Photovoltaics – it’s the little things in solar that count

That’s the advice of Thomas Boehni, a Swiss pioneer in solar energy with 18 years experience in roof-mounted solar systems. You can hear what he has to say at information sessions across the province in the coming weeks.


There’s something different these days about the rural landscape in Ontario. The green sprouts of corn, beans and wheat look the same as any other spring. It’s the new green energy systems that are capturing everyone’s attention.

Ontario’s Green Energy Act and the Ontario Power Authority’s Feed-in Tariff electricity program have kick-started significant investment in green energy technology, especially in rural Ontario. And solar panels are attracting a lot of interest.

Genetics: New tools for improving animal genetics

Cloning, transgenics and genomics all show potential for improving breeding stock and population genetics, as the University of Guelph’s Enviropig is demonstrating


In all livestock species, improvements in many economic traits through the use of reproductive technologies have been a constant for many years. The use of cloning and transgenics are the most recent of these technologies to provide geneticists with additional tools to improve population genetics.

Energy: What decision should you make about time-of-use billing?

You can stay on the RPP, drop out and pay the spot price or opt for a fixed-price contract. The choice is yours


Electricity is difficult to store. As a result, when usage increases, more must be generated. And, since we live in a world where most people work (and play) during the day, demand is high in the day and low at night and weekends.

Low-cost power is available during periods of low demand, but it is expensive to start and stop generation each day, and even for an hour, to match loads.

Feature: Searching for a remedy for soil compaction

With help from Ontario Pork and the agriculture ministry, a Drayton farmer is looking to tire inflation-deflation technology as a way to reduce soil degradation by farm equipment


The technology is available to reduce soil compaction from grain buggies, combines, big tractors and other large machines commonly used on Ontario farms today.

Not so with manure spreaders, particularly the large capacity liquid tankers used by pork and dairy producers. Pork producer Jake Kraayenbrink, 47, who farms 300 acres north of Drayton and raises purebred swine genetics, wants to change that.

Pork: Is it time for a Canadian version of COOL?

U.S. country-of-origin labelling has hammered Canadian exports of pork. But the industry is divided on whether to respond with voluntary labelling or to adopt a mirror of the U.S. legislation in self-defence


Rising imports of pork from the United States, the same country that brought in a law crippling trade in pigs going there, have brought retail meat labelling to the forefront as an issue. Expect contention over this at Ontario Pork’s annual meeting in April.

The Perth County Pork Producers Association passed a resolution last August urging Ontario Pork to push federal and provincial governments “to force a mandatory Country-of-Origin label on all products, no matter where they come from.”

ONTARIO’S MINIMUM WAGE: Can our growers survive a 75-cent hike?

The projected March increase to $10.25 will put the province’s minimum wage a hefty $2.25 above B.C.’s and $1.25 above Quebec’s. Many producers of fruit and vegetables think they simply can’t afford it


As of March 31, Ontario’s minimum wage will rise to $10.25 an hour and many growers of labour-intensive crops are starting to wonder if they will be able to survive the hike.

This latest jump of 75 cents an hour will bring the three-year increase to 28 per cent and makes Ontario the highest paying jurisdiction in Canada. It will create a $2.25 an hour gap with the lowest-paying province, British Columbia.

Feature: Working out the kinks in the Green Energy Act

Some farm generating projects have been left out of the new feed-in tariff program. Others are finding the Canadian content provisions onerous. But interest in the program is strong


In September, the Ontario government rolled out its new Green Energy Act regulations and provisions for substantial rate increases paid to green energy producers. But these rates don’t apply to the pioneers of the biodigester industry in Ontario and they are crying foul.

Horticulture: Florida and Ontario join forces to expand their strawberry growing season

Researchers are working together to develop a day-neutral plant tailored to the climate that can produce berries from late May to early October, raising the possibility of edging out California’s dominance


It takes 60 days and plenty of water to get strawberries from new stock or plants that have toughed out the winter. And when harvest arrives here in Ontario, it’s breathtakingly brief – just four to six weeks.

To expand their season, some growers turn to day-neutral strawberries. Developed in California, this type can produce berries, in Ontario, from late May to early October in a good year. Response to temperature rather than light is the key to lengthened production.   

Focus on Corn: The good and bad news about seed hybrids

Farmers might not find a Market Choices emblem on the side of a bag of seed with cutting edge genetics. But the good news is that there are fewer markets in Ontario that care


This month, for the first time, Better Farming’s familiar corn hybrid chart, published annually since 2000 and pointing producers towards the newest genetics available to them, will be available on the magazine’s website at www.betterfarming.com

Environment: Don’t hide your well – identify it!

Many of the province’s wells are in need of repair and maintenance. This voluntary program will help you ensure that your well is doing its job in providing a clean, reliable and safe water supply for your family


The Well Wise Resource Centre recently completed a yearlong study that surveyed different groups of professionals to provide advice and guidance on the proper maintenance and protection of rural wells. It found that 89 per cent of the wells visited in Ontario need some sort of repair.

Lack of awareness about private wells was identified as a common problem by all of the groups. The topics of greatest interest to well owners were well maintenance and water testing.