total sq. ft. of cold storage space, and already plans are in the works for future expansion. The distributor handles fruit, vegetables and foodstuffs from 22 countries, at zero to 55 Fahrenheit temperatures, in its facility that provides retailers with wireless, real-time inventory and access.In order to keep such continued growth on track, effective operation has required the use of rugged drive-in rack, designed to the application, according to Rob Wharry, the facility’s director of operations.“About 150 to 200 truckloads of product move in and out of our storage everyday – about 25,000 pallets – so the drive-in rack needs to be very durable and accessible,” says Wharry. “The product has to go out quickly and efficiently to grocery stores, club stores, distribution centers, and the food service industry.”Drive-in racks enable storing of up to 75 per cent more pallets than selective rack and are ideal for high-traffic and cooler/freezer installations. With drive-in rack, forklifts drive directly into the rack to allow storage of two or more pallets deep.But because forklifts drive directly into the rack, they tend to take more abuse than other rack structures. In cooler and freezer applications, the rack must withstand forklift abuse due to the confined space, slick surfaces, and cold temperatures that slow driver reflexes and make impact more frequent.“We’re in and out of rack with heavy pallets and equipment so many times a day,” says Wharry. “It’s a fact of life that sometimes forklifts will run into the rack, so it just needs to be able to stand up to the daily use.”Looking to optimize the rack’s durability and operation, the cold chain distributor turned to Steel King Industries, a storage system and pallet rack manufacturer. In the most recent expansion, about 4,000 pallets of refrigerated storage capacity were added. For this, Manfredi Cold Storage chose SK3000 pallet rack, a bolted rack with structural channel columns.A number of rack features are helping the distributor to meet its strength, durability, and maintenance goals.Compared to typical racking, the pallet rack constructed of hot-rolled structural channel column with full horizontal and diagonal bracing offers greater frame strength, durability and cross-sectional area. All Grade-5 hardware provides greater shear strength, and a heavy seven-gauge wrap-around connector plate ensures a square and plumb installation with a tighter connection and greater moment resistance.The drive-in rack also includes a number of features that enhance ease-of-use and safety.The drive-in load rail construction includes: structural angle rails that “guide” pallets for ease of use; flared rail entry ends to allow easy bay access; space-saver low profile arms that increase clearance and decrease possible product damage; welded aisle-side load arms that eliminate hazardous load projections into aisles; welded rail stops that prevent loads from being pushed off and increase safety; and two-inch vertical adjustability of the bolted rack, which allows for a variety of configurations for current or future products.“The heavy rub rail inside the rack helps to guide the pallets in,” says Wharry. “The flared rail entry makes it easier to put pallets in and to take them out of the upper positions.”For extra protection and reinforcement against forklift impact, a guard on the front of the rack’s first upright was added. The double column, welded angle column protector is designed for heavy pallets and provides additional strength.According to Wharry, the vendor was also willing to accommodate their needs in other ways as well.“Our operation is a little different than a typical storage customer because we’re dealing with lots of different sized products, so we had a very specific design in mind,” says Wharry. “Everything is specific to our application – rack height, width, pallet loads, and how we utilize it.”The rack openings are about 12- to 16-inches taller than a standard rack opening to allow the use of very tall pallets, he says. Additional adjustments to the rack include the specific implementation of guards, heavy rail, and how it is anchored to the floor.With continuing growth expected, Manfredi Cold Storage is already planning to start the construction of a new facility in southern New Jersey.“When the new facility is constructed, the racking set up will be just like what we have here,” concludes Wharry. “We’ve determined what works for us and our customers, and
AgSafe has launched a new free safety self-assessment web tool for B.C.’s agriculture organizations and other naturally aligned industries.The Safety Ready Certificate of Recognition (COR) Self-Assessment website is designed to assist organizations in assessing their readiness for a COR program audit.The self-assessment tool begins with a questionnaire to be completed by the person responsible for overseeing the Safety Management System in your organization. Once that is done, the tool provides feedback on your readiness for a COR review. The web tool will also help you calculate your organization’s potential WorkSafeBC incentive.“There are three levels of readiness and depending on your organization’s situation you may need assistance from an AgSafe advisor or consultant to become audit ready,” explained Wendy Bennett, executive director of AgSafe. “This is a resource designed to streamline the process and help employers become more familiar with what they need to do to reduce safety risks in their organization.”Between 2013 and 2017, 641 agricultural workers were seriously injured and seven killed in work-related incidents.AgSafe is committed to reducing the number of agriculture-related workplace deaths and injuries. They are doing this by offering health and safety programs, training and evaluation, consultation and guidance.As a COR program certifying partner AgSafe offers a Certificate of Recognition (COR) program for large and small employers in British Columbia’s agriculture industry and ensures that WorkSafeBC is aware of all COR certified agriculture employers.AgSafe’s COR Self-Assessment Tool is also available to companies that are not classified as agriculture, such as landscape professionals, tree services, or animal handling, but have been advised to work with AgSafe for their COR certification.AgSafe does not charge for use of the assessment tool. Set up your account by going to the COR Self-Assessment website.For more information about AgSafe services or agriculture workplace safety call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca
Drip irrigation is no longer the ‘new kid on the block,’ and nearly 10 per cent of U.S. farms rely on it to grow their crops. Each year, new growers dabble with drip and many learn by trial and error. Reaching out with some helpful tips to those growers is Inge Bisconer, technical marketing and sales manager for Toro Micro-Irrigation.
Hydro One and Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. recently announced the AgriPump Rebate Program, the first program of its kind in Ontario to offer instant rebates to customers who purchase a high-efficiency pump kit. The program is ideal for all farming applications, including livestock, greenhouse and vineyards. Upgrading to a high-efficiency pump will improve performance and could save customers up to 40 per cent of their system's energy costs."This energy conservation program is focused on helping our agricultural customers manage their electricity and water usage all while saving money," said Cindy-Lynn Steele, vice president, Market Solutions, Hydro One. "As Ontario's largest electricity provider to farming customers, we are committed to offering a variety of energy solutions to help them save on electricity and invest in programs that will meet their important needs while delivering a positive return to their bottom line.""This collaborative approach with IESO and Hydro One allowed us to be very innovative with this new program," says Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. CEO and president Brian Wilkie. "We're happy to be able to cater to the agricultural sector and provide this instant rebate program on high efficiency pump sets with advanced control technology.""Water conservation and high energy costs are a big concern for farmers in the Niagara region and across the province," said Drew Spoelstra, director for Halton, Hamilton-Wentworth, Niagara North and Niagara South, Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "The Save on Energy Conservation Program and this type of cross-utility initiative to launch the AgriPump Rebate Program is great for agriculture."To be eligible for a rebate under the program, each kit must be between 0.5 hp and 10 hp and must comprise of a pump, motor, variable frequency drive and accessories. Customers can receive up to $610 per constant pressure pump kit. The pumps are quick and easy to install and guard against wear and tear.The AgriPump Rebate Program is only available to agriculture customers in Hydro One and Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. (NPEI) service territories. The instant rebate is fulfilled at the point of purchase.To learn more and participate in the AgriPump Rebate program, visit: www.agripump.caContact: 1-844-403-3937 or
Champaign, Ill. — A new lightweight, low-cost agricultural robot could transform data collection and field scouting for agronomists, seed companies and farmers.The TerraSentia crop phenotyping robot, developed by a team of scientists at the University of Illinois, was featured at the 2018 Energy Innovation Summit Technology Showcase in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 14.Traveling autonomously between crop rows, the robot measures the traits of individual plants using a variety of sensors, including cameras, transmitting the data in real time to the operator’s phone or laptop computer. A custom app and tablet computer that come with the robot enable the operator to steer the robot using virtual reality and GPS. For the full story, CLICK HERE. 
January 24, 2018, Charlottetown, PEI – It will now be elementary for a P.E.I. raw potato preparation operation to inspect the inside of potatoes with new technology called the Sherlock Separator-2400. RWL Holdings Ltd. in Travellers Rest, PEI, recently received more than $400,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the province for food safety equipment. The Sherlock Separator is a chemical imaging machine that uses new technology to inspect the inside of the potato without removing the peel. READ MORE
January 11, 2018 - The growing popularity of robotic weeders for vegetable crops has grown partly out of necessity, says Steven Fennimore, an extension specialist at the University of California, Davis. The need for robotic weeders stems from two issues: a lack of herbicides available for use in specialty crops, and the fact that hand-weeding has become more and more expensive. Without pesticides, growers have had to hire people to hand-weed vast fields. Hand-weeding is slow and increasingly expensive: it can cost between $150 and $300 per acre. That motivates some growers to look to robotic weeders. “I’ve been working with robotic weeders for about 10 years now, and the technology is really just starting to come into commercial use,” Fennimore says. “It’s really an economic incentive to consider them.” Fennimore works with university scientists and companies to engineer and test the weeders. The weeders utilize tiny blades that pop in and out to uproot weeds without damaging crops. He says that although the technology isn’t perfect, it’s getting better and better. The weeders are programmed to recognize a pattern and can tell the difference between a plant and the soil. However, they currently have trouble telling the difference between a weed and a crop. That said, Fennimore explains how some companies are training the machines to tell a lettuce plant from a weed. He’s also working with university engineers on a system to tag the crop plant so the weeders will avoid it. “The problem with the machines right now is that they are version 1.0, and there’s tremendous room for improvement,” he says. “The inability to be able to tell the difference between a weed and a crop requires the grower to be very exact when using them. The rows have to be a little straighter, cleaner, and more consistent because the machines aren’t that sophisticated yet. The robots don’t like surprises.” The robotic weeders currently on the market cost anywhere between $120,000 and $175,000. For some growers, it is a better long-term option than expensive hand-weeding. Others think it’s a lot of money for a new technology, and are waiting for it to get better and cheaper. Fennimore believes robotic weeders are the future of weeding in specialty crops. Because of higher labour costs and more incentives to grow organically with fewer pesticides, European growers have been using robotic weeders for some time. Fennimore is focusing his work on physical control of weeds because it offers the best option. He’s also started working in crops besides lettuce, such as tomatoes and onions. He adds that each crop will require a different system. “I believe what makes the robotic weeders better than herbicides is that this electronic-based technology is very flexible and can be updated easily,” he says. “We all update our phones and computers constantly, which is a sign of a robust and flexible technology.” Fennimore recently presented his research at the annual meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America in Tampa, FL.  
Pests in food-handling environments threaten product safety and create an unpleasant sight for employees and visitors. In addition to physically damaging the product or its packaging, some pests can carry and transmit diseases like E. coli, Salmonella and hantavirus. When products become infested or contaminated, they not only impact a business’s bottom line but also its reputation.
According to my children – and myself at times – I’m ancient. I grew up in those heady days before TV remotes and hand-held video games, back when where you stood in a room played a role in whether the TV station would come in clear. I remember when personal computers became mainstream. My first PC was gigantic, composed of three heavy, bulky components that could each serve as a boat anchor. The PC was going to revolutionize work. Hello three-day workweek.
August 28, 2017, Washington - In today’s modern, high-density orchards, growers are constantly seeking new ways to match the biology of their trees with emerging technologies in mechanization. The goal: improve both yields and efficiency."It’s true that some technologies don’t exist yet, but the compact, planar architectures with precision canopy management are most suitable for future mechanization and even for robotics," said Matthew Whiting, Washington State University research horticulturist. “So it is kind of an exciting time for what will be a new era of tree fruit production, as more and more technologies become available."Research labs and research orchards are driving new developments, but in many cases, they’re happening with innovative growers and private companies, he said.“Growers are innovating with orchard systems and varieties and architectures, and that’s fueling university research in many cases, and conversely, universities are driving new genotypes and how to manage and grow them best,” Whiting said. “It’s all coming together as it has never before, and it is an exciting time.”At the same time, employing the mechanization tools that already exist can take a variety of forms, across all four seasons.Those platforms you’re using for harvest? You can use them for pruning, green thinning and training, too.Two growers whose companies have been pushing forward with platforms, hedgers and other tools shared their insights for automating tasks in winter, spring, summer and fall with Good Fruit Grower.For Rod Farrow, who farms 520 acres of apples at Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York, the emphasis has been to increase income with high-value varieties and to reach maximum potential income on his standard varieties, Honeycrisp, Fuji and Gala.Almost everything is planted on Budagovsky 9 rootstock in 11-foot by 2-foot spacing, and he’s been planting and pruning to a fruiting wall for almost 18 years.“It’s less about employing mechanization by season than about deciding the orchard system — as much as anything, making sure the system that you plant now is suitable for robot use,” he said. “If it’s not, you’re going to be in trouble in terms of how you can adapt that new technology, which is coming really fast.”In the past two years, Farrow also has elected to install 3-foot taller posts in new plantings, allowing for a 2-foot taller system intended to increase production from 60 to 70 bins per acre to a more predictable 80-bin range. READ MORE 
Food business owners across Canada can now apply for a licence under the new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations by accessing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s online portal, My CFIA. These regulations will protect Canadian families by making the food system even safer by focusing on prevention and allowing for faster removal of unsafe food from the marketplace.
Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) members from across the province met this week to discuss the agri-food sector’s potential for growth, vote for leadership of the organization and address related challenges facing the industry.
Canadian farmers and food processors across the country work hard every day to put safe, high-quality food on our tables, while driving our economy and creating good, middle-class jobs. Farming can provide an amazing lifestyle with great rewards, but it can also be hard on mental health. Farmers and their families often face high levels of stress because of forces that are beyond their control, such as weather, disease, commodity prices, and trade.
Prince Edward Island’s minimum wage will remain the highest in Atlantic Canada when it increases by 70 cents to $12.25 per hour on April 1, 2019.
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) welcomes the recent announcement by the Canadian government whereby it is providing targeted relief from the federal carbon tax on fuels for heating greenhouses. This targeted relief is a positive step by the federal government to recognize the unique needs of domestic food production.The greenhouse vegetable sector has quickly become an economic driver in the province, generating over $920 million in farmgate sales in 2017. Using modern and efficient technologies, Ontario greenhouse growers are able to produce fresh product year-round in Canada’s northern climate, complementing Ontario’s bountiful field grown fruit and vegetable production. Without relief, carbon pricing has the potential to negatively impact the competitiveness of greenhouse and field production of fruits and vegetables, both of which compete in the global marketplace.“The reality is that farmers have already been incentivized to become energy efficient as it has been necessary to remain competitive,” says Jan VanderHout, chair of the OFVGA. “Today, we thank the federal government for recognizing the specific needs of greenhouse production.”The OFVGA looks forward to ongoing dialogue with the federal and Ontario provincial governments to support all of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable farmers as stewards of the air, land and water that they depend on to contribute to Canada’s food security and the economy.
The Greenbelt Fund is partnering with the Wallace Centre and Farm Credit East to undertake this Food Hub Financial Benchmarking Survey based on their past successful surveys in the United States.With your help, we can benchmark Ontario’s food hub sector to help us all better understand where the food hub sector is headed, and help individual hub operators such as yourself understand how to get on, and stay on, the path to long-term financial success.Large companies develop or access benchmarks by hiring consulting firms to conduct research on their competitors. We want to have the data collected so that key benchmarks of the sector can be shared with all of you to help you grow your businesses and build stronger, more sustainable food systems.How to participate in the survey: You’ll complete a brief survey and submit your financial data for analysis. This process is completely confidential (The Greenbelt Fund and Wallace Centre never sees any individual data) and protected by Farm Credit’s bank-level security. To ensure that you’re ready to participate in the survey, please review the Wallace Center’s free Financial Fundamentals for Food Hubs webinar series, in which Farm Credit East staff demonstrate how to set up and manage your key financial information. Your hub will receive an individualized benchmark report, comparing your individual hub performance to the sector, and guidance on how to use the findings of the survey as a decision-making and goal-setting tool. Once the data are analyzed and findings documented the Greenbelt Fund will host a webinar on the findings in early 2019. The deadline to complete the online survey is November 30, 2018Each hub participating in the study is automatically entered to win a RoboCoupe Food Processor – a handy item for food hub operators that prepare, cut, slice, and dice local food! One winner will be selected from the survey participants.For more information, click here. 
Ontario is open for business: the government is acting to bring jobs and investment back to our province by lightening the burden on business and making sure that hard work is rewarded.
Canadians are seeing the costs of climate change first hand, from wildfires in the west to floods in the east, smoke that makes the air unsafe to breathe and heatwaves that endanger the young and the elderly. We need to act now to fight back against climate change, for our children and grandchildren.
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) welcomes the recent announcement made by the Ontario government outlining its plans for Bill 148.
Draft regulations concerning fuel costs and GHG emissions have addressed some of farmers' concerns, but gaps remain, and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is keen to work with governments to develop new programs that will support the agriculture sector going forward.
A CanadaGAP requirement regarding qualifications for internal auditors for program participants enrolled in group certification (Option A3 and Option B) will be changing effective April 1, 2020.
Courchesne Larose, one of the country’s leading distributors of fresh fruits and vegetables, set an unconventional world record as more than 600 participants gathered to assemble the largest fruit salad ever seen on the planet.

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