Monthly Archives: November 2013

The RealAg Crop Update: The 2013 Corn Harvest Drags On

Timing really is everything, especially in agriculture and especially when it comes to weather. Sunshine and rainfall amounts might pan out on paper but a late start to planting, 20 plus days of rain in October and extreme heat with no rain in August can really throw things for a loop. Enter a very frozen Ken Currah.

This episode of the RealAg Crop Update Ontario puts Ken, along with a number of other farmers in Ontario, in one of several very cold cornfields trying to finish up a harvest that just keeps dragging along. This week, Ken gives us a rundown on the overall yield and quality of the corn crop as well as a snapshot of the progress of corn and soybean producers who are still in the field.

If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.

Ontario Agronomy Geeks, Ep. 2 — Have Another Pint, Gredig

Its time for episode two of the Ontario Agronomy Geeks. This weeks guests are St. Thomas farmer Peter Gredig and University of Guelph Professor and OMAFRA Weed Specialist Mike Cowbrough.  The panel joins Shaun Haney to discuss corn harvest progress, corn hybrid selection, potential acre increase for IP soybeans in 2014, does lower prices mean you should cut costs, nitrogen losses on corn and some usual banter between Mike and Peter.

Did You Miss Episode 1 of the Agronomy Geeks?

Hope you enjoy this episode and if you have a suggestion for future panel topics or panel members please let us know.  Enjoy!!!

If you cannot see the above embedded post, CLICK HERE

Plan to Attend January’s 2014 Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference

If you’re a cattle producer in Western Canada, I expect you’ll find an opportunity for a mid-winter change of scenery rather interesting. Although the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference organizers likely won’t guarantee warm temperatures or a lack of snow, they are offering the chance to attend an industry tradeshow, breed and association meetings and the Saskatchewan Beef and Forage Symposium all in the same week.

Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference: January 22-24, 2014 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

What’s it all about? Well, we caught up with Greg Penner, assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan and co-chairman of the Saskatchewan Beef & Forage Symposium Committee, to find out more. In this video, Penner gives us the lowdown on the event, including when/where it will be held, who should think about attending (you), what you can expect to learn and why you should schedule it in.

To see the agenda, or to register, check out: http://www.saskbeefconference.com/

If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.

This Week on RealAg — The November 29th Edition

I’ve got to tell you, this week has been a bit of a marathon, maybe only a little bit because it started off in the rosy afterglow of a Rider win in the 101st Grey Cup championship (sorry Ti-Cat fans!). That, and we were everywhere this week. Everywhere!

The RealAgriculture team was in Banff for the Bayer Agronomy Summit, Calgary for both the Beef Straw Man and CanFax Cattle Market Forum and Woodstock, Ont., filming some fantastic corn harvest footage (yes, still).  Shaun Haney did a bang up job covering all things beef this week, including figuring out exactly what a Beef Straw Man is (click here to find out), plus he got a very informative update from CCA president Martin Unrau, listen to the here, and managed a market re-cap with Duane Lenz, with Cattle Fax.

Debra Murphy had the tough assignment of spending a few days in Banff, covering the first ever Bayer Agronomy Summit (it’s a tough life sometimes). Coverage of that will be forthcoming, but in the meantime you can catch the Twitter feed here or check out the Storm seed treater featured at the event.

For those of you who love to see the world, and especially see how farming works in a place so different from home, Saik’s Agri-Treks series is for you. Rob Saik, president and founder of Agri-Trend Group of Companies, recently spent weeks in Kenya and brought along his camera. The result is a three-part video series highlighting the breathtaking beauty of the wildlife, contrasted with the almost incomprehensible difficulty of every day life. See episode one here and episode two here. Episode three will be up next week.

To cap off this very busy week, I’m headed west to Brandon, Man., later today to participate in a very neat two-day event. The Manitoba Canola Growers Association is hosting a two-day leadership event for its members, and I’m honoured to participate and talk all things media and social media. Unlike a similar event that ran this spring, I actually know almost everyone attending, and all because of Twitter. It’s a remarkable thing, this social media, and one of my favourite videos this week has to be Dr. Dave Hooker’s interview with Bern Tobin about how Twitter has changed the way research and agriculture extension get done. Check that out here, if you’re so inclined.

Until next week,

Lyndsey (@RealAg_Lyndsey)

Be Heard: Submit Your Comments to the PMRA on the Neonicotinoid Regulatory Review

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency released a notice of intent in September 2013 to change label requirements of neonictoinoid seed treatment products used on corn and soybean seed after it was determined that “…current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable.”

The notice of intent is posted online, and is open for comments for 90 days. That 90 day period ends December 12, 2013, and farmers and members of the agriculture industry are encouraged to submit their comments. The actual notice of intent lists four label requirement changes for 2014, and does not mention banning these products, however, activist groups have begun a “click to submit” campaign calling for an all-out ban of neonicotinoid products.

See more: An interview with Steve Denys on the role of neonic seed treatments in crop production and the impact of a ban

While the label review only applies to corn and soybean seed treatments, other commodity groups are asking their members to ensure their voice is heard and are encouraging famrers to speak up in support of a science-based regulatory review. The website beecounted.ca simplifies the process of submitting comments on the notice of intent. The Canadian Canola Growers Association is also supportive of the PMRA’s decision-making process, which is “based on credible, science-based risk assessments,” and is encouraging its members to submit comments as well. You can do so by clicking here.

“Neonicotinoid pesticides are an important tool for canola growers and we know that safe and responsible use of these products is essential,” says an association representative. “Some activist groups are using the Notice of Intent as a means to call for a ban on the use of neonicotinoids.  We believe that farmers need to sound their voice on this issue, as the consequences of such an unsubstantiated ban would be detrimental to the responsible use of insect control products that canola farmers use today and dramatically impact future innovations.  It is because we support a regulatory decision-making process, which is based on credible, science-based risk assessments that we’ve asked farmers to speak up at: http://www.ccga.ca/Pages/NOI2013-01.aspx.”

To read the actual notice of intent, which outlines the PMRA position and 2014 requirements for neonicotinoid use,
click this link. In that notice is a reference to instituting regulations similar to what the US EPA did this last August. Find those changes here.

For more information on the consultation and review process as outlined on the Health Canada page, click here.

Yell Into the Phone: More Support for Public Plant Breeding!

Public breeding (for plants, that is) is not something you’d imagine the public yelling into a telephone about, telling their elected officials support for public plant breeding must absolutely be part of the next federal or provincial budget, or else.

But stranger things have happened. For example, who would have thought people would get so riled up about other matters that concern food production…such as bees? Or bobolinks? Or trans fats? Special interest groups often succeed at making consumers care about things that they might otherwise not, or things they take for granted.

Publicly funded plant breeding at certain Canadian universities and some government labs fits that bill, too. On the surface, it sounds kind of ho-hum, but it serves an incredibly vital role in all aspects of not just agriculture, but food as well.

Think about it this way: No plants mean no food, for either livestock or humans. It’s pretty simple.

And no new plant varieties means crop farming stagnates. That’s not the way to greater profitability, let alone feeding nine billion people.

Ten years ago a group committed to promoting an appreciation of the role of plant variety development in modern agriculture created a program called Seed of the Year.

The effort, led by SeCan and the University of Guelph, was designed to recognize exceptional Canadian plant varieties that developed through public breeding efforts, such as those supported mainly at Guelph by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

SeCan helps the university get new plant varieties in the hands of farmers, by licensing them and making them available to seed companies. This system has been instrumental in making Guelph the country’s most efficient and inventive university – Guelph leads the country in invention disclosures per faculty member, and spends a fraction of what most universities spend on invention disclosures.

Since the early 1970s, royalties generated from plant variety development supported by the province at the University of Guelph have reached $10 million. The province turns around and channels those royalties back into plant research.

One of the top plant varieties ever developed at the University Guelph, or anywhere in Canada for that matter, is called OAC (for Ontario Agricultural College) Bayfield. It came onto the scene 20 years ago, and was a standout in areas such as high yield, dependability and consistency – so much so, that while most plant varieties have a longevity of just a few years before they’re replaced by a superior variety, Bayfield endured for a full decade, and then some.

Even today OAC Bayfield is still grown in limited quantities, but its main legacy is that its genetic base has been used to develop several more new varieties that have become standards in Ontario soybean fields, including OAC Wallace, which is expected to even surpass the contributions of OAC Bayfield.

That remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure – OAC Bayfield significantly helped soybean production in Ontario grow to more than 2.5 million acres, making soybeans Ontario’s biggest field crop. On Wednesday night, in recognition of its 20th anniversary, OAC Bayfield was named Seed of the Year. Those who developed it, marketed it and planted it gathered in Guelph Wednesday night to sing its praises.

But without new plant breeders coming into the fold, varieties such as this will not be developed. Young people need to be encouraged and actively recruited to become plant breeders. And once they enter the profession, there needs to be support for them to pursue new varieties.

That’s what crop producers need to be telling into a telephone about to elected officials. A stagnant crop sector is not an option.

Agri-Treks, Kenya, Ep. 2: Change Starts with Water, Soil & Education

Rob Saik, founder and president of the Agri-Trend Group of Companies, brought along his camera on his recent trip to Kenya, which is lucky for all of us, as we get to share in the journey, see the sites and get a sense of the struggles that Saik encountered along his way. As you’ll see in the video below, Saik’s trip moves past encountering the wildlife, and moves on to begin experiencing, even by a small degree, what life is like for the people of Lodwar.

See more: See the first part of this video series here. 

In this second of three videos, chronicling Saik’s recent trip to Kenya, we begin to get a sense of just how make-shift structures can be in this region, even  the schools and latrines, how change is slowly but surely happening, and a close up look at setting up a garden. For the soil nut, Saik gives up an up-close look at the soil farmers have to work with in Kenya, how drip irrigation is set up and what a well-set up garden can look like, if it’s worked and planted in time (which isn’t always).

If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.