Dig Deep Archive

Populations: Do They Matter?

What Is The Ideal Population For Corn & Soybeans?

By Paul Hermans

The No. 1 question I get as a seed agronomist is, “What is the ideal population for corn and soybeans?”

The usual answer is, “It depends.”

It depends on several factors – some of which are in our control and others which are not.


Many factors influence corn population, but the key criteria for setting a given seeding rate include:

Battery Energy Storage Systems

Protecting farmland is top priority.

By Emily Croft

Rural municipalities across Ontario have been receiving proposals for the development of Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) over the past few years.

While most projects are in their early stages, prime farmland has been selected as the potential home for a number of these proposed sites. Concerns about the use of these agricultural acres, as well as a lack of clarity on implications for local health and safety, has left many Ontario farmers feeling uncertain about BESS.

Farmland Values & Market Resiliency

Ontario’s farmland remains valuable despite other economic hardships.

By Leslie Stewart

Despite various economic challenges, farmland values remain resilient across Ontario. In fact, the land market is relatively strong across the nation.

And those economic challenges are not insignificant, depending on your location.

Statistics Canada reports that Ontario producers saw a 14.8 per cent decrease on their farm cash receipts between 2022 and 2023, while both input costs and interest rates have been high.

Can You Teach An ‘Old Dog’ New Tricks?

Our second annual conference season review offers ideas & insight.

By Paul Hermans

Thank goodness for winter agronomy meetings. They allow growers and ag industry folks to get together and see what is working in agriculture.

They also help us pass the time in Ontario’s cold, blustery winter months.

As I did last year, this article will cover some key topics from this winter’s Ontario CCA conference, the Great Lakes YEN panel, the Ontario Agricultural Conference, and our internal Pioneer North America agronomy conference.

Farm Payroll Practices

‘Do your best & hire the rest.’

By Richard Kamchen

How Ontario farm workers get compensated has become more formalized and organized, and both employees and employers are seeing the benefits.

Levi Derksen, senior manager with ag-focused accounting firm Buckberger Baerg & Partners, says that payrolls have become more common as farm sizes have increased – as has their need for full-time workers.

“The trend started as farms grew, with more work being done by non-family members,” he says.

Opportunities In Carbon Sequestration

‘The best management systems for soil carbon are the ones that we don’t touch.’

By Emily Croft

Farmers are sometimes criticized in environmental sustainability conversations, but soil carbon sequestration is one opportunity to turn that around.

Carbon sequestration is the removal of carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere, where it will then be stored in another form, often in soil or plants.

When Biology Meets Chemistry

Biological amendments might be just what your soil needs.

By Stacy Berry

Biological amendments – or simply biologicals – are relatively new to the conventional row crop world and can be a great way for Ontario growers to better utilize nutrition already present in their environment.

However, most people who have been farming for a while “probably didn’t learn about biologicals in university or college, so the familiarity isn’t there to make (biologicals) top of mind in your regular crop plans,” says Brady Code, the Biologicals technical lead with Syngenta Canada.

Handling Pesticides: Don’t Forget About Safety.

‘Read the label. That’s everything you need to know about the product.’

By Emily Croft

As the 2024 growing season approaches, many producers are thinking about what is needed to make this year’s crop the most successful yet. This includes planning to manage weeds, insects, and fungus in the fields. Ontario farmers should also remember to focus on safety when handling and spraying pesticides.

“Safety when handling pesticides is always important,” says James Dyck, engineering specialist of Crop Systems and Environment at OMAFRA.

Control What You Can!

Use a multi-system approach to weed control against resistant species.

By Paul Hermans

Ask any farmer about weeds and they want them gone.

Clean fields are on the top of many growers’ minds heading into the spring planting season. Yet challenges persist in row cropping from a weed control standpoint.

Much of this is due to the continual use of glyphosate technology since the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans in the late 1990s. With cheap, effective herbicide options, growers believed that easy weed control days were possible for many years to come.

Business Management: Still Room to Improve

Or is farming more of a lifestyle for you?

By Richard Kamchen

Despite a growing need for a more business-oriented approach to farming, not all Ontario producers are adopting the tools they’ll need to ride out challenging times.

Being your own boss, working outside in nature and alongside family, and producing food for the world have all come under the umbrella of “farm lifestyle,” a lifestyle that’s lured many to farming and kept them going for generations. But lifestyle alone isn’t enough to sustain a business.