Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2015 are hog farmers Mike and Amy Cronin of Bluevale, Ont., and dairy farmers Patrick and Cherylynn Bos of Ponoka, Alta.
University of Georgia poultry housing experts have released the state’s first app to help poultry farmers determine how much they should ventilate their houses
A team of University of Waterloo students has developed a type of ink that can tag and authenticate merchandise with a smart phone.
After more than 30 years in development, Canada finally has its own indigenous pear variety.
Potato production in Canada increased 4.1 per cent from 2014 to an estimated 104.8 million hundredweight (4.8 million tonnes) in 2015.
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For the first time ever, the North American Manure Expo is being hosted within a Canadian province. The annual show is being held August 20 and 21, 2013, at the University of Guelph’s Arkell Research Station, located near Guelph, Ontario. So, what's a Manure Expo and why should you attend? This video will provide all the dirt.
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitatio...
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With the world's population increasing exponentially and farmland staying the same, BASF took to the streets to ask consumers if this trend is sustainable.
Reduced carbon emissions, green energy production and other environmentally friendly initiatives are hot topics for all levels of government these days. So it comes as little surprise that a variety of green energy projects are popping up across Canada. One of those projects is Laforge Bioenvironmental’s commercial biogas production plant in Saint-André, N.B. The facility operates two anaerobic digesters on a dairy farm with approximately 90 cows, and is fuelled by a combination of cow manure and organic waste from regional food processors. The digesters are 12,000 m3 and 1,500 m3 in size. The overall energy production capacity of the site is 1.4 MWh, which is the amount of power that Laforge Bioenvironmental is allowed to put on the grid under its contract with NB Power (also a function of local power demand). However, the site has the potential to produce 2 MWh with the available feedstock in the region. The site currently process about 30 to 40,000 metric tonnes of waste per year. The $7-million project was completed in two phases with 80 percent of the financing coming through Farm Credit and the remaining funds coming from a combination of a few green energy grants and a zero-interest loan from the provincial government. The project is expected to pay for itself within the next six years through electrical generation and tipping fees, according to Kevin Shiell, business development and sales manager for Complete Senergy Systems, the consulting firm that worked on the second phase of the project’s construction. The expected lifespan of the anaerobic digesters is between 20 to 25 years. “But like any infrastructure, if you maintain it, replace parts when needed, you can probably make it last longer than that,” says Shiell. The raw materials used to create the sediment sent to the anaerobic digesters is a combination of manure from the 90 cows at the dairy farm; French fries and potato skins from local food processors; slaughterhouse waste and sugar beets. “The peels from the potatoes are all steam peeled so the starch is mostly washed off of them. It’s almost all just cellulose,” explains Shiell. “There’s not a lot of biogas value to it, but it’s good organic material. The French fries have a lot of energy in them.” Fifty acres of sugar beets were grown on the farm last year and are used as an energy crop for the sediment. However, other projects are being considered for the sugar beets, such as the creation of sugar and ethanol. Two tankers haul dissolved air floatation sludge (DAF) that comes from the slaughterhouse that comes off primary waste. “The liquid DAF sludge has a lot of fat, it’s actually really good stuff,” says Shiell. “It’s over 115,000 COD, so there’s a lot of gas that comes out of it.” The liquid DAF is mixed with all the dry materials to create a 10 per cent total solids mix, which is then pumped into the anaerobic digesters. The digesters run between five and eight per cent total solids. Manure is only a small part of the mix, mainly used as a dilutant. “If the pH of the digester or the buffering capacity of the digester is a little low, we’ll shovel a little manure into it,” says Shiell. “We’re only putting about 30 tons of manure in a day, and about 150 to 180 tons of other materials.” All of the ingredients are fed into the facility’s two 100-ton receiving tanks that fuel the anaerobic digester system. The floors of the tanks are heated at about 10°C except during the wintertime, when it is heated to same temperature as the anaerobic digesters. “In the wintertime, all this material is frozen,” says Shiell. “When you mix it up and pump it into your digester at 5°C it’s hard to keep your digester at 40°C.” The cow manure is collected under the holding pen before it is pumped over to the receiving tanks in measured amounts where it is mixed with other organic waste and churned into sediment. French fries and other organic waste are then added to the mix. The sediment is then pumped over to the anaerobic digester, where it fills the base of the dome. The sediment in the dome is constantly turned by a motorized mixer and heated to 40°C. This process makes the biogases rise up out of the sediment, inflating the dome. The biogases include carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide. The hydrogen sulfide crystallizes during the process and drops back into the sediment, leaving only the carbon dioxide and methane in the air. Those two gases are removed from the anaerobic digesters and fed into nearby biogas engines. The leftover sediment is then transferred to a nearby reservoir, where it is stores for future use as fertilizer. The biogas engines – a Guascor 600 Kwh engine and a Jenbacher 1.2 MWh engine – generate outputs upwards of 650 kW per hour or 250,000 kW a month. The electricity is fed into the NB Power Grid where it can power upwards of 300 homes, while generating approximately 4.5 million BTUs, which is used to heat an on-site farmhouse, the anaerobic digesters, hot water tanks, the shop and the dairy barn through the use of an in-floor hydronics system installed underneath the cement floor. “We have lots of extra heat in the summer but not a lot of extra heat in the winter,” Shiell says. “This is because it takes all the heat to heat the digesters in the winter.” Martin Machinery out of Missouri assembled both containerized generation systems. Complete Senergy works with them to assemble custom units that meet the CSA Biogas code required by New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Complete Senergy Systems also manufactured the mixers, hydronic heater and feed pumps. The biosolids generated in the electricity generating process are spread out over 1,500 acres of land. “You apply about 2,000 gallons per acre,” Shiell says. “We take about two or three months in the spring and pretty much spread it all summer. We’ll stop for a couple months during haying season. Then once the grass has been cut, we’ll put some on afterwards and then we’ll keep spreading until November to get the digester down as low as we can because we have nowhere to put it during the winter.” One challenge with producing large amounts of biosolids is that it the company has to go upwards of 20 kilometres away from the biogas plant to spread it on land, which can become relatively costly. One challenge the operation has experienced is a problem with birds where the organic waste is being stored. To counter this issue, the company is installing tarp curtain doors to keep them out. They come at a cost of approximately $1,000 per unit. “They work really well to keep the birds out,” Shiell says. Since the amount that is paid per kilowatt of electricity varies from province to province, this type of operation is typically more worthwhile in areas where higher per kilowatt rates exist. “We only make 10 cents per kilowatt, so 50 per cent of the revenues from this facility come from tipping fees – so McCain pays per ton to drop off material here, for example,” Shiell says. Although the paid kilowatt rate in New Brunswick isn’t as high as in provinces such as Nova Scotia or Ontario, between electricity generation, tipping fees, operations using the excess heat in the summer and the future pelletizing of fertilizer, Laforge stands to have a bright future in the biowaste business.
November 24, 2015, Freeville, NY – The 2015 growing season was a tough one for tomato researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute, as bacterial speck disease descended on their field, but those infected plants may one day save others from a similar, spotted fate. Cool weather and heavy rains in early summer created the perfect environment for speck – a bacterial disease that attacks tomatoes, causing dark spots on leaves and fruits and withered flowers. The outbreak of speck turned Boyce Thompson Institute's tomato field in Freeville, NY, into a withered, mottled mess. When BTI tomato researchers saw spots, farm manager Steve McKay called in Chris Smart, a plant pathologist at Cornell University's Geneva campus, and BTI Professor Greg Martin to diagnose the problem. Martin specializes in the study of tomato's interactions with the bacterium that causes speck, Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato. "This year, speck really has been devastating to a lot of growers throughout the state of New York and to some researchers too," said Smart. Since 2009, speck has been an issue for commercial producers in upstate New York who grow heirloom and fresh market tomatoes – the kind on grocery store shelves. Most of the tomatoes that end up in ketchup and tomato sauce, called processing tomatoes, carry a gene that makes them resistant to the bacteria. "Although it creates serious problems for growers, the outbreak gives us the opportunity to observe if any established or experimental varieties have resistance to the local strains of the bacteria," said Martin. The tragedy of bacterial speck disease is that once farmers identify the problem, it likely has already progressed to a point where it is very difficult to control. In a bad year, growers can lose whole fields. "There are very few control products for bacterial diseases of vegetables," said Smart. "If the symptoms are present in the field, the only thing they can do is to spray copper-based bactericides." Because controlling speck once it takes hold is so difficult, prevention is key, said Smart. Growers should buy certified clean seed that is free of bacterial diseases, or they can heat treat their own seeds. They should also thoroughly clean all equipment, including trellis stakes, nursery flats, and greenhouse benches with a sterilizing solution. The bacteria survive in plant debris in the soil for up to three years, so Smart recommends rotating crops so that tomatoes – or related crops like peppers, eggplant and potatoes – grow in a field once every three years. A farmer's best chance against speck is to use tomatoes that are naturally resistant. The gene present in processing tomatoes gives resistance only to types of Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato designated as race 0. Another type, classified as race 1, has become much more common in recent years. "There isn't any resistance to race 1 strains in cultivated tomatoes," said Martin. "I have gotten more interested in race 1 strains because they're emerging as more and more of a problem." In a new paper published in The Plant Genome, Martin reports finding a segment of DNA from a wild relative of the cultivated tomato, which imparts resistance to race 1 bacteria. To find this stretch of chromosome, dubbed qRph1, researchers in his lab screened seeds from the Tomato Genetics Resource Center at the University of California at Davis. One sample of the fuzzy, green-fruited species Solanaum habrochaites, collected from Ecuador, showed resistance. They hybridized it to a cultivated tomato and then did the genetic work to map out the location of the gene. In future work, they will continue their breeding experiments to generate a variety of the cultivated tomato that carries the qRph1 resistance gene. The work highlights the importance of using wild relatives of cultivated crops as a source of valuable traits that have been lost through domestication. Martin and Smart plan to use the speck-infested Freeville field next year to field-test different plants' resistance to the natural speck strains there. With any luck, they'll find resistance genes in wild tomato plants that may spare future New York farmers from plowing under a speckled crop.
November 24, 2015 - A new online platform is bringing chefs and farmers together and making it easier for Ontarians to access local food when they’re eating out. Waterloo Region start-up Local Line has launched a website where chefs can buy top quality local food from farmers through an easy to use, time-saving system. Farmers can set up their own profiles and promote their products, available quantities, delivery schedules and payment terms, as well as any particular production practices or certifications, directly to buyers. “There is a lot of opportunity for local food to grow by more directly connecting local sellers and buyers,” says Local Line founder and CEO Cole Jones. “We talked to over 400 chefs and farmers and discovered both had almost the same issues and needs: simplified ordering and payment, and a way to communicate easily.” On Local Line, chefs can browse the available farmer profiles and place orders directly through the site. They can also use the platform to make payment and have conversations with product sellers. The desktop and mobile-friendly system provides order and communications notifications instantly via email. “Chefs struggle with ordering local food from many different suppliers at different times using different methods of ordering and payment,” says Jones. “Buying through Local Line gives a chef a single invoice payable through the site and a chance to build real relationships with their suppliers.” Jones says they’re currently targeting their online service to farms, local wholesalers and producers of local food products, like small abattoirs and butcher shops, in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph and Kingston areas. “Kingston has over 100 restaurants in its downtown core and Prince Edward County is close by. It was our first time outside of our home market of KW-Guelph, so we’re testing and validating our concept outside of the home region,” says Jones. Local Line charges suppliers a monthly subscription fee to participate in the site, with the first two months available for free; Jones’ theory is that it takes time to build lasting business relationships and he hopes suppliers will use the incentive to give the service a try. Currently, Local Line has just over 50 registered buyers on the platform who use its tools to directly connect with their suppliers. Growth and expanded user services are on the agenda for Jones and his small staff team, which includes programmers, a chef consultant and a food writer. Local Line has been part of the Wilfrid Laurier University LaunchPad business incubator in the Communitech building in Kitchener since 2014. “Our focus is heavily on the product, which for us is our technology, because we want to build tools that will help our users better understand their businesses, not just something that lets them transact,” Jones explains. “As we’re expanding and enhancing our services, we’d love to hear from chefs and farmers about what would make their lives easier when it comes to buying and selling local food, to make this a better tool for them.” And although the website will facilitate payment, Local Line doesn’t participate in transactions or get involved in product negotiations. They’re also not liable in cases of non-payment but will provide support to affected vendors. “We are building this for farmers and chefs because we believe in local, and in healthy regional economies on many levels,” says Jones. Local Line is available at www.localline.ca or on Twitter at @LocalLineInc.
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