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4 The Business of Ontario Agriculture Better Farming | February 2024 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR TOO GOOD A DEAL; COLLEGE ROYAL “Ask yourself if this is too good to be true. Is it too good of a deal?” Good advice from Joel Bouvier, director of Cyber Security at FCC, in Emily Croft’s story on “avoiding scammers” in this edition. Bouvier says that there are a variety of scams that currently target farmers. “It could be anything. We’ve seen fraudulent equipment and supplies sales, some invoice scams, online bidding and auction scams, grant scams, or government rebate scams.” A recent scheme I encountered here involved a man who claimed he ran a farm-building company in Texas. He wanted to advertise an “unbeatable” deal in this magazine, with our readers getting an excellent price on a new building. But that’s not all. He was offering free shipping to your farm. Everything would come on a truck. Including the crew – who would spend a few days on your property as they built your new structure. At no cost. What a deal. But where would the crew sleep? What would they eat? “You don’t need to worry about that. They will fend for themselves.” What a deal indeed. And this gentleman didn’t even need full payment before the building was up. “But of course, we would need to ask for a few-thousand-dollar downpayment up-front. Just to show the farmer is serious.” Be careful, folks. Frauds and scammers are everywhere. The University of Guelph’s College Royal is celebrating its 100th anniversary next month. If you’re a U of G alum, you might recall your favourite parts of the annual 12-day open-house. Remember the logging competition? The tug-of-war? Did you compete at square-dancing? Does the term Rumen with a View bring back some memories? Some 100 students are working hard on this year’s event, and they are hoping lots of OAC and other Guelph grads will come back and visit March 6 through 17. Paul Nolan Steve Duff, Dr. Peter Kotzeff, and Robert McKinlay speak about keeping cattle on the Ontario landscape in a panel moderated by OMAFRA’s Christoph Wand at Grey Bruce Farmers’Week’s Beef Day in January. Jacklyn Horenberg 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-benefit 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 ©2024 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 @BetterFarmingON We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada. Cover: Norm Lamothe photo; Paul Nolan photo
A BETTER WAY ALWAYS INNOVATING ALWAYS EVOLVING ALWAYS FINDING FCC is proud to offer financing and knowledge to people with one eye on today and another on tomorrow. People like you. FCC.CA DREAM. GROW. THRIVE.
6 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | February 2024 Beyond the Barn ONT. CORN & SOY PRODUCTION INCREASED IN ’23 Statistics Canada recently reported that production of grain corn and soybeans were increased in 2023. Production of wheat, canola, barley, and oats decreased compared to 2022. StatCan detailed crop production from January to November of 2023 in a December release. The abundance of moisture in Ontario and the remainder of Eastern Canada during the 2023 growing season led to improved yields and received some credit for the increased production of corn and soybeans. National grain corn production was greater by 3.7 per cent in 2023, for a record-high total yield of 15.1 million tonnes. This is partially attributed to a 5.2 per cent increase in harvested area, totalling 3.8 million acres. The average yields for corn were decreased by 1.4 per cent to 158.1 bushels per acre. Ontario farms grew 0.9 per cent fewer acres of corn in 2023, for a total of 2.2 million acres harvested across the province. This was offset by a yield increase of three per cent, averaging 170.9 bushels per acre. National soybean yields stayed consistent at an average 45.9 bushels per acre. Total harvested area increased 6.7 per cent to seven million acres. Ontario soybean acres decreased by 5.7 per cent to 2.9 million acres, but yields increased by 7.1 per cent to an average 51.4 bushels per acre. Canadian wheat production decreased by 6.9 per cent, partially due to a 12.1 per cent reduction in national average yields to 44.5 bushels per acre. In the report, it was proposed that the national reduction in crop production for wheat, canola, barley, and oats could be attributed to the drier growing conditions observed in the Prairies during 2023. This resulted in lower yields. BF The OFA recently spoke with young farmers about encouraging youth involvement in agriculture. At the OFA AGM in November, recently elected vice-president Sara Wood hosted a fireside chat with young farm leaders from across Ontario. The young leaders who spoke about their involvement were Mike Johnson, Ashley Knapton, Erica Murray, Derek Van De Walle, and Carson Wagner. The young farmers shared some common concerns and recommendations for organizations looking to gain feedback and involvement from the industry’s youth. The first suggestion was to be more open to new ideas. “It quickly becomes discouraging for new volunteers when they hear ‘no’ every time they offer up a new idea, and their interest in being involved will diminish rapidly,” wrote Wood in an article distributed by the OFA. “Not every new idea will be a success, but you won’t know unless you give it a try. And even if something didn’t work well the last time it was tried – 10 or 15 years ago – it could be worth trying again. As we all know only all too well, our world has changed in the last few years.” Another suggestion was for organizations to be more specific in their expectations. “Most people have busy lives and those who would make great volunteers are probably already involved in various activities,” wrote Wood. “That’s why it’s important to be specific and realistic in how much time you are asking them to commit to your organization. And when they do join, ease them into the group gradually and don’t overwhelm them with a flood of tasks or activities.” The remaining recommendations for encouraging involvement from young industry members are flexible meeting and communication options and making new people feel welcome through encouragement and coaching. One message repeated at the AGM was that supporting young people taking on leadership roles sets the groundwork for a strong industry in years to come. BF - Emily Croft OFA ENCOURAGES YOUNG LEADERS James McVicar photo
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8 Story Idea? Email Paul.Nolan@Farms.com Better Farming | February 2024 Beyond the Barn OMAFRA REPORTS ON SLOW START TO ’23 CORN HARVEST OMAFRA reports that high grain moisture and late maturity led to Ontario’s delayed 2023 corn harvest. The 2023 Corn Seasonal Summary was released in Field Crop News in December. The report detailed planting conditions, challenges experienced in 2023, and focuses for the 2024 growing season. OMAFRA reports that corn planting started for most farmers during the second week of May, with most producers observing quick emergence. Some corn was planted during an early April window and suffered emergence issues, but most stands were kept. Warm and dry conditions during late May and June were ideal for nitrogen management. The summary states that despite these conditions persisting during June, by the end of the month, crop heat units were approximately five to 10 per cent below the 10-year average for many regions in Ontario. Heavy and consistent rainfall occurred throughout July and August, creating concern for ear moulds and foliar leaf disease. Cooler temperatures also led to worries about grain fill, as crop heat units continued to be 10 per cent below the average. Harvest brought challenges with late maturity and high grain moisture, as well as mould and DON levels. In October, 23 per cent of samples tested above 2 ppm, which is greater than an average of 12 per cent. For 2024, OMAFRA predicts that DON testing variability and tar spot will be topics of ongoing interest. BF A recent study from the United States suggests that beef operations which keep cattle on lifelong grassbased diets may have an overall higher carbon footprint than those that switch cattle to grain-based diets partway through their lives. The experiment was led by Daniel Blaustein-Rejto of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research centre in Berkeley, Calif. The results were shared in the open-access journal PLOS ONE in December. The goal of the study was to explore all aspects of beef production systems that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to the direct emissions from beef cattle, which has been the focus of previous studies. These prior studies have suggested that pasture-finished beef operations have a higher carbon footprint than grain-finished operations. To investigate this objective, the research team calculated carbon footprints for 100 beef farms in 16 countries. Their calculations included direct greenhouse gas emissions from cattle, soil carbon sequestration, and carbon opportunity cost. The carbon opportunity cost was defined as the carbon that would have been sequestered if the land had native ecosystems instead of being used for beef production. After calculating and comparing direct emissions across the farms, the analysis suggested that grain-finished operations were producing 20 per cent less greenhouse gas than pasture-finished farms. When soil carbon sequestration and carbon opportunity cost were accounted for it was found that this number increased – as pasture-finished farms had a 42 per cent higher carbon footprint. “Our research reveals that the carbon cost of land-use accounts for the largest part of beef’s carbon footprint. Therefore, there is an even larger carbon cost than typically found to land-intensive beef operations, such as many grass-fed systems, even when taking into account potential carbon sequestration due to grazing,” said the authors in a release on EurekAlert.org. These findings demonstrate the importance of accounting for all relevant factors when calculating and comparing carbon footprints. BF - Emily Croft Lisa Herlick/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo NEW STUDY ON BEEF EMISSIONS PLAY IN MILLBROOK In our January article, ‘The Farmerettes: Renewed Awareness,’ we reported that the 4th Line Theatre was located in Millbank. The venue, which will stage a production of ‘Onion Skins & Peach Fuzz: The Farmerettes,’ is located in Millbrook. For more info, refer to the advertisement on Page 46.
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10 Follow us on Twitter @BetterFarmingON Better Farming | February 2024 Digging Deeper WHAT GOALS DO FARMERS HAVE THIS YEAR? Many producers want to become more efficient & profitable. By Emily Croft As the growing season approaches, many producers have started making plans for the year ahead. The planning process often includes reviewing successes and challenges from the previous year. This can also be a great time to set goals, which will make it easier to measure success at year-end. Goal setting should involve assessing where the operation has been in the past, reviewing how it has grown or changed, and identifying where the current opportunities for growth lie. Many farmers aim for growth, whether it’s the whole operation or just developing one aspect of the farm. With high operating costs in recent years, many farmers may also be looking to improve their bottom line and increase their profitability. Better Farming asked readers about their farming goals for 2024. Here are some of their responses: Brady, Kawartha Lakes: I’m hoping to expand the custom farming business. Geoff, Bruce County: My goals are to produce sustainable yields, reduce inputs and maintain soil. Joan, Grey County: We are planning for a better work-life balance. Steve, Oxford County: Farm smarter and more efficient, and keep inputs as low as possible to increase better returns to my farm. For example, grouping seed orders with other farmers for bigger discounts. Jessica, Elgin County: My goal is to see growth in my lamb operation. Derek, Niagara Region: Be profitable! Michel, Prescott and Russell Counties: Continue to improve the bottom line. Eleanor, Leeds County: Make money at the same time as making some environmental improvements to the farm. I feel you can still farm with a profit and protect the environment and wildlife. I also want to host a successful summer education day on the farm. Veronique, Wellington County: Hire more help! Christine, Bruce County: Improve production. Pam, Middlesex County: Expand the herd. Steve, Kent County: I am hoping to build and expand the farm and become self-sufficient. Jon, Niagara Region: Try some homemade biological seed and soil treatment. Tim, Oxford County: Break even. Tammi, Bruce County: Improve the total weaning weight of our calves, as in raising more calves that weigh more to weaning, and increase our crop yields, especially first-cut hay and wheat. Doug, Middlesex County: To do a good job looking after the livestock, and to keep learning how to grow better crops and do a good job marketing. Get, Huron County: To have a financially successful crop year. Andrew, Grey County: Maintain current levels of production. Colleen, Northumberland County: Our main goal for 2024 is to extend and improve our rotational grazing for our beef cattle. We would also like to cement more of our barn yard so we can utilize the manure for spreading on our hay fields instead of relying on commercial fertilizer. Barclay, Wellington County: Sell more, get hurt less. Moe, Essex County: Remain profitable in a downwards market to keep our family farm sustainable. Bill, Elgin County: Better yields. Darryl, Durham Region: Help create more efficiency with feeding and bedding management. John, Prince Edward County: Hope and pray for a year as good as 2023! BF Many farmers are aiming for growth in 2024. Tracy Miller photo
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12 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | February 2024 Research INOCULATING FIELDS & HEALTHIER CROPS ‘The mycorrhizal fungi act as a kind of protective shield against pathogens.’ By Dr. Marcel van der Heijden Farmland often harbours a multitude of pathogens that attack plants and reduce yields. A Swiss research team has now shown that inoculating the soil with mycorrhizal fungi can help maintain or even improve yields without the use of additional fertilizers or pesticides. In a large-scale field trial, plant yield increased by up to 40 per cent. Intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides on fields reduces biodiversity and pollutes the environment. There is therefore great interest in finding sustainable ways to protect yields without the use of agricultural chemicals. One example of alternative biologicals is mycorrhizal fungi, which are beneficial organisms that help plants acquire nutrients. A team of researchers from the universities of Zurich and Basel, Agroscope and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) has now shown for the first time on a large scale that the application of mycorrhizal fungi in the field works. The fungi were mixed into the soil before sowing crops on 800 trial plots at 54 maize farms in Northern and Eastern Switzerland. “On a quarter of the plots, the mycorrhizal fungi enabled up to 40 per cent better yields. That’s huge,” says the study’s co-lead Marcel van der Heijden, a soil ecologist at the University of Zurich and at Agroscope, the federal centre of competence for agricultural research. But there’s a catch. On a third of the plots, the yield did not increase and in some cases even decreased. The research team was initially unable to explain why this happened. In their search for the cause, the researchers analyzed a variety of chemical, physical and biological soil properties, including the biodiversity of soil microbes. “We discovered that the inoculation functioned best when there were lots of fungal pathogens already in the soil,” says co-first author Stefanie Lutz from Agroscope. “The mycorrhizal fungi act as a kind of protective shield against pathogens in the soil that would weaken the plants.” As a result, the normal yield can be maintained in fields where without mycorrhizal fungi there would have been losses. In contrast, mycorrhizal fungi had only a minor effect on fields that are not already contaminated with pathogens. “The plants there are strong anyway and grow excellently. The use of mycorrhizal fungi in such cases bring no additional benefits,” says the other first author Natacha Bodenhausen from FiBL. The aim of the study, funded by the Gebert Rüf Stiftung Foundation, was to be able to predict the conditions under which mycorrhizal inoculation works. “With just a few soil indicators – mainly soil fungi – we were able to predict the success of inoculation in nine out of 10 fields, and thus could also predict the harvest yield even before the field season,” says the study’s co-lead Klaus Schläppi from the University of Basel. “This predictability makes it possible to target the use of the fungi in fields where they will work. That’s a crucial element for developing these technologies into a reliable agricultural method,” says Schläppi. Further research is still required to find out the easiest way to spread the fungi over large areas. Nevertheless, “the results of this field trial represent a big step toward a more sustainable agriculture,” concludes van der Heijden. BF This research is published in Nature Microbiology as Stefanie Lutz et al. Soil microbiome indicators can predict crop growth response to large-scale inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Nature Microbiology, Nov. 29, 2023. DOI: 10.1038/s41564-02301520-w Researchers are working to further sustainable agriculture by studying mycorrhizal fungi in fields. Tracy Miller photo
14 Ate Today? Thank a Farmer. Better Farming | February 2024 Avoiding scams Zoran Zeremski - stock.adobe.com EDUCATION IS THE BEST WAY TO KEEP YOUR FARM BUSINESS SAFE. AVOIDING SCAMMERS By EMILY CROFT Farms, like every other business, are at risk of being targeted by scammers. It can feel challenging to determine what is safe, as more business transactions move to a remote platform – over the phone or the internet. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) stated that losses from reported frauds increased from $165 million in 2020 to $379 million in 2021. These numbers don’t include losses from the many instances of fraud which weren’t reported. “Fraud is across the board, generally unreported. It’s estimated that only five to 10 per cent of cases are reported,” explains Jeff Horncastle, Client and Communications outreach officer at CAFC. “It’s a huge problem that is likely into billions of dollars lost.” As the cost of equipment and commodities increase, and more money changes hands, there may even be scammers who specifically focus on the agriculture industry. How can farmers protect themselves and their businesses from fraudsters? What’s out there? Over the past few years, the farm community has seen common reports of scams involving equipment, hay, grants, and more. In Ontario, the OPP has reported an increase in merchandise frauds involving farm equipment. John Armit, acting detective sergeant with the Anti-Rackets Branch of the OPP, says that this uptick in reports was seen before harvest in the summer of 2023. “What happens is the fraudster grabs an image from an auction or trading website in the U.S. and will copy the information and put it on a Canadian website,” explains Armit, who suggests a careful, cautious approach for Canadian farmers looking at equipment in the U.S. “That same image and info is now on Canadian platforms, and Canadian farmers who are looking to purchase will see it and contact them. They are now in direct communication with the fraudster. “We’ve seen money wired to the United States, and once the money is sent, the communication is ceased or there is suddenly some excuse for why the equipment can’t come to Canada.” Armit says that equipment listed below market value should be a major red flag when shopping. He also recommends that, if possible, farmers make an effort to see equipment in person before making purchases. Horncastle notes that fraud is a risk to all farmers. “With these challenging times in the economy, I would say most farmers are at risk because everyone is trying to save a bit of money. Anyone could be targeted,” says Horncastle.
15 Ate Today? Thank a Farmer. Better Farming | February 2024 Avoiding scams Armit says that another common scam being reported in Canada is spear phishing, or business email compromise. In this scam, fraudsters will collect information about their victim in advance. They may use malware to create a rule to forward emails to their own account, and they may infiltrate or mimic the victim’s own email. The goal is to send more convincing communications. “The fraudsters might send an email to that person asking for a change in banking info,” explains Armit, describing how business email compromise occurs. “What happens is that someone clicks on malware, which directs copies of emails to a different address. Scam- mers can monitor emails and then can send an invoice with banking info and the victim would send payment to the new account.” Joel Bouvier, director of Cyber Security at Farm Credit Canada, says that there are a wide variety of scams that can affect farmers. “It could be anything. We’ve seen fraudulent equipment and supplies sales, some invoice scams, online bidding and auction scams suggesting you might receive a discount if you pay direct, grant scams, or government rebate scams,” says Bouvier. Farms that use a lot of technology, such as hog and dairy farms, may also be at high risk. Sometimes the hightech systems can be taken over, dis- rupting operations. “It’s becoming more pervasive. It used to be targeted at larger organizations, but now we see it happening to small farming operations too,” explains Bouvier. “There are hackers out there that specifically target agriculture. They are just putting stuff out there and hoping someone will take the bait.” As these attempts become more common, what warning signs should farmers watch for while conducting their business? Keeping your farm safe All members of the farm must be trained in what to look for when avoiding scams. “There are a few common things people can look for,” explains Bouvier. “Ask yourself if this is too good to be true. Is it too good of a deal? One of the common footprints of fraud is that they are playing on emotions and trying to get a knee-jerk reaction or playing on self-interest. That’s the deal portion.” It’s also important to verify sources to avoid scams. As an example, producers can research the seller and location of equipment, or investigate email senders. “I always tell people to be their own detective – look online and do your research. The big red flag for farmers would be any unsolicited emails, phone calls, or texts. When the info does come to you, slow down and conduct your own research,” says Armit. UNCOVER THE HEALTH OF YOUR SOIL Do you grow grains or oilseeds in the Golden Horseshoe region? Find out if you qualify for FREE soil health sampling. Email us at email@example.com Call (437) 972-1675 Learn more at www.greenbelt.ca/greenbelt_soil_health GBF_SoilHealth_7x4.875_press_ad_AW.indd 1 2023-12-15 5:45 PM
Avoiding scams DEMAND NEW HOLLAND https://agriculture.newholland.com/nar/en-us EQUIPPED FOR A NEW WORLD™ Bob Mark New Holland Sales Ltd. Campbellford • 705-653-3700 Bob Mark New Holland Sales Ltd. Lindsay • 705-324-2221 Bob Mark New Holland Sales Ltd. Napanee • 613-354-9244 Bob Mark New Holland Sales Ltd. Sunderland • 705-357-3121 Delta Power Equipment Mitchell • 519-348-8467 Delta Power Equipment St. Marys • 519-349-2180 Delta Power Equipment Tilbury • 519-682-9090 Delta Power Equipment Waterford • 519-443-8622 Delta Power Equipment Watford • 519-849-2744 Delta Power Equipment Winchester • 613-774-2887 Ebert Welding Ltd. New Liskeard • 705-647-6896 ESM Farm Equipment Ltd. Wallenstein • 519-669-5176 Maxville Farm Machinery Ltd. Maxville • 613-527-2834 McCauley Equipment Sales Orillia • 705-325-4424 Oneida New Holland Caledonia • 905-765-5011 Oneida New Holland St Catharines • 905-688-5160 Regional Tractor Sales Ltd. Freelton • 905-659-1094 Richards Equipment Inc. Barrie • 705-721-5530 Robert’s Farm Equipment Sales, Inc. Chesley • 519-363-3192 Robert’s Farm Equipment Sales, Inc. Mount Forest • 519-323-2755 Robert’s Farm Equipment Sales, Inc. Walton • 519-887-6365 Smiths Farm Equipment (Jasper) Ltd. Jasper • 613-283-1758 Stewart’s Equipment Erin • 519-833-9616 Horncastle agrees. “You can look up the URL or domain that fraudsters are using for links or emails. There are also ways to verify when a website was created. “If you’re getting emails asking you to download attachments or click on links, take time to look at where it’s coming from.” Bouvier asks, “if an email appears to be coming from a known person, does it follow typical interactions with that company? Independently verify with that person if they are asking you to phone somewhere or send money. Don’t just trust it.” Training is another important aspect of keeping farms safe from fraud. There are a few tips for avoiding scammers and increasing the security of farm businesses. “The first step is just training themselves and their employees to be able to recognize the warning signs of phishing,” says Bouvier. “Never give out personal info, and if it’s a known person contacting you, make sure you verify.” Keeping technology protected and clean will also reduce the risk of being a scam victim. “Password hygiene on your accounts is important. Use complex passwords and multifactor authentication in case someone has your password,” says Bouvier. “Don’t reuse passwords on your accounts. Anti-virus and anti-malware software can also help protect your devices, and if it finds something malicious, it can actually help block them.” Bouvier recommends keeping devices updated, noting that out-ofdate software can be exploited by scammers. There are also a few programs that are designed to reduce the risk of fraud. Get Cyber Safe is a national program which increases awareness of cyber safety. It features information about securing accounts, devices, and connections. The Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) is also a nationally administered program offering grants for improving technology. Businesses can apply for the Boost Your Business Technology grant for up to $15,000 in funding. One eligible application for this funding is boosting business cyber security. What if you’ve been scammed? You don’t need to be the victim of a scam to report something suspicious. “If something is suspicious, it’s important to report it,” says Horncastle. “You don’t have to be a victim to report it. Flag it to the platform it’s on and report it to the Canadian AntiFraud Centre with the contact info and payment info they are requesting. Never send money or personal info if you believe something is suspicious.” If you do find yourself the victim of a scam, don’t be embarrassed.
18 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | February 2024 Avoiding scams Mental Health Training for the Agriculture Community AgricultureWellnessOntario.ca Individuals Sign up for one of our monthly virtual workshops today! Open to producers, agriculture professionals and community members. Groups Request a private training for your board, staff or membership. For teams and groups of 5-30 people. In the Know is a free workshop tailored to the agriculture community that increases understanding of mental health and wellness, normalizes conversations about mental health and reduces stigma. 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. “A lot of the time people are embarrassed, so they don’t react right away. Don’t be embarrassed – it happens,” says Bouvier. Armit shared a publication by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre detailing six steps to take if you find yourself a victim of a fraud or scam. Step 1: Gather the information relevant to the fraud, including documents, receipts, and communications. Step 2: Report the scam to local law enforcement and keep a log of communications and your file number. Step 3: Report the scam to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by phone or on their website. Step 4: Report the incident to the financial institution to where the money was sent and to the payment service provider. Step 5: If fraud took place online, flag it on the respective platform as “Report Abuse” or “Report an Ad.” Step 6: Place a flag on your bank accounts, and report the fraud to the credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, to avoid any more money being stolen or lines of credit being opened in your name. Bouvier suggests having these steps listed as part of a farm protocol before a scam occurs. “Make a plan for what happens when the worst occurs. This ensures that critical response decisions are not driven by emotions during high-pressure moments.” Is it possible for producers to get their money back after being scammed? Horncastle says it’s unlikely, but it depends on a few factors. “The chances are slim, but it does depend on how the money was sent. If you used a financial institution or wire transfer, reach out to the bank about getting the money back, if possible,” explains Horncastle. Bouvier says it can also depend on where the scammer is based, as many are located outside of Canada. Armit explains, “The big challenge is the globalization of these frauds, which makes it challenging jurisdictionally for Canadian authorities to arrest overseas. The fraudsters have gotten proficient at using money mules and professional launderers.” With these challenges, education and prevention are the best tools to avoid fraud. As scammers become more creative and the risks of fraud increase, pre- vention is becoming critical for the safety of farm businesses. Taking the time to become educated in cyber security and fraud prevention and taking extra precautions when making purchases or exchanging information or money can help reduce your risk. BF
Make OFA your general farm organization of choice in 2024 It’s that time of year again when farmers across the province are making important decisions of where to allocate their hard-earned membership dollars. When selecting your general farm organization of choice for 2024, the needs of your business, your community and the future of Ontario’s agriculture and food industry should be taken into consideration. OFA is committed to being an industry leader for our 38,000 farm business members and their rural communities through relationship building, advocacy and influence. In 2023, we strengthened existing partnerships and solidified new ones with industry partners, stakeholders and government representatives. We championed for rural broadband expansion, farmer mental health, farmland preservation, investment in rural infrastructure, and carbon tax exemptions for farm uses to increase your operation’s bottom line. The Farm Business Registration (FBR) renewal is available online and we encourage all farmers to consider taking advantage of this option. When you register online, you will have quick and easy access to all of your information in one place, including: Easily select an accredited farm organization and pay your invoice – You can pay your invoice with a credit card. It’s quick, easy, and secure, and you will avoid a trip to the bank or to the post office. Immediately receive proof of registration – You will receive an email as proof of registration, which you can use to apply for farm licence plates. Quickly update your FBR information – Your account information is at your fingertips. Confirm or update your farm information, all online. Renew your farm business registration online at www.agricorp.com/fbr We appreciate the loyalty of our members and the trust they place in our organization every year to be their voice, represent their interests and turn their concerns into action. Thank you for your support as we continue to work hard to ensure Farms and Food Forever.
20 Story Idea? Email Paul.Nolan@Farms.com Better Farming | February 2024 The 2023 corn growing season across most of Eastern Canada will go down in the history books as being one of the highest yields on record. Looking back at the 2023 growing season may leave a few agronomists scratching their heads as to why the yields were so high. In Eastern Ontario, I looked at corn plot averages in 2023 and compared them to corn plot averages in 2022. Most of our corn plots are grown in the same area, with the same growers and hybrids year over year, giving us a good perspective on yield trends. In 2023, corn plot averages were 231.9 bushels, and in 2022, they were 215 bushels. That is an astonishing extra 16.9 bushel increase in 2023. So where did all this extra yield come from? Let us do a deeper dive into where grain corn yield comes from. Simply put, Yield = G * E * M (or Yield = Genetics and Environment and Management). If we break down the genetic component of a hybrid, corn has four key growth stages in its life. The first key ones are germination and stand establishment. We always talk about corn populations, but that comes down to plant-to-plant uniformity, and even in emergence, that relates to final yield. Having uniform cob size with opti- mum plant populations for a given management zone is critical. In 2023, plant stands were consistently uniform thanks to excellent spring planting conditions with timely rains. The next critical phase is around V6, when the corn plant determines the number of kernel rows around a plant. Looking back at the first 45 days after planting, stresses were minimal. In some cases, the first part of the season was dry, but being dry early is better than later in the growing season. The next phase, pollination, oc- curred when we finally got ample rains and moderate temperatures across most of the area. This allowed for ideal kernel set and minimal kernel abortion. The last 30 days – better known as the “kernel weight/seed depth” phase – had stress-free conditions and avoid- ed any killing premature frosts. Kernel depth and kernel weights in corn were not reduced in 2023 with optimal growing conditions. Corn plants kept “chugging along.” To obtain yield calculations prior to harvest, we always talk about kernel rows around a cob, kernels per row up a cob and multiply that by the number of harvestable ears per acre. We then divide that by estimated kernels per bushel to get yield in bushels per acre. This where we gained a lot of extra yield this year. Normally we would use a factor of 85,000 or 90,000 kernels per bushel in the equation. In 2023 kernels per bushel were less than 80,000 in a lot of cases which contributed to higher yields on an acre basis. I decided to take one plot and do some key yield estimates using traditional kernel-per-bushel numbers. In one plot we had two hybrids weighed across the weigh-wagon scales two times. We did kernel estimates for each hybrid five times in two separate locations. I then calculated the kernels per bushel. Using the average number of kernels around, kernels up and down the cob, plus the harvestable ears, I calculated yield estimates based on traditional numbers and the calculated kernels per bushel. Using the traditional kernels-perbushels of 85,000 and 90,000, yield estimates were off significantly – in the 75 per cent range. Using the actual kernels-per-bushels, estimates were within 96 per cent. Collaborating with fellow agronomist James D’Aoust, in the Toronto to Quebec border area, we looked at 168 samples of corn. The average calculated kernels per bushel was 73,872. Ranges by hybrid and growing environment Kernel Size RECORDING THESE FINER DETAILS WILL ALLOW YOU TO MANAGE FOR LARGER YIELD INCREASES. DOES KERNEL SIZE MATTER? By PAUL HERMANS A = Avg. kernel rows around a cob, B = Avg. cob length, C = Avg. number of harvestable ears/acre (in 1000K), D = kernels/bushel, Yield = (A*B*C)/D
21 Story Idea? Email Paul.Nolan@Farms.com Better Farming | February 2024 were noted, from a low of 60,000 kernels per bushel to 90,000 kernels per bushel. There was correlation between yield and kernels per bushel. The higher the yield, the lower the kernels per bushel. One secret to success for higher yields is getting lower kernels per bushel. For future yield estimation, consider kernels-per-bushel estimates and kernels per acre, and determine these prior to harvest to get accurate estimates. This will allow for potential selling of additional yield, and maximizing on commodity markets should late-season price rallies occur. Simple counting apps like “Count This” are great tools to make this task easy for your farm operation. Doing some counts throughout the day from different fields will give you a sense on kernels per bushel, as you strive to maximize not only kernels per acre but kernel weights. Kernel weight accounted for some of this yield increase for sure, but so did the environment. A lot of growers commented that their lower-yielding management zones had a higher percentage increase in yield compared to their consistently higher-yielding management zones. Weather played a key factor in part of this, as water availability was a non-limiting factor in 2023. The key take-home messages from this study include: Kernel weights matter. The larger the kernel, the more yield there is. How do we manage for higher kernel weights? By managing the environment and ensuring corn does not have a difficult day, any day. Fungicide, attention to nitrogen, and sound fertility programs add up. Managing for higher water availability in the soil rooting zone is key to ensure grain fill occurs without any stresses. Pay atten- tion to populations in these different zones. To maximize yield, it is critical to have high kernel weights, and also the right number of kernels per acre. At the end of the day, paying atten- tion to recording these finer details for the next harvest season will allow you to manage for larger yield increases. BF In my ‘Do Your Crops Get Three Square Meals’ article last month there was an error in the corn and soybean removal rates per bushel. Under Corn for K20 the values were quoted in kg/t. The correct value should read as 0.26-0.29 lb/bu. My apologies for the confusion, and thanks to the readers who reached out. Updated chart follows here. PAUL HERMANS Paul Hermans, CCA-ON is an area agronomist in Eastern Ontario with Corteva Agriscience. Kernel Size HYBRID CALCULATED KERNELS PER BUSHEL EARS PER ACRE 1000 AVG ROWS AROUND AVG KERNELS PER ROW EST YIELD USING CALCULATED KERNELS ACTUAL YIELD YIELD ESTIMATES A 70,326 30.2 17.2 32.5 240.1 239.8 198.6 187.6 B 67,500 32.4 15.2 32 233.5 243.0 185.4 175.1 A 63,520 32.4 15.2 32 248.1 253.6 185.4 175.1 B 70,954 30.2 17.2 32.5 237.9 256.5 198.6 187.6 DIFFERENCE 96.6% 77.4% 73.1% @ 85K @ 90K A VG 68,075 31.3 16.2 32.25 239.9 248.2 192.0 181.3 Crop P205 K20 Corn .37-.44 .26-.29 Soybeans .8-.88 1.38-.14
22 Follow us on Twitter @BetterFarmingON Better Farming | February 2024 El Niño El Niño’s threat of below-normal pre- cipitation is of particular concern for farmers in already dry Prairie regions, but far less so to crop growers in Ontario. Going into December, 97 per cent of the Canadian Prairies were abnormally dry or in moderate to exceptional drought, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Drought Monitor. Tom Jensen, a soil scientist and agronomist with Jensen AgGro, says farmers in the dryland and irrigated portions of southern Saskatchewan and Alberta have expressed their anxiety about dry conditions persisting into 2024’s growing season. Dryland and irrigated regions El Niño could force dry conditions to persist or worsen, prompting farmers in unirrigated areas of Saskatchewan and Alberta to eye more drought-tolerant crops. Inadequate winter snowpack and no timely early spring rains could result in producers seeding less canola, and devoting more acres to wheat, field peas, and lentils, Jensen says. He adds that ongoing dryness might convince some farmers to consider summer fallowing – a practice that had almost disappeared over the last 30 years – just for the sake of moisture conservation. “It is economically better to grow a modest crop once every two years than have two years in a row of crop failures,” Jensen says. Meanwhile, irrigated portions of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan are heading for water shortages unless those areas receive adequate snow pack in the eastern slope mountains during winter and/or spring, he says. “There is potential for water ration- ing to occur, and some potato and sugar beet farmers may end up paying other farmers for water,” Jensen says. “That is, shifting water rights over to the high-value and high-water-demanding potato and sugar beet crops from cereal or hay crops.” Planting dates Should this winter’s anticipated strong El Niño drop below-average snow totals, farmers could end up altering their spring planting times. Some farmers might plant at their normal times or earlier, as dry conditions would be conducive to getting on fields sooner. However, there may be a risk of uneven growth stages in those fields. “The earlier crop stage will germinate and emerge in the lower areas where there is just enough soil moisture. Then, after some spring rains, the rest of the field will germinate and emerge, resulting in a field with two different stage crops,” Jensen says. This not only complicates herbicide and fungicide applications, but also EL NIÑO UPSETTING GROWERS’ PLANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY CROSS-CANADA WEATHER OUTLOOK By RICHARD KAMCHEN Anne Kirk, Manitoba Agriculture photos
23 Follow us on Twitter @BetterFarmingON Better Farming | February 2024 This could be the easiest decision you’ve ever made. Visit AgExpert.ca/gearup to learn how. GEAR UP with Farming is full of tough decisions. AgExpert Field & Accounting software is designed to help Canadian farmers make more informed decisions with the help of their data. Sign up for AgExpert and you could win! Grand Prize 2024 Polaris RANGER 1000 EPS Enter Before March 31, 2024 7948_AGEX_2023_ContestQ4_4-625x7-5_Opt-2.indd 1 2023-12-19 1:52 PM harvest operations. Farmers also have the option of delaying planting until precipitation finally arrives. “This will shorten the growing season for planted crops, but the crops will germinate and emerge quickly and more evenly,” Jensen says. There may even be producers who choose against seeding some acres if dryness persists, and instead ready themselves to grow improved crops in 2025, he says. But well-timed, ample precipitation in the spring would change everything. “We can go from a drought to a more normal growing season with just some timely early spring precipitation over a week time frame in April or early May,” Jensen says. Cattle Ongoing dryness also affects livestock, and represents something of a doubleedged sword for the cattle sector. A milder winter with below-normal precipitation – hallmarks of a strong El Niño in Canada – would reduce feed demand, but leave the ground parched. When it comes to feed demand, the colder it gets, the more that cattle need to consume: Alberta’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation recommends producers increase the grain they feed their animals by 2.2 lbs. for every 5 C below -20 C. That’s because the metabolic rates of cattle will rise to increase heat production to help maintain their body temperature. Rancher and Cows in Control owner Ryan Copithorne says dry winters can further help save on feed costs if producers can turn out their cattle on grass that wasn’t grazed in the fall. “A cow might eat 20 to 30 pounds of feed on banked grass on warm winter days versus over 40 pounds on cold winter days and full feed,” Copithorne says. While positive in the face of feed supply tightness, this practice puts strain on grass supplies for the spring and summer, Copithorne explains. “Brown winters are hellish on water table and slough levels,” he adds. “Surface water is going to be an issue going forward. “It will take a lot of moisture to top up our dry slough beds and drained water tables.” Manitoba The Keystone province was spared the extreme drought which parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan experienced in 2023. Manitoba Agriculture’s final crop report last October described variable rainfall throughout the growing season and improved yields in regions that experienced timely rains. Even with an El Niño winter, agronomist Jason Voogt, owner of Field 2 Field Agronomy, says farmers would be best off sticking to their normal rotational crop plans because there can still be a lot of uncertainty and regional differences. El Niño