Focus On The Environment

Focus on the Environment: REAPING THE SUN - A primer on the complexities of solar power generation

Ontario power generation has shown it is serious about encouraging solar power generation by doubling its feed-in rates. But rules on domestic content and connectivity costs are not making life easy for the farmer


Perhaps watching European nations, such as Germany, literally smother their landscape with solar panels whilst maintaining an agricultural surplus has finally triggered a feed-in-electrical tariff for Ontarians that makes some sense.

Focus on the Environment: Goderich - small town with a sewage system that works

Located on Lake Huron and dependent upon tourism, this town of 8,000 grappled with its thorny sewage bypass problems years ago. And residents have bought in


Huron County’s largest town treats its sewage seriously. Goderich, population 7,500 and perched on the edge of Lake Huron, has an $8 million budget and spends about $2 million a year on water and sewage.

“I have always striven to make sure there was enough money to keep up with technology,” says Delbert (Deb) Shewfelt, who has served as mayor of Goderich for 18 years, though he notes that, politically, water and sewage “isn’t very sexy. You get a lot more mileage building a new arena.”

Focus on the Environment: Oil from algae – a promising alternative to fossil fuels

Commercial cultivation of algae to produce oil and other usable byproducts is looking increasingly viable. And there’s no reason why Ontario farmers can’t participate


The ancient Greeks ate it in large volumes, the 18th century Scots extracted the chemicals from it as it washed up on their windswept shorelines, and now it seems that 21st century internal combustion engines might be run on the stuff. Oil from algae – “oilgae” to some – has become a real prospect in the ongoing battle to find viable alternatives to ever-decreasing fossil fuels.

Focus on the Environment: A return to basics with biochar

Just as charcoal proved its worth in the development of civilization, so is biochar demonstrating its potential for yield enhancements and carbon absorption


With carbon soil sequestration on the agenda of the latest Kyoto Protocol talks in Poland, the case for soil enhancement through biochar application has gained in momentum. Biochar is charcoal produced by pyrolysis, the process of chemical decomposition by heating. Biochar improves soil and can be used to lock carbon in the soil. Proponents see it as a powerful tool in the fight against global warming.

Focus on the Environment: The Ottawa River sewage scandal rocks the capital

A series of unchecked and unnoticed sewage spills has left city officials red-faced, citizens fuming and farmers once again pointing to a double standard


The local media in Canada’s capital call it “sewer gate” and the revelation that more than a billion litres of untreated sewage flowed unchecked and unnoticed, through a jammed gate on the city’s sewer system into the Ottawa River for more than two weeks in the summer of 2006 caused more revulsion and disgust than most political debacles on Parliament Hill. 

Focus On The Environment: What can you do if your well starts to dry up?

During last summer’s critically dry conditions, many well owners suffered extreme water shortages. Some tips from an expert on how to diagnose and deal with your problem


Newspaper headlines across Ontario last summer high-lighted the critically dry conditions the province experienced with headlines that read “Driest summer since 1936.” At the Well Wise Resource Centre, a new non-profit organization set up to help well owners (, we received calls all summer and fall from well owners who experienced extreme water shortages.

Focus On The Environment: Stiff fine for manure spill a sign of things to come in Ontario

A $32,000 penalty for a Huron County farmer represents ‘a sea change’ in the way polluters are dealt with and another reason for farmers to ensure they are environmentally responsible


Huron County farmer Piet Peeters may or may not be the first farmer to run afoul of new and stiffer fines by spilling manure on a farm near Zurich in July, 2006. But he has certainly drawn the most attention since his guilty plea in a Goderich courtroom in late January.