May 27, 2013, Charlottetown, PEI – Farmers need to be both economically and environmentally sustainable in their actions, especially when it relates to nutrient application, say officials with the Island potato board.

Because of that, the Prince Edward Island Potato Board has joined in the Farming 4R Island initiative. In a recent statement, the potato board said as the populations of Prince Edward Island, and the world continue to grow, the need for nutritious, safe food grows as well. READ MORE
Published in Food Safety
May 10, 2013 – Neonicotinoids are under intense scrutiny. But a ban of a broad variety of pesticides may be required to protect bees, humans and the environment.

The European Commission, on April 29, 2013, slapped a two-year ban on insecticides suspected of killing off bee colonies. This follows the European Food Safety Authority finding that they pose a high acute risk to honey bees. Studies suggest that the nicotine-like compounds fry bees’ navigation systems and leave them unable to learn, while weakening their immune system.

But scientists now warn that other nerve agents targeting insect pests may also be harming bees and other pollinators.

“These neonicotinoids are just one of hundreds of compounds being used and I would be surprised if it was all down to just these chemicals,” says Christopher Connolly, a neuroscientist at the University of Dundee, UK.

He argues that we should not allow farmers spray a toxic soup of chemicals onto their crops.

Connolly exposed bee brains to these pesticides and organo-based pesticides and reported that the nerves spun into hyperactivity and then stopped working. A combination of these two pesticides types had a stronger impact, suggesting the combined soup of pesticides could be causing more serious harm.

“I don’t understand how this was missed,” Connolly said. “As a neuroscientist, it just seemed blindingly obvious. The biggest effect was hyper-activation of the major learning centre, which was completely predictable.”

The nerve agents effects were missed because safety screens looked to see how many honey bees die after four days exposure. But harm is only evident over a period of two weeks in bumblebees and is seen when you look at entire colonies.

“So the safety test is all wrong. The thing that concerns me is that this throws a question mark over several hundred pesticides, all tested by inadequate safety screens.”

Connolly suggests pesticides use be tracked in the environment, just like we monitor drug use in patients.

Not collecting such data might even pose health issues for people.

“Bear in mind we have lots of idiopathic diseases in humans which we don’t know the cause of and given that we don’t know what pesticides are used in what combinations and when, we don’t know if these pesticides may be contributing to some or even all these unknown diseases,” Connolly warns.

He argues that research needs to be done to find out which pesticides are the least harmful. If neonicotinoids are the least toxic, then they should be used. He says governments have underfunded this research area partly because it is inconvenient to find pesticides are dangerous.

Dave Goulson, professor of biological science at the University of Stirling, UK agrees.

“There haven’t been nearly enough studies of all pesticides or interactions between them.”

He recently published a study showing neonicotinoids hit bumblebee colony growth and queen production.

“Beneficial insects, such as ladybirds and bees, are exposed to lots of different chemicals and we have a really poor understanding of what it does to them,” said Goulson.

He also points out that people need to be concerned with what these nerve agents will be replaced with.

More research may be helpful, but industry criticizes extrapolation of lab studies to field conditions. Julian Little, spokesperson for Bayer Cropscience, based in Norwich, UK, says the evidence against these pesticides has all been lab based, essentially taking a social insect and force-feeding it insecticide. It says the results cannot be replicated in the environment.

But he also agrees more monitoring of pollinators is needed.

“Where you do get large-scale bee deaths not enough has been done to know exactly what has happened,” Little says.

He says pests and loss of feeding sites and nesting sites are most likely behind bee declines.

“France has had restrictions [of neonicotinoids] over the last 10 years, yet the bees there remain as bad if not worse than they are in the UK.”

A possible solution to preserve bee populations further would be to restore the principle of avoidance of pesticide use.

“The whole ethos of pest management has gone in the wrong direction,” Goulson argues.

Whereas integrated pest management sought to use as few pesticides as possible, the neonicotinoids are a preventive strike.

“A simple analogy is that it’s like taking antibiotics in case you get ill rather than when you get ill. Everyone knows that is a silly idea, as it results in bacteria rapidly developing resistance. It is the same with these pesticides.”

However, opponents believe the neonicotinoids ban is unlikely to decrease pesticide use. Little warns that farmers may now have to resort to spraying insecticides up to four times a year, now that they cannot coat seeds in neonicotinoids.

But other experts do not agree. There are several alternatives to using neonicotinoids, and other pesticides, according to Simon Potts, professor of biodiversity and ecosystem services at Reading University, UK. This is a great opportunity for farmers to adopt these practices to protect bees and other pollinators. Indeed, he believes farmers will benefit from healthy pollinator populations as they provide substantial economic benefits to crop pollination.

"Few people would disagree that we need to protect our food production, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of damaging the environment,” Potts says, adding, “A short-term decision to keep using harmful products may be convenient, but will almost certainly have much greater long-term costs for food production and the environment.”

Published in Research
May 7, 2013, Guelph, Ont – Engage Agro Corporation of Canada announced it has reached an agreement with Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. to be the exclusive marketer and distributor of Grandevo bioinsecticide for Canada.

Under this agreement, Engage will launch Grandevo once registration is received in Canada, and will work with Marrone to further expand the registered uses for Grandevo.

“We are very excited to be launching Grandevo bioinsecticide in Canada,” said Ray Chyc, president of Engage. “The unique fit of the product in the market, coupled with further label development work fits exactly our mandate.”

“We are also excited to expand on our relationship with Marrone and value their trust in us to manage the sales, marketing, and further development of Grandevo in Canada.”

Grandevo is a bioinsecticide with complex modes of action to control a broad spectrum of chewing and sucking insects and mites. According to the company, the product combines operational flexibility and long-lasting control to strengthen integrated pest management programs (IPM) and resistance management (IRM) programs for a wide range of crops.

Grandevo is derived from a newly discovered bacterium, commonly known as Achromacil, which produces a number of compounds that contribute to the mode of action, resulting in a biopesticide active against insects and mites. Control of pests is achieved through the combination of repellency, oral toxicity, reduced egg hatch, and reduced fecundity (ability of pest to reproduce). Grandevo has also been shown to maintain populations of most beneficials and introduced biological controls.

Grandevo is currently submitted for registration with the PMRA. In the USA, Grandevo is certified for use in organic production.

Published in Insects
May 2, 2013 - According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms and farmers in Canada is declining and the pressure to increase production to meet the ever-increasing demand of a growing population is immense. That is why continued management of every aspect of a farm is so important.

Heather Watson, the executive director of Farm Management Canada (FMC) says that while the world calls upon farmers for increased productivity, farmers face more problems than ever before – which is why the International Farm Management Congress (IFMC) is such a good idea.

"The Congress has brought the world of agriculture closer – creating a lasting, international network of experts we can call upon for insights into anything you can imagine including best management practices and best practices to increase the awareness and adoption of beneficial management practices," she said.

The FMC has therefore developed a new contest to help create a Canadian delegation to attend the IFMC in Poland this July. To enter the contest, contestants must create a one-minute or less YouTube video answering the question: How are Canadian farmers managing for success?

All application forms and video submissions must be submitted no later than May 24 and the names of the winners will be announced in June 2013. Instructions can be found here.

The selected winners will report from the Congress by being active on social media (including Twitter, blogs and more), as well as writing two articles on their experiences. They might also be asked to speak at industry events and help entice participation for when Canada hosts the IFMC in 2015.

"Winners will take part in the full Congress (a week-long event that includes keynote speakers, plenary sessions, farm tours, paper presentations, banquets, etc.) as well as the post-Tour which is a week-long adventure around Poland to see various agricultural practices and notable sights," adds Watson.

More information on the Congress is available at
Published in Federal
May 2, 2013, Guelph, ON - From farmers’ markets to community gardens, everything you might want to know about local food projects across Ontario is served up in a first-ever report co-authored by University of Guelph experts.

The report, released in late April, is intended to help community members develop local sustainable food systems, said Prof. Karen Landman, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development.

“Issues of human and environmental health, and vulnerability of the industrial food system, have prompted numerous alternative food initiatives around the globe and across Ontario,” says the report.

It was published in late April on the Nourishing Ontario website, which can be viewed here.

Called “Models and Best Practices for Building Sustainable Food Systems in Ontario and Beyond,” the report describes food initiatives in communities across the province, including farmers’ markets, on-farm stores and urban farms.

The study discusses local food systems, including economic, environmental and social factors involved in food production and consumption, and how they help to strengthen communities.

“As you tug on food, you pull everything with it,” said Landman, who co-wrote the report’s chapter on southwestern Ontario.

The new project began two years ago. Researchers conducted about 170 interviews across Ontario and discussed 20 case studies, including the Waterloo Region Neighbourhood Market Initiative.

The team’s lead author was Alison Blay-Palmer, a professor in geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. Referring to academic and community groups across Canada and even around the world, she said, “Everybody is trying to figure out how to improve the food system.

“Our goal for this report is to support communities across the globe that want to have access to more local sustainable food.”

Launched in 2007, Nourishing Ontario brings together researchers at Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier, Lakehead University, Carleton University, Ryerson University, York University and the University of Toronto, as well as Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia.

The group has also developed a community toolkit, run local conferences and workshops, and contributed to a themed issue of the Local Environment journal.

The group has completed a number of community food projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

Earlier, Landman and Blay-Palmer worked together on projects in local food systems and sustainable rural communities.

Landman and other Guelph researchers studying local food systems have contributed to the official plan for the City of Guelph and to the Local Food Act tabled earlier this year at Queen’s Park by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is also the province’s agriculture minister.
Published in Vegetables
April 30, 2013, Portage la Prairie, Man – Dozens of farmers who blocked access to the Portage Diversion April 29 have agreed to end their protest, enabling the province to open the flood control structure.

A group of between 50 and 60 protesters, who live and farm around Lake Manitoba, had set up a half-dozen tractors and other equipment around midday to prevent the government from operating diversion, which redirects Assiniboine River flood water from an inlet near Portage la Prairie to Lake Manitoba, 29 kilometres to the north. READ MORE
Published in Provinces

Apr. 24, 2013, Ottawa, ON - 4-H Canada and Bayer CropScience are excited to announce the Canadian and American delegates who have been chosen to attend the global 4-H Youth Ag-Summit– ‘Feeding A Hungry Planet’ taking place in Calgary, Alberta, August 19 to 25, 2013.
Sixty Canadian and 20 American delegates, ages 18 to 25, will be joined by youth from around the world to discuss and learn how their generation can overcome the challenges of feeding a growing world population of currently over 7 billion people.
“The Youth Ag-Summit is a big part of 4-H Canada’s 100th anniversary celebrations,” said Roger Shier, interim CEO of 4-H Canada. “As a youth organization with rural roots, we are happy to partner with Bayer CropScience to offer the Summit participants a chance to make a lasting contribution to agriculture worldwide.”
To be considered for one of the 120 delegate positions, candidates had to submit an essay discussing the topic of ‘Feeding a Hungry Planet.’ More than 500 submissions were received from around the world. The essays, which tackled such topics as food wastage, eating ‘locally,’ education and awareness of agricultural practices, and farming efficiencies will also contribute to the foundation of the conference content.
The following youth, including 4-H members, will represent Ontario and Canada at the Youth Ag-Summit: Emily den Haan, Loretto; Arjan Leeuwerke, Caledon East; Bruce Sargent, Enniskillen; Cassandra Chornoboy, Rockwood; Elizabeth Schouten, Kanata; Gordon Alblas, Branchton; Graeme Reed, Ottawa; Isha Datar, Toronto; James Craig, Arthur; Joshua Nasielski, Richmond Hill; Kaitlyn Eastman, Kinburn; Lexi Salt, Scarborough; and Tayler Black, Fergus.
Visit to view the map and all of the participants selected around the globe.

The full list of Canadians attending the summit are:

The following youth, including 4-H members, will represent Newfoundland and Canada at the Youth Ag-Summit: Allyson Barnable, Ferryland.
The following youth, including 4-H members, will represent Nova Scotia and Canada at the Youth Ag-Summit: Alia Karim, Halifax; Brittany Brydon, Waterville; Courtney Schmidt, Port Hood; Jacob Works, Truro; Kayla Graham, Pictou; Rebecca O'Connell, Brookfield; and Simon Greenough, Newport.
New Brunswick: Dever Pickard, Holmesville; Heidi Pickard , Jacksontown; Paige Taylor, Salisbury; and Victoria Blakely, Riverview.
Quebec: Jacinthe Trépanier, St. Anne-de-Bellevue; Jasmine Kaur, St. Anne-de-Bellevue; Jonathan Messerli, St-Andre d'Argenteuil; Mathieu Rouleau, St. Chrysostome; Shinae Hartley, St. Anne-de-Bellevue; and Veeda Padamsi, Montreal.
Ontario: Emily den Haan, Loretto; Arjan Leeuwerke, Caledon East; Bruce Sargent, Enniskillen; Cassandra Chornoboy, Rockwood; Elizabeth Schouten, Kanata; Gordon Alblas, Branchton; Graeme Reed, Ottawa; Isha Datar, Toronto; James Craig, Arthur; Joshua Nasielski, Richmond Hill; Kaitlyn Eastman, Kinburn; Lexi Salt, Scarborough; and Tayler Black, Fergus.
Manitoba: Adara Sajtos, St. Francois Xavier; Jayden Buchanan, Crystal City; Kathleen Walsh, Bowsman; and Lyndsey Friesen, Wawanesa.
Saskatchewan: Chantal Lavoie, Saskatoon; Dallis Aiken, Canwood; Keenan Guenzel, Regina; and Mira van Burck, Star City.
Alberta: Amy MacTaggart, Edmonton; Brianne Christie, Trochu; Brittany Blakely, Beiseker; Carien Huijzer, Lethbridge; David Gilfoy, Falher; Debra Murphy, Altario; Jacob Onyschuk, Legal; Jennifer Munro. Calgary; Kathleen Murphy, Lacombe; Lauren Ovinge, Scandia; Leah Rodvang, Coronation; and Llody Vossebelt, Coaldale.
British Columbiat: Shauna-Lee McCullough,  Shawnigan Lake; Helen Garbiec, Vancouver; Kathleen Fryer, Mission; Kelly Hodgins, Powell River; Mikaela Hudson, Vancouver; and Shannon Palmer, Port Alberni.

Published in Federal
April 15, 2013 – Despite objections from growers, a U.S. advisory board decided to ban the use of an antibiotic by organic apple and pear farmers to combat fire blight.

The National Organic Standards Board, at meetings in Portland, opted not to allow the use of a type of tetracycline in organic apple and pear orchards starting Oct. 21, 2014. READ MORE

Published in Fruit
March 26, 2013 – The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and CropLife America (CLA) announced the release of The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, an industry-wide initiative to promote the safe handling and management of treated seed.

Endorsed by the National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Soybean Association, the guide provides farmers and seed companies with critical information and up-to-date guidelines for managing treated seed effectively to further minimize the risk of exposure to non-target organisms.

“The guide serves as an all-in-one resource that addresses every stage of a seed’s journey from treatment to planting,” said ASTA president and CEO Andrew W. LaVigne. “It’s designed to be convenient, easy-to-understand and useful to the entire seed and crop production value chain.”

“The guide will be an invaluable resource for our members,” said Pam Johnson, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “We’re encouraging all corn growers to refer to it before, during and after the corn planting season.”

ASTA and CLA began aggregating seed treatment research and safety information from universities, seed companies, international seed associations and others in early 2012 in response to growing concern about the effect of seed treatment dust on pollinators.

“The health of pollinators, especially honey bees, is crucial to agricultural production in the U.S. and worldwide,” noted Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America.

“The crop protection industry, seed growers and breeders, seed treatment companies, equipment manufactures and farmers all play a role in supporting thriving bee populations through stewardship and sound science.”

The guide contains recommendations for such processes as:
  • Planting of Treated Seed
  • Safe Use of Seed Treatment Product
  • Safe Handling and Transport of Seed
  • Selection of Treatment Product
  • Treated Seed Labeling
  • Storage of Treated Seed
The guide, which also includes a seed treatment glossary and an exhaustive list of resources, has been shared with EPA and USDA, both of whom have applauded the industry’s initiative in this effort.

Released in advance of the corn planting dates, The Seed Treatment Stewardship Guide is available online and in PDF format at
Published in Provinces
Mar. 25, 2013, Ottawa, ON – Six 4-H volunteer leaders across Canada were honoured for their dedication to local youth with the annual Co-operators/4-H National Volunteer Leader of the Year Award.

"The lives of countless young people in Canada have been greatly enriched over the last 100 years thanks to the dedicated 4-H leaders," said Rob Black, president of the Canadian 4-H Council. "More than 8,000 volunteer leaders give generously of their time to pass along valuable skills and self-confidence to almost 26,000 young members."

Each winner selected for the Co-operators/4-H Volunteer Leader of the Year Award receives a $100 gift and 4-H anniversary tumbler. In addition, one volunteer is recognized as the grand prize winner with a $1,000 prize, and will receive a trip to the 4-H Canada Annual General Meeting in May, 2013.

The six volunteers selected were nominated by their respective 4-H members, who were asked to give examples of how their leader has made their community a better place, and why they deserve the award.

The following leaders were awarded the 2012 Co-operators/4-H Volunteer Leader of the Year Award:
  • Cheryl Johnson, Shifting Saddles 4-H Club, Salmon Arm, British Columbia
  • Tim Belec, Lakedell Lighthorse 4-H Club, Westerose, Alberta
  • Brad Eggink, Lincoln Dairy Calf Club, Grimsby, Ontario
  • Maria Enright, Richmond 4-H Club, Richmond, Quebec – also the grand prize winner
  • Sheila Fanjoy, Bridging New Waters 4-H Club, Waterford, New Brunswick
  • Alfreda Farish, Millview-Vernon River 4-H Club, Vernon River, Prince Edward Island

Maria Enright of Richmond, Quebec was selected as the grand prize winner of the 2012 Co-operators/4-H Volunteer Leader of the Year Award.

Enright has been a leader for 10 years and has been responsible for initiating many programs within her 4-H club and in the community. She has taught the members to think beyond themselves and to show their thanks by giving back to their parents and community supporters. According to her club, she is dedicated, innovative and proud of the kids and the projects they are able to accomplish.

"The centennial anniversary of 4-H in Canada is also an excellent opportunity to recognize and thank the countless volunteer leaders who have inspired generations of 4-H members over the last 100 years and helped build this unique organization that 4-H Canada is today," said Black.

More information about 4-H in Canada can be found at


Published in Food Safety

It seems that lately, everyone has been in a tizzy about bees and neonicotinoid pesticides.

Recently, I received a short news brief from the Associated Press informing me that the European Union’s commissioner for health and consumer policy – Tonio Borg – has proposed restricting the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam – from use on a wide variety of crops, including sunflowers, rapeseed, cotton and maize. The ban is being considered in light of growing concern regarding colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon whereby large numbers of honeybees within a colony either die or disappear, and its alleged connection to the growing use of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticide considered one of the best selling in the world.

Not long after reading that brief, I received a newsletter article from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) entitled Taking Steps Toward Reducing the Risk to Pollinators.

“In the spring of 2012, coinciding with corn planting, there were approximately 200 incidents of what was likely acute bee poisoning of honeybees in Ontario,” stated the article, written by field crop entomologist Tracey Baute and crop specialist Greg Stewart. “Representatives from the Ministry of Environment, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and OMAFRA investigated the affected bee hives, taking bee samples for residue analysis by the PMRA.”

According to initial lab results, “pesticides used on treated corn seed may have contributed to at least some of the 2012 spring bee losses that occurred in Ontario, however, there is still additional information being collected.”

It was also noted there was no evidence of off-label use of pesticides by growers.

Final results of the tests have not been released but the PMRA analysis did show the presence of clothianidin, one of the neonicotinoids currently being considered for use restriction in the EU.

And then, just a few weeks ago during the Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement Association’s Grower Short Course, held in Abbotsford, B.C., I listened as B.C.’s provincial apiculturist Paul van Westendorp provided a summary of the concerns being voiced around the world regarding the use of neonicotinoids and decreases in pollinator populations, including a brief history of actions taken to date.

Back in 2001, he explained, a group of beekeepers in France noticed that many of their healthy bee colonies began to dwindle and die-off. The interesting thing was, these die-offs were being observed in hives near corn and potato fields.

“What made it interesting is that neither corn nor potato is an important pollinating food source for the bees, either as a pollen source or a nectar source,” explained van Westendorp. “Bees only visit these plants incidentally.”

Not long after, reports began to come in from all over Europe about similar happenings.

“This was really the first claims saying neonicotinoids were responsible for the declines,” he added.

Around the same time, Canada was considering expanding the label registration of neonicotinoids for a number of crops, said van Westendorp. Therefore, a great amount of research was conducted in North America examining the impact of the pesticide on pollinators.

“A huge amount of research was done, a lot of research papers were reviewed and re-examined to determine was there any possible link,” said the B.C. apiculturist. “And all the answers were no.”

Meanwhile colony collapse disorder continued.

Then in 2010, Dr. Henk A. Tennekes, a Dutch toxicologist, published a research paper suggesting the structure of pesticide risk assessment systems used by regulators could be flawed.

“They [regulators] were approaching it on the basis of acute toxicity that these chemicals might have on insect pollinators,” explained van Westendorp.

Dr. Tennekes’ hypothesis was that the real impact of neonicotinoids should be assessed based on chronic exposure at sub-lethal levels.

“This really changed the entire discussion because now suddenly an awful lot of researchers started to realize that perhaps they had been looking at neonicotinoids in the wrong fashion,” said van Westendorp.

According to studies where insects were exposed to sub-lethal levels of neonicotinoids, behavioural changes involving nesting, homing abilities, disease resistance and reproduction were observed.

“As of June 2012, the PMRA made the announcement that it is reassessing the three most commonly used neonicotinoids,” said van Westendorp. “The EPA came out in December with the intent of doing a thorough overview of the entire group of neonicotinoids with a special emphasis on the possible effects these chemicals have on pollinators.”

What does this mean for growers? While reassessment of neonicotinoids is being done in Canada – which is expected to take several years – the insecticides can still be used as registered. And for beekeepers? Keep a close eye on your hives and be aware of what might have been used on the crop currently being pollinated and any adjacent crops, including seed treatments.

Good luck and have a safe 2013 season.

Published in Insects

Mar. 1, 2013, Ottawa, ON - Three new reports released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada indicate a positive outlook for farmers in 2013.

“The forecast for 2012 reflects that farm incomes are once again at an all-time high,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “The outlook shows that global demand for agricultural commodities will be driven by growth in developing economies, which is why our government continues to place such a strong emphasis on opening new and maintaining existing markets.”

The three new reports, the Farm Income Forecast for 2012 and 2013, the Medium Term Outlook, and the Farm Income, Financial Conditions and Government Assistance Data Book 2012, provide an overview of the financial and market outlook for the sector and offer a benchmark for producers, industry stakeholders, and governments as they plan for the years ahead.


  • The Farm Income Forecast report highlights that farmers are prospering from continued high commodity and livestock prices. The sector will once again report record-high income levels for 2012 and can count on a continued positive outlook for 2013.
  • When the final figures are in for 2012, net cash income for the entire sector is expected to rise 14 per cent to $13.1 billion, which is a new record income level, and remain at a near record in 2013 of $12.9 billion.
  • While performance varies by sector, the average net operating income for Canadian farms is expected to reach a new record of $74,190 in 2012, 17 per cent greater than the 2011 level and 50 per cent above the 2007–11 average. The net worth of an average farm is forecast to grow by 8 per cent in 2012 to reach $1.8 million.
  • Average total income of farm families, which includes family income from all farm and non-farm sources, is projected to reach $127,106 in 2012, 8 per cent above 2011 levels.
  • Over the medium term, strong global demand, particularly from major emerging economies, will underpin continued strong prices and growth for the sector.
  • Assuming normal weather conditions, Canadian grains and oilseeds prices are expected to moderate from 2012 peaks but remain at higher than historical levels over the medium term. While cattle and hog sectors will see modest growth, a strong Canadian dollar and higher feed grain prices will remain challenges going forward.

For more information on the Farm Income Forecast for 2012 and 2013, the Medium Term Outlook, and the Farm Income, Financial Conditions and Government Assistance Data Book 2012, please visit Economic and Market Information.

Published in Federal

February 25, 2013 – The dry conditions experienced in 2012 point out how critical irrigation is in reducing risk when producing high value vegetables.

Even with dry conditions, growers were surprised at how much disease they encountered. Improper irrigation can create situations conducive for disease development, but a little fore thought can go a long way and allow you to provide water while minimizing disease-promoting conditions.

Many soil borne diseases rely on wet conditions for development, transmission and movement. Conditions promoting soil diseases can occur with improper irrigation. Rapid water application to clay-based soils leads to water runoff and disease movement within and possibly between fields. Clay soils should be irrigated slowly and for long periods to allow water to penetrate and for soil to adequately absorb moisture throughout the root zone.

Many raised-bed, plastic mulched, drip irrigated vegetable plantings are placed in sand-based soils. The high sand allows for easier shaping, but is prone to leaching. Irrigation on these soils needs to be done in frequent, quick applications, perhaps more than once a day. Long periods of free water contribute to disease development and it doesn’t take much water in these soils to reach field capacity and create favorable conditions. Growers with these soils often over-irrigate, contributing to nutrient leaching and disease development and spread. In sand, water can move down to soil depths of 20 inches in an hour; irrigating longer than this is unnecessary since it would be pushing water out of the root zone and adding free water.

Proper timing of overhead irrigation is important for keeping diseases in check. Many fungal diseases require eight to 14 hours of a continual wet period for spore germination. If plants are irrigated in the evening, they will stay wet long enough to meet these requirements. Growers need to avoid evening irrigations and should apply overhead water early in the morning when plants are already wet from morning dew.

Drip irrigation is always preferable to overhead simply because drip does not wet leaves and it can be operated at any time. However, some crops such as corn, beans, carrots and others do not lend themselves well to drip. Organic soils are also overhead irrigated since the entire surface needs to be kept wet to limit soil movement.


Published in Irrigating

January 21, 2013, Ottawa, Ont – Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa – St Lawrence – Outaouais Chapter (COG OSO) is distributing a new survey for any farmer to respond to.

The survey is an effort by COG OSO to understand how to best deliver its farmer outreach and training programming to non-organic farmers interested in organic methods as well as existing organic farmers. Funding for the survey is part of an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to COG OSO’s Growing Up Organic Project.

The general purpose of the survey is to find out from farmers what they think the role of an organization such as COG OSO should be and how COG OSO should execute that role. The survey does this by firstly trying to understand what motivates farmers to farm organically as well as what deters farmers from transitioning to organic. Secondly, the survey asks about the effectiveness of different training methods such as workshops and webinars. Finally, the survey asks farmers about specific resources, approaches and partnerships that could benefit the local organic sector and move it to the next stage of development.

“I strongly believe in participatory approaches to development,” says Colin Lundy, farmer outreach coordinator for COG OSO. “I think the farmers should be telling COG OSO directly what we should be doing, and this new survey is a way for them to do just that.”

Farmers’ input will give COG OSO strategic direction when applying for funding and seeking partnerships for new projects.

“Project success is, in my view, largely measured by farmer support,” Lundy said. “Farmers are more interested in participating in projects and seeing them to a successful completion if they were consulted in the conception of the project in first place.”

Lundy said farmers should think of the survey as a consultation, asking farmers what future COG OSO projects should be.

Non-organic farmers are also encouraged to participate since COG OSO wants to know what changes would inspire them to consider organic production more seriously. The survey is intended for farmers in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, where COG OSO operates, but respondents from other regions are still welcome as all input is useful.

“This is our first survey since 2008,” added Lundy. “The past few years have seen a lot of changes within both the organic farming sector and the non-profit sector. Organic and would-be organic farmers need resources and assistance to reach that next level of development. However, funding resources are scarcer, and there are more farmer oriented organizations now competing for those resources.”

The survey is online and open to all farmers regardless of scale and production methods. Find the survey at until March 31, 2013. After the survey is closed, three respondents will be selected at random to receive a free gift from COG; either a subscription to the magazine – The Canadian Organic Grower – or one of the organization’s practical handbooks publications.

Questions or comments should be addressed to Colin Lundy, farmer outreach coordinator at COG OSO by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or calling 613-493-0020.

Published in Associations

December 14, 2012 – AEF Global, Inc. based out of Levis, Que., and BioWorks, Inc. of Victor, N.Y., recently announced they have established a biopesticide agreement for North America.

Under the agreement, AEF Global will distribute RootShield WP, RootShield HC, and MilStop in Canada on a non-exclusive basis, and exclusively market SuffOil-X. AEF Global will also market in these active ingredients under private labels, such as Sirocco, in Canada.

BioWorks will distribute in the United States and Mexico, under private labels, Bioprotec CAF, Influence WP, and a non-selective herbicide. BioWorks will also distribute Cyclone, Tivano, Buran, Influence LC, and Kona, a selective herbicide.

“This opportunity is a chance to introduce Canadian registered products in new markets and explore further outlets for label uses,” said Yannick Bidon, president and CEO of AEF Global. “AEF has over 22 registrations in Canada, placing us as a top biopesticide leader. More Canadian registrations are on the way but it’s time for the current ones to travel further and working with BioWorks will allow just that. We have great active ingredients, made in Canada, and we believe there is a big need for them elsewhere.”

“We are delighted to be partnering with AEF Global,” said Bill Foster, president and CEO of BioWorks. “With the partnership, we are bringing AEF Global leadership in Canada together with BioWorks leadership in the United States and Mexico. Their focus on ecological products fits naturally with our plant nutrition and biological pest and disease control products. Combining the AEF Global products to our portfolio strengthens our ability to meet customer needs.”

Published in Diseases

December 13, 2012, Etobicoke, Ont – A recent study reveals there is more than 3,400 tonnes of plastic waste generated through agricultural activity in the Maritimes. Of that, two-thirds is disposed by farmers each year while the remaining third leaves the farm as packaging material on products destined for retail stores and households. Very little of the on-farm waste is recycled.

“The study shows there are a lot of different types of plastic waste on farms that can be recycled,” says Barry Friesen, general manager of CleanFARMS, the national stewardship organization that conducted the study.

“We know farmers are willing to participate in stewardship schemes because they participate in our existing programs. Now we have the information we need to develop new programs to benefit farmers and the environment.”

Plastic packaging waste that stays on farms to be managed by the farmer totaled 2,100 tonnes. About 70 per cent of this waste is low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic from bale film and silage wrap. Other items include plastic fertilizer and pesticide film bags, seed bags and pesticide containers.

Packaging that leaves farms in the province weighed in at 1,300 tonnes which includes plastic and mesh bags, plant pots, trays and plastic clamshell packaging.

CleanFARMS currently operates a recycling program for empty pesticide and fertilizer containers, an empty paper bag recycling program and an obsolete pesticide collection program that is free to farmers. There are currently a number of pilot projects in place to help divert the plastic waste products, but the study found that more programs are needed in areas of concentrated farm activity.

“The results show both the benefits and diversity of plastic materials used by the farming community,” says Cathy Cirko, vice-president, Canadian Plastics Industry Association. “We see an opportunity to work with CleanFARMS in the future to help develop programs to assist farmers recover these waste materials responsibly.”

CleanFARMS will use the results of the study to develop stewardship programs for the types of waste identified so farmers in the Maritimes are able to dispose of their waste in environmentally sustainable ways.

“We’ve had tremendous success with farmers participating in our current programs,” says Friesen. “We see an opportunity to build on our existing initiatives to develop programs to manage all on-farm waste.”

Published in Provinces

December 10, 2012 – Soil is one of the common factors that bring all agriculture together. Regardless of what you farm, the quality of the soil is important. The terms used most often are soil quality and soil health. While many use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between the two.

According to The Nature and Properties of Soils (Brady and Weil, Fourteenth Edition) the concepts of soil health and soil quality are described as being “used synonymously, (but) they involve two distinct concepts. The soil health refers to self-regulation, stability, resilience, and lack of stress symptoms in a soil as an ecosystem. Soil health describes the biological integrity of the soil community-the balance among organisms within a soil and between soil organisms and their environment.”

Soil quality is a term that we use when we talk about the physical attributes of soil. Physical attributes can be as basic as colour. It can also be used to describe more complex soil characteristics such as soil organic matter, nutrient amounts, soil structure, etc. These attributes can all be influenced by management practices and have the capability to enhance or diminish soil health.

Soil quality is often more discussed than soil health because practitioners can visually observe and physically affect this soil property.

Dr. Kurt Steinke, Michigan State University Extension soil scientist, describes soil quality as the physical and chemical properties of a soil as indicated by the factors of soil formation that together function in support of plant growth. Soil health is a description of the condition or status of a soil and may comprise multiple factors including soil quality characteristics that come together to create a hospitable environment for soil life. These factors may include soil structure as a framework for soil life, fuel in the form of organic matter to drive the entire system, and the diversity or population of soil micro- and macro-fauna. Soil texture and soil fertility are examples of characteristics that we may attempt to enhance. We can add amendments to better our soil tilth or to make the soil more fertile but little information is available on how these practices influence soil health.

Regardless of what terminology we use, soil health and soil quality both play an important role in agriculture. Over the next several months, MSU Extension educators will be working on projects and demonstrations centered on helping farmers understand soil health and soil quality.

Published in Fruit

Nov. 14, 2012, Regina, SK - In just over six months, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has approved over 800 loans worth more than $187 million under the Young Farmer Loan launched in April by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and FCC President and CEO Greg Stewart.

This new loan offers qualified producers who are under 40 loans up to $500,000 to purchase or improve farmland and buildings, with the average loan size being $217,000. The loan includes features and options that address this demographic and support their long-term success, including variable rates at prime plus 0.5 per cent, special fixed rates and no loan processing fees. FCC set aside $500 million for the Young Farmer Loan when it was first announced.

"As Canada's leading agriculture lender, we continue to listen to our customers," said FCC President and CEO Greg Stewart. "We proactively develop products and services tailored to the unique needs of agriculture. I'm pleased with the level of interest in this loan."

The chart below details the amount of Young Farmer loans approved by province, as of November 5, 2012:



# of loans


$34.9 million



$5.5 million


British Columbia

$9.2 million



$11.8 million



$56.1 million



$11.6 million



$57.6 million



$187 million


For more information on the FCC Young Farmer Loan, visit or producers can call the local FCC office at 1-800-387-3232.

Published in Federal

November 9, 2012, St. Bruno, QC – The Government of Quebec has provided CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP with an opportunity to enhance agricultural stewardship in the province by providing CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP an exemption to existing regulations on how pesticide and fertilizer containers are managed.

The exemption has been granted to manufacturers of commercial pesticide and fertilizer containers, as long as they become a member in good standing with CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP.

The exemption falls under the “Regulation respecting compensation for municipal services provided to recover and reclaim residual materials.”

Members of CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP, a not-for-profit stewardship organization, can immediately take advantage of the exemption, meaning they won’t need to contribute to a compensation plan constituted under the Environment Quality Act, a program in place in Quebec for collecting and disposing of municipal waste. Manufacturers of pesticide and fertilizer containers, who aren't currently a member, can also gain an exemption by joining CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP.

CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP is proud to be able to provide manufacturers of commercial pesticide and fertilizer containers the opportunity to recycle the containers they sell in Quebec,” says Barry Friesen, general manager of CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP. “This really gives agriculture its own opportunity to determine its destiny for stewardship.”

CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP currently offers an empty pesticide and fertilizer container recycling program across Canada and Quebec farmers can continue to participate by returning their triple-rinsed containers to any of the retail collection sites across the province. Containers collected in Quebec are recycled into materials like farm drainage tile.

In addition, CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP will work with the Quebec government and the agricultural community to develop programs to manage additional agricultural wastes like seed bags, crop protection bags and bale wrap.

“This is a win-win-win situation for farmers, industry and the environment,” says Friesen. “CleanFARMS/AgriRÉCUP members have stepped up to the plate to meet these regulations and we are excited about the potential of new programs in Quebec and look forward to working with the government of Quebec to help farmers manage the waste generated on farms.”

Published in Provinces

November 8, 2012, Ottawa, Ont – A recent study reveals that approximately 5,500 tonnes of packaging waste is disposed of by B.C. farmers each year. An additional 32,000 tonnes of packaging, used to transport farm products to retail stores and households, leaves British Columbia farms annually.

CleanFARMS, a national stewardship organization, with funding from the B.C. Agriculture Council, conducted the study to look at what types of packaging is generated on, and leaves, farms in B.C.

“The study shows there are a lot of different types of waste on farms, like plastic and cardboard, that needs programs that will allow farmers to recycle those products,” says Barry Friesen, general manager of CleanFARMS. “We know through our existing programs that farmers are willing to participate in stewardship schemes. Now we have the information we need to develop new programs to benefit farmers and the environment.”

Packaging that leaves farms in the province weighed in at 32,000 tonnes which includes corrugated cardboard, plant pots, trays and plastic clamshell packaging. Agricultural producers of this packaging will be responsible for managing the cost for collecting and recycling packaging that goes to B.C. households by May 2014.

Packaging waste that stays on farms to be managed by the farmer totaled 5,500 tonnes. Plastic accounts for two-thirds of this waste. This includes items like bale wrap, fertilizer and seed bags, greenhouse film, silage film and pesticide containers.

There are currently very few existing programs that give farmers the opportunity to recycle the waste from these products. The study also found farmers dispose of the waste by taking it to the landfill, reusing it or burning it on the farm.

Funding for the study came from the British Columbia Agriculture Council (BCAC) while CleanFARMS and the Canadian Animal Health Institute and other organizations provided additional in-kind support.

BCAC is proud to be involved in this study,” says Reg Ens, executive director, BCAC. “The results show the diversity and significance of packaging wastes generated from farming and related enterprises. We’re looking forward to working with CleanFARMS in the future to develop programs that will assist the agriculture sector in managing these waste products in a responsible manner.”

CleanFARMS will use the results of the study in the future to develop stewardship programs for the types of waste identified so farmers in B.C. are able to dispose of waste in environmentally sustainable ways.

“We’ve had tremendous success with farmers returning empty pesticide containers for recycling as well as returning obsolete pesticides to be safely disposed,” says Friesen. “We see an opportunity to build on our existing initiatives to develop programs to manage all on-farm waste.”

Published in Federal
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