Better Farming Ontario May | 2024


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4 The Business of Ontario Agriculture Better Farming | May 2024 INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE INSIGHT FROM THE INSIDE LETTER FROM THE EDITOR ONT. COURT RULES ON TRESPASS LAW Ontario Superior Court Judge Markus Koehnen recently delivered a decision on some sections of the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act (2020), which had been under a court challenge for the past few years. On April 2, the court ruled that specific clauses of the “Ag Gag Law” contravened the right to freedom of expression as outlined in the Charter of Rights. The provisions that had effectively banned undercover reporting at farms and abattoirs were declared of no force and effect. The Animal Justice Canada Legislative Fund was an applicant in the case, and is “celebrating (the) decision that strikes down much of the law, which aimed to silence whistleblowers and journalists who work undercover to investigate animal cruelty.” The ruling brought a measured response from the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO), who are “pleased” that the Court of Justice “upheld the legislation and intent” of the Act. “The Act is a critical safeguard to protect farm animals, the food supply, farmers and others from risks that are created when trespassers enter places where farm animals live or when persons engage in unauthorized interactions with farm animals,” noted the BFO. “Trespassing, and even the threat of trespassing, on farms is detrimental to the mental health and well-being of our farmers. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their homes and their places of work.” Seaforth farmer Nick Whyte had a fun response when asked what his family does in their spare time in this month’s magazine (Up Close, Page 30). “At the back of our farm, we have a log cabin beside a pond and a spring creek. It is a focal point for all of our extended family. The pond is used for swimming, fishing, and skating. In the 10-acre woodlot, we make maple syrup and together the family taps trees and collects sap.” Good times, great memories. 1-888-248-4893 90 Woodlawn Road West Guelph, ON N1H 1B2 PUBLISHER & EDITORIAL DIRECTOR PAUL NOLAN ext 202 ASSISTANT TO THE PUBLISHER & EDITORIAL DIRECTOR LESLIE STEWART ext 265 AGRICULTURAL JOURNALIST EMILY CROFT CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS EDITION MOE AGOSTINO CAMPBELL CORK DALE COWAN DIEGO FLAMMINI ABHINESH GOPAL PAUL HERMANS PATRICK LYNCH RALPH WINFIELD MARIANNE FIGGE STEIN 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 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 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 endorse any advertiser claims. The publisher shall have no liability for the omission of any scheduled advertising. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada. Follow us on @BetterFarmingON “The application process is not fun. It’s lots of work and you have to apply in the middle of the night or early morning on the day the program opens because funding is used up by daybreak.“ - Essex County farmer, Page 10 “A single soil report can provide good information. A series of reports over the years is better. We can look at multiple years’ worth of reports to find trends in soil fertility and allow for adjustments in amendments.“ - Dale Cowan, Page 33 “When using these implants, I tell farmers that they are the one thing guaranteed to provide financial return in the beef market. There is no question left that it is going to make them money. It’s going to increase feed efficiency, average daily gain (ADG), and pretty much as long as there is adequate nutrition, they will return a profit.” - Dr. Van Mitchell, Page 36 “Since both reductions in sunlight and increases in ozone can cause photosynthesis reductions, corn may also be inclined to remobilize carbohydrates from the stalks later in the season to satisfy grain fill requirements, thus increasing the potential for weak stalks and lodging prior to harvest.“ - Moe Agostino, Page 44 Cover: Crystal Whyte photo; Emily Croft photo

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6 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | May 2024 Beyond the Barn Z-SERIES OFFERS ‘NEW CLASS’ OF SOY GENETICS Corteva Agriscience has launched a new line of Pioneer soybeans in time for the 2024 growing season. Ontario growers now have limited access to Z-Series Enlist E3 soybeans and the 20 varieties that are part of the lineup for this season, with full commercial availability planned for 2025. “This is a new class of soybean genetics and is in a class all of its own, delivering more yield than our previous A-Series,” Chad Garrod, eastern seeds portfolio manager with Corteva Agriscience, recently told Better Farming.The varieties range in maturity from 00 to 3.2. Farmers in northern Ontario may choose to grow a 00.5, whereas producers in southern Ontario might choose a 3.2 variety, Garrod said, adding that with 20 varieties available, farmers should be able to find the right variety for their individual operations. Trials show the Z-Series outperforms Pioneer’s A-Series. IMPACT trials from across North America determined the Z-Series soybeans yielded 2.7 bushels per acre higher than the A-Series, and a provided a $35 per acre return on investment. The varieties also have score improvements of 0.5 for SDS and 0.6 for white mould, as well as an increased lodging resistance and more tolerance to iron deficiency chlorosis. “These aren’t old genetics with new traits; these are all new genetics,” Garrod said. “I think this is going to create a new standard across the board for soybean production in Canada.” Another potential benefit of the Z-Series is the flexibility it offers. Industry research suggests farmers should rotate between PI 88788 and Peking resistance varieties. Garrod said the new Z-Series supports farmers in implementing this rotation. BF - Diego Flammini Cross-Canada farm cash receipts were 3.6 per cent higher in 2023 than 2022. Statistics Canada recently released their summary of farm cash receipts from January to December last year, noting that they totaled $98.6 billion, which was $3.4 billion more than the previous year. These increases were observed in both livestock and crop receipts, while program payments decreased. StatCan reported that Ontario farm cash receipts in 2023 were consistent with 2022, but all other provinces saw increases. Crop receipt changes were not consistent across commodities. In total, crop receipts increased by 2.0 per cent. Wheat showed a $922.4 million increase, partially due to 24.1 per cent higher marketings. Prices for wheat decreased by 11.4 per cent in 2023 but remained higher than their five-year average. Corn and soybean receipts decreased in 2023 due to reduced marketings and a decline in price. Corn receipts were $469.4 million less than 2022 and soybean receipts were $308.7 million less. This is partially due to increased supply in the U.S. market. Livestock sectors reported largely consistent receipt increases in 2023, for a total of 9.8 per cent and $37.3 billion more than 2022. Much of this increase (80 per cent) is attributed to increases in cattle receipts, coinciding with high cattle prices for slaughter and exports. Cattle receipts totalled $13.5 billion, increasing $2.7 billion from 2022. Supply managed receipts including dairy and chicken increased by 5.7 per cent to a total of $14.9 billion. Receipt increases may reflect high input costs, leading to price increases. Specifically, dairy receipts increased 3.9 per cent to $8.6 billion, and meat chicken receipts increased $292.9 million to a total of $4.2 billion. While other livestock sectors saw receipts increase, pork sector receipts decreased by 10.3 per cent to $5.9 billion, which StatCan attributes to an 11.5 per cent price decrease and reduced demand. BF FARM CASH RECEIPTS UP IN 2023 Leslie Stewart photo

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8 Story Idea? Email Better Farming | May 2024 Beyond the Barn Farm organizations continue to react positively to another increase in the interest-free portion of the Advanced Payments Program (APP). In March, federal ag minister Lawrence MacAulay confirmed that the 2024 interest-free limit to the Advanced Payments Program would be $250,000. The program is available for over 500 crop and livestock products in Canada, allowing farmers to access cash advances up to $1,000,000. Advances are calculated as 50 per cent of the anticipated market value of the product. In recent years, exceptional circumstances saw the government increase the interest-free portion of the advance from $100,000 to $250,000 in 2022 and $350,000 in 2023. “In the face of so many challenges, our hardworking producers continue to show their resilience and produce top-quality products for Canadians, and the world. Increasing the interest-free portion of the Advance Payments Program means improved cash flow and savings for farmers as we head into the 2024 planting season,” said MacAulay in a release. The interest-free portion was anticipated to return to $100,000 for the 2024 year and agricultural organizations have been lobbying to maintain it at $350,000. “The Advanced Payments Program is an important tool in the toolbox for farmers across the country to access short-term financing for their farm business,” said Drew Spoelstra, OFA president. “We are at a critical point in time with high costs of production, inflation, elevated interest rates and falling commodity prices, and we’re grateful for the Government of Canada’s response by increasing the interest-free portion of the APP to $250,000 annually.” These comments were included in an OFA release, which estimated that this increase could save Ontario producers $18,000 in interest costs in 2024 if using the full interest-free portion. “Given the costs facing farmers are only expected to increase, we hope this change can set a new permanent baseline for interest-free advances and that the APP will continue to make adjustments that keep pace with rising farm expenses in the coming years,” commented Keith Currie, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. BF - Emily Croft Emily Croft photo FARM GROUPS SUPPORTING INCREASE A FARMING LIFE: SIDNEY ATKINSON Farmer, husband, father, grandfather, friend, and comfort to many. Born June 29, 1958; died Dec. 6, 2023. When Sidney (Sid) Atkinson was in Grade 10, he took most of the school year off to expand his family’s dairy barn. His teachers told him he would fail his classes, but he aced his exams and passed “with flying colours.” “That was dad,” said son Mark Atkinson. “Whatever he put his mind to, he conquered.” Sid purchased the family farm from his father and expanded his dairy operation to 1,000 acres over the years. “He joined many different farming organizations and kept his finger on the pulse of what was happening in the industry. “He was extremely well known because of how vocal he was. He was always certain to get his point across. He wasn’t a yes-man, but he could argue with someone the whole meeting and still go out and have a nice supper with them after.” Sid was also active in his local church and provided support for his fellow community members. “He would have homeschooled kids come to the farm once a week and he taught them the basics of farming and other life skills,” said cousin Rod DeJong. “People always confided in him because he was wise and thought things through. “He was a friend to anyone. Between his research and the things he knew, he found a way to relate to everyone and blossom a friendship,” said Mark. “When he passed, it was the biggest funeral this community had ever seen. It was a blessing to be a son of his.” BF - Leslie Stewart Sidney (Sid) Atkinson

The Agricultural Mentorship Program (AgriMentor) offers individual, one-on-one mentorship coaching nationwide in English or French for women working in agriculture. It is led in Ontario by the Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens (UCFO), with the support of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). UCFO will match mentors and mentees who each must commit to at least one monthly meeting whether virtual or in-person for a period of six months. The program is open to Canadian women who are both looking for a mentor and those who wish to serve as one. It is free for mentees; an honorarium of $500 is offered to women who serve as mentors. Opportunities for Canadian women in agriculture Mentorship A new agricultural mentorship program has been designed specifically to support women entrepreneurs in overcoming challenges encountered in their agricultural journey. To learn more about the program visit UCFO’s website: According to the 2021 Census of Agriculture: More women are farming in Canada than in 2016: 79,795 compared to 77,970 five years before – first increase in 30 years! 30.4% of the farm population is female compared to 28.7% in 2016.

10 Follow us on Twitter @BetterFarmingON Better Farming | May 2024 Ontario producers have access to many grants and cost-share programs. Most of these programs aim to improve the feasibility of implementing practices that improve environmental sustainability and industry competitiveness. Some programs are region or industry specific, and some may have defined goals such as improved nutrient management or soil health. Many industries also have risk management and advanced payment programs, which make operation growth more attainable for farms of all sizes. Financial incentive programs offer many opportunities for Ontario farmers to try new management practices, but to be worthwhile, it is necessary for the application process to be manageable and accessible to all farmers. When Better Farming readers were asked if they had used cost-share programs or grants for farm improvements, 60 per cent stated that they had completed projects using funding from these programs. Producers who responded also shared their comments about which programs they had used, the projects they had completed, and how they found the application process. Jon, Niagara Region: “We’ve used them for grassed waterways.” Steve, Brant County: “We put VeryHigh Flexion (VF) tires and air inflation systems on three planters. They are easy to apply for and all online.” Christine, Bruce County: “We may use them in the future.” Ernie, Wellington County: “We have not used any at this time.” Veronique, Wellington County: “We are using it for paying back the COVID fund.” Geoff, Bruce County: “We used cost-sharing to get into strip tillage and to gain the ability to precisionapply manure.” Bill, Elgin County: “We used it for GPS. We have nothing planned now.” Larry, Brant County: “We used it to improve soil conditions.” Joan, Grey County: “We purchased establishment equipment for cover crops. Applications are getting easier.” Lloyd, Bruce County: “We used it for reduced tillage equipment, manure storage upgrades, and windbreaks. I am not applying for any more now or in the near future. It is too much paperwork and then grant money is used up in the first 15 minutes after opening, so it’s useless and not worth bothering.” Allan, Peel Region: “We used Environmental Farm Plan for no-till equipment and fertilizer application efficiency. We are looking into other programs at the moment. I’m doing my homework.” Adam, Waterloo Region: “Yes, we applied for a sub-surface nitrogen placement project, and no, I will not be applying this round. “I feel the application process keeps getting more laborious with less chance for approval.” Wayne, Perth County: “We used it for planter dust control. It was online and simple.” Moe, Essex County: “I have used cost-share funding. The application process is not fun. It’s lots of work and you have to apply in the middle of the night or early morning on the day the program opens because funding is used up by daybreak. I have used it for variable-rate nitrogen application technology, drainage mains, and controlled drainage.” Doug, Middlesex County: “We have used programs for tree planting and manure storage. The application process was lengthy but manageable.” BF Digging Deeper Some farmers have used cost-share programs to improve nitrogen management and soil conditions. Emily Croft photo HOW DO YOU USE FINANCIAL INCENTIVES? Grants & cost-share programs can encourage new management practices. By Emily Croft

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12 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | May 2024 Agricultural occupations are hazardous with one of the highest rates of workplace injuries and fatalities. The manual and often strenuous nature of the work, combined with the use of machinery and exposure to environmental hazards create a challenging work environment. Understanding the nature and causes of injuries can help improve safety guidelines and policy measures. However, obtaining a comprehensive overview of injuries is hindered by the absence of a central reporting system. Two new papers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provide a systematic review of academic literature on agricultural injuries in the U.S. and globally. “When it comes to agriculture, there’s no single source for injury data. In other occupations, work injuries in the U.S. must be reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but farm work is often exempt from these requirements because many farms are small and have less than 10 full-time employees,” says Salah Issa, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) and an Illinois Extension specialist at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at Illinois. ABE is also part of The Grainger College of Engineering at Illinois. “There have been a lot of grassroots efforts to track surveillance data, but they are based on different methods so it’s hard to get a complete look at agricultural injuries. Our work combines results into one large dataset, providing a comprehensive overview of previous research,” Issa explains. In the first study, the researchers conducted a systematic literature review of 48 academic papers published in the U.S. and Canada from 1985 to 2022. “We identified five different surveillance methods: Newspaper clippings, surveys, death certificates, hospital records and emergency medical services (EMS) data, and multiple sources,” says Sihan Li, a doctoral student in ABE and lead author on the first paper. The researchers also analyzed and categorized information such as the type and source of injury, the event Research REVIEWING INJURIES & IMPROVING SAFETY ‘Vehicles are the most common source of injury.’ By Marianne Figge Stein, University of Illinois Understanding the nature and source of injuries is crucial for developing educational programs and interventions. auremar -

13 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | May 2024 leading up to it, and the gender of the victim. Overall, vehicles (including tractors and ATVs) were the most common source of injury, with over 55,000 incidents reported, as well as the leading source of fatalities. Other significant causes of injury included machinery, slips and trips, animals, chemicals, and tools. Men were more than twice as likely as women to be victims of injury. Age varied by surveillance method, with newspaper clippings skewed to younger victims (22 per cent of incidents) and death certificates skewed to older victims (30 per cent over 65). In the second study, the researchers reviewed 69 articles from 17 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia, including the U.S., Canada, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Austria, Italy, and others. The main data sources identified in these studies were hospital records, followed by surveys, government records (including death certificates), insurance claims, and multiple sources. “For the global perspective, we narrowed our scope to focus primarily on machine-related injuries, which involves tractors and farm equipment,” says Mian Muhammad Sajid Raza, a doctoral student in ABE and lead author on the second paper. The researchers found that tractors stand out as the leading cause of fatal incidents, with tractor overturns accounting for 45 per cent of all machinery-related incidents in North America. Furthermore, injuries linked overall to agricultural machinery significantly contribute to both fatal and non-fatal incidents. “It is also interesting to look at other sources of injury. In North America and Europe, animals are the cause of less than three per cent of all injuries. But in Asia, animals represent seven per cent of the total injuries and 35 per cent of the fatalities. This is likely because farming is less automated and animals are still used extensively in some Asian countries,” Raza says. The research shows agriculture is a dangerous occupation globally, with injuries reported in at least three continents. Overall trends are as expected, with vehicles and machinery playing a large role in injuries and fatalities, Issa notes. “One of our most important findings is that the way you conduct injury surveillance will have an impact on your results,” he says. “For example, if you use newspaper clippings, your findings will skew towards a younger age group. The discrepancies are so large it’s clearly worth evaluating the type of surveillance methods employed, and it’s important to use multiple sources to get a good picture of what’s going on.” Understanding the nature and source of injuries is important for developing educational programs and interventions, Issa concludes. BF Research Spray More. Fill Less. Unverferth Mfg., Inc. • P.O. Box 357, Kalida, OH 45853 • 419-532-3121 • The Top Air Premier lineup of pull-type sprayers features tank capacities up to 2,400 gallons and boom widths up to 132 feet. This equates to more acres sprayed per day with less time filling and increased productivity. Plus, by using existing horsepower on the farm, you won’t break the bank when it’s time to spray! Customize your sprayer to fit your needs by adding a run-dry, high-pressure pump (std. onTA2400), auto-boom height control or steerable hitch. When you’re ready to spray more and fill less, visit or your nearest dealer today. Field-Proven Boom Design Electric Agitation 2,400, 1,600 & 1,200 Gallon Tanks Exclusive Containment Tank Boom & Axle Suspension Dual-Width Booms up to 132' Equalizer® Tracks PWM High-Performance Pump Centralized Command Center PRemier Sprayers MODELS TA2400 TA1600 TA1200


15 Ate Today? Thank a Farmer. Better Farming | May 2024 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. Corn Many factors influence corn population, but the key criteria for setting a given seeding rate include: 1) Hybrid response to population. 2) Soil type and water/nutrient-holding capabilities broken down into yield zones on a per bushel basis. 3) The price of corn seed. 4) What is the commodity price of corn for the period you are selling it at? I have said before that you should think about setting populations in the same way a realtor prioritizes criteria when selling a house. Location, location, location matters. In corn, the most important factor is water availPOPULATIONS Prioritize location when setting populations. Paul Hermans photo

16 The Business of Ontario Agriculture Better Farming | May 2024 ability, water availability, water availability. Corn planted at too high a seeding rate in water-limiting soils competes too much for nutrients and water. We can add more plants closer together in high-yielding areas because they can take the inter-plant stress more easily. More plants in higher-yield environments means more yield. Every field has unique characteristics regarding water-holding capacity, not only at a field level but also at a crop management/soil zone level. This sets the basis for corn populations and the stress corn plants will go through in a growing season on a sub-fields basis. At Corteva we look at decision zones (crop management zones) and what yield levels and corresponding populations are in these decision zones. For each decision zone, the zone can be broken down into yield “steps.” Think of a set of stairs. For each step of stairs, yield can go up 10 bushels. Our research would say that for each step or yield level increment of 10 bushels, we have data that would recommend a certain population by hybrid for that yield step. Every hybrid is unique in its own characteristics. Some hybrids flex down based on stressors thrown at it during a given growing season. For example, some flex down from 18 to 16 rows at V5-V6 if stress occurs at that growth stage. Others flex down during the critical pollination period and some others at the kernel depth/ kernel weight phase, equating to the last 30 days of grain fill. Corn tends to respond to higher populations in Northern climates. Sunlight hours and intensity changes the farther north you are than south. Capturing as much sunlight on a per-acre basis as early as possible is critical. Researchers talk a lot about leaf area index and if we can utilize this to capture 95 per cent of the sunlight at the onset of reproductive stages. If we do that, we are set up for maximum POPULATIONS Paul Hermans photo Scouting fields will help you get a sense of height differences at critical growing periods in soybean development stages. Reach out to experts to explore the benefits of VRS on your farm. Paul Hermans photo

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18 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | May 2024 POPULATIONS yield. This is where corn populations come into play by increasing leaf area index and capturing solar energy to make grain. Be careful when looking at broad corn population data that is not relevant to your corn maturity zone. Significant differences exist between seeding rates of 85 to 95 to 105 for comparative relative maturity hybrids. Learning your hybrids and how they react to these environments is vital. Then taking the four key factors I talked about above and combining all this information equates to the ideal corn population for a given field. Across North America populations have increased on average 280 seeds per acre per year over the last 20 years. Over the past three years, Pioneer has conducted corn population trials in Eastern Ontario, looking at planting rates of 26-30-34-38 thousand seeds per acre. These rates are set up to determine the ideal kernels per acre corn can produce. Research has shown that kernels per acre equates to about 85 per cent yield potential. The remaining 15 per cent of yield comes from the kernel weight (depth) of the kernels each year. In 2023, there was no yield limit to our population trials. Across 14 trials the optimum agronomic population rate was 38K seeds per acre. The 2023 growing season reflected this with ample rain during the grain fill period, an extended fall grain fill growing season and ideal daytime and nighttime temperatures that did not stress the corn crop. Looking at individual hybrids, there were differences in hybrid genetics to population. Knowing these differences assists in setting the correct population rate. Maximum economic seeding rates (which considers yield, commodity price and seed cost) in the 2023 trials was within the range of 34K-36K seeds/acre. To sum up, in general, the higher the yield level is at a field or crop management zone, the higher the corn population recommendation would be. In 2024 economics are different than previous years based on corn commodity prices. Carefully look at population rates and make sure you are using realistic yield goals. Changes in commodity prices changes population levels downward slightly from an economic standpoint. If you are looking for population recommendations for your farm, check out seed company websites. Most allow you to plug in a hybrid corn, see price and commodity price, and get the latest research data at various yield levels to give you not only the highest agronomic yield but economic yield as well. Soybeans Setting soybean population rates are the opposite to corn. As soybean yield levels increase, soybean populations decrease. This reflects the soil’s capaCorn planted at too high a seeding rate in water-limiting soils competes too much for nutrients and water. Paul Hermans photo

19 It’s Farming. And It’s Better. Better Farming | May 2024 bility of growing a larger, more robust plant that will have more nodes, flowers, and subsequently pods/beans at harvest time. I am just over six feet in height. When talking about soybean populations, I make a few reference points to my height. If you have soybeans in a crop management zone that are above my waist in height compared to soybeans that are at my knee height, this is a fantastic way to talk about soybean populations. Scouting fields will help you get a sense of these height differences at critical growing periods in soybean development stages. The lower-height soybeans will not have as many nodes and subsequent pods/beans, so you need to offset this with more plants/ acre to have the same number of nodes/acres. Scouting fields at key times will help give you a better sense of these height differences within your fields. Keep in mind water-holding capabilities of your fields, just like with corn. The key to soybeans is to set a large pod load, maintain it, and harvest it. In a soybean crop, well over 50 per cent of the soybean flowers will abort and not make grain. There is a balance needed to get the right populations based on a yield zone’s potential. Other factors that should be reviewed for soybean seeding rates include:  No-till or minimum-till soybeans in high residue situations calls for higher seeding rates.  Planting soybeans into high-residue corn rotations versus soybeans calls for seeding rate differences, especially if row cleaners are not used at planting time.  For ultra-early planting dates, look at increasing soybean seeding rates.  Treated seed versus none. Bump rates up when not using seed treatments. A few concluding thoughts Setting seeding rates is an art and a science all rolled into one. Utilize harvest maps to look at variability of yield across a given field. If corn and soybean yields vary less than five per cent yield from one side of the field to another it is easy to set just one planting rate. If you have variability of 10 to 20 per cent or even higher across a field, the use of variable rate seeding (VRS) will improve your field profitability immensely. Reach out to equipment vendors and seed suppliers and your local agronomy advisor to explore the benefits of VRS on your farm. BF PAUL HERMANS Paul Hermans, CCA-ON is an area agronomist in Eastern Ontario with Corteva Agriscience. POPULATIONS FILTRATION YOU CAN TRUST. WIX® heavy-duty filters are built to withstand the rigorous demands of the ag industry. By extending service intervals and reducing downtime, the right filters can increase your production and yield. WIX filters are tested and trusted—even in the harshest conditions. WIX-003083-04_2024 Trade Media HD_Agriculture_V4.indd 1 4/10/24 3:33 PM

20 Story Idea? Email Better Farming | May 2024 Battery Energy Storage Systems 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. Justin Rangooni, executive director of Energy Storage Canada, explains that these systems are just batteries with the same technology you’d find in your phone, laptop, or car. “It’s just a much bigger size stocked in a storage container,” says Rangooni. “They are powered with electricity and can send power back to the grid when needed at high demand or low production times. “The purpose of any energy storage system is to lower emissions by storing surplus electricity generated from clean sources for when production is low, or demand is high. They store low-cost energy when it’s not needed and can provide grid reliability with its response to fluctuations in supply and demand.” With increasing energy demands associated with development in rural towns, the purpose of BESS is to increase the capacity and reliability of the electricity grid. Can these sites fit into rural areas, providing the intended benefits without risking greater loss of farmland? The proposal process A number of BESS projects are being proposed across rural Ontario. For proposals to move forward, proponents must identify an ideal site and obtain support from the respective municipalities. Rangooni explains how sites are selected: “It starts with independent electricity system operators. “They identify the grids most in need of upgrades and expansion – those with growing demand or where the infrastructure is getting older.” Other considerations, such as ability to connect to the grid, will also be reviewed. Rangooni says that generally Energy Storage Canada and Leslie Stewart photos

21 Story Idea? Email Better Farming | May 2024 brownfield sites, land that is vacant after previously being used for industrial purposes, are preferred. “Crucially, they need that municipal support resolution. They need to pick locations agreeable to the local community,” says Rangooni. This process should involve discussion with the landowner of the proposed site, and the local surrounding community. After municipal support is received, the proponents should continue to work with the community through the review process and project planning. This would include working with local emergency response teams to develop safety strategies, and fire prevention and suppression plans. It would also involve environmental assessments and evaluating the potential for disruptive noise or light. These aspects of the proposal process are also the basis for some of the concerns expressed by farmers near potential BESS sites. Concerns “We are seeing that the majority of concerns are really associated with lack of familiarity,” says Rangooni. “These proposals are typically the first time the idea has been exposed to these regions.” Many farmers have questions about why these projects are proposed for farmland, if they are safe, and what they mean for the future of the agricultural land. Some concerns may be addressed through improved communication from proponents, but other questions may identify limitations in the planning process. The OFA maintains its position that the best use of farmland is growing crops, explains Ethan Wallace, executive member of the OFA. “It’s a use of the land that isn’t farming,” says Wallace about the BESS sites. “The one proposed by my farm in Huron County was a 45-acre site, and that’s land permanently taken out of farming. OFA’s position is that these projects be placed on sites to minimize the impact on agricultural lands.” Janet Harrop, past president of Wellington Federation of Agriculture, says that two BESS sites proposed for Wellington County in Elora and Belwood are in the early stages of development. The sites are anticipated to be 12 to 15 acres each. “Our main concern is that both sites are scheduled to be put on prime agricultural land. Our Class 1 farmland is foundational and finite. Seeing this land not being used to grow food, particularly on prime farmland, is something that we are totally against.” “What we’ve seen from the presentations suggests that once the 10-year contract has come to the end of its use, the sites will be converted back to ag land. We recognize that would be virtually impossible because they’ll be digging down and putting in a concrete base,” says Harrop. Rangooni explains that batteries do have the opportunity to have a smaller Battery Energy Storage Systems Imagine where more profitable cereals could take you. Keep your farm prosperous with our new fungicide. Wish cereals could make a bigger impact on your bottom line? New Sphaerex® fungicide can help you get you there. It provides stronger, longer-lasting efficacy on late-season leaf disease and outstanding control of FHB. Sphaerex also helps preserve your grain’s grade with its best-in-class DON reduction. It all adds up to increased quality, yields and profits. Visit and start imagining the possibilities of your most profitable cereal crop ever. Always read and follow label directions. AgSolutions and SPHAEREX are registered trademarks of BASF, used under license by BASF Canada Inc. SPHAEREX fungicide should be used in a preventative disease control program. © 2024 BASF Canada Inc. MAG 3205_SPHAEREX_Print_EAST_BFE-HalfPg_v1.indd 1 2023-12-13 4:12 PM

footprint. “They can be installed on moveable platforms and skids that can be removed when a battery is at the end of its life. At this point, the site can return to its previous use,” says Rangooni. Visual renderings of the proposed Wellington County sites which were presented at municipal meetings show roadways, concrete bases, and inground water tanks, which do not take advantage of the portability identified by Rangooni and would create challenges in returning to farmland. Proposals for BESS sites on agricultural land also bring up concerns about land zoning. Harrop notes that current agricultural zoning would allow for BESS projects on farmland as a secondary use, but as they are considered onfarm diversified uses, the scope needs to be limited. “It should be no more than two per cent of the property site, or up to a hectare, which is smaller than what was being proposed,” says Harrop. “If the projects require re-zoning and are not ag related, it should be on municipal industrial land.” Rob Vanden Hengel, vice-president of Huron County Federation of Agriculture, says that the major concerns surrounding the proposed Huron County site in Seaforth were lack of clarity about regulations, reflecting Rangooni’s observations of lack of familiarity. Some information has not reached affected residents. “A lot of the concerns that we heard were basically that at this time last year there were not a whole lot of rules and regulations for the sites in terms of minimum distances, noise, lights, and stuff like that,” says Vanden Hengel. He did elaborate that there was a meeting in 2023 that welcomed the public, during which the proponent shared contact information. Vanden Hengel says that, from what he has heard, anyone who contacted the proponent with questions received a response. The company has not submitted a formal application to the IESO since the meeting. Another major concern is the risk of fires, the implications of fires for nearby residents and livestock, and the demand on local emergency services. “That was one of questions people asked us: Given it’s a battery, if there’s a fire, what are you supposed to do? There are concerns around that. Another concern is, because of the chemicals in the battery, if there’s a fire, what does the smoke do to the nearby humans and livestock?” says Vanden Hengel. Rangooni explains that to minimize the environmental impact of the batteries and avoid chemical runoff, potential fires would not be suppressed with water. Instead, proponents work with local fire services to develop a detailed prevention and suppression plan. This plan would detail strategies to keep the fire contained to an individual container and minimize the Battery Energy Storage Systems DEMAND NEW HOLLAND 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

24 Like Us on Facebook: BetterFarmingON Better Farming | May 2024 impact outside of it. Land planning and communication with the community also plays a role in safety. There is still potential for concerns to be addressed, reaching a compromise that allows rural communities to receive the intended benefits of BESS. Solutions and Alternatives Battery Energy Storage Systems offer benefits to the municipalities in which they are proposed. The development of these projects will provide more reliable energy to their respective grids, reducing the sale of excess energy at a loss during high production and low usage, and ensuring availability during peak usage times. Rangooni notes that these batteries will also help provide electricity during outages. Despite these benefits, concerns surrounding the projects emphasize the need for clarity in regulations and protocols with those affected. Proponents could also consider alternative sites, protecting valuable farmland. Rangooni stresses that BESS is safe and should not be a risk to nearby residents. “There are over hundreds of MW installed behind the meter at industrial places, where people work and are living, and they have been in for over 10 years. There are also utilities installing them within their systems too,” says Rangooni, noting that the technology is not new. “There are rigorous codes and standards for fire detection and suppression, and detailed prevention plans are always in place for these systems. Every proponent is responsible for working with fire officials on comprehensive safety requirements, fire suppression systems, and safety response systems.” It is important that proponents communicate these safety measures and plans to ensure that residents feel safe, and confirm that local fire departments have the capacity to meet the demands of both the BESS project and the community. Rangooni encourages those looking for more information to reach out to Energy Storage Canada and the proponents of local potential sites. For Ontario producers, the greatest concern is the use of farmland for non-agricultural purposes. As these projects move forward, it’s critical that alternative sites are reviewed, particularly if proponents suggest designs that do not allow for easy conversion back into farmland. Harrop shares that the Wellington Federation of Agriculture has created a list of considerations that they believe should be reviewed when sites for BESS are selected. The list includes soil classes, zoning related to on-farm diversified uses, setbacks from existing structures, emergency plans, and strategies for decommissioning. Wallace says that if concerns are addressed, BESS has the potential to benefit the Ontario economy. “Right now, the biggest concern is the usage of farmland for things other than farming. We are losing 319 acres a day to urban sprawl; if we can minimize that and use the land for farming, that is what we feel is best.” “OFA isn’t necessarily opposed to these projects moving forward, if we can find alternate ways to use them to reap the benefits.” Wallace suggests using brownfield sites or abandoned industrial sites, as Rangooni previously noted as the preferred location. Communication and community feedback will play a major role in reaching compromise. Wallace says, “If they can be done properly and we get the benefits, then yes, they could be good. “But there are valid concerns surrounding them that still need to be addressed.” BF 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. Battery Energy Storage Systems