Planting crops is continually undergoing a revolution. Witness the rapid development of Real Time Kinetic Global Positioning Systems (RTK-GPS), described in our October, 2010 cover story. But some revolutions might seem like they are going backwards and growing cover crops might appear to be one of those technologies. Long touted by organic crop producers who were avoiding the use of “chemical” fertilizers, the use of cover crops is now being embraced by mainstream farmers for any number of reasons, including a desire to reduce the use of those expensive fertilizers.
But there are other benefits as well, such as better test weights, yields, and even a better nutritional analysis on the field crop that is harvested. That story, by Mary Baxter, starts on page 14.
In January, on our website (www.betterfarming.com) we reported that 60 charges had been laid by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) against Canada’s largest chicken processor, Maple Lodge Farms Ltd., for death losses during transport. To be fair, the Toronto Star broke the story. Reaction to the death losses, attributed to cold weather, was predictably swift from the animal welfare lobby and from the farming community.
We asked writer Susan Mann, who handled our website coverage, to explore current chicken transport conditions in Ontario. Her report begins on page 72. Since animal welfare changes often happen first in Europe, we also offer a report by our European correspondent, Norman Dunn. Dunn’s report, compete with photos of the latest truck innovations, begins on page 74.
Wind turbines top the list of hotly contested topics in rural Ontario. One of the main concerns is the large amount of land required as a “footprint” for each turbine.
It often means that one farmer who signs up gets a payment for the turbine while neighbouring farmers, who must contend with issues such as noise and impact on property values, get no financial benefit. This is generally considered to be the biggest issue pitting neighbour against neighbour.
In Kent County, southeast of Ridgetown, there is a wind turbine farm model that avoids that pitfall. It involves the entire farming community, with owners of properties within 750 meters (further than the legally mandated distance in Ontario) of a turbine getting a “wind zone payment.” Our writer Mike Mulhern spoke to farmers about that model, which originated in Holland. Mulhern’s story starts on page 57. Provincial politicians take note. This is a concept you will want to consider.
This issue will be your last chance to win a weather station in our Crop Scene Investigation contest before it goes on its annual summer hiatus. That feature is on page 48. BF
DON STONEMAN & ROBERT IRWIN