Environment Protection
Charcoal may be the solution to reducing ammonia pollution and lowering greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer for crop plants, according to a groundbreaking study by a University of Guelph soil scientist.
Published in Organic production
Greenhouse gas is a significant player in climate change and Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists have developed a tool that helps mitigate agriculture’s contribution.
Published in Federal
Nature Canada is currently leading a project investigating swallow populations along the Southern Great Lakes.
Published in Organic production
Thirty years ago, the crop protection industry in Canada planted the seeds of a voluntary stewardship program in Prairie communities to collect empty agricultural plastic jugs for recycling. The idea took root and since then, Cleanfarms has expanded the program across Canada bringing in a total of about 126 million plastic jugs that have been recycled into new products instead of disposed in landfill.
Published in News
Protecting the health and safety of Canadians and the environment is a priority for the Government of Canada. This includes helping to protect the health of bees and other pollinators by minimizing their exposure to pesticides.
Published in Insects
Over the last decade, Lake Erie has been struggling with high phosphorus levels. Farming is one of the leading land uses in the Lake Erie watershed, giving agriculture a critical role to play in improving water quality in the lake.
Published in Provinces
The National Corn Growers Association – in partnership with the Honey Bee Health Coalition – is releasing new best management practices (BMPs) to protect bees and other pollinators in and around cornfields.
Published in Associations
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.
Published in Federal
A thriving and sustainable agriculture sector is made possible only by the investments made in science, research, and innovation. Canada has some of the world’s best scientists, and the breakthrough technologies they develop give farmers the tools they need to better manage their farms, while growing their businesses and creating good middle class jobs.

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, Lawrence MacAulay, recently announced, the details of the Government of Canada’s transformational $70M investment, over five years, to address significant environmental challenges and hire approximately 75 scientists and science professionals in emerging fields of agricultural science.

Of this $70M investment, $44M is dedicated to hiring the next generation of federal research scientists and science professionals and equipping them with the state-of-the-art tools they need to advance agricultural research, including environmental sampling equipment and analytical instruments.

Minister MacAulay also announced a new Living Laboratories Initiative, which includes $10M to support collaborative research projects with external partners.

Living Laboratories are an integrated approach to agricultural research that bring farmers, scientists and other stakeholders together to co-develop, test and monitor new practices and technologies on farms. The result will be more practical technologies and sustainable farming practices adopted more quickly by Canadian farmers.

The Living Laboratories Initiative led by Canada is a model to the world as other countries also try to improve the resilience and sustainability of their agricultural production. This Living Labs approach was presented by Minister MacAulay at the G20 Agriculture Ministers meeting in Argentina in July and the initiative was endorsed by ministers in attendance.

In the same spirit of collaboration, the remaining $16M of the $70M is earmarked to fund collaborative federal research projects focused on priority areas affecting the agriculture sector, such as environmental issues. With these funds, researchers will have the support, for example, to find better nutrient management solutions to ensure the health of our waterways.

This $70M investment in research and development fulfills the Budget 2017 commitment to support discovery science and innovation.

“This investment allows us to hire the next generation of world-class scientists here in Harrow and across the country, and will help give our farmers the tools they need to grow their businesses for years to come. This transformational investment demonstrates our Government’s strong commitment to science and our focus on the agriculture sector as a primary economic driver for creating good jobs and growing the middle class," said Minister MacAulay.
Published in Federal
The use of biocontrol pest methods in horticulture is growing, whether it’s trap crops, pheromone traps, predatory insects or biopesticides.
Published in Insects
September 25, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario tender fruit farmers need the right mix of rain, sunshine and growing temperatures to produce juicy, fresh peaches, pears, cherries, apricots and nectarines. But when extreme weather hits during critical crop development, it can wreak havoc on an entire crop. And unpredictable weather events are becoming more and more common.

The Ontario Tender Fruit Growers saw the need for a better way to work with whatever the weather sends their way.

“We had no good data available to know the damage that would result to our fruit crops from extreme temperatures,” says Phil Tregunno, chair of Ontario Tender Fruit.

With Growing Forward 2 funding through the Agricultural Adaptation Council, the producer group was able to work with researchers to assess the bud hardiness of various tender fruit crops. Bud hardiness gives an indication of the temperature the dormant buds can withstand before there will be damage to the resulting crop.

“If we want to be able to provide Ontario and Canadian consumers with high quality, local fruit, we need to have better tools to manage extreme weather,” says Tregunno.

Data gathered on the bud hardiness of tender fruit crops now feeds a new real-time, automated weather alert system to help Ontario tender fruit growers make decisions about how to manage extreme weather events.

Developed in partnership with Brock University, KCMS Inc., Weather INnovations Inc. and Ontario Tender Fruit, the new system runs on regional temperatures that are updated every 15 minutes, and bud survival data.

With 90 per cent of tender fruit production in the Niagara region, the bulk of the weather information comes from that area of the province.

The new weather tool is available to growers at TenderFruitAlert.ca and is searchable by location, commodity and cultivar. The site provides information to help growers monitor bud cold hardiness through the fruits’ dormant period and manage winter injury.

“Being prepared is half the battle when you farm with the weather,” says Tregunno. “This new tool gives us accurate, local weather, and matches that with the susceptibility of the specific crops and cultivars to predict that temperature when a grower will start to see crop losses. With that information, growers can make management decisions about how to deal with extreme weather – including the use of wind machines to keep temperatures above the critical point for crop injury.”

Ontario is home to more than 250 tender fruit growers, generating more than $55 million in annual sales from fresh market and processing. Those growers all remember the devastating cold weather in the spring of 2012 that saw tender fruit losses of 31 per cent to 89 per cent. 

The new web-based cold hardiness database will help growers respond and prepare for potentially damaging weather events, and that will help protect the valuable fresh, local markets, Ontario’s Niagara region is so well known for.
Published in Fruit
September 18, 2017, Brooks, Alta – Potato plants need a lot of nitrogen to produce tubers at optimum levels, but with more applied nitrogen comes an increased risk of nitrogen loss to the atmosphere.

Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, is studying the use and loss of that fertilizer in potato crops. He is testing various nitrogen fertilizer formulations and biostimulants to gauge their effect on potato productivity and nitrous oxide emissions. READ MORE

 

Published in Research
August 15, 2017 - The PMRA have proposed to cancel the registration of both lambda-cyhalothrin (Matador/Silencer/Warrior) and phosmet (Imidan).

The decisions can be found here:

Lambda-cyhalothrin – https://onvegetables.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/cyhalothrinlambdaprvd2017-03.pdf
Phosmet – https://onvegetables.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/phosmetprvd2017-07.pdf

The decisions state that lambda-cyhalothrin poses an unacceptable risk from dietary exposure (worst case scenario cumulative food residues would be too high), while phosmet poses a risk during application and post-application activities. The proposed precautions such as revised restricted entry intervals would not be agronomically feasible (e.g. 12 day REI for scouting carrots, 43 days for moving irrigation pipe).

Public consultation is now open until September 23 (lambda-cyhalothrin) or September 30 (phosmet) so if growers wish to make comments on these proposed decisions you can submit them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or talk to your growers’ association who can comment on your behalf.
Published in Chemicals
July 28, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - To support economic opportunities and to protect human health and the environment, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers of agriculture endorsed the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada at their annual meeting. The strategy is a shared vision between partners across governments, industry, academia and others, and charts a path forward for collectively addressing evolving risks to plant and animal health.

Agriculture is an important driver in today's economy and has been identified as one of Canada's key growth sectors. Implementation of the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada is essential to economic growth, and for the health of all of our citizens and the environment.

Effective action depends on the combined and co-ordinated work of numerous partners. By taking a collaborative approach, the partners will be even more successful at protecting plant and animal resources from new and emerging risks. The action-oriented strategy outlines how all parties will work together to protect these resources, unleashing the potential for growth in Canada's agriculture sector.

"Agriculture is a key growth sector for Canada's economy. By working in collaboration with partners we have been able to create a strategy that will improve how we work together to advance the protection of plant and animal health, reduce risk to Canadians and improve our economic opportunities," said the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Published in Federal
July 27, 2017, Waterloo, Ont. - A biotechnology company that created a spray that helps farmers and growers protect crops from frost damage was among the big winners at the Velocity Fund Finals held recently at the University of Waterloo. Velocity is a comprehensive entrepreneurship program at Waterloo.

Innovative Protein Technologies created Frost Armour, a spray-on-foam, after witnessing the effects of a devastating spring frost in 2012 that knocked out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop. Farmers would remove it after several days with another solution that converts it into a fertilizer.

"Frost damage not only affects farmers’ livelihoods, but also our food supply," said Erin Laidley, a Waterloo alumnus, who co-founded the company with Tom Keeling and Dan Krska, two alumni from the University of Guelph. "There are other spray-on solutions, but ours is non-toxic and has no negative environmental impact.”

During the competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges considered innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch.

The following three companies were also grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at Velocity. Three of the five top-prize-winning companies are based at Velocity Science.
  • Altius Analytics Labs is a health-tech startup that helps occupational groups better manage musculoskeletal injuries.
  • EPOCH is a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members, using time as a means of exchange.
  • VivaSpire is making lightweight wearable machines that purify oxygen from the air without the need for high pressure.
For the first time, the prize of $10,000 for best hardware or science company went to a team that was not among the grand-prize winners. Vena Medical is making navigating through arteries faster, easier and safer by providing physicians with a camera that sees through blood.

During the VFF event, an additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three prizes of $5,000 and access to Velocity workspaces.

The winners of the Velocity $5K are:
  • HALo works to provide manual wheelchair users with accessible solutions to motorize their wheelchairs.
  • QuantWave provides faster, cheaper and simpler pathogen detection for drinking water and food suppliers.
  • SheLeads is a story-based game that helps girls realize their unlimited leadership potential.
“Building a business is one of the boldest risks you can take, and yet our companies continue to demonstrate the vision, talent, and drive to think big and tackle challenging problems,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity. “Today we are fortunate to benefit from an enormous wealth of experience from our judges who are leaders from the global investment, health and artificial-intelligence communities and entrepreneurs at heart. In helping Velocity award $125,000 in funding to these companies, we have taken a bet of our own in these founders, and said be bold, think big, and go out and change the world.”

The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition travelled from Palo Alto, San Francisco and Toronto. They were Seth Bannon, founding partner, Fifty Years; Dianne Carmichael, chief advisor of health tech, Council of Canadian Innovators; Eric Migicovsky, visiting partner, Y Combinator; Tomi Poutanen, co-CEO, Layer 6 AI.

The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Kane Hsieh, investor, Root Ventures; Tobiasz Dankiewicz, co-founder, Reebee; Karen Webb, principal, KWebb Solutions Inc.

For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit www.velocityfundfinals.com
Published in Spraying
May 17, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. – Fertilizer Canada has released a 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sustainability Report. The document is a comprehensive overview of the associations 2016 milestones through several initiatives pertaining to agriculture sustainability.

The report can be found at:4R Nutrient Stewardship Sustainability Report
For more information, visit: http://fertilizercanada.ca/
Published in Companies
February 23, 2017, Victoria, BC – Due to an underwhelming response by users to register their wells, the province has extended its waiver of the application fee to December 31, 2017.

The new Water Sustainability Act took effect February 29, 2016 and includes licensing requirements for all non-domestic groundwater users. As a result, all wells used for irrigation and livestock watering must be registered. READ MORE
Published in Provinces

Although Canada is home to internationally award-winning wines, the cold winters and short growing season are a constant challenge. Photo by Dr. Mehdi Sharifi, Trent University.

August 16, 2016 - Although Canada is home to internationally award-winning wines, the cold winters and short growing season are a constant challenge. The solution is one that has never been tried with wine grapes before until now: moving production indoors.

That’s what Dr. Mehdi Sharifi, a Canada Research Chair in sustainable agriculture and professor at Trent University’s School of the Environment, has been working on.

And it could change the entire future of Canada’s wine industry, including dramatically expanding organic wine production.

“Winter injury and low yields are the two main challenges for the wine industry in central and eastern Canada,” he explains.

Winter injury is freezing damage to the wood and bud tissues of the grape vine caused by cold temperatures or erratic temperature swings. It results in significant direct losses in grape production and even greater losses in wine production, and prevents some grape varieties, like the popular Shiraz, from being grown in Canada.

In the case of severe winter injury, vines need to be replaced but it takes newly planted vines three to five years to become productive. That’s an expensive wait without income for grape growers, who face annual costs of $10,000 – 15,000 an acre to maintain grape vines.

Sharifi’s indoor grape growing work began when he was approached by Canadian Distribution Channel Inc., a company interested in building an agritourism venture by growing popular Australian, South American and European grape varieties inside.

He began by developing a specially formulated growing media that would allow the grapes to grow quickly indoors.

“You can’t use field or potting soil indoors for growing grapes. Growing media for perennial plants such as grapes need a balance of chemical, physical and biological conditions and nutrients for best growth,” says Sharifi.

“We’ve created and tested a formula that works great and supplies nutrients to the grapes for a long period of time,” he added.

The formula’s natural ingredients could open new possibilities for organic grape production too, with the protected indoor conditions making organic growing easier.

As Sharifi’s work progressed, he also discovered that the stable temperatures and environment of indoor production can simulate a natural growing season year round and shorten the amount of time new vines need to come into production.

“We found that vines can grow two to three times as fast as they can grow outdoors. We can also simulate the equivalent of two to three growing seasons per year, so we can bring new vines into production in only one to two years,” he explains. “This doubles or even triples yearly yields, which will compensate for the extra cost of the greenhouse needed for indoor production.”

Sharifi is optimistic about his results to date. The grapes he has grown indoors have a higher than required sugar standard and their pH and acidity levels are suitable for wine production, but he cautions that more work remains to be done before his discovery can be implemented commercially.

Down the road he sees potential for producing wines with higher antioxidants or health-boosting phenolic compounds, but it’s the widespread application of his innovation that bears the most promise for Canada’s wine producers.

“This can work for any grape variety, and the interest of the industry lies with being able to grow varieties that we currently can’t in Canada because of our climate,” he says.

Sharifi’s work has received support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

Published in Research

November 3, 2015, Guelph, Ont – The government of Ontario recently announced it will be providing financial support to fruit and specialty crop growers to help them ensure the survival of their apples, tender fruit, berries, and specialty crops.

Ontario is providing financial support to farmers to better ensure the survival of apples, tender fruit, berries, and specialty crops during the winter.

The province will share up to 35 per cent of the cost of weather mitigation equipment and growers can be eligible to receive up to a maximum of $31,500 per project.

This support will help cover the costs of weather mitigation equipment, such as portable or fixed wind machines, heating and air movement devices, insulating devices, overhead irrigation systems, and crop covers.

Growers may apply for funding through the Ontario Crop and Soil Improvement Association, which administers the program, and will accept applications at various times over the next few years. The first intake is from October 22 to November 5, 2015.

Look for details to be posted shortly to the OSCIA website.

Published in Provinces

October 16, 2015, Guelph, Ont – This winter, Ontario is providing financial support to farmers to better ensure the survival of apples, tender fruit, berries, and specialty crops.

Ontario's cold winter months can cause damage to crops and reduce yields. To help growers manage this risk and ensure a steady, competitive supply of Ontario grown food, the province will share up to 35 per cent of the cost of weather mitigation equipment such as portable or fixed wind machines, heating and air movement devices, insulating devices, overhead irrigation systems, and crop covers. Growers can be eligible to receive up to a maximum of $31,500 per project.

“The Ontario Apple Growers strongly welcome the support for cold weather mitigation measures,” said Charlie Stevens, chair of the Ontario Apple Growers. “This support will help to reduce the impact of cold temperatures, ensuring farmers are able to provide consumers with a more stable supply of local Ontario apples for them to enjoy.”

“Weather mitigation equipment helps to protect the tree fruit industry from unfavourable growing conditions,” said Phil Tregunno, chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers. “We greatly appreciate the Ontario government’s recognition of the challenges faced by farmers and the continued support.”

Growers may apply for funding through the Ontario Crop and Soil Improvement Association, which administers the program, and will accept applications at several times over the next couple of years. The first intake is from October 22 to November 5, 2015.

“Our government is pleased to be providing additional support for our apple, tender fruit, berry, and specialty crop growers,” said Jeff Leal, minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Cost sharing for these projects will help growers take advantage of the best crop protection methods available, ensuring successful survival of cold weather periods, and quality yields at harvest.”

Published in Vegetables
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