OFA REVIVE FUND LOOKING AT ABATTOIRS DRYING OFF COWS FOCUSING ON EFFICIENCY Van Osch Family CONNECTIVITY ISSUES? NOVEMBER 2023 $9.50 IMPACTS OF INTEREST Rising Rates SOIL AS A SPONGE Healthy Ground 38 26 24 10
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4 The Business of Ontario Agriculture Better Farming | November 2023 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR OFA’S REVIVE FUND; AGM IS THIS MONTH An Emily Cro feature this month looks at some interesting countylevel projects that have come out of the OFA’s Revive Fund, which began in 2020 as a COVID initiative. e article begins on Page 18 and o ers insight into Perth County’s Mystery Farm Hop, Niagara’s Road Safety Project, and the London Children’s Museum Exhibit in Middlesex. e county federations designed projects that educated the public and urban populations about farming, addressed farm safety concerns, and improved their local community. And OFA VP Drew Spoelstra says the fund has been renewed for 2024. e OFA’s annual general meeting returns to Toronto later this month, with some solid topics on the agenda. Workshop topics for the Nov. 21 and 22 event include Deadstock, Innovation in Agriculture, Land Use Planning, and Government Relations. Guest speakers planning to visit the Delta Toronto Airport & Conference Centre are senator Rob Black, Ontario agriculture minister Lisa ompson, John Vanthof, MPP, Timiskaming-Cochrane and critic, Agriculture, Food and Rural A airs, Kelly Dobson, president, LeaderShi Inc. (“Unleashing the Untapped Potential of your Farm Operation”), and David Phillips from Environment Canada. Tyler Brooks, the OFA’s director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations, says “we are eagerly looking forward to hosting farmers, industry partners and stakeholders at the AGM. “It’s an opportunity to collaborate and share insights, discuss emerging priorities and re ect on our past successes. “We have a full lineup of exciting guest speakers, and we are excited to engage with our delegates as we work together to drive positive change for the organization, the community and agri-food sector across Ontario.” Rob Black, Senator for Ontario, recently tabled and spoke to his Inquiry in the Senate of Canada regarding landuse in Canada. We are grateful that Black, as Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, formally acknowledged that urban sprawl and land-use planning is adding to the degradation of farmlands and contributing to the loss of prime agricultural land across the country. Paul Nolan Blue Mountains hosted Open Farms in September for locals to explore the agriculture industry. The tour stops included a beef farm, Silver Springs Farms (pictured), as well as orchards, vineyards, and farm markets. Emily Croft photo 1-888-248-4893 90 Woodlawn Road West Guelph, ON N1H 1B2 PUBLISHER & EDITORIAL DIRECTOR PAUL NOLAN ext 202 Paul.Nolan@Farms.com ASSISTANT TO THE PUBLISHER & EDITORIAL DIRECTOR LESLIE STEWART ext 265 Leslie.Stewart@Farms.com AGRICULTURAL JOURNALIST EMILY CROFT CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS EDITION MOE AGOSTINO CAMPBELL CORK DALE COWAN ABHINESH GOPAL PAUL HERMANS RICHARD KAMCHEN PATRICK LYNCH RALPH WINFIELD ADVERTISING TEAM GLENN RUEGG JEFF McKEE JENNY LONGSTREET SCOTT FARHOOD SAMANTHA RENAUD JOAN SPIEGELBERG DESIGN & PRODUCTION TEAM TANYA MYERS GREG MARLOW SHAUN CLARK ANDREA WILLIAMS www.BetterFarming.com Better Farming magazine is mailed as a member-bene t to all farmer members of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. If you are not an OFA member, subscribe at: 1-888-248-4893 ext 281 Subscriptions@BetterFarming.com ISSN 1498-9344 (Printed) Canadian one-year subscriptions: $41 (11 issues; includes $4.72 HST). Two-year: $74 ($8.51 HST). U.S. subscriptions: $72 annually. International: $121. Single-copy back issues are $12. GST Registration #868959347RT0001 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to AgMedia Inc., 90 Woodlawn Road West, Guelph, ON N1H 1B2. Publications Mail Registration #1156. Publications Mail Agreement #40037298. Copyright ©2023 by AgMedia Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any content without written permission of the publisher is forbidden. Acceptance of advertising does not constitute endorsement of the advertiser, its products or services, nor do Better Farming, AgMedia or Farms.com endorse any advertiser claims. The publisher shall have no liability for the omission of any scheduled advertising. Follow us on Twitter @BetterFarmingON We acknowledge the nancial support of the Government of Canada. Cover: Creative Inspirations photo; Jodie Aldred photo
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6 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | November 2023 Beyond the Barn NEW PROGRAM OFFERS DAIRY EDUCATION Ridgetown College recently announced a new Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship program to address the labour shortage on dairy farms. e program was established through a collaboration between Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) and the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, with an investment of $300,000 from the Government of Ontario. e Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship program will be o ered through distance education, with a small in-person portion, as an accessible training option for students who are unable to attend school full-time. “Ontario’s dairy farmers are everyday heroes who work tirelessly to keep milk and dairy products on the table for families across our province and country,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government is proud to invest in a homegrown training program to help jobseekers get the skills they need to provide quality food to the people of Ontario for generations to come.” e course load includes 10 per cent class-time, which will be held at the Ridgetown Campus for one-week blocks each month over the two-year program. e courses will cover farm management skills such as milking practices, herd health maintenance, and basic maintenance of farm mechanical equipment. e remaining time in the program will consist of 5,520 hours of on-farm training, which can take place at a farm where the student is employed. “ is program is a great step forward to meet what students need, especially when balancing work and school. We are excited to be working with DFO on building industry expertise across the province,” said Brett Shepherd, director of the Ridgetown Campus. BF Winners from the 2023 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) were announced at a Celebration of Excellence, recently held at the Orangeville Fairgrounds. Participants competed in four di erent categories, including horse plows and di erent types of tractors. Scott omas of Elmwood scored 493 points to be named this year’s champion horse plow person, while Terry Linton of Roseneath scored 486 and is the reserve champion. e plowmen competed for their chance to represent Ontario in 2024 at the Canadian Plowing Championships in Wolfe Island in Kingston next August. Junior Champions are Austin Brodhaecker of Ayr (572 points), and Alex Cameron of Owen Sound (506.5 points). Ontario Championship Tractor with a Conventional Plow: Brian Davenport of Owen Sound (604.5 points), and Patrick Sanders of Alvinston (585 points) Ontario Championship Tractor Plowing with a Reversible Plow: Daryl Hostrawser of East Garafraxa (613 points), and Bob Campsall of Cannington (596 points). e six representatives were awarded special hats and coats to wear during the Canada-wide competition. e gi s were presented by Helen and Michael Craig in memory of Graeme Craig, a long-time director with the Ontario Plowmen’s Association. is year marks the rst presentation of the Brian Fried Memorial Trophy. is award honours the memory of Fried, a legendary plowman who represented Canada at the World Plowing Championships 10 times during his competitive career. e Brian Fried Memorial Trophy was presented by Fried’s son Nathan to Du erin County local Daryl Hostrawser. Other winners included: Austin McLeod of Cottam, winner of the Fred and Helen Davenport Memorial Award; Richard Elliott, winner of the John S. Mo at Memorial Trophy and the IPM Champion Antique Award; and Colin Doughtery of Scotland, winner of the IPM Reserve Champion, Antique Tractor. e 2023 IPM was held in Bowling Green in September. Next year’s match will return to Kawartha Lakes from Oct. 1 to 5. BF - Leslie Stewart IPM WINNERS NAMED IN ORANGEVILLE Anne Thompson photo Daryl Hostrawser with Ontario’s new Queen of the Furrow Mel Karpenko.
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8 Story Idea?Email Paul.Nolan@Farms.com Better Farming | November 2023 Beyond the Barn OPP CAUTIONS ABOUT ONGOING EQUIPMENT SCAMS e Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have issued warnings about scammers posing as equipment dealers. “ e OPP has recently received reports of victims purchasing heavy machinery or farm equipment from sellers believed to be in the United States, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the OPP warned. Farmers searching for machinery might come across listings for equipment listed below market-value or advertised as a good deal. Once the lines of communication are open, the fraudsters will o en provide images and information about the equipment – but the details have been taken from non-related sources. “Once a price is agreed upon and logistics are discussed, the fraudster requests payment in form of a wire transfer to a nancial institution in the U.S.,” the OPP has advised. “A er receiving payment, they cease communication with the victim, who never receives the equipment.” is scam is similar to incidents the Alberta RCMP have made public. Both the OPP and RCMP provided the following “prevention tips” for farmers making online purchases. Take your time and research your purchase, as it could save you time, money, and stress! If a deal seems to be too good to be true, it is. Fraudsters use reputable websites to post stolen images and equipment information. If you don’t know the buyer/seller, investigate them thoroughly (i.e., internet map searches for the address, reverse image searches of the equipment, and consider contacting local heavy equipment repair companies). If possible, physically inspect the equipment or consider having a professional conduct the inspection. Don’t be in uenced by an extreme sense of urgency by the other party. BF - Emily Cro & Diego Flammini Grain Farmers of Ontario have launched a new teaching module for educators aligning agricultural knowledge and experiences with the current elementary school curriculum. Funded through the public outreach campaign Good in Every Grain, the program focuses on the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning for Grade 3 classrooms. “ e Ontario Farming STEMterprise, as we’ve named the program, is a great initiative to support teachers with new resources, while connecting students with a guided perspective of grain farming in the province,” says Brianne Curtis, communications specialist, public relations with Grain Farmers of Ontario. Curtis shares that the program has been several years in the making. rough careful consultation with producers and educators, the 10week program highlights di erent modes of learning while sharing the real-life experiences of grain farmers across the province. “Teachers have been clear they need programs that are straightforward to implement. We’ve created a program that is free, available for download with guided lesson plans, and seed kits which are ready to be sent to the classrooms. “Providing the experience of growing grains, harvesting, and following the crop into food production, the program showcases our industry. “We feel it provides a unique opportunity to connect back with where your food comes from, while being more interactive and engaging for youth to learn,” she said. Lesson plans use several skill sets as they lead students through growing grain seeds in their classroom, conducting a market survey of existing granola bars, creating their own nutritious granola bars to meet consumer, or other students’, needs, marketing, designing sustainable packaging and selling their product. “Setting a granola business up from seed to store is a great way to connect young minds with everything from environmental stewardship to becoming entrepreneurs. “Really, we want them to see the expansive opportunities and challenges that farming can o er.” BF lisegagne/E+ photo EDUCATING ABOUT GRAIN FARMING
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10 Follow us on Twitter @BetterFarmingON Better Farming | November 2023 Digging Deeper IS CONNECTIVITY STILL AN ISSUE? ‘Rural areas need to continue to advocate for equal & usable access.’ By Emily Cro With a shi to virtual meetings and services as well as the rise in technology requiring internet connection, access to connectivity services is more valuable than ever to advancing the knowledge and innovative practices of farmers. Cell phone reception and the ability to communicate also play a role in safety when working with equipment and livestock. But cell phone and internet access has typically been sub-par in rural communities across Ontario. Has connectivity on Ontario farms improved? And how are those without su cient service improving communication on their operation? Better Farming asked a number of farmers: Some 37 per cent responded that connectivity is an issue, 63 per cent said they did not have issues. Brady, Kawartha Lakes: My cell phone service is very unreliable. Eleanor, Leeds County: My internet is okay but I really use it for emails and not much more. But when my son in-law uses his for the Leacock Farms produce sales (which is part of the farm), it can be a bit wonky and he is only 1,000 feet down the road. So, it all depends on your location and which tower you are serviced from. Ashley, Lambton County: It makes it harder when we lose signal but we make do. Bob, Wellington County: It is a frustration waiting for pages to load but we have not really changed any practices because of it. We expect bre optics to be available in this area in the rst of next year. We will subscribe. Cheryl, Oxford County: We now have Starlink. Joan, Wellington County: It has improved over the last couple of years but access to information, weather and communication with others continues to be an important asset. Rural areas need to continue to advocate for equal and usable access to phone service and internet. Robert, Oxford County: It’s not too bad right now. Jenn, Renfrew County: I have to carry a few di erent internet sources to help ensure we can have reliable speed and bandwidth to do what our business requires. Sarah, Lanark County: We are nally connected to Starlink and it’s a game-changer! Jim, Chatham-Kent: Have not changed any farm practices and have tried all available solutions. We are just in the wrong area. Joan, Grey County: Cell service in our area is very spotty. We now have good internet options but didn’t in the past. Bryon, Peel Region: We have a highspeed wireless array on the top of our 100-foot grain leg. Klaus, Prescott and Russell Counties: Wanting to go auto-steer; it can be a problem. Lloyd, Bruce County: It is a bit slow but it’s fairly reliable and okay. If it was faster and better, we would use it more. Tony, Lennox and Addington Counties: ere is very poor service in our area, so we are unable to use a cell phone on our farm. It is not unusual for me to be required to stop what I am doing on the farm or in the shop and go to our o ce to look up information or make a call on a landline. Colleen, Northumberland County: We have used multiple internet providers and the same with cell phone providers due to poor reception and reliability. We have had to maintain our landline, also with poor service (the main service line needs replacing but there are only two homes using it), so we can have some form of communication in case of an emergency. Shaun, Chatham-Kent: Using wireless products is di cult due to intermittent connectivity. Not many options for us to try for providers. Larry, Brant County: Finally got connected to Starlink. Nancy, Northumberland County: We are unable to make any phone calls in any of our farm buildings, including our home. As you can imagine winter will be very interesting. Our cell phone reception is weak, constantly breaking up and o en dropping calls with no apparent reason. is is very frustrating to say the least and a ects our business on a daily basis. Derek, Niagara Region: We changed providers and now it’s much better. We couldn’t communicate at all with each other with our phones. Much of our work requires constant communication so it was very problematic. Doug, Middlesex County: We are fortunate being close to a big city that cell phone service is not bad. We are on wireless internet and as long as you limit the number of devices online, connectivity is pretty good. ere is bre optic internet going in all around us. Hopefully we get that service and solve the intermittent loss of internet we have now. BF Is phone service or internet availability a problem on your farm? 37% YES 63% NO
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12 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | November 2023 Research MICROPLASTICS & SUPERBUGS ‘Bacteria have been evolving genetic mechanisms to cope with stress for millions of years.’ By Lauren Quinn Like every industry, modern farming relies heavily on plastics. ink plastic mulch lining vegetable beds, PVC pipes draining water from elds, polyethylene covering high tunnels, and plastic seed, fertilizer and herbicide packaging, to name a few. In a new review article, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers say these plastics are now widely dispersed in agricultural soils in the form of microplastics and nanoplastics. at’s not necessarily new; microplastics have been found in nearly every ecosystem and organism on Earth. e twist, according to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) researchers, is that micro- and nanoplastics in agricultural soil could contribute to antibiotic resistant bacteria with a ready route into our food supply. “Plastic itself may not be very toxic, but it can act as a vector for transmitting pathogenic and antimicrobial resistant bacteria into the food chain,” says Jayashree Nath, author and postdoctoral researcher in the department of food science and human nutrition (FSHN). “ is phenomenon is not very well known to people, so we wanted to raise awareness.” If the link between microplastics and antibiotic resistance is less than obvious, here’s how it works. First, plastics are an excellent adsorbent. at means chemical substances and microscopic organisms love to stick to plastic. Chemicals that would ordinarily move through soil quickly – things like pesticides and heavy metals – instead stick around and are concentrated when they encounter plastics. Similarly, bacteria and other microorganisms that occur naturally in soil preferentially congregate on the stable surfaces of microplastics, forming what are known as bio lms. When bacteria encounter unusual Researchers are pushing to understand how microplastics impact our food via the soil. AlDa.videophoto - stock.adobe.com
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14 Ate Today?Thank a Farmer. Better Farming | November 2023 It’s risky to ignore your hearing loss. Leaving your hearing loss untreated puts you at risk. Those risks include: � 1 in 2 people experience relationship breakdown � 5 times increased risk of developing dementia � 10 times greater risk of having a serious fall What are you waiting for? Book a FREE hearing test today. 1-888-457-3453 HearWellBeWell.ca 14 Ontario locations Family owned and locally operated since 1984. Research chemical substances in their new home base, they activate stress response genes that incidentally help them resist other chemicals too, including, sometimes, antibiotics. And when groups of bacteria attach to the same surface, they have a habit of sharing these genes through a process called horizontal gene transfer. Nanoplastics, which can enter bacterial cells, present a di erent kind of stress, but that stress can have the same outcome. “Bacteria have been evolving genetic mechanisms to cope with stress for millions of years. Plastic is a new material that bacteria have never seen in nature, so they are now evoking these genetic tool sets to deal with that stress,” says Pratik Banerjee, co-author and associate professor in FSHN and Illinois extension specialist. “We have also shown bacteria may become more virulent in the presence of plastics in addition to becoming more resistant to antimicrobials.” Gene transfer between bacteria on microplastics has been documented in other environments like water. So far, the phenomenon is only hypothetical in agricultural soil, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Nath and Banerjee are currently running laboratory studies to document gene transfer. “Soil is an under-researched area in this eld,” Banerjee says. “We have an obligation to understand what’s going on in soil, because what we suspect and what we fear is that the situation in soil could be even worse than in water. “One of the technical problems is that soil is a very di cult medium to handle when it comes to shing out microplastics. Water is so easy because you can simply lter the microplastic out,” Banerjee adds. “But we have made some good headway thanks to Jayashree and our collaboration with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.” e authors point out many foodborne pathogens make it onto produce from their native home in the soil, but nanoplastics and antibiotic resistant bacteria could be small enough to enter roots and plant tissues where they are impossible to wash away. While nanoplastics have been documented in and on crops, the eld of study is still new, and it’s not well known how o en this occurs. Banerjee’s research group plans to tackle that question as well. Ultimately, microplastics are here to stay. A er all, they’ve predicted to persist in the environment for centuries or longer. e authors say it’s time to understand their impacts in the soil and our food system, raise awareness and push toward biodegradable plastic alternatives. BF Lauren Quinn is a media communications specialist with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of ACES.
16 The Business of Ontario Agriculture Better Farming | November 2023 Machinery Alley PREPARE BEFORE YOU PARK Overwintering tips to keep your machinery safe. By Leslie Stewart With harvest wrapping up soon, some producers will be putting their machinery away for the winter. Here are some tips to help you nish the 2023 season strong and start 2024 o smoothly in the spring by properly overwintering your equipment. Fix current issues Take some time to replace any parts you may need to before you put your machine away for the winter. “It’s nice to put everything away right so you don’t deal with issues in the spring,” says Carson Brown of Equipment Ontario in Elmira. “A fresh start is better than something you have to ght with. “Check for leaks and replace anything that’s broken. Lots of customers go over everything in the wintertime.” Keep rodents away Rodent infestations can cause huge problems to the functionality of your machine. Fortunately, there are ways to make your equipment less attractive to pests. “Keep your equipment clean. Clean it as much as you can so there’s no food, or spots for mice to nest – especially on combines,” Brown says. “Wash your equipment and blow o all the cha , or you could be opening yourself up for big and expensive issues to x. “We’ve seen combines with wires that have been chewed by rats and mice from being put away straight out of the eld ... and that’s just the stu you can see! “Sometimes there’s stu you can’t see tucked into a corner and it becomes both a technician and farmer’s nightmare when it comes to larger things like combines.” Take the time to check your shed, too. Ensure any open bags of grain are closed and that there are no holes that rodents can crawl through. You can further discourage pests with di erent smells and sounds they don’t like. “Moth balls, dryer sheets, and even electronic units with sound can be helpful.” Prevent cold damage Antifreeze is helpful with the plummeting temperatures. “It’s a big one,” Brown says. “If you don’t have the right coolant levels, you can attract a block pretty easily.” Be sure to read the directions on your antifreeze and ensure it’s up to the appropriate temperature rating for your area. For best results, follow all instructions and change the antifreeze at the recommended intervals. Check on your gas, too. “If you have a full tank of gas, you could use a fuel conditioner over the winter. If the tank is full, there’s less condensation over the winter.” Protect your batteries Batteries are susceptible to cold damage, especially if they’re empty when you park your machine. “Make sure your batteries are charged and topped up so they don’t freeze,” he says. If you have the space and time, batteries can be removed and stored in a warmer location where they can be safe from the cold and charged periodically. Check your tires Before you put your machinery away for the winter, check your tire pressure. “Make sure your tires are good,” Brown explains. “Nobody likes going out with equipment with a at tire.” Over the winter, low tire pressure can cause the internal structure of the tires to sag. Once the rubber gets hard, it can do damage to the side walls of the tires. “Alleviate your spring,” Brown says. “Everyone’s excited to go planting in the spring and you want to have a good start. “You don’t want anything unforeseen happening to ruin your day.” BF Take some time to properly overwinter your equipment. Jodie Aldred photo
2023 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING NOVEMBER 21 22 Delta Hotels Toronto Airport & Conference Centre The annual meeting is a special highlight for OFA as it’s the one time of year that federation of agriculture members from all over the province can get together. Join us for the opportunity to network with farmers and industry stakeholders, debate resolutions, vote in leadership elections, listen to engaging speakers and participate in educational workshops. Fields of Opportunity: Cultivating a Sustainable Future for Ontario Agriculture : • Senator Rob Black • Kelly Dobson, LeaderShift Inc. Unleashing the Untapped Potential of your Farm Operation • Derek Edwards, Canadian comedian • John Vanthof, MPP, Agriculture critic • David Phillips (Environment Canada) • Director-at-Large, three-year term on the OFA Board of Directors • Deadstock • Innovation in Agriculture • Land Use Planning • Government Relations Opening Speaker: Guest Speakers: Leadership Election: Workshops: For agenda details and registration information, please visit: ofa.on.ca/agm
18 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | November 2023 OFA Revive Fund e OFA created the Revive Fund in 2020 to support projects created by regional federations to improve their rural communities. “ e Revive Fund started as a COVID project for us,” says Drew Spoelstra, vice-president of OFA. “We had some signi cant savings because we couldn’t have meetings or events or gather as a board in person.” e fund was created using the saved money as a way for the OFA to continue to give back to their membership. “We had a few categories – mental health, public trust initiatives, sign campaigns for road safety, education of the public about agriculture, and leadership, training and engagement,” says Spoelstra. “It started in 2020 with $100,000 to be matched by the counties, which ended up being about a $200,000 total commitment across 51 counties. “Not all counties joined, but many did, and the money was all spent.” e fund also led to collaboration between local federations on several projects, building a greater sense of community between regions. “Many counties jumped on the bandwagon and implemented some great projects. ey needed to identify a project in their local area and then ll out a short application form. at was forwarded to the team at OFA, was evaluated based on merit, and was approved by the board,” Spoelstra explains. County federations designed a variety of projects that educated the public and urban populations about farming, addressed farm safety concerns, and improved their local community. Better Farming reached out to a few local federations to learn about what projects have been happening and how they have bene ted the OFA membership and their surrounding communities. Perth County: Mystery Farm Hop e Perth County Federation of Agriculture collaborated with Perth County Tourism and Economic Development, and Perth County Connect, a A group enjoys a wagon ride at Kampcreek Dairy during a farm hop. ‘REVIVING’ REGIONAL AG FEDERATIONS THE OFA HELPS FEDERATIONS TO CONNECT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES. BY EMILY CROFT Ashley Brockelbank photo
19 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | November 2023 local public transit service, to host a Mystery Farm Hop in July. “ e idea was to highlight the transit service and also highlight the agritourism and farms that Perth County has to o er,” says Julie McIntosh, a director on the Perth County Federation of Agriculture board. “It was a mystery, so we kept it a secret where the attendees were going.” e tour was free, but registration was required to manage numbers. Within 12 hours of starting ticket sales, the farm hop was sold out. “We had 150 participants get on a bus in Stratford. ey stopped at four farms, and they had 45 minutes to an hour to tour around,” says McIntosh. “ ey were all agritourism-based farms and all of them had an experience of some form.” ere was a visit to Stonetown Artisan Cheese, with an opportunity to see how cheese is made. e next stop was Kampkreek Dairy, home to a herd of water bu alo. e dairy farm took the visitors on a wagon ride around the property and shared samples of farm products. e third stop was McCully’s Hill Farm, which has an on-farm store, and the fourth stop was at Black Creek Flower Farm. e tour learned about growing owers, and they could do a ‘pick-your-own’ ower activity if they chose to. In addition to the opportunity to share more about the local farms and how food was produced, the tour brought together a diverse group of attendees, largely from urban backgrounds. OFA Revive Fund Farm hoppers visit Stonetown Artisan Cheese in Perth County. Ashley Brockelbank photo
20 Story Idea?Email Paul.Nolan@Farms.com Better Farming | November 2023 “A lot of people came from Kitchener and Stratford, and they were just so impressed with what they saw. It was great for them to be getting out of the city and seeing what Perth County has to o er, and we were making meaningful connections with some of our urban counterparts,” says McIntosh. e Perth County Federation of Agriculture later received a letter from one of the visitors. “She was from Milverton, and she wrote about how strong communities are built on inclusivity and diversity,” McIntosh shares. e letter commended tour organizers for creating an opportunity for cultural exchange and community engagement, while demonstrating the openness, support, and the commonalities of the residents of Perth County. “We all have a job to educate and share our experiences in agriculture and to help people connect that back to where their food comes from,” says McIntosh. “ e federations have a lot of value to bring to the community. A bunch of our directors were at the farms to answer questions and direct tra c. We were there to eld general farming questions and help people through the experience as well.” McIntosh credits OFA’s support for being able to host this community event. “I don’t know if we would’ve been able to pull it o without the Revive Fund and partnership with OFA.” Niagara Region: Road Safety Project e Niagara Federation of Agriculture applied to the OFA Revive Fund to support their local campaign to improve road safety with radio and sticker advertisements. e Niagara region is home to many fruit and crop farmers with both big and small equipment, and also attracts a number of tourists, leading to safety concerns for farmers and farm workers who are travelling the roads. e stickers, which state “Pass When Safe,” come in a large and a small size to t a variety of agricultural equipment and vehicles. While organizing the sticker project, the Niagara federation considered where else in their community they could share the message to improve road safety. A er considering di erent options, the board decided to go with radio ads. “Depending on the station, these ads are played all day long at stores and dentist o ces and other businesses, and they reach people all through the community. Depending how much money you can spend, you can reach a large audience,” says Derek Funk, a member of the Niagara Federation of Agriculture. “We went to the local pop station that all my kids listen to and the school buses play, and we also looked at a classic rock station. With the two stations, the listener base is over 100,000 people, so instantly our reach is much larger while still reaching the people who see the pull-up at the library and/or encounter the sticker on the back of our equipment.” e federation put together two ads – one 30-seconds long, and another that was only 15-seconds long. “Every day Niagara farmers and farm workers are labouring tirelessly in the elds and travelling on our roads. When driving, if you are approaching a worker on a bicycle, a tractor, or any other farm equipment, be patient and give space,” was the message of the ad. “Make sure it’s safe to pass before you step on the gas.” e ads ran over the span of a month and a half in the summer, to align with a large portion of the farm tra c. e goal was to reach outside of the farm community. “ e whole point is that we are reaching outside of just the farming community. Now our reach is the entire region. ere are so many places that play the main local radio stations, so you are really getting out into the community and sending that message out,” says Funk. “And it’s a passive way of receiving the message. People just absorb the message then. It’s not click bait or anything, but it repeats over and over, OFA Revive Fund Niagara Region directors pose with road safety signs. Derek Funk photo … the top producers across Ontario for just PENNIES per adult reader! Paul.Nolan@Farms.com ADVERTISERS REACH ...
21 Story Idea?Email Paul.Nolan@Farms.com Better Farming | November 2023 every day. And when it comes to that time that they meet equipment, they know what to do.” Funk says that the Revive Fund played a key role in the success of the project. “ e Revive Fund really helped us achieve that reach for the campaign. e only downside is that we don’t have $10,000 more to spend on the radio.” e radio ads were well received and are now being shared with other regional federations interested in similar projects. Middlesex County: London Children’s Museum Exhibit e Middlesex Federation of Agriculture has been working in collaboration with the London Children’s Museum and ve other nearby county federations to create a permanent agricultural exhibit at the museum. e goal of the exhibit will be to share information about farming and growing food with children, particularly those who may be from urban areas with little knowledge of farms. “Our Member Service Representative at the time was Joanne Fuller and she was involved with the museum through the Chamber of Commerce in the city and some other organizations,” OFA has an o cial partnership with Honda Canada Inc. and with that, OFA members can take advantage of special discounts on Honda ATVs, Side by Sides and Power Equipment products. honda.ca OFA Revive Fund The design for an agriculture exhibit at the London Children’s Museum in London. London Children’s Museum photo
22 Follow us on Twitter @BetterFarmingON Better Farming | November 2023 EMILY CROFT Emily lives on a beef farm, raising Red Angus and Simmental cattle. She holds a Master of Science in Animal Biosciences from University of Guelph, with a focus on ruminant nutrition. 22_0470_FM_PailGrid_HalfHoriz_US Mod: September 25, 2023 10:52 AM Print: 09/25/23 page 1 v2.5 ORDER BY 6 PM FOR SAME DAY SHIPPING 1-800-295-5510 uline.ca πLAWN AND GARDEN ESSENTIALS OFA Revive Fund says David Bolton, past-president of Middlesex Federation of Agriculture, about how the federation got involved in the project. “ ere were people from the Children’s Museum on the same committees as her, and she got wind that they wanted an agricultural section so she brought it to our board to see if we wanted to sponsor a section in the new museum.” is presented a good opportunity for collaboration between federations. “ ere are way more than just Middlesex residents that use the museum, so we went around to other federations in the area. We were overwhelmed with the response,” says Bolton. “We’ve put them in touch with other commodity groups too, including the dairy farmers and grain growers, so they’ve gone out and beyond what the federations have supplied.” e local federations have seen concept drawings and have had opportunities to discuss, but with COVID the project has been delayed by two years. e exhibit now targets an opening date of fall of 2024 or spring of 2025. “I think between the ve federations, we are in that range of $55,000 to $60,000 that we’ve put into the project,” says Bolton. “We wanted to make sure that the right message is sent to the children from our perspective, so that there wasn’t a lot of urban in uence that might be o side. We also wanted some input in the programs to make sure it wasn’t from a specialty or niche perspective, but rather depicted an overall image of the ag community.” Bolton says that Middlesex Federation of Agriculture has been happy with the designs for the exhibit so far. “ ey were pretty good and had our mission in mind when designing the exhibit.” Looking forward e projects created from the Revive Fund demonstrate how the fund has supported collaboration, education, and community among Ontario farmers, and has allowed them to share their passion with other area residents. OFA’s Spoelstra says that the fund has been renewed for 2024. “I think it will keep going as long as uptake is good in the program for county federations, and as long as we have the budget to keep it going,” says Spoelstra. “For us, it’s about getting members engaged and giving back to the membership. We have 38,000 members that support us and it’s important to the board and organization to give back. “We think this initiative is a pretty good way to do that and we anticipate continuing on with it.” BF
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24 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | November 2023 Going forward as an industry the biggest limiting factor to higher yields will be water availability. If you live anywhere in Eastern Canada, you may be saying this was not the case during the 2023 growing season. Across most areas for the growing season in Eastern Canada, we received 115 to 150 per cent more rain than average, according to Environment Canada. Long-term however, we are seeing higher air temperatures and a general reduction of available soil moisture at critical periods in the corn and soybean crop’s lifecycle. Let us look at how much water the crop uses, what are the critical periods for this water use, and how the root system explores the soil rooting zone for moisture. Research data would say on average it takes about three thousand gallons of water to produce a bushel of corn. For soybeans it is three times as much! Textbook information would say corn needs about eleven inches of water to get through to the R1 ( owering) period from planting. Demand goes up for the last 60 days using another 15 inches of water. e critical periods for corn are the two weeks before and a er pollination. For soybeans, the month of August is the most critical. inking back over the years, this means from about July 1 through the end of August we need ample soil water reserves to achieve the highest yields for both these crops. You would think this all has to come at the right time in the form of rain. But luckily, each crop sends down roots exploring the soil reserves looking for water and nutrients. For corn, roots can achieve depths of up to four feet or deeper depending on soil texture and structure. Studies have shown that 40 per cent of soil water extraction occurs in the rst 25 centimetres of soil depth and 70 per cent in the top 50 centimetres of soil depth. About 25 per cent of water availability occurs between 50 and 75 centimetres depths and the remaining 10 per cent at depths greater than 75 centimetres. However, the key is ensuring our root system can get access to this water. Soybeans, on the other hand, place 70 per cent of their roots in the top 25 centimetres of soil. Hence a reason soybean responds to timely August rains, adding yield in the form of less pod/seed abortion and larger seed size. Soil as a Sponge DOES YOUR SOIL ACT LIKE A SPONGE? INCREASE YOUR SOIL’S WATER-HOLDING CAPACITY FOR LONG-TERM BENEFITS BY PAUL HERMANS Paul Hermans photo 30% of readers never throw away their magazines. And an average of six adults will pass along and read a single copy. (MPA Factbook 2021) FARMERS LOVE MAGAZINES
25 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | November 2023 Research studies have shown that if we want to increase yields, we need to increase biomass production. e two go hand in hand. With higher biomass and subsequent grain production goes higher seasonal evapotranspiration. is is where root structure and development come into play. Yes, there are di erences in hybrid genetics when it comes to roots. Soybean roots are important as well. Oddly enough we have root scores for corn but not soybeans. Something we should explore as an industry to further develop soybean yields. Improving soil health, structure and organic matter will also go a long way to helping corn/soybeans explore all the soil zone for water and nutrients. It is the ne root hairs that accept water and nutrients. Root hairs live only about ve days and then replenish. Ensuring adequate soil moisture and sound soil health is key. Let us do a deeper dive, looking at a variety of management practices you can incorporate to increase yields as it pertains to “drought proo ng” your crops. Soil fertility Potash (K) plays an important role in the opening and closing of stomates which helps regulate plant temperatures and water loss. Most potassium and phosphorus move into the plant through di usion, moving from areas of high concentration to low. Having adequate soil K levels will mean higher K movement potentially existing in the eld to help regulate the plant during stress periods. Organic matter Improving soil organic matter and soil health will assist with deeper rooting depths and water-holding capacity. Increasing organic matter from two to three per cent, as an example, will allow the soil to hold about 3,400 gallons per acre on a silt loam soil, according to the University of Nebraska. at equates to over 1/10th of an inch of rain. Studies have shown that available water is double at soil organic matters of 4.5 per cent compared to 1.5 per cent (Hudson, B.D. Soil organic matter and available water, J. Soil Water Conserv. 49(2): 189-194). at may not seem like a lot initially. But over subsequent rainfalls and during critical water shortages it can add up. Cover crops assist in adding organic matter back to the soil while improving soil tilth and aggregate stability. Crop rotation Dr. Dave Hooker at Ridgetown College has conducted some unique long-term crop rotation studies. Overall results showed that crop rotations utilizing a corn-soybean-winter wheat rotation had greater yields increases than a corn-soybean rotation, especially during hot/dry summers or during seasonal trends when water availability was decreased. Controlled drainage More interest from growers is occurring, looking at utilizing controlled drainage during critical periods to improve water availability. ese lowcost methods can improve root zone moisture. Constant monitoring is needed, especially during heavy rainfall patterns, to avoid “drowning” the crop. Added to this reduced tillage, striptill/no-till experienced larger yield di erences in drier summers as well. In summary, we have no control over the weather. We can however control crop management, species diversity and other factors to improve soil water holding capacity which will lead to higher yields in the future. ese gains are incremental and do not happen overnight or even over a single cropping season, for that matter. Sitting down and producing a long-term farm eld and sub eld plan is needed to achieve the goals described above. Doing so will mean your valuable soil acts like a sponge, dripping with moisture when really needed! BF PAUL HERMANS Paul Hermans, CCA-ON is an area agronomist in Eastern Ontario with Corteva Agriscience. Soil as a Sponge Corn plants exhibiting leaf rolling due to drought stress. Paul Hermans photo