Historic agricultural event begins tomorrow in St. Thomas

In agricultural terms, IPM can mean more than one thing….but this time of the year, it has only one reference.

The International Plowing Match 2010 starts tomorrow in St. Thomas, Ontario.  This five day event includes six stages with entertainment, two outdoor rings, Dodge Rodeo, square dancing, tractors, celebrity chef demos, education, plowing and much more.   A tented city is constructed for all the vendors, sponsors and organizations participating over the five days.  The event opens everyday at 8:30am and is open to the public until 5pm.

The Ontario Plowmen’s Association is the parent host of the International Plowing Match.  The Match also has many other sponsors, partners, and hundreds of volunteers that help make it a well known and anticipated event.

If you can’t make it to this year’s match, the locations have already been decided for the next three years and are as follows:

Prescott/ Russel September 20th- 24th, 2011

Region of Waterloo – 2012

Perth County – 2013

This event is sure to impress and educate all attendees and is yet another great event that shows community support and enthusiasm for agriculture.

Monsanto helping rural farmers in Grand River basin

In the Grand River watershed there are 6000 farms, but rural water quality programs are not available to 1600 of those farmers.

In order to expand the availability of Rural Water Quality Programs to rural landowners who currently do not have access, Monsanto has partnered with the Grand River Conservation Authority and Grand River Conservation foundation.  This pairing will allow the creation of the Monsanto Water Conservation Fund for Farmers, which will provide advice and funding for the implementation of environmentally-friendly practices on their property.

This is a great partnership, with a grant totalling $142,500, that will allow the expansion of very important source water protection programs.  Source water protection is also a large component of Ontario’s Clean Water Act, and creating partnerships with private companies will be very valuable to widen the scope of these programs.

Click for stories from the Ontario farmer, and a Monsanto news release.

The end of studies, and a new beginning

Well this is the last post that I am required to post for the completion of my Agricultural Communications class.  This semester’s studies have come to an end, and so have my undergraduate studies.  I will be graduating this spring!

I hope to continue this blog, so that I can not only spread the word about what I find interesting, but hopefully this will help me stay in touch with the agricultural community.

I’ve have thoroughly enjoyed this exercise, and really appreciate the comments and support that I have had a long the way.  My summer will be spent at Vaughn Agricultural Research Services, and beyond that I hope to continue to work in agriculture and the rural community.

Economic Action Plan to boost research for Canadian agriculture

Canada’s Economic Action Plan aims to improve the economy for all industries in the hopes of bringing new economic prosperity to Canadians across the country.

Under the action plan, the Government of Canada has implemented an accelerated program to invest a total of $12 billion in improvements to federal infrastructure across Canada by 2011, including  $250 million for upgrades to federal laboratories.  One of the key laboratories getting a lot of attention is the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

This will provide the capabilities to improve research opportunities to provide Canadian farmers with cutting edge technology to continue to provide safe and high quality products to Canadians and markets around the world.

Click here for full story

Ontario agriculture’s share of the 2010 provincial budget

With the recent release of the provincial government’s budget, some insights into what has been allocated to agriculture have been brought to the surface.

The provincial Minister of Agriculture, Carol Mitchell says, “the message that the agriculture industry should take from our budget is that we are committed to the agricultural community and we are committed to rural communities and we have demonstrated that at every turn.”

The budget did not address one of the more important things on farmer’s minds, which is the Ontario Agricultural Sustainability Coalition’s (OASC) business risk management proposal.  Regardless of the recognition of this, the coalition is still set to host town-hall type meetings to inform the public and get the public involved in what the OASC is doing. Next week’s meeting is April 6th from 2 to 5pm at the Stratford Rotary Complex, 353 McCarthy Road, Stratford, and the OASC is hoping to see a capacity crowd.

Click for more information and full stories about the budget and the upcoming meetings.

New solar co-operative led by farmers

Alternative energy has been on the minds of many people in society, and has also been a common topic in my blog.  This week I bring you a story about a new farmer co-operative for solar energy called AGRIS Solar Co-operative.

This farmer co-operative will be partnered with SPARK SOLAR, an Ontario based developer of renewable energy, who will manage the installation and day-to-day business operations.  This program is being made possible due to the incentives offered by the Green Energy Act and microFIT Program.  David Mallot, president of the new AGRIS Solar co-operative, says, “the creation of this new solar co-operative will allow local ownership and our members the opportunity to invest and participate in the development of renewable energy within our own communities.”

As Pat Hoy, Chatham-Kent MPP, says, “this announcement shows the vitality of the Green Energy Act, and its focus on a better economy and a cleaner environment.”  I agree that this is showing how valuable the funding from the Green Energy Act is proving to be.  With the development of more projects like this, which will provide energy for 20,000 homes year-round, it seems establishing sustainable energy is very possible in Ontario.

Click here for full story

Maize getting a Vitamin A boost

Developing nations could really use a hand in producing foods that give people the nutritional value they lack.  Similar to my previous story about Golden Rice, scientists have been able to breed a type of maize that has more vitamin A.  The intention is to grow this maize in developing countries where maize is a staple crop, and lower the population of people living with vitamin A deficiency.

This story is different to that of the Golden Rice, because this maize was created using traditional breeding methods; it is not considered a genetically engineered variety, which faces major objections in developing countries.

This is an excellent development for food in developing countries.  As previously mentioned, vitamin A deficiency causes blindness and the World Health Organization estimates that 500,000 children go blind every year from this deficiency.  The target regions for this maize will be sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and India.

Full stories from the Ontario Farmer and SciDev.Net

Green energy and its affect on agriculture in Ontario

Ontario’s new Green Energy Act has prompted a lot of new interest in the generation of renewable energy, particularly within the agricultural sector.  The potential to diversify farming operations or supplement incomes through power generation, has many farmers taking a serious look at these new opportunities.  Over the last 2 or 3 years, a growing interest in using perennial grasses (e.g. switchgrass, big bluestem and miscanthus), as a solid biofuel has been in part, driven by the need to replace the coal currently used for power generation with a more environmentally friendly fuel.

Recently, the Ontario Power Generation (OPG), issued a call to gauge interest in supplying up to 2 million tonnes of pelletized biomass to the Nanticoke generating station as a replacement fuel for coal.  Additional solid biomass fuel markets include Ontario’s large greenhouse sector, and residential customers with pellet stoves.  While these markets present an opportunity for our agricultural sector, there are some significant questions that need to be addressed.  Perennial grasses have been grown in southern Ontario as part of land reclamation and environmental stewardship programs, but not as production crops on the scale needed to satisfy OPG’s needs.  Research is underway to answer basic questions like: What are the yields of the various grasses being considered?  What agronomic practices need to be developed to ensure good crop establishment, growth and harvest?  What systems need to be in place to handle and transport this significant amount of biomass, and what will the cost of these systems be?  Of course, the most important question is whether growing biomass for energy is economically viable for all parties involved?  As more research and analysis is done, the answer to these questions will become more clear in the near future.  Stay tuned!

Guest blogger Jim Todd OMAFRA Transition Crops Speciailist

2nd annual Share and Show event, March 23rd

In Huron and Perth counties, two of Ontario’s most agriculturally productive counties, promoting education through community action and opportunity is important.

The Huron-Perth Farm to Table network does just this, and is looking to gather community members for the 2nd annual share and show event on March 23rd.  This event provides space for organizations and producers to speak about their business and food related projects; provide a space to network with other producers and food-related organizations and will feature a local food brunch.

The 2009 share and show event was a success involving over 30 organizations, and this year will also include members the Buy Local Buy Fresh map project.  This is a great opportunity for members of the community to learn about new projects being carried out by local growers in Huron and Perth counties.

Click here for the full story as well as registration and contact information.

This is the newest edition of the Buy Local Buy Fresh map for Huron-Perth. These maps are available in many counties across Ontario.

Step Up providing young farmers with employment opportunities

Young farmers wanting to take over the family operation or start their own need learning and working experiences.   A program called Step Up provides just that.

The Canadian Farm Business Management Council (CFBMC) offers this program, which pairs young farmers (mentees) with experienced farm managers (mentors).   There are mentors from all across Canada, and Wendell Joyce, executive director at CFBMC, says “it is a great opportunity for young farmers to see how agriculture looks in another sector or in another province.”  Young farmers receive a salary from the mentor, as well as assistance for travel, up to $2000, provided by the CFBMC.

This is a great opportunity for interested and eager young farmers to engage in an enriching experience.  Click here for more information and the full story from the Ontario farmer.

For information about Mentors and Mentees follow: