October 27, 2023
Historic Grain Elevator Fire in St. Jean Baptiste Leaves Community in Mourning
Gilbert Sabourin, who posted this picture at 6 am Saturday morning, expressed concern about the adverse effect on the company’s grain handling operations. Photos by Gilbert Sabourin
By Harry Siemens The serene town of St. Jean Baptiste, nestled in the picturesque landscapes of southern Manitoba, was recently shaken by a devastating blaze that engulfed the historic grain elevator in the early hours of a Saturday morning. Nathan Sabourin, the owner of NuVision Commodities, which has long been an integral part of the town’s economic and cultural identity, still grapples with the shock of the loss. “I was very proud to have the
company in the town here,” he lamented, the weight of the situation evident in his voice. Eugene Fillion, the seasoned chief of the St. Jean Baptiste volunteer fire department, recalls the urgency of the call at approximately 3 am, prompting a swift and coordinated response from eight fire departments in the surrounding areas. Nearly 80 to 100 firefighters worked tirelessly to contain the flames, but by mid-morning, Fillion conceded that the building continued to smoulder, leav-
The spectre of the charred remains cast a shadow over the community, but Brunel Sabourin a volunteer firefighter emphasized the silver lining amidst the tragedy; no one was injured and no other property was affected.
ing behind an indelible mark of devastation. Local farmer and community leader Gilbert Sabourin mirrored the community’s collective grief, emphasizing the significance of the fire’s impact on the town of St. Jean Baptiste. “It makes a huge difference in the landscape,” he mourned, reminiscing about the towering presence of the historic structure that the fire reduced to a pile of rubble. Shedding light on the critical role the building played in the
town’s daily activities, he expressed concern about the adverse effect on the company’s grain handling operations. Gilbert, though not directly involved in the business, offered insights into the gravity of the situation. “They handle grains in there daily,” he affirmed, underlining the essential nature of the elevator’s functioning and the potential ramifications for pending transactions. Despite the setback, he remained hopeful about Continued on page 3...
Limited Availability Pushing Farmland Prices Higher Limited availability of farmland for sale is continuing to push land values higher, according to the mid-year farmland values review by Farm Credit Canada (FCC). In the first six months of 2023, the national average growth rate of farmland was 7.7 per cent. The highest farmland value increases over the last six months were reported in Saskatchewan (11.4 per cent) and Quebec (10.6 per cent). Ontario and Manitoba saw nearly identical increases, with farmland values in Ontario increasing by 6.9 per cent, and Manitoba by 6.4 per cent. Alberta had a more modest increase of 3 per cent, while the average price of farmland stayed unchanged in British Columbia. Fewer sales were available in Canada’s Atlantic Provinces to fully assess mid-year farmland values. In Manitoba, purchasers are shifting away from high-priced farmland, with the Pembina Valley regions having the highest average prices and the lowest growth recorded in the last six and 12 months. “Limited land for sale has been driving farmland values higher over the last six months,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC’s chief economist. “With higher interest rates, elevated farm input costs and uncertainty regarding future commodity prices, producers are being cautious with their investments and capital expenditures.” Farm cash receipts are anticipated to increase 6.6 per cent in 2023. But as farm operations exercise caution in spending, farmland value appreciation is anticipated to slow until the uncertainty over the current economic environment vanishes. “Purchasing farmland is a very strategic decision for producers,” said Gervais. “They need to assess whether they can earn enough from the larger land base they’ve acquired and if not, whether other areas of the operation generate enough income to pay for the land. Monitoring farmland price trends can assist in making the best decisions for individual operations.”
October 27, 2023
The Community of Roland is Connected by Pumpkins
Winner Jason Terwin is the reigning champion, having secured the $1,500 prize and his name etched on the trophy for the third consecutive year. Terwin’s pumpkin tipped the scales this year at an impressive 1,539 pounds.
By Harry Siemens Ten or twelve years ago, Ted Story introduced Carman, Manitoba’s Jason Terwin, a three-time Roland Pumpkin Fair (RPF) Champion, to the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off, and since then, he’s participated consistently. Jason Terwin is not just any participant; he’s the reigning champion, having secured the $1,500 prize and his name etched on the trophy for the third consecutive year. Terwin’s pumpkin tipped the scales this year at an impressive 1,539 pounds. 2022 his winning entry weighed 1,360.5 pounds and in 2021, it came in at 1,377.5 pounds. The Roland Pumpkin Fair, held on October 7, marked Terwin’s third consecutive win. However, this year’s competition faced a surprising twist. A grower from the United States had intended to enter his enormous pumpkin, but upon loading it for transport; he discovered a disqualifying crack underneath. President of the Roland Pumpkin Fair Derek Baschuk declared the day as a resounding success, with good crowds, excellent weather, and a remarkable 27 entries in the giant pumpkin weighoff. “This number of 27 entrees surpasses recent years, reflecting resurgence in interest from regular growers and newcomers to the competition.” He became involved in the Roland Pumpkin Fair many
years ago. Originally not from Roland but married to a native of the town, Baschuk a science teacher by profession, decided to integrate pumpkin growing into his classroom activities. His involvement grew as he organized the pancake breakfast for the Roland Curling Club and joined the board to help with the weigh-off. Now, as the active chair of the event, Baschuk has witnessed numerous changes and board members come and go. He admits that growing pumpkins takes a backseat when it comes to family time. This year, he watched as the community of pumpkin growers came together to showcase their colossal creations. One of the most poignant moments of the day came when a long-time entrant and two-time champion, Charlie Bernstrom, shared his heartbreaking story. Bernstrom, who hails from Lancaster, Minnesota, had grown a pumpkin he believed would weigh over 2,000 pounds. However, upon inspection, a crack underneath the pumpkin disqualified it from the competition. Disheartened but understanding the rules, Bernstrom weighed his pumpkin, which came in at a staggering 2,100 pounds. The crowd gasped in sympathy for the pumpkin that could not compete. Bernstrom’s previous record, set in 2018, remains unbroken, with a
pumpkin weighing 1,753.5 pounds. Baschuk remains optimistic about the future of the Roland Pumpkin Fair, with plans to introduce new elements to the event, such as the pumpkin drop, which has gained popularity in recent years. This year, they dropped a 1,100-pound pumpkin into a pool of water, creating a spectacular and entertaining spectacle for attendees. Despite initially believing that dropping such giant pumpkins might be wasteful, Baschuk emphasized that everything is well-spent. Many people attend the event, some coming solely for the pumpkin drop. “The seeds from these giant pumpkins are highly coveted, with over a thousand in a single pumpkin, potentially inspiring future growers. The discarded pumpkins feed wildlife, ensuring no part of these massive gourds goes to waste,” he said. In closing, Baschuk noted that the Roland Pumpkin Fair is more than just a weigh-off, “It’s a community event that brings people together.” The fair allows various local organizations to raise funds and contribute to the community, making it a cherished and integral part of the Roland community’s life. As the event continues to evolve and attract participants and spectators, its impact on the community remains as strong as ever, with growth potential.
The seeds from the Pumpkin Smash are highly coveted and the discarded pumpkins feed wildlife, ensuring no part of these massive gourds goes to waste. Submitted photos
October 27, 2023
Historic Grain Elevator Fire in St. Jean Baptiste Continued from Page 1... Leaves Community in Mourning the town’s resilience, citing the continued presence of the Royal Legumex building as a potential avenue for maintaining the town’s crucial agricultural operations. In the wake of the calamity, Brunel Sabourin, a dedicated firefighter serving on the St. Jean volunteer department, painted a poignant picture of the community’s loss. “We lost a bit of an icon,” he lamented, highlighting the grain elevator’s significance as a symbol of the town’s identity. He emphasized that the structure had been actively utilized for its intended purpose rather than lying dormant or neglected, which amplified the impact of its destruction. This reporter did a story back in 2017 with vivid memories of the functioning elevator. The two owners, a father and son team, Daniel and Nathon Sabourin, had the business nicely rolling
along with the stability and vitality of the local feed and grain business. Nathan ran the elevator and grain business, and Daniel continued to operate the feed business. The impact of the tragedy on the grain-filled elevator will run deep. According to other news reports, Nathan said the elevator had been brimming with grain, waiting for a train. Brunel Sabourin, a local firefighter, confirmed the elevator’s full capacity and recounted the complexities involved in dealing with the aftermath of the smouldering wreckage. Despite the loss, people commended the collective efforts of the firefighters and volunteers, highlighting their role in safeguarding the nearby properties and ensuring no casualties occurred. The spectre of the charred remains cast a shadow over the community, but Brunel
emphasized the silver lining amidst the tragedy. “We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome of such a disaster,” he affirmed, expressing gratitude for the assistance from neighbouring communities that had bolstered the firefighting efforts. He detailed the comprehensive cleanup operations, shedding light on the meticulous work undertaken to salvage what remained of the structure and prevent further collateral damage. Amid the desolation, the resilient spirit of St. Jean Baptiste shone through as community members rallied together to support one another. Despite losing a historical landmark that served as a cornerstone of the town’s identity, the community remains unwavering in its determination to rebuild and preserve the spirit of solidarity that defines this close-knit Manitoba town.
Vita Food Bank Gets Charity Status By Elmer Heinrichs There is a new food bank coming to the southeast corner of the province and Jane Roman of Vita has been helping to get it started. A former visitation shelter has become the home of the new Vita and Area food bank. The Vita and Area Food Bank initiative began when Roman realized that there were people from Vita traveling to Grunthal for food hampers. Up until now, all of their food hampers were coming out of Grunthal, but now Vita and Area Food Bank is taking over for their area. “It just means that people can now come closer, and they’re not driving all the way to Grunthal to pick up, or another location. They can stay right in the community and pick it up there,” said Roman. The Vita Area Food Bank is currently helping between 15 to 20 families. Just recently the new Vita non-profit got their charitable status approved. Shirley Wiebe a volunteer says, “It’s a big step forward. “It means we can now start handing out hampers, and if people are donating, they can get a charitable donation receipt.” The Vita and Area Food Bank is currently in need of start-up and on-going operational donations and have initiated a fund-raising drive.
The new Vita Area Food Bank is currently helping between 15 to 20 families. Source: Vita Food Bank/Facebook
Daniel and Nathan Sabourin of NuVision Commodities at St. Jean-Baptiste, MB a father and son team with Daniel running the feed side and Nathan, the son, expanding the grain portion of the business back in 2017. [Daniel on the left and Nathan on the right] Submitted photo
October 27, 2023
Let’s Keep Agriculture at the Forefront of Manitoba’s Economy and Culture
Congratulations to Premier Wab Kinew and his newly appointed team tasked with leading the province forward. Many Manitobans are eagerly anticipating their approach to supporting the agriculture sector, a cornerstone of the province’s economy and cultural heritage. So far, I’m waiting to hear even one comment about farmers and progressive agriculture, as we’ve known it for many years. The return of Ron Kostyshyn, a seasoned figure in the agricultural realm, to the role of agriculture minister is a positive step, given his firsthand experience managing a family farm and cattle operation. His deep roots in municipal politics and previous tenure as the agricultural
minister from 2012 to 2016 underscore his understanding of the farming community’s challenges and opportunities. It is also positive since few or no other elected officials had any related farming or agricultural experience. Agriculture remains a vital force in Manitoba’s economic landscape, contributing substantially to the province’s revenue and providing many jobs for its residents. The province’s fertile lands and favourable climate have facilitated the cultivation of a diverse array of crops, including wheat, canola, barley, oats, and various vegetables, contributing to the robustness of the agricultural sector. The primary economic sectors in Manitoba include agriculture, manufacturing, and mining. Agriculture is a significant contributor, with the province being a major producer of grains, oilseeds, and livestock. Additionally,
manufacturing plays a crucial role in Manitoba’s economy, particularly in transportation equipment, food processing, and furniture. The mining sector, focusing on nickel, zinc, and gold, also contributes to the province’s economic growth. Manitoba benefits from its diverse economy, which these key industries support. Manitoba’s agricultural products meet domestic demands and enter international markets, bolstering the province’s export profile and enhancing its economic resilience. The successful production of these crops has significantly contributed to the province’s GDP, with recent figures indicating a steady increase in annual agricultural output, reaching an estimated value of over $7 billion. Beyond its economic impact, agriculture remains a vital thread in the social fabric of Manitoba, fostering a strong sense of camaraderie and mutual support within
rural communities. The annual cycle of planting, nurturing, and harvesting sustains livelihoods. It enables a sense of shared purpose and unity among farmers, reflecting the spirit of collaboration that defines the province’s agricultural landscape. Manitobans celebrate their rich agricultural heritage culturally through various festivals and events that pay homage to farmers’ hard work and dedication. These gatherings serve as platforms to showcase the diversity of farming practices, fostering a sense of pride and appreciation for the land’s bounty and the longstanding traditions that have shaped the province’s identity. In alignment with the province’s commitment to environmental sustainability, Manitoba’s farmers have embraced eco-friendly practices and responsible land management, ensuring the preservation of natural resources for future generations. Their efforts have contributed to the
province’s economic growth and enhanced its reputation as a leader in sustainable agricultural practices. Farming and agriculture represent a vital lifeline for Manitobans, embodying the values of hard work, resilience, and community spirit at the heart of the province’s cultural tapestry. With continued support and innovative policies, the agricultural sector remains a driving force in shaping Manitoba’s future, fostering sustainable growth and prosperity for all its residents. Overall, farming and agriculture are integral to the identity and livelihood of Manitobans, embodying the values of hard work, resilience, and community spirit that characterize the province’s rich cultural tapestry. As an essential pillar of Manitoba’s social, economic, and cultural landscape, agriculture continues to shape its trajectory, fostering growth, sustainability, and prosperity for all its residents.
Timing of Rain Determined October’s Crop Yield By Elmer Heinrichs Lack of summer rains hampered early harvests of soybean and dry bean lowering yields, judging by the first beans to hit the bin. Acres are up but yields are trending down for soybeans and dry beans across the province this year, according to Manitoba Agriculture pulse specialist Dennis Lange. “The key word this year
is variability,” he said. “It all depends on when you got that rain, or if you got that rain,” said Lange. “If you got that rain, generally, harvest is moving along at a pretty good pace right now but there are going to be some lows in areas that didn’t get any significant rainfall.” Those who did plant the crop in 2022 reaped big benefits. Conditions
were friendly and yields jumped. “What we are seeing now are areas that had better rainfall through July,” he said. “We are starting to see 30 to 40 bushel yields pretty consistently now,” he said. In areas that received good moisture, Lange says some soybean fields have 50 to 60 bu. /acre. Much like soybeans, dry
bean acres were greater this year at 140,000, after bottoming out last year at 115,000. Pinto bean acres jumped from 1,000 to 82,000 and black beans jumped from 20,000 acres to 30,000. Navy beans, kidney beans and cranberry bean acres remained relatively consistent year-over-year. But once again, Lange predicts yields slightly be-
low average yields this year of 1,700 lb. /acre. The five-year average for dry beans is 1,860 lb. / acre and the 10-year average is 1,776 lb. “Now we’re getting into the harvest portion here where the better quality beans are coming off, the beans that had more moisture, so our ranges are anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 lb./acre,” said Lange.
Bill C-359 Will Improve Farmers’ Competitiveness By Dan Guetre Agriculture groups are throwing their support behind Bill C-359, legislation that proposes to amend the Feeds Act, the Seeds Act and the Pest Control Products Act saying it will improve Canadian agriculture’s competitiveness. The Bill was proposed by Nova Scotia Liberal MP Kody Blois. “If members talk to farmers across the country, farmers will talk about the important tools, whether they are new seeds, new feeds or crop protection products, and how we could find ways to leverage the science and trusted jurisdictions elsewhere as part of the regulatory process,” explained Blois to his colleagues in the House of Commons. He added that the legislation proposes a 90-day provisional registration, where an applicant arriving at Health Canada, CFIA or PMRA would be able to show the science of jurisdictions elsewhere in the world where there is approval. “It would allow those regulatory agencies to define what a trusted jurisdiction is,” he noted. “It would allow for provisional registration to ensure farmers have access to these tools in a more timely manner, without compromising public safety or the scientific process that we expect our Canadian regulators to undertake.” The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) says the Bill echoes many of their longstanding recommenda-
tions regarding the approval process for new seed, feed or pest control products. “This Bill will reduce the delays associated with oftenduplicated efforts by regulators in different jurisdictions and allow for quicker, provisional approval of these types of products, while still allowing for fulsome regulatory reviews to ensure there is no compromise to public health or safety,” said Keith Currie, CFA President. “The world is moving quickly, and it’s imperative that farmers can move at the same pace. New feed, seed and pest control products can help our sector harness its potential in the fight against climate change, promote food security and give us the tools we need to combat new pests that emerge as the climate changes,” added Currie. In a statement, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) noted how they also welcome the tabling of Bill C-359. “Now, more than ever, we need to support innovation and put tools in the hands of Canadian farmers as we work to feed and fuel the world,” they wrote. “Bill C-359 can help bolster Canada’s competitiveness, address global food security and increase the resilience of Canada’s agricultural sector. The CCC encourages all parliamentarians to support this important bill.” Both the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA) and National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) support in principle Bill C-359.
According to the livestock groups, their industry has set ambitious environmental targets for 2030 with measurements in place to track their success. They stressed that having regulatory approval for cutting edge products such as those that reduce methane emissions or improve animal efficiency are critical to meeting their sector’s goals and maintaining both their competitive and sustainable advantage. “We’re pleased to see the innovative principles of Bill C-359 as it aims to reduce regulatory burdens for farmers and ranchers and ensure our global competitiveness,” said Nathan Phinney, CCA President. “Additional common sense regulatory changes will help Canadian beef producers sustainably produce more high-quality protein.” “Canadian cattle feeders need timely access to innovative products that will facilitate industry growth, profitability, and sustainability,” added Janice Tranberg, NCFA President and CEO. “Regulatory barriers impede the sector’s ability to produce affordable and quality beef for Canadians and the world.” The Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC) defined their support as “enthusiastic.” “Bill C-359 represents a significant leap toward creating a competitive, sustainable, and resilient sector, while also ensuring safety to human health and the environment,” said FVGC Presi-
Nova Scotia Liberal MP Kody Blois says that the legislation proposes a 90-day provisional registration, where an applicant arriving at Health Canada, CFIA or PMRA would be able to show the science of jurisdictions elsewhere in the world where there is approval. Submitted photo
dent, Jan VanderHout. “We are particularly optimistic about the potential for environmental benefits and the reduction of regulatory burdens on Canadian growers.” “It’s more than legislation; it’s a blueprint for a thriving and sustainable agricultural community,” VanderHout added. The amendments outlined in Bill C-359, which include provisional registration and approval for innovative products, will reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers that limit the agriculture sector’s economic growth potential and continued ability to produce food sustainably. By streamlining the approval process, according to the proponents of the Bill, it will save farmers valuable time and resources that are better invested in their operations. If passed, it translates into tangible cost savings for farmers and enables them to be more competitive in both domestic and global markets.
FCC Announces New Replacement Heifer Program Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is announcing a new FCC Replacement Heifer Program to help Canadian cattle producers in maintaining or expanding their herds. The Canadian beef cattle inventory was pegged by Statistics Canada at 10.3 million head earlier this year which is a decline by four per cent since 2017. The cattle sector is an important part of the agriculture industry that contributes over $24 billion annually to the economy and plays a critical role in maintaining the health of grasslands. FCC wants
to ensure Canada’s cattle ranchers have access to the financial levers they need to plan for the future. “The drought conditions this summer affected a large cattle producing area in western Canada and right now ranchers are making decisions about how to best manage their herds,” said Sophie Perreault, FCC’s chief operations officer. “The Heifer Replacement Program will help reduce cash flow pressures for those who want to maintain or grow their herd.” The program consists of a
loan with a maximum twoyear period of interest only and a maximum life of seven years. For this loan, variable interest rates will be capped at prime plus 1.5%, and loan processing fees will be waived. “FCC is here to partner with customers in coming up with financial solutions that will continue to support the well-being and longevity of Canadian cattle herds,” Perreault said. “If ranchers have other needs beyond heifer financing, I invite them to contact the FCC team.” “The Saskatchewan Stock
Growers Association appreciates FCC’s response to the current needs of livestock producers,” said Garner Deobald, SSGA president. “This FCC program will help producers rebuild or maintain their herds after consecutive years of drought.” Beef producers are encouraged to contact their FCC relationship manager or their FCC livestock Alliance partner for details. Producers can do this by contacting their local office or the FCC customer service centre at 1888-332-3301.
October 27, 2023
CFIA Authorizes First-Ever Honeybee Vaccine Dalan Animal Health, Inc. a biotech company specializing in insect health, has received market authorization from the Canadian Center for Veterinary Biologics (CCVB) under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for its revolutionary honeybee vaccine for American Foulbrood (AFB), a devastating honeybee brood disease caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae. This conditional license followed the same approval by the United States Department of Agriculture, Center for Veterinary Biologics (USDA-CVB) for use in the US. “One third of all crops rely on pollination, making honeybees an invaluable part of our global food supply and the health of our ecosystems,” said Dr. Annette Kleiser, co-founder and CEO of Dalan Animal Health. “Our ability to provide the world’s first honeybee vaccine to Canadian beekeepers is an exciting step in our plans to offer our effective solutions to this cornerstone species and its beekeeping stewards.” According to the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA), honeybee brood disease, including AFB, continues to be a serious disease in Canada. If an AFB outbreak occurs, hives must be burned, quarantined, and/or treated with antibiotics, which is costly and time consuming. Studies conducted across Canada and the US have shown the presence of P. larvae in as much as half of all hives in some regions. A 2020 study conducted by Agriculture and Forestry of the Government of Alberta predicted AFB to cause as much as $18.4 Million direct impact loss across the industry if left untreated. Because of its highly transferable nature, AFB is an ongoing challenge for beekeepers throughout Canada and globally, and to this point, could only be addressed through antibiotic use or complete hive elimination. The new vaccine is designed to offer protection against AFB before it occurs, providing a safe and nonchemical prophylactic tool. The non-GMO vaccine can also be used in organic agriculture. Canadian-born Carol Yelle-Harris, owner of Pope Canyon Queens, produces 20,000 honeybee queens a year through her operation based in Vacaville, California. Yelle-Harris ships her queens across the US and throughout Canada each year to beekeepers. “Having worked with many Canadian beekeepers, I can attest that disease management is a substantial concern for them. While this vaccine won’t solve all problems faced by our industry today, it represents a significant step in the right direction, encouraging a shift in how we prevent and tackle diseases.” The vaccine, manufactured by Diamond Animal Health, will be distributed on a limited basis to commercial beekeepers in Canada alongside importing partner ASEA Animal Health, Inc., starting in Spring 2024. Canadian beekeepers interested in safeguarding their colonies with the novel vaccine must do so under Veterinarian supervision. Dalan’s vaccine uses killed whole-cell Paenibacillus larvae bacteria and is administered by mixing it into queen feed consumed by worker bees. The vaccine is incorporated into the royal jelly by the worker bees, who then feed it to the queen. The queen ingests the vaccine, and fragments are deposited in her ovaries, providing immunity to the developing larvae. The nonGMO vaccine can be used in organic agriculture, and pivotal efficacy studies have shown its potential to reduce larval death associated with American Foulbrood infections caused by P. larvae.
October 27, 2023
Manitoba Harvesting Nears Completion
Shout out to this farmer who swathed the kochia on his headland while it was still green instead of letting it go to seed or putting it through the harvester. Kochia seed typically isn’t viable until the plant is fully matured noted Brunel Sabourin on X. Submitted photos
By Harry Siemens Amidst the ups and downs of the farming season, Brunel Sabourin, co-owner of Antara Agronomy Service in St. Jean-Baptiste, MB, discusses the challenges faced by crop growers. Brunel acknowledged the mixed results experienced by farmers, with some areas enjoying favourable rain and yielding exceptional crops. In contrast, others struggled to maintain average yields due to insufficient precipitation. Reflecting on the season’s surprises, he highlighted the unexpected success of canola crops, surpassing initial expectations, but notes that the lack of rainfall has significantly impacted corn and soybean production. Despite these difficulties, he remains optimistic. “The fall work has progressed smoothly, thanks to timely rains in September, enabling farmers to undertake necessary field activities.” In the context of weed management, Brunel suggested that the dry weather has prevented significant weed
infestations, with only occasional occurrences reported. However, he points out the rise of waterhemp and an increase in the glyphosateresistant koshia weed, highlighting farmers’ ongoing challenges in controlling these persistent weeds. Gilbert Sabourin, a corn, soybean, and canola farmer near St. Jean-Baptiste, shares his firsthand experiences recounting the trials and successes of the harvest season. Gilbert narrated a harrowing incident involving a combined harvester breakdown, emphasizing the safety precautions to prevent accidents. Delving into the details of his harvest, Gilbert talked about the variability of yields across different fields, attributing the fluctuations to the uneven rainfall distribution. He emphasized the significance of a mild frost in aiding the corn harvest despite the emergence challenges caused by the lack of moisture. Gilbert highlighted the reliability of canola crops and the fluctuating yields of soybeans, underscoring the
influence of location and precipitation levels on crop performance. The collective experiences of Brunel and Gilbert shed light on the complexities of crop cultivation, underscored by the unpredictable nature of weather patterns and their profound effects on agricultural outcomes. As of October 19, Manitoba Agriculture reported that 90 per cent of crops across the province are now in the bins, releasing its last crop report of the season. Dennis Lange, a pulse and soybean specialist with Manitoba Agriculture and editor of the provincial crop report said most areas of the province reported only trace amounts of precipitation since the week before allowing farmers to return to the fields. “Crops like winter cereals and spring cereals are all complete for the most part in Manitoba. Canola is moving along at about 95 per cent,” said Lange. A few challenges with green plant material, like green plant stems, have slowed the
progress in some areas. With most areas reporting over 90 percent completion, Lange anticipated a significant wrap-up of the harvest activities in the coming week, underscoring the notable strides made by farmers in swiftly concluding the season’s tasks. Despite a minor setback caused by a recent rain shower, the overall momentum remains promising, signalling the efficient and effective management of the harvest process. Soybean harvesting, he notes, stands at 81 percent completion provincially, with the central region leading the charge at 90 percent and the southwest region slightly lagging behind at 70 percent. Anticipating an upward trajectory in the southwestern region’s progress in the forthcoming days, Lange accentuates the region’s potential for catching up and maintaining the overall pace of the harvest. Expressing appreciation for the diverse agricultural landscape, Lange acknowledged the heartening sight of the sunflower harvest, with
Delving into the details of his harvest, Gilbert Sabourin talked about the variability of yields across different fields, attributing the fluctuations to the uneven rainfall distribution.
the central region boasting a notable 40 percent completion. The provincial completion rate stands at 22 percent, signalling the gradual culmination of the harvest season and the imminent transition to the next phase of the agricultural calendar. Touching upon the critical aspect of crop yields, Lange offered an insightful perspective on the anticipated outcomes, affirming that most crops are expected to align closely with the average yield standards. Despite
isolated challenges such as hail damage in certain areas and dryness in others, Lange emphasized the overall positive trajectory of the yields, citing the delightful surprise experienced by many growers. Lange’s comprehensive analysis not only underscores the resilience and adaptability of Manitoba’s agricultural sector but also the collective efforts of farmers to ensure the maintenance of superior crop quality despite adversities.
October 27, 2023
The 2023 Harvest Sees Varied Yields
By Harry Siemens
The last crop report for the year 2023 from Manitoba Agriculture reveals that the harvest has almost reached completion, with about 94% of the work done. Spring wheat, a key crop in the region, has demonstrated diverse yields, ranging from 35 to 80 bushels per acre, with some areas enjoying a higher yield of 90 bushels per acre due to more favourable moisture levels. In comparison, drier regions yielded as low as 16 bushels per acre. Notably, the protein content in the wheat ranges from 13.5% and above, meeting the grading standards of #1 or #2 in Canada. Overall, the quality of spring wheat is rated mainly as fair to good. Oats, another significant crop, have shown yields between 80 and 130 bushels per acre, while some drier areas reported yields as low as 60 bushels per acre. Barley yields, on the other hand, have varied from 70 to 100 bushels per acre, contributing to the region’s robust agricultural output. As for the corn harvest, a substantial portion has already reached maturity,
with approximately 50 per cent of grain corn harvested so far in the Central region and 23 per cent provincially. Early yield reports for grain corn have shown a wide range, from 80 to 200 bushels per acre, indicating a diverse productivity level across different areas. Furthermore, some farmers have resorted to supplementing hay on pasture to ensure they meet the required nutrients of their cattle. Others have strategically moved their cattle onto fenced hayfields or harvested cropland, allowing them to graze on available regrowth and stubble. However, caution is being exercised, with farmers closely monitoring the regrowth of annual crops for any signs of nitrates. Manitoba Agriculture strongly recommends producers conduct early feed testing to facilitate more time for ration planning and secure adequate feed sources if necessary. The report also highlights the completion of most greenfeed harvesting, providing a valuable supplement to the existing alfalfa and grass hay stocks. The yields from the alfalfa seed
harvest have been reported as below average for older stands, while new stands have seen yields closer to the regional average. Similarly, the harvest of Timothy seed has also concluded. Regarding hay availability, the report indicates a surplus in 40 per cent of the cases, adequacy in 50 per cent and scarcity in 10 per cent. However, straw, green feed, and feed grains are rated fully adequate, reflecting a stable supply situation for these crucial agricultural resources. Addressing the viewers as “Morning kids” Warren Graydon a farmer in the RM of Stuartburn highlighted the remaining work, “50 acres to go now. Every time I think we’re done, ‘Oh, can you come and do my corn? Oh, where are you?’ Okay, we’ll come and do it.” Despite the challenges posed by the weather, he shared, “Today is the last day for me. We have to start combining corn.” Describing the weather as “miserable” with fog and mist, Graydon anticipated an uphill task in chopping the slightly overripe corn. Emphasizing the support
A grain and cattle producer Trevor Carlson sent a picture with the first load of grain corn leaving his farm this year. Submitted photos
and collaboration within the farming community, he expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by a fellow farmer, stating, “We pilot right in the field... he feeds it with an electric fence. The cows go out on the pasture or the field and feed it that way.” Expressing his fatigue with the ongoing work, he mentioned, “Last day of chopping for the fat man, I am about sick of it,” eagerly anticipating the relief that would arrive later. Despite the challenges, Warren remained optimistic, wishing everyone a great Monday and hoping for much-needed moisture for those who required it. Additionally, he provided insights into the delay in corn harvesting due to unfavourable weather conditions, stating, “Right now, there’s no harvesting of corn. It is way too wet.” Acknowledging the varying moisture levels in the corn crops, he anticipated the need for drying, affirming, “And yes, we will dry it. We will run it through the dryer no matter what.” Graydon’s dedication and commitment to the farm
were evident throughout his updates, reflecting the resilience and perseverance characteristic of the farming community. “Silage this year has been
all over the map. Saturday, I was in 24mt pioneer moved 4 miles same farm same variety 16mt. Today was in Maizex 8620 (new Venza) running 19mt,” said Graydon.
Despite the harvest challenges, Warren Graydon remained optimistic, wishing everyone a great Monday and hoping for much-needed moisture for those who required it.
October 27, 2023
October 27, 2023
Growing Project Harvests Mostly Done
By Elmer Heinrichs Harvest is wrapping up across the province, and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank has seen crops from hundreds of thousands of acres come off the fields and into grain bins and elevators, all to support the eradication of hunger around the world, says Gordon Janzen, regional co-ordinator. In this year’s season of harvest there were close to 4,000 acres farmed in Manitoba for the Foodgrains Bank, adds Janzen, “Wheat, canola and soybeans are the main ones.” Across our province there are almost 40 community groups raising money for the Foodgrains Bank. Not all of those are growing projects
as some have had fundraiser dinners, community auctions, social events, choir concerts and other ideas that fit their community. Janzen notes almost half of the community projects are actual crop grow projects. The month of October, a time of Thanksgiving has brought changes to Manitoba, not only with the election of a new government, but also with some rainy weather. Before October’s rain slowed the harvest progress, September’s dry weather allowed many Manitoba farmers, including Foodgrains Bank growing projects, to get their fields harvested. This year he counted 39 growing project groups that are working together to help
end global hunger. Not all these projects have a community field. Some groups choose to gather in other ways, such as at a post-harvest gathering to celebrate what they have collectively contributed. Janzen adds, “For me, September was a full month as I was able to attend numerous field harvests. It is always a joy for me to meet with volunteers at their harvest events. It’s a chance to thank them for their contributions which makes a big difference to many people who experience hunger.” The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is an association of 15 national church agencies that work together. These are some of the har-
The Arborg Community growing project harvested 150 acres of canola on September 21.
vests recently. FOCUS group harvested 100 acres soybeans with the Milltown Colony providing a BBQ supper, September 27; Arborg har-
vested 150 acres canola, September 21 and Mather, the Louise grow project harvested September 3. Recently Common Ground
project at Rosenfeld harvested 300 acres of soybeans, and CHUM north of Altona cleared 150 acres of soybeans October 16.
In this year’s season of harvest there were close to 4,000 acres farmed in Manitoba for the Foodgrains Bank
The community near Mather gathered to celebrate when the Louise growing project harvested one of their Photos courtesy of Gordon Janzen fields recently.
October 27, 2023
Italian Farm Group Tours Farms in Western Canada and Ontario
On October 18 at Henria Holsteins near Conn, ON where even manure can have its charm. Here, the visiting farmers from Italy closed the farming tour, where Henke and Maria Pastink, warmly welcomed the group.
By Harry Siemens Elio Mastrangelo, the founder of Elio Mastrangelo Tours, has operated his travel agency business since 1982, operating around Milan, Italy. Initially affiliated with John Deere, Italy, he organized a successful agricultural tour of their factories and headquarters in the American Midwest in 2008. This initial tour marked the beginning of an enduring series of
agricultural excursions that continue to this day. The farming tour for 17 farmers and tour operator from Italy began their first day on October 10 in Alberta and in Saskatchewan on October 11 and 12. The group toured various farms and operations, returning to Calgary and flying for more visits in Ontario and back home on October 21. This journalist joined the
17 Italian farmers on their recent western Canada tour, including a stop in Brandon, Manitoba. During their brief stay in Brandon, the group gathered for an engaging dinner, delving into discussions primarily centred on the intricacies of Canadian dairy and egg production and the nuances of canola farming, including the varying scales of production. Following their dinner in Brandon, the
group prepared for a series of farm visits scheduled for the following days in the northwest region of Manitoba. The farmers participating in Elio Mastrangelo tours hail from various regions across Italy, predominantly from the North. Their farming activities span diverse agricultural pursuits reflective of the Italian agricultural landscape, including dairy, egg, canola production, and more. Throughout his extensive travel experiences, Elio has visited and familiarized himself with many farms and farmers across several American states, including California, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, and the Midwest’s corn belt in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana. He has ambitious plans for future tours, including visits to Australia in the winter of 2024 for a crops tour and another tour in the Western Pacific States during the wheat harvest. Additionally, he envisions a comprehensive farming tour of Ontario, encompassing Prince Edward Island and Quebec, as part of his Canadian plans.
The feedback from the farmers on his tours has been overwhelmingly positive, with many returning for subsequent trips due to their satisfaction with the experience. Elio believes that the highlight of these tours is the opportunity for travellers to gain insights into their foreign counterparts’ daily activities and farming practices. Through these experiences, it becomes evident that many challenges and issues in the agricultural world are shared globally in an increasingly interconnected world. Looking ahead, Elio aims to continue organizing enriching farming tours worldwide, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for diverse agricultural practices, landscapes, and cultures. The recent closure of a farming tour at Henria Holsteins was marked by a lively Q&A session, reflecting the enthusiasm and engagement of the participants despite the occasional challenges faced by the interpreter. Through Agriviaggi’s continued efforts, Elio aspires to create immersive and educational travel experiences that offer a
holistic perspective on global agriculture, encompassing history, art, landscapes, and the people that define these regions. In Italy’s diverse agricultural landscape, farmers in the Northern region diligently cultivate various crops. In Lombardy, they nurture maize and wheat, while in Emilia-Romagna; they tend to different vibrant vegetables. The vineyards of Piedmont are carefully managed, producing renowned wines. Farmers cultivate fragrant herbs in Veneto, while in Trentino-Alto Adige, they oversee flourishing apple orchards. Overall, the report highlights Italian farmers’ unwavering dedication and expertise in contributing to the country’s rich agricultural heritage.
October 12, the farm tour group enjoys dinner in Brandon MB. Submitted photos
October 27, 2023
The Food Professor Suggests Three Ways to Make Food More Affordable By Harry Siemens Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Senior Director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax also known as the Food Professor, recently testified before the Parliamentary Committee on Finance in Ottawa. During his testimony, he proposed several recommendations to enhance food affordability for Canadians. One of his primary suggestions was to expand the zerorate policy overseen by the Canada Revenue Agency, which would exempt a more comprehensive array of healthy food products from sales taxes. He emphasized this by presenting an example, citing a super-healthy, locally sourced, sustainable bar created by Made With Local that has its business roots in Nova Scotia, illustrating how governments are taxing consumers on such products. He also recommended a temporary halt on future carbon tax increases that could affect the food supply chain.
He stressed the necessity of understanding how this policy impacts food affordability and the industry’s competitiveness. Moreover, Dr. Charlebois advocated establishing a National Nutrition Coupon Program Fund, inspired by existing Nova Scotia, Montreal, and British Columbia programs. “This program should have targets to provide vital grocery store assistance to those facing acute financial hardship, thus enabling Canadians to purchase locally sourced, nutritious food products,” said Dr. Charlebois. The Island Voice tweeted to @FoodProfessor that if it makes too much sense and is easy to understand and implement, people quickly realize there is a zero chance it will be adopted. “Especially throwing the carbon tax in the mix, which is a non-starter and has no chance of passing with this government. The carbon tax is untouchable,” said the Island Voice.
Another tweet said these are great suggestions but make the changes permanent. “Either way, I doubt whether Ottawa will listen.” In a recent interview, Dr. Charlebois shared his concerns regarding France’s move to freeze the prices of 5,000 products. He expressed his apprehension and stated, “It’s quite concerning when you see a government coming in and dictating what should happen with markets, to be honest.” He further emphasized that this step might harm the entire food supply chain, from retail to processing and distribution, ultimately affecting farmers. Dr. Charlebois strongly opposed the idea of governments setting the value of essential commodities such as food. He underscored the importance of recognizing the power of markets and allowing consumers the freedom of choice. He lamented the trend of enabling governments to determine the value of commodities in the
economy, emphasizing that this approach might not be conducive to a balanced and effective economic system. When asked about other significant issues in the food sector, Dr. Charlebois emphasized the critical importance of enhancing competitiveness and encouraging investments in Canada. He expressed concerns about policies that might discourage external investments in the country. His worries increased by the observation that many processors are leaving Canada due to various challenges, including implementing divergent provincial rules and stringent environmental policies. Regarding the impact of carbon tax on food prices, Dr. Charlebois highlighted the need for careful consideration and data-driven decision-making. He expressed perplexity at some academics’ claims that the carbon tax would not affect food prices, stressing the necessity of a comprehensive analysis of the implications. He pro-
Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, known as the Food Professor is Senior Director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax testified before the Parliamentary Committee on Finance on the high cost of food. He emphasized this by presenting an example, citing a super-healthy, locally sourced, sustainable bar created by Made With Local, illustrating how the government is taxing consumers on such products. Submitted photo
posed making the entire food supply chain immune to the carbon tax, highlighting the significance of safeguarding Canada’s food affordability. The conversation further delved into the consequences farmers’ face, such as increased costs due to the
carbon tax, which can ripple across the entire food supply chain. Dr. Charlebois said these pressing issues highlighted the critical need for a balanced and informed approach to policy-making in the agricultural and food sectors.
October 27, 2023
KAP Congratulates Manitoba NDP on 2023 Provincial Election Victory
Swearing-in of the Twenty-Fifth Premier of Manitoba and the Members of the Executive Council. Photo Youtube / Government of Manitoba
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) extended congratulations to the Manitoba New Democratic Party (NDP) for their victory in the 2023 provincial election and becoming Manitoba’s new government. “On behalf of all Manitoba farmers, I want to congratulate the Manitoba NDP for winning the most seats in the provincial election and forming the next provincial government here in Manitoba,” said KAP President, Jill Verwey. Verwey also noted the significance of NDP leader and Premierelect, Wab Kinew, as the first First Nations person to be elected as Premier of Manitoba. “I would also extend my sincere congratulations to Mr. Kinew not only for becoming Manitoba’s newest Premier, but for being the first First Nations person elected to this role,” said Verwey. “While
there is always work to be done as we walk the path of reconciliation together, Mr. Kinew’s election should be seen by all Manitobans as monumental moment in our history.” Verwey also thanked outgoing Premier Heather Stefanson and Minister of Agriculture, Derek Johnson, for their work in supporting agriculture during their time in their respective roles. “I would like to personally thank former Premier Stefanson and Minister Johnson for the efforts they undertook to support Manitoba producers and the agricultural sector as a whole during their time in government, including the increased funding of $221 million available through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, increase of the Education Property Tax Rebate to 50%, and support of additional seats at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine
for Manitoba students.” KAP reiterated the priorities of Manitoba producers and the agricultural sector and outlined their commitment to working with the newly elected NDP government to best advance these priorities for the benefit of Manitoba’s entire economy. “This election, our priorities were clear: Remove the Education Property Tax on Farmland, Pass Right-to-Repair Laws for Farm Machinery, Improve Manitoba’s Infrastructure Network, Address Labour Shortages, and Better Healthcare and Safety in Rural Areas,” said KAP General Manager, Brenna Mahoney. “We look forward to engaging with Premier-elect Kinew and his entire team in the coming weeks to continue our discussions on these and other key issues affecting Manitoba producers,” concluded Mahoney.
October 27, 2023
KAP Welcomes the Hon. Ron Kostyshyn as Manitoba’s New Minister of Agriculture
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) welcomed Ron Kostyshyn’s appointment as Manitoba’s new Minister of Agriculture. “On behalf of all Manitoba producers, I want to welcome Minister Kostyshyn back to his role as Minister of Agriculture, which he previously held from 2012-2016,” said KAP President, Jill Verwey. Verwey also thanked former Minister, Derek Johnson, for his service to Manitoba producers and the agricultural industry during his time as Minister of Agriculture and highlighted some areas of success that KAP had been able to achieve during this period. “I would like to thank former Minister Johnson for his steadfast commitment to working tirelessly for Manitoba producers and willingness to always listen,” said Verwey. “We were pleased to have achieved successes through increased funding for agriculture through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, increase of the Education Property Tax Rebate to 50%, and support of additional seats at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine for Manitoba students.” Brenna Mahoney, General Manager of KAP, noted how Kostyshyn’s previous experience and knowledge of the industry will provide an opportunity for an experienced perspective to help inform the continued progress on key files that are currently being worked through collaboratively with the Department of Agriculture staff team. “Minister Kostyshyn’s past experience in this role, as well as personal experience as a producer, should provide confidence that Manitoba producers will continue to have a voice at the cabinet table when key decisions are being made that affect their farm operations,” said Mahoney. “We are confident that through our relationship with the new Minister, as well as our continued collaboration with the department staff, there should be a seamless transition with key priorities including addressing labour shortages and designing programs that are accessible to producers.” Having producers engaged directly with the Minister and his team will be critical in the development of any policies, regulations, goals, strategies, and other initiatives that will impact the sector. “KAP has and will always continue to advocate for producers having a voice and their perspectives known to key government decision makers on issues that affect their livelihoods and communities. We look forward to Minister Kostyshyn and the entire NDP government including feedback from producers in their decision-making process and welcome engaging with them in the near future,” concluded Verwey and Mahoney.
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) welcomed Ron Kostyshyn’s appointment as Manitoba’s new Minister of Agriculture. Submitted photo
October 27, 2023
Direct Discussion Between Farmers and Consumers Helps Build Trust
By Harry Siemens With the upcoming Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2023 on the horizon, the significance of direct farmer-consumer dialogue is taking center stage. Clinton Monchuk, the Executive Director of Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan emphasizes the piv-
otal role of sharing farm stories in building trust and understanding. Stressing the simplicity of the act, Monchuk encourages farmers to engage in conversations, whether at local events or through social media. He notes that such interactions hold immense potential to bridge the gap between pro-
ducers and consumers, nurturing a deeper understanding and appreciation for the agriculture industry. Moreover, Monchuk underscores the impact of these direct conversations on consumer confidence in the food they consume. “Having these conversations and being open to talk-
ing about them has the power to increase trust,” Monchuk explains, highlighting the profound impact of genuine communication in fostering a sense of transparency and authenticity. However, Monchuk also issues a cautionary note, emphasizing the consequences of a failure to communicate the story of agriculture effectively. He warns that the absence of an authentic narrative could pave the way for emotion-driven regulations that may hinder the ability of farmers to carry out their vital role in food production. Drawing from comprehensive consumer analytics, Monchuk stresses the prevalence of misinformation surrounding farming practices, often perpetuated by misleading search engine results. To counter this trend, he urges farmers to actively participate in sharing their personal farm experiences, serving as credible sources of information to dispel myths and misconceptions about modern agriculture. Highlighting the urgent need for proactive engagement, Monchuk notes that the industry’s silence has already begun to influence the formulation of policies that may not necessarily align with the realities of modern farming. He underscores the importance of education and open communication in shaping evidence-based regulations that support the welfare of farmers and promote sustainable agricultural practices. As the Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium draws near, the call for transparent and open communication between farmers and consumers echoes loudly. It underscores the transformative power of shared
stories, fostering trust and cultivating a shared understanding of the complexities and significance of modern agriculture. He said that by encouraging a collaborative exchange of ideas and experiences, the initiative seeks to forge a resilient and interconnected food system founded on mutual trust and appreciation between those who cultivate the land and those who savour its bounty. Telling the story of farming consistently and accurately is crucial for fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities and significance of modern agriculture. By sharing authentic narratives, farmers can bridge the gap between their practices and the wider community, establishing a sense of transparency and trust vital for a sustainable food system. Through effective storytelling, farmers can highlight the dedication, innovation, and stewardship that underpin their work, offering consumers a comprehensive view of the intricate processes involved in producing the food they enjoy. By conveying their experiences and insights, farmers can dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding agricultural practices, addressing common misunderstandings and shedding light on the realities of farming in the contemporary landscape. Sharing personal accounts of challenges, successes, and everyday operations can cultivate a greater appreciation for the hard work and commitment of cultivating crops and raising livestock. This level of transparency fosters a stronger connection between producers and consumers and nurtures a sense of mutual respect and understanding.
Youth Food Drives Help Food Banks By Elmer Heinrichs It’s that time of year where local youth groups look to help restock the shelves of their community food banks before the busy winter season. One night, between 7 pm and 9 pm, teens in Morden, Winkler and Altona went door to door, collecting nonperishable food donations
and other supplies. If you were missed, you can always drop it off at your food bank on your trip out. Donations will remain in their respective communities, benefiting Morden Caring & Sharing, Winkler and District Food Cupboard and the Rhineland Area Food Bank in Altona.
October 27, 2023
Overwinter Beef Cow Minerals Take Centre Stage By Peter Vitti As a beef nutritionist I take a practical approach to formulate overwinter cattle minerals - compliment macro-minerals of a nearly allforage gestating cow diet, meet the gestation cows’ trace mineral and vitamin requirements, and put it into a package that most cows will easily consume at a constant daily rate. In this way, I have done my job when it contributes to a post-partum healthy cow and her lively newborn calf. My first goal in developing such an overwinter beef cow mineral is to achieve adequate mineral status in the cowherd. Subsequently, I believe that many beef cows are in a state of marginal mineral status when they are brought home from outlying pastures. That’s because parts of Manitoba have been affected by reoccurring drought in which the pasture grasses were not mineral or vitamin nutritious. I just reviewed a series of lab analysis from pastures under drought conditions in which their phosphorus (P) levels are 0.10 % compared to last year’s rainy profiles
of 0.22%. Given an average early-gestation cow requires about 0.35% P on a dietary daily basis; it is unlikely that this year’s cow meets her total phosphorus requirement without some type of overwinter supplementation. To compound this problem, many producers did not provide any commercial mineral/vitamins on pastures, because they say that their cattle wouldn’t eat enough of it on this hardened grass. Consequently, I am working with a 200 cow-calf operation that was severely impacted by the dried-out pastures during this past grazing season. Plus, many of his cows were treated for foot-rot due to soft hooves despite standing on hard drought-ground. Yes, he did feed trace-mineral salt blocks on pasture, but the producer felt that his cows didn’t draw much benefit from them. In developing his new overwinter 22:7 beef cow premix; our plan is to first build up the mineral/vitamin status of the cows by respectively supplementing their earlyand mid-gestation TMR, which is fed in a big holding area adjacent to his farm. It
is made up of low-quality “prairie wool” forage, and supplemented with 3 lbs corn dried distillers’ grains that will be fed during the first couple months of winter. Then about Christmas time, the cattle will be moved onto open-cornfield grazing until they are ready to calve at the end of February. This 22:7 beef cow premix will be provided at the rate of 3 - 4 oz per head per day in loose-form poured into plastic 3-compartment feeders mounted on old tractor tires. They will be placed when cows are initially at home or later-on near waterers which are accessible by the grazing cornfields. Although, this premix is well-balanced for this case, I am focussing on four areas of its mineral/vitamin nutrition in particular: - Calcium (22%) - It is high in legumes, moderate in grass, but low in low-quality forages and notoriously low in corn-plants. This producer had previous issues with milk-fever when he first started cornfield grazing a few years ago. This problem has been solved with heavy calcium supplementation. - Phosphorus (7%) - Grains
As a beef nutritionist I take a practical approach to formulate overwinter cattle minerals - compliment macro-minerals of a nearly all-forage gestating cow diet, meet the gestation cows’ trace mineral and vitamin requirements, and put it into a package that most cows will easily consume at a constant daily rate. In this way, I have done my job when it contributes to a post-partum healthy cow and her lively newborn calf. Submitted photo Peter Vitti
are high in phosphorus but low in drought-stressed crops. Our calculations dictate that supplementing about 7 – 9 grams of P will help meet this macro-mineral requirement of gestating cows until calving. We also supplemented magnesium in the same way. - Copper (3500 ppm) – This region of Manitoba is low in copper in both forages (and soil). In addition, they also contain high levels of molybdenum (plus high watersulphates) that may render copper unavailable to cattle.
Therefore, I add copper in highly bio-available chelated form. Plus, I formulated zinc-methionine into the premix at 4 gram/hd/d to harden hooves against footrot. - Vitamin A (700,000 iu/kg) – A gestating beef cow needs about 70,000 iu of vitamin A per day for meeting basic needs, producing colostrum and help with post-calving issues. Elevated levels of Vitamin E in this mineral (3500 iu/kg) also assist in these areas of cow nutrition. This is a well-balanced beef cow mineral that I’m
confident fits the mineral/ vitamin part of these cows’ overall overwinter feeding program. Yet, just because this mineral looks good in the mineral feeder, the producer and I also want to be equally confident that his cowherd will eat it. That’s is why – we added a bit of garlic oil, corn distillers’ grain and about 10% salt to its formula. In addition, he will monitor their mineral intake throughout the whole winter and we will make changes to its formula when necessary.
October 27, 2023
ACC Unveils the Russell Edwards School of Agriculture and Environment
The Edwards family leaves a legacy for future generations that will attended Assiniboine Community College Russ Edwards School of Agriculture & Environment.
Russ Edwards, Westman Group Inc. at the unveiling said being raised on a farm since he was four means you learn to love the land.
By Harry Siemens
deep affection for the land, with the logo representing the agriculture lifecycle through depictions linked to water, plants, and harvest. The expansive Prairie skies and bodies of water are symbolized by a rich blue colour, embodying Assiniboine’s commitment to environmental programming and vision. The earthy tones and seed and swath imagery emphasize crop and plant growth. In the fall of 2022, Assiniboine officially named one of its academic schools after Edwards. The recent branding ceremony marks the culmination of this effort, cementing the Edwards School’s role as a frontrunner in hands-on education and training, utilizing technology and innovation to drive change in agriculture and the environment for years to come. “This school is the legacy that my wife, myself, and my family wish to leave for western Canada,” mentioned Edwards. “We believe that the proper education students
Assiniboine Community College (ACC) proudly showcased the new branding for the Russ Edwards School of Agriculture & Environment on September 26, 2023. Edwards, his family members, staff, students, agriculture, and community partners attend this event. According to Tim Hore, the Dean of the Russ Edwards
School of Agriculture & Environment, “Russ Edwards is an icon regarding ag-related industries in Manitoba and Canada. We’re very similar in the values that we share with Russ. Having his name connected to the school is an honour. It will have a longlasting impact as our college continues to advance its vision for leadership in agricultural education.”
During the unveiling, Russ Edwards, Westman Group Inc. (WGI) Founder, spoke about his profound connection to the land. “Being brought up on a farm since I was four years old, you learn to love the land. If there’s one thing you cannot manufacture, its land,” said Edwards. The Edwards School’s brand, mirrors Edward’s
receive in this school will be tremendously important. Brandon is an agricultural center of the West, and this school is right in the heart of Canada.” With nearly 50 years of leadership in the business community, Edwards has remained a champion at the forefront of the agricultural sector across the Prairies. His company, Westman Group Inc. (WGI), initially started 1976 in Winnipeg, specializing in the construction of culverts, steel roofing, and siding. Over the years, WGI has expanded into one of Canada’s largest manufacturers of steel products. Edwards and his family had also previously announced a generous donation of $4 million to Assiniboine’s Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. The college has been fundraising for the Centre, which aims to advance education, research, and industry engagement, having raised over $17 million. “Assiniboine is thrilled
to establish the Edwards School. Agriculture is key to the Manitoba economy and has long been a foundation of our programs,” remarked Mark Frison, President of Assiniboine. “We are honoured that Mr. Edwards would allow us to include his name so prominently in a school central to our vision for the college.” Assiniboine Community College, having served the community for over 60 years, provides exceptional learning experiences across various disciplines, including culinary arts and hospitality, business, agriculture and environment, health and human services, and trades and technology. With its philosophy of “learn by doing”, the college emphasizes practical learning in real-world settings, preparing students for successful careers. The college remains committed to acknowledging the ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples and their invaluable contributions to the institution and the wider community.
Instructor Danielle Tichit with Advanced Diploma Ag students said the success of Assiniboine Community College is their philosophy of “learn by doing”. Submitted photos
October 27, 2023
The Russ Edwards School of Agriculture Delivers for the Pork Industry and Beyond By Harry Siemens Angela Pearen, the Coordinator, Ag Extension Russ Edwards School of Agriculture & Environment at the Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, MB said the Swine Production Foundations course is rolling. “Some students have finished a couple of courses, but no one has finished the full program yet, but we’ve had students start different courses,” said Pearen. The Advanced Swine Production just got underway, including a group of supervisors looking to take training in production practices. “The advanced program has two courses, which we didn’t have ready to roll a year ago,” she said. Pearen said the feedback for the swine production foundations is very positive. The program works to for those looking to move into a swine technician role and because it is being offered in an online format which enables people to work fulltime and even allows them to take other positions within a farm. “What’s been interesting for us is the equal number of Manitoba students as well as students outside of the province, and so that was something we weren’t expecting,” said Pearen. This includes a student from Saskatchewan and students from Ontario, so the inquiries from outside Manitoba are exciting. Enrolled students include an equal number of male and female employees. “And the interesting part is half are working as swine technicians, so this would be upskilling for them,” she said. The other ones work differently within the barn, like a feed manager or sev-
eral who drive feed trucks. The curriculum is helping them to increase their base knowledge on what happens to the feed and how that moves through the barn and animals. This diversity is new because initially, it was to train people to be swine technicians. But broadening that out for folks with other roles within the farm operation so that they’re also getting a complete understanding enables them to cover off for other people if needed in the barn. This way each person now has that skill. “So they can move people around in different roles within the farm,” she said. “Lots of learning, but things we didn’t have on our radar a year ago when we first spoke.” Pearen’s involvement in the Swine Production Foundations program stemmed from Manitoba Pork’s collaboration with Assiniboine Community College approximately three years ago. She explained that the college had previously run a pork technician apprenticeship program that didn’t yield the desired benefits for the industry. As a result, they engaged in extensive discussions with Manitoba Pork for about a year, eventually repurposing the learning outcomes from the apprenticeship program to construct the Swine Production Foundations, Advanced Swine Production, and Swine Production Leadership programs. Working closely with representatives from independent farms, Maple Leaf, Highlife, Manitoba Pork, and the Canadian Pork Council, the college aimed to design a curriculum that aligned more effectively with the industry’s needs.
Pearen, responsible for delivering extension programming at the college, was involved in this process from the program’s inception. Expressing her enthusiasm, she eagerly anticipated witnessing the students’ achievements as they completed the program, highlighting the significance of obtaining a document of achievement in either Swine Production Foundations, Advanced Swine Production, or Swine Production Leadership upon graduation, a milestone anticipated in approximately one year. She elaborated on the two programs tailored for supervisors, emphasizing the need to identify individuals with potential for supervisory roles within the swine production sector. The first program, Advanced Swine Production is comprised of two courses. One course is focused on production practices, emphasizing the implementation of best practices and the monitoring responsibilities typically associated with supervisory roles. “This course we designed in response to valuable feedback received from industry partners, which helped differentiate the roles and responsibilities of supervisors within the barns,” said Pearen. The program then incorporated a course on swine professionalism aimed at honing core skills required for effective supervision. Topics covered in this course included conflict resolution, disciplinary actions, staff training, and evaluation. The Advanced program further delved into Swine Professionalism 2, deeper into higher-level human resources components pertinent to managerial roles.
Angela Pearen, the Coordinator, Ag Extension Russ Edwards School of Agriculture & Environment at the Assiniboine Community College said some students have finished a couple of courses, but no one has finished the full program Swine Production Foundations course yet. Submitted photos
The feedback received about the Swine Production Foundations course is that the online format works well because it enables people to work full-time and also allows students to take other positions within a farm.
Components such as hiring, firing, and interviewing were extensively covered, reflecting the evolving responsibilities of individuals transitioning into managerial positions. The Leadership program, an advanced extension of the advanced program, em-
phasized a combination of online pre-work and in-person sessions, fostering direct interactions between students, industry experts, and professionals from across Canada. The program aimed not only to enhance supervisory and professionalism skills but also to facilitate
the development of a robust professional network within Manitoba and beyond. Pearen’s comprehensive explanation highlighted the college’s proactive approach to preparing future industry leaders through targeted and practical educational initiatives.
October 27, 2023
Canola Meal Makes Milk on Canadian Dairy Farms If there is anything that defines a truly Canadian crop it’s canola. Much of its intense breeding work started in the mid-sixties by Drs. Downey and Stefansson. By the late 1970s, they successfully eliminated high levels of antinutritional components from rapeseed oil and turn it into a valuable food for humans. Likewise, canola meal, a by-product of extracting oil from whole canola-seed is now a good fit into dairy diets consumed by Canadian dairy milk cows. As a dairy nutritionist, I like to draw from a palette of different feedstuffs to first meet the total dietary protein requirement of the high-producing milk cows. This includes forage proteins, such as alfalfa haylage/hays, and concentrate-proteins such as soybean meal, canola meal, and corn-distillers’ grains. Sometimes, I look at other proteins such as corn-gluten meal, but these mentioned proteins are easily available on most dairy farms and commercial feed mills. Until about a year ago, I used a lot of soybean meal in several of my lactating feed programs. Then the $800/ mt price of soybean meal forced me to reconsider a greater proportion of $600/ mt canola meal in order to restrain some feed-costs, yet maintain milk production on a number of dairies. Fortunately, I am able to formulate canola meal and/ or soybean meal, almost interchangeably in my lactating dairy diets – both, as primary sources of crude protein (CP) and somewhat secondary source of rumen undegradable or ‘bypass’ protein’ (RUP). That’s because canola meal has a crude protein content
of about 35% and a bypass protein of 30 -35% (UIP%, CP), which in turn has a 75% degradability in the lower gut. These nutrient specs are comparable to soybean meal with a consistent protein content of 46 %, a bypass protein level of 35.0% (UIP%, CP), and is near all digested (94%) in the lowergut. Finally, both of ingredients have a measured dietary energy (Nel) value of 1.80 – 1.90 Mcal/kg, which is slightly less than corn and barley. Some researchers and fellow-nutritionists often argue that the book-values of RUP of canola is too low. They say that its soluble protein fraction is not equal to rumen degradable protein. Rather, they say, a portion of this soluble protein should be added to its bypass protein, thereby increasing its RUP value to 44%, which is higher than soybean meal’s. Furthermore, these people say that older software-models wrongfully compute the indigestible lignin of canola meal, which only underestimates canola meal’s dietary energy. As supporting evidence, the University of Saskatchewan (2017) reported a literature review of 49 studies in which canola meal replaced a group of commonly used protein sources and soybean meal in lactating dairy diets – added up to 20% (dm, basis). As a result, cows fed canola meal as a major dietary protein replacement increased milk production – 0.7 kg per day (soybean meal) and 1.4 kg (other protein sources). South Dakota University (2009) also formulated canola meal as a total and a partial protein substitute of corn dried distiller’s grains
with solubles (30% CP, 62% RUP) in a common diet for 12 early/multi lactation dairy cows. The data demonstrated that milk production and its components to be similar for all such treatments. The researchers concluded that canola meal was a good replacement for DDGS in most lactation dairy diets. To put an economic face to such dairy nutrition; I often calculate the cost of canola meal protein as well as its bypass protein (RUP) and compare them to those of soybean meal and DDGS: - *Canola ml protein = $460 mt/.35 = $1,314/mt vs. Soybean ml = $608/.46 = $1,322/mt. *Recent autumn commodity prices. - *Canola ml RUP = $460 mt/.35/.44 = $2,987/mt vs. Soybean ml RUP (35% of CP, as fed) = $608/.46/.35 = $3,776/mt. *New canola meal RUP value. - *Canola ml RUP = $460 mt/.35/.44 = $2,987/mt vs. DDGS RUP (60% of CP, as fed) = $385/.28/.60 = $2,292/mt. *New canola meal RUP value. These are straightforward feed costs to implement when formulating canola meal as a nutritious feed ingredient in lactating dairy diets. In a recent dairy feeding program that I was revising; I replaced 1 kg of soybean meal ($0.61) with 1.2 kg of canola meal ($0.55) in the lactating dairy diet and saved about $0.08 per lactating cow per day. For this 200-milking cow dairy, this cost-saving was a draw, yet milk production and milkfat was maintained.
Canola meal, a by-product of extracting oil from whole canola-seed is now a good fit into dairy diets consumed by Canadian dairy milk cows. Submitted photo Peter Vitti
October 27, 2023
Groundbreaking Research Reveals Women are Making Extraordinary Contributions to Farming in Canada, Yet Continue to Face Significant Challenges A new era of understanding opportunities to advance Canadian agriculture is dawning as Farm Management Canada in partnership with CentricEngine release new research that sheds light on the crucial roles played by farm women in influencing farm success in Canada. This comprehensive research, titled “Expanding Opportunities for Canadian Agriculture by Understanding the Experience of Farm Women,” underscores the indispensable contributions of women and offers a compelling narrative that highlights opportunities to foster a transformative shift in the industry by supporting the unique needs of farm women. “Much has been said about the experience of women in farming, but little has been measured,” says lead researcher Maurice Allin, President of CentricEngine. “This is the first national study to establish a framework for identifying the activities undertaken by farm women and understand their motivations, aspirations and challenges to create a foundation of facts where none existed before.” Results reveal women are making extraordinary contributions to farming in Canada with a high degree of involvement in virtually every aspect of the operation. Furthermore, there is a tremendous diversity of experiences among farm women. “We were surprised to learn that rather than demographic or farmographic differences, it is the interactions and relationships with others that most influence the experience of farm women,” says research partner Bob Wilbur, Principal at RW Strategic Perspectives. “Viewing the experience of farm women through a human-centred lens provides a clearer understanding of their situations and creates opportunities for more effective actions – we can now confirm a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.” The research shows farm women continue to face significant challenges and barriers that need to be addressed. The level and satisfaction with communication about the farm proved to be a critical dimension in determining the nature of the experience of farm women. Other critical dimensions include women feeling valued and supported with their skill sets utilized. The Report offers over 30 recommendations presented under six (6) distinct groupings: 1. Support gender equity and equality initiatives in policy development, programming and governance. 2. Create and enhance programming, development opportunities, and resources that specifically address the needs of farm women.
Results reveal women are making extraordinary contributions to farming in Canada with a high degree of involvement in virtually every aspect of the operation. Furthermore, there is a tremendous diversity of experiences among farm women. The research shows farm women continue to face significant challenges and barriers that need to be addressed. File photo
3. Dedicate efforts beyond women in agriculture to focus exclusively on supporting farm women. 4. Promote communication and interpersonal skills along with business management practices as essential components of farming. 5. Expand existing research to more effectively capture data related to farm women (ex. Census). 6. Conduct additional research on the experience and contributions of farm women, factors that influence farm success, and a comparative study of farm men using the same human-centered lens. To celebrate the release of this research, Farm Management Canada will be hosting a panel discussion at its 2023 Agricultural Excellence Conference taking place November 21-23 in Guelph, Ontario. The session will feature presentations by the lead researchers and invited guests from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and la Fédération des Agricultrices du Québec to explore how the findings of this research can inform policies, programs, and initiatives aimed at empowering farm women. “We are excited to unveil this transformative research, which provides a roadmap for empowering Canada’s farm women,” says Heather Watson, Executive Director of Farm Management Canada. “By recognizing and supporting the unique needs of farm women, we can unlock tremendous potential for advancing Canada’s agricultural sector from the grassroots, paving the way for future generations of farmers in Canada.”
October 27, 2023
Increased Proactive Advocacy Needed in the Farm Animal Sector By Harry Siemens During a recent conversation, Hannah ThompsonWeeman, the President and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance in the United States offered a comprehensive overview of the current legislative landscape, addressing key concerns and developments in the animal agriculture industry. Notably, the discussion encompassed the implications of Prop 12, its ramifications for producers, and the challenges posed by impending changes in the regulatory environment. Reflecting on the impact of Prop 12, ThompsonWeeman emphasized its surprising validation by the Supreme Court in May, which generated substantial uncertainty within the animal agriculture community, particularly regarding enforcement mechanisms and compliance deadlines. “The evolving scenario has necessitated a transition period, contributing to a challenging phase for pork producers facing economic strains amid the need for significant facility investments,” said ThompsonWeeman. She underscored the economic implications, emphasizing California’s potential shortages and price hikes, with producers compelled to explore alternative product markets. She highlighted the ongoing challenges posed by the EATS Act, designed to curb the impact of restrictive state-level legislation on agricultural producers across different states. Regarding the insights shared by Scott Hayes, the President of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Thompson-Weeman underscored the problematic decisions confronting many producers as they weigh the financial viability of complying with Prop 12. Expressing concerns about the impact on animal welfare and operational sustainability, she indicated the potential disruption to the supply chain. She highlighted the intentions of activist groups behind such legislative endeavours. The conversation further delved into the broader legislative trends across different states, from local ordinances in towns and cities to state-level initiatives. Thompson-Weeman emphasized the concerted efforts of activist organizations in influencing legislation and driving changes in existing animal cruelty statutes, potentially undermining exemptions currently applicable to animal agriculture. “Notably, the strategies adopted by activist groups in leveraging emotive narratives to sway public sentiment and legal discourse reinforce the need for continued vigilance within the industry,” she said. Touching upon the challenges posed by on-farm and plant activism, she highlighted instances of trespassing and theft, emphasizing the increasing boldness of activist groups in conducting publicized stunts and generating biosecurity concerns. Citing cases where activists have been found not guilty despite evidence of their actions, she underscored the potential implications of such verdicts, further encouraging these groups and perpetuating their disruptive activities. In response to the concerns regarding potential legislative changes in Manitoba, Thompson-Weeman emphasized the importance of monitoring developments closely, emphasizing the need for proactive measures within the animal agriculture sector to safeguard its interests. “Stressing the significance of preserving consumer choice and ensuring the continued consumption of animal-derived products,” she said. Thompson-Weeman reaffirmed the need for proactive advocacy efforts to safeguard the industry’s longterm viability and sustainability.
Get Started in Regenerative Agriculture – Learn the Principles By Dorthea Gregoire If you’re among those of us who have heard about regenerative agriculture (regen ag) and are intrigued by the possibilities for your farm, yard or garden this article is for you. For those already farming, gardening or growing, regen ag is suitable for both conventional and organic management systems, large grain operations, small mixed farms and even backyard gardens, though the path each adopter takes will look slightly different. Regen ag focuses on rebuilding soil health and harnessing that living system to put it to work in your agricultural setting. A successful transition to regenerative agriculture includes changing on-farm practices but also changing the way we see the practices we use, our management system and the contributions that the soil ecosystem make to our ability to grow healthy, quality crops. Before you start making changes, take a moment to learn the regen ag principles and consider how they will be affected by anything and everything you do. Regen Ag Principles: 1. Keep the soil covered at all times – with plants, either living or dead (such as mulch). Keeping the soil covered a) armours it against the harsh heat of the sun, which bakes the soil ecosystem and the life in it, b) retains moisture, making it available to crops, c) protects fields from the loss of the most fertile top soils to wind erosion and d) absorbs the impact of rain, which hits bare ground with amazing force - think of each raindrop as a mini bomb going off, throwing topsoil into the air and compacting the soil below. 2. Keep a living root in the ground as long as possible – a living root in the ground holds the soil structure but it also holds a living - photosynthesizing - plant above ground. Green plants take in CO2 from the air and turn it into sugars (carbohydrates) for use within the plant. What many of us don’t realize is that anywhere from 40 to60 percent of these sugars are pumped into the soil by plants as root exudates (organic compounds deposited into soil by plant roots) that feed the microbes, such as fungi and bacteria, in the soil. These microbes in turn bring important nutrients to the plant. The more exudates a plant can put out, the bigger and more diverse
a community of microbes it can support. As this community grows, it can access more space in the soil giving it more opportunities to seek out and retrieve desirable nutrients from the soil – no synthetics required. 3. Minimize soil disturbance – unless you’re using it as an intentional tool, soil disturbance should be avoided. Soil disturbance includes physical disturbance like tilling, discing and other forms of cultivation. It also includes animal disturbance, such as digging, and chemical disturbance including the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Disturbance can lead to death of soil microbes (especially fungi) if applied unchecked. However, disturbance is also a powerful tool that, when applied correctly, can be used to stimulate growth, alter community composition (for microbes and weeds) and promote healthy interactions. Don’t underestimate the power of disturbance in your system – intentional or otherwise. 4. Diversify - when in doubt, diversify. Adding diversity above ground (i.e., your crops) creates diversity below ground. A great place to start is by trying your best to add forbs (flowering plants), grasses, and legumes to all of your plantings. This can be done by including species from each functional group in your diverse crop mix, such as planting oats, peas and sunflowers together, or by planting sequentially in your rotation. For example, a year of peas could be followed by a year of oats and then a year of sunflowers. Remember, different plants put out dif-
ferent exudates and therefore attract and feed different soil microbes that do different jobs. Keep above-ground diversity in mind if you want to see it below ground. 5. Add livestock – whenever you have a chance, include livestock in your fields. We most commonly think of cattle in regenerative systems but diversity will optimize your system here too. Look at sheep, horses, chickens and pigs or any other animal you have access to. When live animals aren’t a practical option, consider adding manure and or compost (filled with microbial “livestock” if you will) as a source of both nutrients and organic matter for your soil. Manure and compost not only bring nutrients to your fields but also support soil structure by adding organic matter. 6. Consider your context – most importantly; becoming regenerative in your life means knowing the limitations and opportunities available to you in your context. Don’t forget to consider the financial, environmental, cultural, social, and spiritual aspects of what you’re planning to do. For example, can you afford the equipment you need to execute your plan? Or does it fit with your values? Remember to start small with what you have and don’t be afraid to share your journey with others. We all benefit from hearing about the success of our neighbours and avoiding the mishaps they’ve already learnt from! With these principles in mind, it’s now time to sit down and figure out what you hope to accomplish by
transitioning to regenerative agriculture, how you might do this and how you will do it. In other words, what are your goals, what is your plan, and what tools are available to you? A great place to start is by adding a cover crop, intercrop or relay crop to your rotation. Make sure to pay special attention to including plant species that will help you achieve your goal. Also, take time to think about how you’ll determine whether this venture was a success or failure. Nobody plans to fail but sometimes, we all fail to plan. Start out on the right foot by planning to make time to observe, observe, observe! Take note of what you see during the growing season and why this may be happening. For this reason alone, I strongly recommend focusing your first regenerative efforts on a small piece of land that’s easily accessible (like a field you drive by daily). Set yourself up for success by making it easy to do a weekly walk through where you get a real feel for what’s going on in your field, what’s working and what unexpected benefits you may already be seeing. Don’t forget to take notes and take pictures and go back to them at the end of the season as you review your first foray into regen ag. As we shift out of harvest and into the winter planning season – I hope you all find time to squeeze in a cover crop and see for yourselves how regen ag can work for you. Dorthea Gregoire is with the Canadian Organic Growers.
For those already farming, gardening or growing, regen ag is suitable for both conventional and organic management systems, large grain operations, small mixed farms and even backyard gardens, though the path each adopter takes will look slightly different. Regen ag focuses on rebuilding soil health and harnessSubmitted photo ing that living system to put it to work in your agricultural setting.
Warm and Damp Fall Helped Cover Crops on Manitoba Farm Fields Manitoba’s longest growing season since 1977 has playing out nicely for cover crops and farmers in some areas of the province this fall. With warm daytime temps and mild nights throughout September, cover crops that are designed to keep a living root in the ground for as long as possible while covering the soil from erosion, flourished in some areas. In fact, high humidity and warmer than normal seasonal September temperatures along with a few significant downfalls of rain worked well for cover crops in some areas of Manitoba. “Many farmers were worried that cover crops would not be able to grow earlier in the season due to the exceptionally dry conditions,” said Callum Morrison, Crop Production Extension Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture. “I think it’s an example of how farmers need to be flexible and how there will be different opportunities for growing cover crops every year.” The prolonged 2023 growing season continued throughout most of October. Morrison says he has seen a lot of winter wheat and fall rye emerging well, as well as volunteers from canola and cereals growing strong. Ryan Canart has seen similar positives on some fields in western Manitoba. Canart oversees delivery of three different producer-focused cover crop incentive programs within the Assiniboine West Watershed District (AWWD) he manages: Agriculture Agri-Food Canada’s On Farm Climate Action Fund delivered via the Manitoba Association of Watershed (MAW) Prairie Watersheds Climate Program (PWCP); ALUS’s Growing Roots Program, and Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association’s Conservation Trust two-year project around soil health and cover crops that AWWD delivers alongside Souris River Watershed District (SRWD) and Central Assiniboine Watershed District (CAWD). According to Canart, warmth helps promote prolonged plant growth and photosynthetic activity which improves overall soil health. These benefits are attributed to annual cover crops, many of which are used to integrate livestock grazing, further improving the soil’s characteristics. “Annually seeded cover crops are providing the soil life with continued food sources this fall,” said Canart. “With the above-average temperatures, green plants are able to continue to convert sunlight to sugar and further support the soil rebuilding processes.” Embraced by regenerative agriculture-focused farmer-led groups such as MFGA and promoted by soilhealth practitioners, cover crops are
designed to do exactly as they are named: cover the soil in fields that would otherwise be bare to protect the soil from erosion while adding nutrients and keeping a root in the ground for as long as possible for accrued soil health benefits as well as weed and pest control and other benefits. In some cases, cover crops can be grazed; though most cover crops are planted to never be harvested and are finished by the onset of cold weather to become a nutrient mulch on top of the soils of fields with far-reaching below soil benefits. Neil Zalluski manages the CAWD and delivers MFGA’s Conservation Trust and MAW’s PWCP in the watershed. Zalluski says while the sunshine and warm nights are great for extending the growing season, the rain and moisture is the real key. So, too, he says is finding the right timing and field systems to plant cover crops. Intercropping is one way some farmers are planting cover crops into annual crops halfway through the growing season with the push to integrate livestock and cover crops onto annual crops. “Intercropping systems in our watershed are used primarily to promote extended livestock grazing,” said Zalluski. “This incorporates livestock into annual cropping plans as the livestock are put onto fields post-harvest of the primary crop. As the livestock are grazing the cover crop, they are benefiting the soil health and providing nutrients into the system in a way that might reduce next year’s crop inputs.” Zalluski said that the CAWD finally got some rain in early October and along with the high moisture content in the air and morning dew each day has been valuable toward the cover crop benefits and systems working. Like Zalluski, Dean Brooker runs the MFGA and the PWCP projects in his watershed. He concurs: timing is everything when it comes to cover crops. “Parts of our Watershed District have seen well-timed amounts of precipitation and in those areas, the ability of cover crops to benefit from that moisture and with a long stretch of frost-free days, bodes well for the soil health on some farms,” said Brooker, manager of SRWD. “With the soil-health programs we are delivering, this type of weather is exactly what we are all hoping for in our planning stages.” All three watershed managers will be soil sampling and surveying farmers as part of their projects and expect to have more information over winter to help next year’s project deliverables and farmer interests.
October 27, 2023
Tasty Dishes with Hamburger By Joan Airey As we are badly fogged this morning, I think a pot of soup is in order. You’d think when your kids leave home you don’t worry about them, I’m afraid that isn’t how it works. Since some of your grandchildren’s school bus has to cross the mainline CNR you hope in fogs or blizzards their driver crosses safely and another grandchild who drives daily forty miles to college you hope she is safely in class. Then you hope your son’s plane can land in the fog when he returns from a business trip.
Taco Soup: 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef 1/2 cup chopped onion 1 qt. canned whole tomatoes 1 can corn, with liquid 1-14 oz can kidney beans with liquid 1-8 oz can tomato sauce Salt and pepper to taste 1 pkg. taco seasoning 1 to 2 cups water Brown onion and hamburger in frying pan. Simmer all ingredients including hamburger and onion in soup pot for at least 15 minutes. Just before serving add 1 cup grated cheese or add some grated cheese to each steaming hot bowl as you serve it. I use my own corn from the freezer, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. My husband likes this chili recipe off a Libby’s bean can I tried forty years ago and make when time is running out to have a meal on the table.
Chili 1 lb. hamburger 1 onion chopped 1 can tomato soup 1 can kidney beans 1 teaspoon chilli powder 1 Tablespoon vinegar 1 teaspoon salt Brown onion and hamburger add the rest of ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.
Chocolate Surprise Fudge Pudding: 1 cup all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 Tablespoons cocoa 1 / 2 cup milk 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine 1/2 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 1.5 or 2-quart casserole. Sift flour baking powder, salt, cocoa, and sugar together in mixing bowl. Blend in milk, butter and vanilla. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Topping: 1/2 cup brown sugar 3 Tablespoon cocoa 1 1/2 cups boiling water 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt Mix brown sugar and granulated sugar with cocoa and salt sprinkle mixture evenly over batter and pour boiling water over all. DO NOT STIR. Bake for 30 minutes or until done. Serve hot or cold.
Chocolate Surprise Fudge Pudding goes great with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Photo Joan Airey
October 27, 2023
Answering the Burning Questions on Biochar
One of the larger pieces of wood-derived biochar recovered from soil in the field. Biochar can be produced from many things like corn cobs, rice husks or pine wood. It is created through a process called pyrolysis, where the material is heated in the absence of oxygen which makes it a difference process than fire burning. Photo Credit: Jake Nash
One of the conifer seedlings showing strong symptoms of stress in the third year of the field experiment. The Photo Credit: Jake Nash study found biochar negatively affected the trees.
A scanning electron micrograph image showing the small pores in the biochar. The microscopic structure of biochar is similar to the structure of the wood that was used to produce the biochar. These pores are particularly important for water and nutrient retention in the soil. Photo Credit: Jake Nash and Amy Albin
Biochar is similar to charcoal and can be added to soil with the goal of improving its quality. It can help increase nutrient and water retention. However, what happens in soil impacts fungi and plants that live there, and it is not always clear how they will react to biochar. Jake Nash, a researcher at Duke University, helped lead a study to determine how biochar affected microbes like fungi, as well as trees. He explains that biochar can be produced from many things like corn cobs, rice husks or pine wood. It is created through a process called pyrolysis, where the material is heated in the absence of oxygen which makes it a different process than fire burning. “Biochar has a very long history of use by indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin who amended leftover charcoal from cooking fires into the soil,” Nash added. “This created very rich and deep soils, called Terra preta. Even to this day, these soils are enriched compared to the surrounding soils.” Much of the current research on biochar was conducted on annual, short-lived crops like corn, wheat, soybeans, and rice. Nash said that less work has been done to find out how biochar impacts longlived plants like conifer trees and early results have been very mixed. That’s why Nash’s team set out to evaluate how biochar affected two commonly grown Christmas trees, blue spruce and balsam fir.
Their results showed many changes to the soil, trees, and soil fungi. They found that biochar increased the activity of certain microbes, which help decompose litter and return nutrients to the soil. However, it also had negative effects on the trees. “These findings show that biochar can affect microbes and plants differently, and we need to better understand how the above and below-ground worlds interact with biochar,” Nash said. “Every biochar is different and needs to be well-characterized before farmers make the decision to use it on their crops.” The researchers point to changes in soil pH, the measure of how acidic or basic something is caused by the biochar that negatively affected the trees. Nash said many plants and microbes are very sensitive to pH changes so it may have changed which microbes were able to grow in the soil or affected plant performance, or both at the same time.
“Our results might have to do with biochar’s effect on soil acidity or its effects on symbiotic fungi.” Interestingly, they found that one species of symbiotic fungus called Wilcoxina mikolae came to dominate plant roots. They want to perform more tests to see why this may have happened and how shifts in fungal communities may have affected tree growth. “Further testing might show specific tree species that are likely to perform better with biochar,” Nash said. “We might even be able to perform chemical testing on the biochar that will help us make good guesses about how it will perform in the field.”
The researchers said that biochar has the potential to remove carbon from the atmosphere. So, if scientists can understand how to best use They did observe biochar, it could that the biochar be used to both increased soil mois- improve soil health ture during their and combat climate tests. This is bechange. cause biochar can “I hope that people act like a sponge take away from this that biochar is not a magic and retain water. “The biochars that we used were both somewhat acidic, which made the soil more basic after biochar application,” Nash said.
silver bullet for all plant and soil health issues,” Nash said. “It needs to be used carefully to address specific issues with plant and soil health.”
For these experiments, biochar (the dark material) was spread on the surface of the soil and then tilled in. Researchers at Michigan State University are studying the effects of biochar on soil fungi and evergreen trees. Photo Credit: Daniel Warnock
Read the AgriPost online at AgriPost.ca
Overnight Frosts End Long Gardening Season By Elmer Heinrichs Falling temperatures through the weeks of October has marked the end for an abnormally long gardening season, and while local horticulturists are thrilled about the late frost, environmental experts suggest it could be an indicator of climate change. Recently overnight lows dipped below 0°C for the first time since May 4. The 157day span of warm weather breezed past Manitoba’s annual average growing period of 121 days, according to data from Environment Canada’s weather station at Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport.
Further review showed the airport weather station has not recorded more days above zero since at least 1998, the earliest data available. The closest year was 2021, when it recorded 155 days. “Gardening is not for the faint of heart,” says Linda Wall, president of the Manitoba Horticultural Association. “We gamble that Mother Nature isn’t going to freeze in September, and this September, we won.” Wall, whose organization represents 17 horticultural clubs throughout the province, noted every garden varies in its layout and crop
and even when temperatures dropped below -1°C, many plots in the city remained untouched by frost. The extended season was a pleasant surprise for gardeners, who were able to keep flowers in pots and planters into October. People tending to flowers may now consider bringing their plants inside to save them from the increasing cold, but root vegetables such as carrots will continue to thrive in the coming days, said Wall. As a general rule, the first frost falls on Winnipeg around September 22, says Sara Hoffman, environment Canada meteorologist.
Hamiota Golf Club Receives Boost as Local Farmer Wins Lallemand “Hometown Roots” Contest The Hamiota Golf Club received a cheque for $5,000. Recently, Lallemand Plant Care announced area farmer Travis Brooks as the Manitoba winner of the second Hometown Roots Family Contest. Brooks was awarded the opportunity to select a hometown organization to receive a $5,000 donation from Lallemand. The Hometown Roots Family Contest was designed by Lallemand to support rural roots by giving back to community-based organizations. It was first launched in 2022 and continued this year.
“Lallemand is proud to support the communities we call home,” said Anne Favre, Strategic Marketing Director - USA & Canada, Lallemand Plant Care. “We recognize the important role communities play in shaping our lives and our families’ lives. As such, we are pleased to bring back the Hometown Roots Family Contest for a second year. It is a unique way for retailers, growers, and their families to give back to their communities. We are thrilled to present this funding to the community of Hamiota.” During the contest, from
November 2022 through May 2023, growers in the Prairie Provinces had the opportunity to enter by either purchasing Lallemand Plant Care inoculants, including Lalfix® Start Spherical Granule and Lalfix® Proyield Liquid Soybean, or by writing an essay explaining what farming means to them and how they would leverage the funds to support their community. Brooks purchased his Lallemand inoculant from J.S. Henry Seeds in Oak River. Winners have also been selected in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Pictured (left to right): Brendan Brown with JS Henry Seeds, Brenton Belos with Lallemand Plant Care, Manitoba Hometown Roots Contest winner Travis Brooks, Lawson Brooks, Jackie Brooks, Dale Brooks, Beckham Brooks, Ryan Brooks, Amanda Brooks, and Wes Gregory, President of the Hamiota Golf Course. Photo courtesy of CNW Group/Lallemand Plant Care Canada
October 27, 2023
“The Prairie Garden 2024” Will Be Launched Soon! By Joan Airey Many volunteers will be launching The Prairie Garden at McNally Robinson on November 12, 2023 at 2 pm. The vast majority of gardeners continue gardening to some degree long after the Halloween pumpkins have been collected. Many continue by either gardening indoors or simply reading about it from the comfort of their couch. For your reading pleasure The Prairie Garden committee brings you the 2024 edition, carefully written and prepared by a group of writers and photographers as diverse as the articles themselves. Thirty articles are on gardening indoors through the harsh Prairie winters. They cover subjects such as: “African violets,” by Bonnie Batchelor; “Essential tips for growing orchids at home,” by Joe Gadbois; “Starting native perennial seeds indoors,” by Kelly Leask; and “Growing leafy greens hydroponically: A beginner’s guide,” by Daniel Elias. Another 27 articles provide you valuable information on subjects such as: “Growing plums on the Prairies,” by Philip Ronald; “Some thoughts on butterflies,” by Danny Blair; “Gardening with deer,” by Meera Sinha; “Gardening for wild bees: Milkweeds,” by Jason Gibbs; “Hugelkultur,” by Norm Sylvestre; “Getting the garden ready for winter: A checklist,” by Lesa Guy; and “How to grow mouth-watering melons in northern climates,” by Don Kinzler.
There are 188 pages of great reading brought to you, between the covers of this book for $19.95 CAD. Have you got your garden all cleaned up? Today I have to bring my gladiolus in and store them. And Canna Lilies are still in their pots. I’ll move them in the garage today and when the tops die a little more will clean off and store them in the basement. This year was my first experience growing Canna Lilies a gardening neighbour shared some roots with me. I planted them up in big pots on my deck and couldn’t believe the growth they had. The smallest pot I dumped out on the garden yesterday and it was full of bulbs and roots. Everything I could find online says cut off the stalks and shake out the dirt, lay them out on the garage floor to dry for a few days then store in peat moss in a cool dark place in the basement. Guess I will try that and hope they survive. I brought in cuttings from my Coleus plants too and put them in a glass of water and they are ready to pot up already. As soon as Ag-Ex is over I hope to start my salad garden under lights! When Christmas shopping, those gardener’s books, row markers, gardening gloves, etc. are all great gifts. Hope to see some of you at Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference in Winkler November 21 to 23!
Kent strawberry picked from a planter October 20. When checking my pots of strawberries on the patio I found there are several large strawberries starting to ripen. If they don’t ripen before they forecast a heavy frost I will move them indoors under lights. Photo by Joan Airey
October 27, 2023