Animal waste technology project unveiled in MD

Animal waste technology project unveiled in MD

Governor Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder recently toured the Murphy family’s Double Trouble Farm

New manure process unveiled at Fair Oaks

New manure process unveiled at Fair Oaks

Midwestern BioAg, a Wisconsin-based company, recently unveiled a new manufacturing process that transforms dairy manure into a uniform, dry fertilizer granule

EPA honors CA creamery

EPA honors CA creamery

Crystal Creamery has received a Food Recovery Challenge Innovation Award for its zero waste leadership.

WA dairy trying to keep manure out of groundwater

WA dairy trying to keep manure out of groundwater

Work is reportedly underway at a Lower Valley dairy to ensure cow manure stored in ponds doesn’t seep into groundwater.

Smaller sweet cherry trees

Smaller sweet cherry trees

Bigger may not be better for sweet cherry trees.

video
Herbicide Resistance Summit 2016 May 11, 2016...
Which glyphosate-resistant weed is most problematic to Ontario growers? Peter Sikkema answers this question and provides control and management strategies for dealing with glyphosate resistance in this exclusive interview from the 2016 Herbicide Resistance Summit.
video
Herbicide Resistance Summit 2016 May 4, 2016...
How can farmers preserve the herbicides they are so dependant on? Neil Harker, a weed scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lacombe, Alta., suggests strategies to help slow down herbicide resistance in this week’s exclusive video from the 2016 Herbicide Resistance Summit.
video
Herbicide Resistance Summit 2016 April 27, 2016...
Jason Norsworthy, a professor in the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences at the University of Arkansas, spoke at the 2016 Herbicide Resistance Summit about the status of herbicide resistance in the United States. In this exclusive video, Norsworthy offers insight on the future of herbicide resistance, and suggestions for best management practices.
video
Herbicide Resistance Summit 2016 April 20, 2016...
Harvest weed seed control is a management practice that has seen great success in Australia. In this week’s exclusive video from the 2016 Herbicide Resistance Summit, Breanne Tidemann and Michael Walsh discuss the potential for adapting this strategy to Canada, and the benefits and challenges of harvest weed seed control.

Business/Policy

Global

System helps turn manure into clean water, organic fertilizer System helps turn manure into clean water, organic fertilizer

March 23, 2017, Emeryville, CA – New Logic Research recently announced the successful commissioning of a VSEP vibrating membrane system to make clean water from digested cow manure. The VSEP system, located in the Italian Alps region of Wipptal, takes the effluent from an anaerobic digester and transforms it into clean water which can either be reused or safely discharged to the environment. The project was implemented with the expert assistance of O.B. Impianti, New Logic's distribution partner in Northern Italy. Although cows have a simple diet, the digestive system of ruminant animals makes for complicated wastewater treatment scenarios. VSEP's vibratory shear mechanism, coupled with a filter pack design means, it can create crystal clear permeate from water heavily laden with biological material like cow manure. "Digesters are great at making green power and reducing contaminant levels in the waste, but in most cases, further treatment of the liquid effluent is still necessary,” said Greg Johnson, CEO of New Logic. “Many have tried to treat digester effluent with standard spiral-wound reverse osmosis membrane systems only to find that it's incredibly difficult, if not impossible. That's why VSEP is a perfect fit for digester effluent treatment: you get the reverse osmosis separation you desire, but deployed in a robust system designed to tackle the world's toughest applications." The Wipptal project is a cooperative one, taking cow manure from more than three-dozen local farmers. The liquid manure is transported to the treatment facility where more than 60 percent of it is transformed into clean water, while the remainder is turned into concentrated organic fertilizer. The only pretreatment between the digester and the VSEP is a 100-micron screening device to remove large particles from the feed material. O.B. Impianti and New Logic are already building on the success of the Wipptal installation – they are currently working on two additional installations on the continent, where EU funding is frequently available for such projects.

Profiles

Blue Sphere’s 3.2-MW food waste biogas facility in Johnston, RI, will be connected to the grid in that state by March. Manure-To-Energy Potential in North Carolina

  North Carolina has long been a major pork-producing state, with the industry providing well over 50,000 full-time direct and indirect jobs. However, being the second largest pork-producing state in the U.S. means that North Carolina must contend with mind-bending amounts of swine manure and associated ammonia. The 2.3-plus million pigs housed in more than 2,000 facilities produce so much waste that the state government has mandated the conversion of manure into energy. That means biodigesters. But which digester designs might be best to address the situation? Shlomi Palas believes he has found the best technology to handle North Carolina’s serious swine manure problem. “There have been some biogas plant designs tried by other parties in this state, but we believe we have found the right solution,” says Palas, CEO of Charlotte, NC-based Blue Sphere Corporation. Blue Sphere has operated for more than two decades and has facilities in several countries, including Italy, the UK, and now Holland and the U.S. The firm oversees entire waste-to-energy facilities, choosing appropriate technologies from well-established contractors and arranging to generate and sell electricity, scrubbed biogas, organic fertilizer, compost and other valuable products. Electricity production at Blue Sphere’s $20-million, 3.2-MW food waste biogas facility in Johnston, RI, will be connected to the grid in that state by March. Its $27-million, 5.2-MW food waste facility in Charlotte began supplying electricity to Duke Energy in mid-November 2016, with full commissioning and feedstock ramp-up occurring over the next few months.   After almost two years of researching the most suitable technologies for hog manure, Blue Sphere feels it has succeeded in finding the best, most-efficient systems for its two new digester facilities under development in North Carolina. Palas says they are confident in the chosen vendors for several important reasons. “The technology providers have long-proven experience and track records of many installations in swine manure processing, and their technologies are working 100 percent,” he reports. “While American hog manure has a little more liquid than European hog manure, the combination of the U.S. and Europe technologies will have the appropriate adaptations to be successful with us here, and the companies involve have also provided us with financial assurances.” European hog manure has about two to three percent solids, but due to feeding regime differences, American hog manure contains one to 1.5 percent solids. Removal of liquid from the hog manure will be done onsite at individual farms using a combination of technologies. Again, Palas says these sorts of separation system are new to North America, but are working well in Europe and have been successfully tailored for U.S. swine manure. “Transporting liquid is very costly, so the need to pre-treat on site is critical,” he notes. “We bring the manure dry matter up to 20 to 30 percent and then transport it to the digester.” Once fully operational, the new NC facilities will produce an annual revenue of about $10 million [estimated] from renewable energy. However, while the biogas from both the Charlotte and Rhode Island projects is being used to generate electricity, Palas foresees a significant shift coming and so the hog manure biogas may be used differently. “There is a change going on in the gas market, from electricity production to production of bio-methane, compressed natural gas and liquefied biogas for vehicles,” he says. “The engines that use this gas are already well-developed and already many Fortune 500 countries use trucks and cars that run on this fuel.” Blue Sphere is developing other sites in North Carolina and worldwide, and Palas attributes his firm’s success to many factors, chief among them is an ‘agnosticism’ to digester technologies. “The biggest mistake that other firms have made, and are still making, is that they get stuck with specific systems,” he explains. “We are open to using tech from Italy, Canada, Germany, China, Japan, United States and other parts of the world to find the best fit for the feedstock we have. We focus on the waste first. We actually have a dedicated staff member to find and keep up with technologies from all over the world. But no matter the technology, the systems must be bankable and well-established so that we can obtain funding and build a project successfully. We cannot work with startup technology.” Having said that, Blue Sphere cannot handle North Carolina’s colossal swine manure problem alone, and the company is strongly encouraging other renewable energy players to participate. “The process begins with permits, site selection, establishing a market for the gas and so on, and that can take over a year,” Palas explains. “Construction can take another 12 to 18 months. We have every intention of being a primary player, but due to the timelines involved, we cannot do it alone, and we are inviting others to get involved in this serious challenge. Hog manure is a huge market. “We are starting with these two food waste digester projects and will make sure they are running well,” he adds. “Once we have proved our solution is workable, we’ll know we have a winner and then we can go across the country.” In January, Blue Sphere also held some meetings in Canada, so stay tuned for developments north of the border as well.    

Human Resources

Ag sector’s reliance on temporary foreign workers is growing Ag sector’s reliance on temporary foreign workers is growing

December 5, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – Canada’s agriculture sector faces a persistent lack of sufficient workers with the right skills and in the right places. Labour shortages have doubled over the last decade and are projected to double again to 113,800 positions before 2025, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report. This report relies on research findings from a three-year agriculture labour market research project conducted by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) in collaboration with the Conference Board. “The agriculture sector is having difficulty recruiting and retaining domestic workers. As labour shortages have expanded, the sector has increasingly turned to temporary foreign workers to fill the labour gap,” said Michael Burt, director of industrial economic trends with the Conference Board of Canada. “Finding solutions to the labour shortages in the years to come is critical for the future growth of the sector.” The report – Sowing the Seeds of Growth: Temporary Foreign Workers in Agriculture – examines why temporary foreign workers (TFWs) play such an important role in the agriculture sector’s workforce. It finds that the industry faces unique recruitment and retention challenges that are contributing to its growing labour shortages. These challenges include an aging workforce, the rural location of many operations, and negative perceptions about working in the sector. Highlights of the report include: Labour shortages within Canada’s agriculture sector have doubled over the past decade and are expected to double again by 2025. At its seasonal peak, the sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at seasonal lows. Three-quarters of the sector’s labour gap has been filled by temporary foreign workers. The most prominent challenge is the large seasonal fluctuations in employment. At its seasonal peak, the agriculture sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at its seasonal lows, which represents a 30 per cent fluctuation. The average difference between the seasonal peak and low in employment for all other sectors is just four per cent. These seasonal fluctuations are why more than three quarters of agricultural TFWs arrive as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. TFWs have become a key part of the sector’s continued operations and will likely continue to play a growing role in the future. TFWs have been able to fill three-quarters of the industry’s labour shortage gap and now represent one-in-10 workers in the sector. In addition to easing much of the sector’s labour shortages, TFWs have contributed to the growth in agricultural production over the past decade and have supported the employment of Canadians in the sector. Many farm operators indicate that they would have closed, leading to Canadian job losses, had they not had access to TFWs. Finding solutions to the sector’s growing labour gap in the years to come is important. However, just paying more or buying more machines are not the panacea they would seem. For example, wages in agriculture have risen relative to the average for all sectors over the past 15 years, but the number of Canadians willing to work in agriculture has shrunk. At the same time, a dramatic increase in the amount of machinery employed per worker has contributed to agriculture experiencing the strongest labour productivity gains of any major sector over the past 20 years. Yet, the sector’s labour gap has continued to expand. One potential solution may be re-evaluating the effectiveness of Canada’s immigration programs so that they better meet the needs of the agriculture sector. With federal immigration policies geared toward attracting high-skilled workers, they offer few pathways for permanent residency for lower-skilled workers, even though agriculture has a critical need for them. A path toward permanent residency for migrant workers, who are filling a permanent market need, would assist farm operators in finding a permanent solution to their labour challenges. This research was funded by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).

Financial Planning

Tax obligations as a farm business operator Tax obligations as a farm business operator

August 3, 2016 - Running a farm can be a 24-hour job. You likely don’t have time for all the tax filings, paperwork and payments required by the government let alone trying to keep track of all the deadlines. To ensure you have everything on your calendar, here is a list of tax dates including remittance payments, payroll deductions and GST/HST filings. Tax deadlines and payments January 16 - December or quarterly payroll deduction payment due January 31 - Due date for filing and remitting (GST/HST) for the prior quarterly reporting period
 February 15 - January payroll deduction payment due February 28- Deadline for filing T4 Summary and supplementary slips. Deadline to make RRSP contributions for the previous tax year. March 15 – If you pay taxes by instalments, a payment is due before this date. Also February Payroll Deduction payment due
 April 15 - March or quarterly payroll deductions payment due April 30, 2016 - Deadline for individual T1 tax returns. Even if you’re self-employed, you must pay any taxes owing by this date or you will be charged interest. Also deadline to apply for AgriStability and submit program fees.
 May 1 - Due date for filing and remitting (GST/HST) for the prior quarterly reporting period May 15 - April payroll deduction payment due
 June 15- Deadline for self-employed persons to file tax return. If you or your spouse or common-law partner carried on a business your tax return has to be filed on or before June 15. However, if you have a balance owing, you still have to pay it on or before April 30. If you pay taxes by instalments, a quarterly tax payment is due also May payroll deduction payment due.
 July 15 - June or quarterly payroll deduction payment due July 31 - Due date for filing and remitting (GST/HST) for the prior quarterly reporting period
 August 15 - July Payroll Deduction payment due
 September 15 – If you pay taxes by instalments, a payment is due before this date. August payroll deduction payment also due September 30 – Deadline to submit the previous year’s AgriInvest application without penalty
 October 15 - September payroll deduction payment due
 November 15 - October payroll deduction payment due
 November 30 - Due date for filing and remitting (GST/HST) for the prior quarterly reporting period
 December 15 – If you pay taxes by instalments, a payment is due before this date. November payroll deduction payment also due December 31 - If your main source of income is self-employment income from farming or fishing, you have to make only one instalment payment by December 31. It’s also the deadline to submit AgriStability/AgriInvest Harmonized form with penalty. Other obligationsIf you’re incorporated, your corporation income tax return is due no later than 6 months after the end of the corporation tax year. The tax year of a corporation is its fiscal period. If you hire contractors, the T5018 Statement of Contract Payments information return is due 6 months after the end of the reporting period you have chosen. It can seem overwhelming. Your best decision may be to hire a bookkeeper and small business tax specialist to take care of this for you. Hiring a small business tax professional will allow you to focus on more important things and maybe even allow a bit of free time to spend with family and on leisure activities. FBC is Canada's Farm & Small Business Tax Specialist, providing tax accounting and bookkeeping services to over 20,000 farms and small businesses from Ontario to British Columbia. Our complete financial planning for farm and small business owners takes a long-term approach to address your specific needs at all stages of life and business, minimizing your taxes year after year. Year-round services include tax planning, tax optimization, business consulting and audit protection.

AgAnnex Events

Central Plains Dairy Expo Tue Mar 28, 2017 @ 8:00am - 05:00pm
Manure Manager Events
Muck Crops Conference Wed Apr 12, 2017 @ 8:00am - 05:00pm
Fruit & Vegetable Events