August 27, 2021
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Interlake Region’s Dairy Farmers Hit Hard by Drought But Milk Keeps Flowing
David Wiens, a dairy farmer and chair of Manitoba Dairy Farmers said that if it does not snow again this winter, then more of the province’s dairy producers will be experiencing the same as what many farmers are experiencing up in the Interlake area. Submitted photo
By Harry Siemens David and Charles Wiens milk 240 cows in their Skyline Dairy at Grunthal, MB with updated DeLaval robotic milkers. David Weins is the chair of the Manitoba Dairy Farmers (MDF) and vice-president of the Canadian Dairy Farmers. Because they crop 1,500 acres for both feed and cash crops their situation is better than many, said Wiens. He reported that available feed for dairy farmers varies from good in his area to extremely poor in the Interlake region of Manitoba. “There are some farms, and we would be an example where we had some carryover feed from last year. So that is going to be very helpful,” he said on how rain will determine crop quality and yield. For the most part yields will be down from other years. Weins toured a dairy farm
in the Interlake located a mile east of Lake Manitoba, northeast of Winnipeg, with an alfalfa field completely dead. He said that it looks like somebody sprayed Roundup three weeks. “Walking through the field, the plants crunch under your feet. And that’s the first cut with no harvest whatsoever,” said Weins He saw an oat field with sparse plants eight inches tall, with no leaves, heads, or kernels and grasshoppers have cleaned up the little bit of crop there was. The farmer has already bought a few loads of dairy feed, but at 14 cents a pound that becomes very expensive he said. “If this were to continue and we don’t get snow again this winter, well, then I’m sure that it’s going to be a much bigger part of the province that’s going to be in the same boat as what some of these farmers are experienc-
ing up in the Interlake area,” continued Weins. He said the drought has not affected milk production in Manitoba and MDF is still bringing in some milk from Saskatchewan and Alberta. “So far we’re able to maintain production, let’s say in western Canada, in spite of the drought,” said Weins. He noted that crops around Edmonton are better, and further south in Alberta, some farmers have irrigation. “So far, we have not experienced a downturn in production,” said Weins. “Farms have different strategies, with some always having some carryover feed from the previous year. And I think those that are running short, I’m sure are very busy securing their supply for next year.” On their own farm, Skyline Dairy they have been able to secure enough feed with their 1,500 acres. “In these kinds of years, for example, some
crops we can change midstride, from cash crop and we can either turn it into forage or carry through with the cash crop.” The main crops included in their rotation are alfalfa and corn, where corn is used as silage and some grain. He said getting two cuts of alfalfa this year was better than expected considering there was little rain. For several years, they have grown forage oats that seem to produce consistently in dry years and yielding a reasonable crop this year. In a typical year, corn does well after alfalfa breakage. However, this year the corn is suffering on the alfalfa breakage because on top of the drought, soil does tend to be a bit dryer in the alfalfa acres. The drought is stressing his corn acres although across the road, corn seeded into grain stubble seems to be doing better, he said.
Provincial Supports Available to Farmers in Difficult Times Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development (ARD) is reminding agricultural producers affected by dry conditions of the programs and services available to them. The province continues to work with producers and producer organizations to determine how best to support the sector. In addition to previously announced supports, the province encourages producers to reach out for mental health supports and assistance dealing with the stress these current conditions may put on producers and their families. The recently announced Hay Disaster Benefit of $44 per tonne may be available for producers who purchased forage insurance through Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) by the March 31 deadline. Producers with this insurance can register a forage insurance claim now or by the September 30 deadline to potentially receive a top-up payment if they experience a tonnage shortfall. The Manitoba Hay Listing Service provides an inventory of hay, straw and alternative feed for sale and pasture for rent. If you have hay, straw, straw to bale, standing hay, alternative feed, or pastureland for sale or rent contact an ARD and MASC Service Centre or visit web31.gov.mb.ca/HayListClntExtrnl to view the existing listings. In addition, MASC will not be deducting premiums owing from any forage claim indemnities paid to clients from now until September 30. Normally, premiums would be deducted prior to claim payments being made. Continued on Page 3...
August 27, 2021
Changes to AgriStabilty Support Manitoba’s Farmers Provincial Supports Available to Farmers in Difficult Times Continued from Page 1...
Other changes include making advance payments on forage claims, with plans to finalize forage claims as quickly as possible and allowing livestock grazing on low yield forage fields or after a first cut of forage without counting that grazed production against their forage claim. Producers may also explore options to put their crops to alternate use. Alternate use means a change to the use of a crop from what was originally intended when planting in the spring. Currently, oats, barley, triticale, fall rye, and all wheat types can be put to alternate use and used for greenfeed, silage, or grazing, however producers must contact MASC before doing so. MASC is applying a quality adjustment factor to appraisals on crops that are being put to alternate use under the AgriInsurance program. Adjustors will use normal appraisal procedures; however appraisals will be reduced by 40 per cent to account for the expected lower quality of grain based on a five-year average. For more information visit masc.mb.ca/masc.nsf, alternate use. Producers can visit the Managing Dry Conditions section of the ARD website for information on managing dugouts and water quality at gov.mb.ca/agriculture/dry. They will also find timely information about grazing practices and alternative strategies for sourcing feed during dry conditions. More information on water availability, drought conditions and drought impacts is available at manitoba. ca/drought. Producers can contact an ARD and MASC service centre at masc.mb.ca/masc.nsf, call the department tollfree at 1-84-GROW-MB-AG (1-844-769-6224), or go to gov.mb.ca/agriculture (Quick Links) for more information on any of these programs and services. Drought extending over a broad area can have significant effects on a wide range of water sensitive sectors. Those whose livelihood is directly tied to the water supply, including agriculture, irrigation, power generation, fisheries, forestry, drinking water supplies, manufacturing and recreation may be at greater risk of experiencing adverse mental health effects during a drought. Managing stress, worry and depression is important and there are resources available to help, including Manitoba Farm, Rural & Northern Support Services supportline.ca, call toll free 1-866-367-3276 or at the Klinic Crisis Line klinic.mb.ca or call 204-786-8686, 1-888322-3019 (toll-free), or Manitoba Addictions Helpline at 1-855-662-6605 (toll-free).
The governments of Canada and Manitoba have agreed to increase the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for Manitoba producers. “My heart goes out to those farmers and ranchers feeling the impacts of the drought. We are working closely with provinces to get farm families the support they need as soon as possible. By unlocking more AgriStability funds through interim payments and invoking late participation, we can get more cash in hand for farmers who are making tough decisions in a difficult situation,” said Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau. “We will continue to support farm families to get them through the challenges we face today, and position them for a sustainable future, since we know climate change will continue to pose challenges.” “I have been working close-
ly with Manitoba producer groups and we are looking for every way we can help in these challenging times,” said Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler. “We have taken this additional step to provide our producers with support and this increase allows producers to access a larger portion of their final AgriStability benefit early.” The interim benefit provides the opportunity for producers who are enrolled in AgriStability to access a portion of their benefit early, to help support losses and cover costs. With this increase, Manitoba producers can apply for an interim benefit to receive 75 per cent of their estimated final 2021 benefit, before completing their program year. Manitoba is also invoking the late participation option for producers not currently participating in AgriStability. Payments
to late participants will be reduced by 20 per cent prior to applying any other deductions or penalties. The interim benefit is calculated based on the estimated margin decline or loss for the year compared to the farming operation’s reference margin. The decline must be at least 30 per cent below the reference margin to access a payment. If a producer receives an interim benefit payment, they must still file all final program year forms and meet program requirements by the assigned deadlines. Manitoba will also be waiving AgriStability structural change for eligible 2022 program participants to ensure producers maintain their level of support and are not penalized for any significantly reduced productive capacity resulting from this year’s extreme weather events. AgriStability is an important tool that can help manage risks and financial losses because of poor yields, low
“My heart goes out to those farmers and ranchers feeling the impacts of the drought. We are working closely with provinces to get farm families the support they need as soon as possible,” said Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Submitted photo Bibeau.
commodity prices, or rising input costs. The program provides support when a producer experiences a large margin decline. The deadline to apply for an interim payment is March 31, 2022. Access AgriStability information with My AAFC Account, visit the AgriStability website agr. gc.ca/agristability or call toll-free at 1-866-367-8506 for more information.
CFA Ramping Up “Hay West” Initiative With farmers in the Prairie Provinces facing a dire hay shortage due to devastating and prolonged drought conditions, Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) has begun work to facilitate a “Hay West” initiative to send surplus hay from farmers on the East Coast to those struggling in the West. Canada’s farmers have supported each other in similar ways in the past. The first Hay West initiative occurred in 2002 when
Prairie farmers were facing similar circumstances. Ten years later the situation was reversed, where western farmers sent hay east to help farms stricken with drought. “CFA is currently in the initial stages of facilitating a new Hay West program. We have our staff as well as a third-party working towards determining how much of a hay surplus is available, and are looking to work with the railways and the government to help these farmers that are
in dire need of feed for their animals,” said Mary Robinson, CFA President. “We believe this initiative will help ease some of the stress that western farmers are dealing with,” added Robinson. “We’d also like to point to the new Climate Action Fund as the kind of support that farmers need to continue investing in sustainability initiatives as they face these incredibly difficult circumstances. It can be
hard for farmers to invest further in sustainability as climate change impacts greatly affect their financial situations,” concluded Robinson. CFA will provide more information on the Hay West initiative as the details become available, and will be working closely with the government and other stakeholders to ensure that farmers are supported and surplus hay reaches those that need it.
August 27, 2021
Total AgriRecovery Funding Increased The federal government has increased total AgriRecovery funding to up to $500 million to address extraordinary costs faced by producers due to drought and wildfires. This includes initial funding of $100 million announced recently on August 6. Given the extraordinary circumstances that farmers in western Canada and parts of Ontario are facing, this increased funding ensures the federal government is ready to contribute to eligible provincial AgriRecovery costs on the 60-40 costshared basis outlined under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Manitoba has announced a commitment of $62 million. The Government of Canada and the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario continue to work with the utmost urgency to complete joint assessments of the disaster and launch support programs. This will include direct assistance to affected livestock and agricultural producers, and help them with added costs of obtaining livestock feed, transportation and water.
Producers can also apply for interim payments under AgriStability to help them cope with immediate financial challenges. The federal and the provincial governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have agreed to increase the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage from 50% to 75%, so producers can access a greater portion of their benefit early to meet their urgent needs. British Columbia and Manitoba have also opened up late participation in AgriStability to farmers who did not register in 2021 so they can benefit from this important income support. In addition to this support, the federal government announced designations for Livestock Tax Deferral on July 22, 2021, and August 6, 2021, for prescribed drought regions in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. This will allow beef producers who are forced to sell a significant amount of their breeding herd due to drought conditions to offset the resulting revenues with the costs to replace the herd.
Read The AgriPost Online at
August 27, 2021
Let’s Starve the Plants
Read the AgriPost Online www.agripost.ca
One of the craziest proposals to come out of Ottawa in recent history is the Liberals’ plan to radically reduce the amount of fertilizer farmers use to produce crops in Canada. They want to kneecap one of the great breadbaskets of the world so they can virtue signal their love for all things environmental to fringe groups and an underinformed public. “The Federal Government has stated that they want to reduce fertilizer emissions by 30%, but have no plan or details how to accomplish this,” said Gunter Jochum, President and Manitoba Director of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers. “They have not consulted with farmers or industry and yet make #fakepolicy announcements. The only way to achieve this is through a reduction in fertilizer use.” The policy change can be found in a document called “A Healthy Environment and A Healthy Economy.” On
pages 44 & 45, it talks about “Climate-Smart Agriculture” and states this goal: “Set a national emission reduction target of 30% below 2020 levels from fertilizers and work with fertilizer manufacturers, farmers, provinces and territories, to develop an approach to meet it. Direct emissions associated with synthetic nitrogen fertilizer application have increased by approximately 60% since 2005 and these emissions are projected to keep increasing. Improving how fertilizers are used through better products and practices will save farmer’s money and time, and help protect Canada’s land and water.” If implemented, it will, of course, do none of this. But it looks good in the press to anyone who hasn’t got a clue how things work out in the country. Canadian farmers are already world-class when it comes to how they use fertilizers, making sure to put the right products on,
in the right amounts, at the right time, so as to maximize yields without waste. Basic economics, the law of diminishing returns and the practical application of bell curves, already makes this pretty much automatic. As far as saving money goes, its classic single-entry accounting that doesn’t even try to look at the whole picture. What good is it to save a nickel here and there if you wind up losing fistfuls of dollars at the end of the year because your bins are empty? Only governments can keep their doors open year after year with a business model like that. Fertilizer Canada has run some numbers on this scheme. They estimate that if a farmer is growing 1000 acres of canola and 1000 acres of wheat he will lose $38,000 -$40,500 of profitability a year. Extrapolating that out over western Canada puts it at roughly $800 million an-
nual hit to the economy. We’re not talking about a couple of cups of coffee here. It’s not a complicated formula. And there are still By Rolf a lot of people going Penner hungry in the world. According to the United Nations, “After decades of steady decline, the number of peo- hunger. But at the same time, ple who suffer from hunger with this policy it’s planning – as measured by the preva- to reduce the amount of food lence of undernourishment it can produce for export. – began to slowly increase On top of this, according to again in 2015. Current esti- the “Barton report from the mates show that nearly 690 federal government’s Advimillion people are hungry, sory Council on Economic or 8.9 percent of the world Growth, they want to generpopulation – up by 10 mil- ate more economic growth lion people in one year and from the Ag sector. From a by nearly 60 million in five public policy perspective, it years.” And, “According to doesn’t get any more schizothe World Food Programme, phrenic than this. 135 million suffer from acute With a federal election hunger.” underway, politicians everySo here’s the other crazy where already have their own part in all of this. Canada is personal manure spreaders committed to the UN “zero going 24/7. This is approprihunger” program and has ate, because the fertilizer repromised to help end world duction idea stinks.
Focus on Producing Food, Not Climate Politics The recent rains are welcome to replenish the soils rather than help the 2021 crop, except for a few later seeded ones. Yes, even pastures not trampled into the ground and killed will also benefit and with the rains coming in August time to extend some grazing. On the other hand, having a Federal election on September 20 wasn’t nearly as welcome by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, farm organizations came up with their election wish lists. “Ongoing drought conditions pose a significant challenge to Manitoba’s agriculture and agri-food industry. It is important for every po-
litical party to recognize the importance of agriculture at a time when producers in all sectors and all regions of our province are struggling,” said KAP president Bill Campbell. KAP is calling on the federal political parties to focus on four areas: business risk management programs to support producers, the role of producers as environmental stewards, economic development and public trust in agriculture. “Improvements in these areas will be essential to the success of agriculture in Manitoba. KAP is ready to work with producers, farm organizations and all levels of government to ensure that agriculture remains sustainable and profitable.” I like what former Ag minister Gerry Ritz had to say with the current crop of Liberal government announcements. The big announce-
ments coming out from Minister Bibeau are $200 million for a climate change fund that farmers can access. Farmers’ aren’t looking to change the climate; they’re looking to hang onto their herds and put a crop in the ground again next year. They’re already great environmental stewards. “None of those [announcements] speak to the primary production of food in this country, which is the third-largest driver of our economy.” With the severity of the 2021 drought cutting deep, I think governments and political parties have veered away from assuring Canadian farmers continue to thrive because they produce food for Canadians and many people abroad. Far more concerned about satisfying world authorities that want to convince people and pocketbooks that more taxes will save the world’s climate
when they don’t heed their claims. Former Ag minister Jim Downey has an idea that with Canadians paying carbon taxes, let’s use that money to turn worn-out pastures into carbon sinks and rent them from the cattle producers. A few dollars won’t feed the animals for the fall, winter and next spring, so sell the cattle now but give them the where-with-all to restart their herds when feasible. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture called on the federal parties to prioritize agriculture in their election platforms as a means of spurring Canada’s economic recovery while creating a foundation for economic and environmental benefits for years to come. Farmers and citizens across Canada need a government dedicated to unleashing the potential for agriculture as an economic engine and as an important
ally in the fight against climate change. I could get into that but suffice it to say the federal Liberal government isn’t recognizing what farmers do to save the climate by being the best environmental stewards that money can’t buy while producing an abundance of healthy and safe foods. “The government and financial institutions have repeatedly identified Canadian agriculture as a sector that can achieve incredible growth. Our natural resources are one of Canada’s strongest foundations. Yet consecutive governments have failed to provide any inconsistent funding to achieve this growth, failing to keep up with inflation. Farming and food production is truly an essential industry, and we need to see actions that support and propel the industry to new heights,” CFA president Mary Robinson.
The Best Time for a Drought
Droughts are like heart attacks, there is no good time for one and their effects can be terrible, but if you are going to have a heart attack the best time is when you are at a hospital and the best time for a drought is when there is both a Federal and Provincial election in the immediate future. Then add the recent pandemic and this is about the best time for a drought ever. Why the pandemic is a bonus? Well we have lost any concept of fiscal responsibility in the last two months so both levels of govern-
ment should be ready to open their wallets and help rural western Canada try to get through this one. The Federal Liberals under the guidance of Mr. Trudeau have been spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave to overcome the COVID issue so they will have a tough time convincing anyone that there is no money to help western Canada at this time. Just turn on the money printing machine and keep the funds coming. It would also be a good time for the current government to leave its minority position and one way to do that would be to pick up some seats in western Canada, some being as little as two but the sky is the limit on this shopping trip. If in fact the Feds do come
to the table with support for western Canada, and I am careful not to say Agriculture because this is bigger than helping a few farmers, this is the economy of western Canada that has been impacted by the lack of moisture, it is doubtful that the provincial Conservatives can be conservative with support regardless of who the new leader is. She is going to have to put some funds into this as well. In the 5 decades or so that I have been an observer of things political, I have never seen support for the Conservatives as low. I am hearing people who I never thought would utter such things; say out loud that there has to be changes in the party. I can remember the Toronto Maple Leafs winning a Stanley Cup but I cannot
remember a time where people in rural Manitoba spoke so openly about change in what many thought was the only political party worthy of a vote in our province. What a great time to be a new leader, she can only take things upward from here. So indeed this may be the best time to have a drought, though support programs never provide the rewards of a good crop. So it’s like having a heart attack at the hospital, if you are going to have one that is the best place to do it. What if the hospital and ICU is full with patients who have COVID? You never want a heart attack and a drought is just as serious to for us all.
Tackling the Challenges in Agriculture Dear Editor: With the federal election coming up on September 20th, now is a good time to step back and look at the big picture to evaluate the progress we have made over the last ten years in programs and support for agriculture in Canada. Our Liberal government has worked hard to restore programs that were cut under Harper, such as AgriStability and Ag research. Through years of determined work with our provincial and territorial partners, we are moving forward once again. AgriStability is finally restored, and farmers are benefiting from many new programs that are now in place. As your Liberal candidate for Provencher riding, I want to see this important work continue. Unfortunately, it’s easier to cut than to build. Once AgriStability was weakened, it wasn’t a simple matter to restore it, since our Conservative provincial politicians have a veto over this jointly funded program. During his time in the portfolio, Manitoba’s PC Minister Blaine Pederson resisted cooperating with the federal government, but it finally got done. In the meantime, however, our Liberal government im-
mediately began funding Ag science and research when elected in 2015. Right now, farmers in Manitoba are benefitting from this research, such as the new Blackleg Yield Loss Calculator for canola farmers, which received federal funding. We invested $100 million into agricultural science and hired 75 new agricultural scientists to look at emerging issues such as climate change and water conservation. We reopened the Frelighsburg Experimental Farm, which had been closed by the previous government. Our government has invested $31 million over five years, and $5.8 million ongoing annually, to protect against the threat of African swine fever. We are investing $153 million into the Protein Industries Supercluster to ensure Canada will be a leader in the field of plant protein. We are investing over half a billion into new direct support for farmers through the Agriculture Climate Solutions Program and the Agricultural Clean Technology Program. Our aggressive Export Diversification Strategy includes new agricultural trade commissioners around the world, and is backed by more than
$1.1 billion of investments. During the pandemic, our government has acted quickly to protect workers and the food supply chain through the Emergency Processing Fund, the Emergency On-Farm support fund, and AgriRecovery Disaster Relief funding. We also invested over $100 million to support farmers with the cost of quarantine for temporary foreign workers. The rapidly launched Surplus Food Rescue Program recovered over 8 million kilograms of nutritious food that would have been spoiled due to restaurant shut-downs, and re-directed it to programs for those experiencing food insecurity across Canada. Our Liberal government has proven itself to be responsive during emergencies, forward-thinking with science and research funding, and persistent in its work with the provinces and territories to support agriculture through joint programs. As we cope with increasing challenges due to climate change and ongoing difficulties related to the Covid19 pandemic, we must keep our forward momentum going. Conservative cuts to programs and supports are short-sighted, and would be
detrimental at this critical point in time. It isn’t possible to list all the improved agriculture programs and services in this letter, so I invite readers to visit trevor-liberal.ca and scroll down for my blog post which contains links on the subject. I ask Canadians involved in agriculture to think carefully about the impact of research and the many federal programs that we currently benefit from when making their choice on September 20th. I would be honoured to be a voice for our local concerns in Ottawa as these programs continue to strengthen and develop. As a small family farmer who occasionally is also able to provide some food for friends and neighbours, I would like to recognize and thank those of you who are doing the challenging work of feeding our country and the world. You deserve all the support we can give you to be successful. Trevor Kirczenow Liberal Candidate for Provencher Dugald, Manitoba
August 27, 2021
Conservative Party’s “Skies Falling” Scare Tactics Dear Editor, I am disappointed with what I’m hearing. The Conservatives and its supporters seems to be using the Chicken Little strategy much too often. They hope to win by repeating the “Trumpite” coined term “fake news”, pointing us in the direction of obscure fringe websites purporting scientific research to substantiate nonsense enough times in the hopes that something sticks in order to win an election and appease their vocal base. The Conservative Party of Canada is utilizing scare tactics and lots of double speak depending on where they are and who they are talking to in order to sway Canadian voters. The “conservative” party, in name only, hasn’t found its own traction since the big merger. Even with all that time to think during a pandemic they certainly have not come up with an agriculture vision to inspire a country, unlike the actions already taken by the Liberal government. What are the choices in this election? Is it doing something one way because that’s the way it has always been done compared to increasing market access and export choices, reducing costly energy inputs and expensive fertilizer use, while still producing more than enough high quality food that is sustainable? Without an agriculture vision and without targeted research funding we would still be over working our fields rather than using the conservation method of low-till and we wouldn’t have, for example, the Canola crop in rotation. It should not be an “us against them” that wins an election or holds sway at the ballot box, it should be a government that creates a win-win for us all from coast to coast to coast. That is who we should vote for. I can’t remember any other Federal party ever stating as clearly as the Liberals have what agriculture means to this country. This Liberal government with its commitment to making Canada an agri-food superpower has diversified our trade, making Canada the only G7 country with free-trade deals with every other G7 country. It was the Liberal government, in partnership with our national farm producer groups, who successfully negotiated the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the CanadaUnited States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) while compensating our supply management sector. We are on the path to increasing agricultural exports as a percentage of GDP. They have supported farmers who face major environmental and business risks with a special focus on AgriStability. And recently, very quickly, increased the access to cash that many western farmers needed during this drought. The Liberals unmuzzled our Canadian researchers and scientists. With that done, there was renewed confidence and more support targeting agriculture research and technology that helps to connect national farm organizations, farmers, researchers, agribusinesses, and energy companies to benefit producers and provide an advantage globally in a evolving clean economy. Some may fear the future and some just don’t like change. But many of us embrace doing things better, protecting our environment, caring for our communities and our children’s future. For those who don’t like change, I guess you may be upset because the Liberal economic policies do lay the ground work for new research and technology and purposely brings agriculture into the forefront and into Canada’s job creation and economic growth without hurting the environment. It also provides a path for us all into the future while maintaining farming as a viable industry. Sincerely, Monica Guetre La Broquerie, MB
August 27, 2021
AgriRecovery’ Payout Trigger Not Working for Cash Flow By Harry Siemens Former federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz commented on the current drought across the prairies affecting cattle producers and the political climate. Ritz said there is a lot of anxiety about what will happen predominantly in the cow-calf operations. “Once you sell down that cow herd, it takes a long time to bring back that genetic pool that you’re sitting on,” said Ritz. “The problem is that it all cuts into your bottom line, which
Once you sell down that cow herd, it takes a long time to bring back that genetic pool said former federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz. File photo
is tenuous of late.” Ritz said the problem when you announce a program like AgriRecovery driven by the provinces, the federal government funds up to 60 per cent. This drives up the cost of feed with a certain amount of gouging because there is a lack of feed. He said provinces have made the right moves, allowing farmers to cut crops for feed. “However it’s more about maintaining cash flow, so the guys can hang on to their animals; being able to sell the cow and defer the taxes for a year isn’t the answer,” he said. Ritz said cattle producers need cash advances, interest-free through Farm Credit and explore other options to add different tools to the toolbox available. With different options available, let ranchers and farmers make those farm decisions based on what is best for their operation he said. The various trigger mechanisms do not matter he said because it takes the producer’s final income tax to trigger a payment while cash
advances take the following year’s incomes. He said governments do not have all the solutions, nor should they. “All you can do is seek, to stabilize what’s out there and look for other solutions, think outside the box.” He said that Canada’s announcements on climate change funds and dollars for food banks do not address primary food production. He believes that primary foods production is the most crucial part of funding. “Those are the big announcements they seem to take great pride in. But, unfortunately, none speak to the primary production of food in this country, which is the third-largest driver of our economy.” He threw in a political observation wondering why an election now. “We’ve got major problems, major fires, real problems in Afghanistan trying to get some Canadians home and we’re in an election mode?” he asked.
Without Water or Pasture, Governments Are Not Able to Help Cattle Producers By Harry Siemens Glen Findlay, Manitoba’s Agriculture minister from 1988 through 1993 continues to farm with his son Gary, a grandson and granddaughter at Shoal Lake, MB cropping 6,000 acres and pasturing over 200 cows. When contacted by the Agri Post in the middle of August, Findlay said he had trucked grain for three combines and that he keeps busy liking it that way. He commented that one if their barley fields pleasantly surprised him at 80 bushels an acre, full heads and bushel weight is 54. “So it’s surprising how well it is coming off, given the little amount of rain in the area,” said Findlay. From his son’s travels and crop assessments between Yorkton, SK and Neepawa, he noted that Manitoba’s crops will be average this year. “But beyond that, all I hear are horror stories,” said Findlay. “And the grain prices have shot up, so that means there’s not much out there, harvest is early and I’m hauling straight to the elevator with barley.” It surprised Findlay at how few farmers haul to the elevator directly off the combine and sell at these record-high prices with several other combines going in the area.
He recalled tat years ago a farmer in the Winkler area did not sell flax at the ultimate high then at $12 a bushel because it would go higher. It was in storage in the local elevator and all he had to do was pull the trigger. He waited for several years and finally sold it for less than half of the high price. Findlay said his grandson had said to wait for the price to go higher and Findlay responded to with the story of what can happen when a crop is held back from market too long. “The fact that we’re surprised with our yields here being higher than we thought, it’s got to be happening elsewhere. So a price decline sooner or later is inevitable,” he said. “Crops that we’re thrilled with here had three inches at the beginning of June and about half an inch since then, filling well are wheat, canola, and barley.” While amazed at the good crop with so little rain, farmers with cattle must make sure there is a dugout with water he said of pasture land drying up fast. The Findlay farm has 200 cows desperately needing some more pasture, but there is none he noted, yet in two weeks there will be freshly harvested stubble that their cattle will graze.
Glen Findlay Manitoba’s ag minister from 1988 through 1993, farms with his son Gary, a grandson and granddaughter at Shoal Lake, MB cropping 6,000 acres and pasturing over 200 cows. [Manitoba Ag Days 2019 Glen Findlay with current Manitoba Ag Minister Ralph Eichler. Twitter file photo
He said it is a desperate situation when a cattle producer runs out of water and pasture and has hungry cows. “I don’t even know a solution to the dilemma, other than shipping them. And if you ship, and I understand the auction rings are getting busy and the price will drop,” said Findlay. Findlay said the government is not going to help if there’s no pasture or water. “You’ve got to have pasture and water, and the government check doesn’t make it,” he said. “It’s not a pretty picture. That’s why every time I think about all this, I feel extremely fortunate.”
Grain Producers Provide “Hope List” for Election Platform By Elmer Heinrichs With more than a month of campaigning, agricultural groups are creative and use multiple platforms to send messages about what they want to see as part of the major political parties’ election platform. Both the Canadian Agricultural Federation (CFA) and Canadian grain producers advertised their wish lists on August 16, the day after the federal election was called. The CFA is calling on federal parties to prioritize agriculture on its electoral platform as a means of facilitating Canada’s economic recovery, while at the same time laying the foundation for economic and environmental interests in the coming years. “Farmers and citizens across
Canada need a government dedicated to unleashing agricultural potential, not only as an economic driver, but also as an important ally in the fight against climate change,” said CFA statement. An important part of this question is the increase in funding for the next agricultural policy framework (APF) currently under development. “This additional support allows governments and producers to be positioned as partners in responding to the effects of climate change and fully embrace their potential as climate solution providers,” said the CFA. “Extreme drought conditions ongoing across Canada shows the important role that the Canadian agricultural policy framework plays in responding to climate
change.” Mary Robinson, president of CFA, said, “Our natural resources are one of Canada’s strongest foundations. However, successive governments have not been able to actually provide any kind of consistent increase in funding to achieve this growth, or even catch up with inflation,” said Robinson. “Agriculture and food production are truly essential industries, and we need to see actions that take them to new heights and drive them.” The CFA also emphasized the importance of rural internet connectivity, established carbon tax exemptions for climate change mitigation efforts, and access to emission reduction credits to encourage efforts on farm sustainability.
Manitoba Harvest Nears Average Crop By Elmer Heinrichs Harvest completion across all regions of the province has reached 21 per cent, ahead of the 2017-2020 4year average of 14 per cent for the third week of August. Crops are rated good and constitute 44 per cent of the total acreage. Cooler conditions helped some crops recover slightly at the beginning of the week, but soil moisture from last week’s rain were quickly used up during the extreme heat over the weekend. With central regions at 33 per cent and eastern at 27 per cent, the harvest of cereals is progressing rapidly nearing 40 per cent complete for spring wheat, with barley and oats slightly ahead. Canola crops are facing some of the poorest growing conditions in the past decade or more. Farmers expect average yields to drop to 10-year lows due to environmental and insect stresses. Central’s report said the rains definitely benefitted crops, with late maturing crops improving most. Only light dew most nights has allowed for long harvest days. Harvest of fall rye and winter wheat is considered complete. Yield reports for rye are in the 60 to 80 bu/ac range with good grain quality reported. Wheat, oats and barley are coming off rap-
idly with some fields drying down on their own. Harvest is most advanced in the Red River Valley with 60 to 70 per cent done west of the escarpment. Yields vary widely according to soil types and moisture conditions ranging from 20 to 70 bu/ac and averaging in the mid 40s. Good high protein levels are common. Barley harvest is also underway with about 85 per cent done and yield reports from 50 to 100 bu/ac and likely averaging about 50 bu/ ac Whatever straw is available is being baled quickly with lots of trucks on the roads moving bales. Manitoba Agriculture’s pulse specialist Dennis Lange expects yields for pulse crops will be variable this year. “Provincially, yields for peas are going to be somewhere between 35 and 40 bushels per acre,” said Lange. “That’s much lower than what we saw last year with a high of 57 bu/ac.” Lange touched on dry beans. “We’re probably going to be looking at an average yield, somewhere around 1,400 to 1,500 pounds per acre. The rains will also help the soybeans and the yields will likely be an average 25 to 30 bushels an acre, down from last year’s 38 bu/ac,” said Lange. Eastern region’s report that
the ongoing impacts from drought continue but suggest that recent rainfall will help preserve yield potential in late season crops, particularly soybeans and sunflowers with corn benefitting less. Winter cereal harvest made good progress with many producers completed. Yields varied from 50 to 80 bu/ac, with light soil areas doing as low as 30 bu/ac. Fall rye yields ran from 50 to 90 bu/ac. Wheat harvest is half done, and farmers were pleased with yields ranging from 45 to 70 with good quality and bushel weights in these drought-like conditions. While the oats crop disappoints, yields ranged from 50 to 100 bu/ac with 70 bu/ac and light bushel weights common. Canola fields are being cut, the flax crop continues to move to maturity ahead of schedule, soybeans really perked up after the rains and producers welcome more rain to ensure seed size and completion of pod filling. The corn crop is still short while sunflowers are starting to droop. Secondary or full feeding on pasture continues. Cattle herds continue to be culled with animals shipped to market, and many wells are being drilled or scheduled, others hope to rely on the river.
Application Deadline Extended for Beneficial Practice Management The Manitoba government has extended the application deadline for Ag Action Manitoba- Assurance: Beneficial Management Practice (BMP 503) to October 1 from September 1. The Ag Action Manitoba Program Assurance under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership helps agricultural producers protect ground and surface water sources that are essential to ensuring the health of livestock and ground water sources. To date, the province has received
almost 100 applications for a total of $630,000 in funding for the Managing Livestock Access to Riparian Areas BMP. Items eligible for costshared funding include water source development, constructing new or rehabilitating existing wells or dugouts; solar, wind or grid-powered alternative watering systems; permanent fencing to restrict livestock access to surface water and dugouts; and permanent pipeline development.
More details on the program are available at gov.mb.ca/agriculture/canadian-agricultural-partnership/pubs/guidebook and answers to frequently asked questions are at gov.mb.ca/agriculture/canadian-agricultural-partnership For information on how to apply, visit gov.mb.ca/ agriculture/environment. For more information about managing dry conditions and other resources for producers, visit gov. mb.ca/agriculture/dry.
August 27, 2021
August 27, 2021
For Some, Fall Cattle Market Starts Early
By Les Kletke For the Grunthal Auction Mart it was business as usual through August; however for some other markets around the province it was a matter of the fall run of cattle that started this summer. Brad Kehler, auctioneer and manager of the Grunthal Auction Mart said that sales were normal through the month of August. “We have been fortunate in this area and guys have not been caught to short of feed,” he said. “There are
auction marts in other parts of the province that typically don’t open till September and they are already having sales. We have seen things hold about where they usually are.” A sale held August 10 had slightly more cattle than it would have normally had at this time of year but Kehler said a number of factors can come into that. “There are always guys who buy and there are always guys selling cattle,” he said. “We have seen good activity from our
front row buyers.” Kehler says that areas further north have not been as fortunate and feed is in short supply. It is too early to tell what will happen with this year’s corn crop. “It looks like there will be a lot of tonnage and the guys that have planted corn for silage have that worked into their plans,” he said. “It is too early to tell what might happen to some of the grain corn if it stays dry and does not fill. Some of that might end up as silage but grain
prices make it attractive to let it mature and harvest the grain. It will depend on the weather as the corn finishes and the individual’s situation.” He said it is still early in what appears to be developing into a fall run to predict prices or what will happen to the number of cattle that come to market. “We will see some increased marketing,” he said. “But it is too early to tell and it depends on the individual; some fellows who were lucky to put
up enough feed last year will be able to weather the storm and feed their cattle, others will be sending them to market.” Kehler said the first ones to come to market will be the cattle that producers are most able to do without. “We will see some cows come to market that were going to be culled anyway, they just might come to market a bit early,” he commented. “Guys are going to hold on to their good cows for as long as possible.”
Brad Kehler, manager of the Grunthal Auction Mart said it is business as usual with only slightly higher marketing activity than Photo by Les Kletke usual.
Drought Creating Water Shortage By Elmer Heinrichs The drought affecting farmers, their crops and livestock over most of Manitoba this year has also resulted in municipalities declaring a drought emergency for a large portion of southern Manitoba. Manitoba’s rivers, creeks and dugouts are drying up as much of the province remains under extreme drought conditions, leaving some residents worried and businesses challenged. People in an area covering 14 municipalities, including the cities of Morden and Winkler; have been asked to conserve water. The Red River, with other sources, supplies the area most of its water, but levels are declining and flows are dropping. The Pembina Valley Water Cooperative supplies water to 14 municipalities, Roseau River First Nation and a Hutterite colony. The co-op draws water from Stephenfield Lake and the Red River to supply 50,000 people with drinking water in an area that covers roughly 9,000 sq. km. Extreme drought has officials worried about the Red running dry. Just significant reductions in the flow,” said Greg Archibald, CEO of the Pembina Valley Water Cooperative. “Yes, there’s lots of water in the Red right now, but it’s the rate at which it’s going down that has us concerned.” Archibald said flows on the Red at Emerson are down from 1,532 cubic feet per second at the end of June to 477 cubic feet per second. It is not only the volume of water in the river that has him worried, the low level of the Red River is even making it difficult to pump it out to
supply people’s taps. “The water level in the river has dropped so low that we can’t use our normal intakes, and so we’ve had to bring pumps in from Winnipeg to be able to pump the water out of the Red,” he said. The pumps now help supply a significant portion of southern Manitoba with drinking water. The City of Morden, which draws some water from the cooperative, is also dealing with low levels on Lake Minnewasta. The lake supplies the bulk of the community’s water, prompting mandatory restrictions on usage with no watering lawns, no washing cars at home or filling swimming pools with city water. Residents in the RMs are also being asked to try and conserve 25 per cent more water by avoiding things like washing their cars, watering plants and filling pools. The province said flows on the Red River are low but not unprecedented. Based on data and the long-range weather outlook, the chance of the Red drying completely is less than one per cent and that water should be accessible during low flows and over winter. Archibald is not as confident. “If it gets too low and it freezes, will there be no flow underneath the ice,” he pointed out. In response the cooperative is working on contingency plans to store water and maintain supply as the water recedes. The province said it is also working with the cooperative to address operational challenges in accessing available water. In rural areas, farmers are dealing with drying dugouts, supplementing cattle feeding and seeking to drill more wells.
Use Carbon Tax to Create Carbon Sinks and Save Our Cattle Herd By Harry Siemens To get a different perspective on government responses to the severe drought in western Canada, the Agri Post contacted three former ministers of agriculture, two provincial and one federal minister. Former Manitoba Agriculture Minister Jim Downey under the Garry Filmon Conservative government outlined his response to, “What would you do if you were the minister of agriculture, right now, in Manitoba?” “It’s tough when you look at these cattle producers and individuals in it for years, and it isn’t the first year of trouble, particularly in the Interlake. But, producers have developed huge herds and are a big part of our economy,” said Downey on the current drought faced by many producrers. Downey said there are two issues for governments. The first is that the federal government and the provinces should introduce a carbon sink program to pay the farmer to keep their land in grass, even though they are unable to keep cattle, rent it from the farmer, not for one year, not for two years, but a five-year program. Then when things turn around, the farmer will still have a chance to restock that land with livestock. He said it solves the problem; helps solve the carbon problem, helps keep the farmer on the land, and continues economies. “The pilot of a two-engine aircraft said, the second engine takes you to the scene of the accident,”
he explained. He pointed out that giving farmers cash this year affects what happens next year because no one knows whether this drought will be over and the country needs carbon sinks. The federal and provincial governments are charging tax on carbon giving them the cash to carry through with the program he said. It is a five-year program to keep farmers alive with actual dollars and a moderate payout. Cattle producers know what rent is for Crown Lands and cash rents for grasslands he said. Downey thinks that governments should try to equalize this better, which will give farmers some confidence that it is not just going to be a one-year deal. Instead the program becomes stable over the next five years and keeps the land in grass. “That’s a carbon sink, satisfies two problems,” he said. “I’ve talked briefly to the cattle producers and Keystone Ag Producers but need to get opposition parties and people sitting around the table who have gone through these things before,” said Downey. He said the decision must come from the stock growers because government people do not know. It is producers who have experienced drought and grasshopper conditions for the last three years and who are backed up against the wall said Downey. He noted that even if they could buy a bale of hay, there
Producers have developed huge herds and are a big part of our economy and it’s tough when you look at these cattle producers who have been in it for many years facing multiple years of trouble particularly in the Interlake said former Manitoba Agriculture Minister Jim Downey.
probably is not one to have. Downey said some farmers are trying to bring feed out of Ontario. He said that in earlier years producers used to transport feed in old cattle cars and today, they could try lumber cars instead since these go back and forth across the country. These lumber cars could carry many bales from Ontario, if they can do it at a fair freight rate. The other option is to ship cows to where feed is, but that becomes complicated he said. What makes this somewhat unique is the drought is a western Canadian problem. Downey said western Canada has many acres of saline soil types that could be seeded to grass. He explained that a grain farmer with dry saline soil spots seeded with alfalfa or saline type resistant plants would allow those patches on the farms to be covered by a carbon sink program. He said if producers and government can get straw and hay from eastern Canada economically this would be good. Otherwise, it is just a matter of having to face the fact that some of them will end up at McDonald’s, “Which is unfortunate, but that’s what needs to happen sometimes,” said Downey. “And it’s tear-jerking, as far as ranchers who’ve built up their herds, built up their farms, but again, we can’t just give them a short-term fix. We need to do a longterm program that tells the farmers that they’re still going to have enough support in the next five years.” “If someone said to the farmers who are at the point of giving up, ‘Look, you have to give up your cow herd today, but you’re going to have money and resources to do it, to get back into it when this whole thing turns around. If it doesn’t turn around, we still have the carbon sink, and it’s still working on behalf of all of the people of Canada,’” said Downey. The city dwellers would support it because so many people seem concerned about carbon he noted. “I would think if the farmers with the grassland were to help with the carbon problem, it would be a pretty easy sell to the urban people of this country.”
August 27, 2021
August 27, 2021
Drought Equals Deep Field Cracks and Lots of Grasshoppers By Harry Siemens One of the underlying concerns about this year’s drought, extending dry conditions in some areas for three to four years is the resulting lack of subsoil moisture. An image on Twitter with a measuring stick down into a crack in a cropping field showed the lack of subsoil moisture down 36 inches in the ground. Jennifer Sabourin research manager with Antara Research at St. Jean-Baptiste, MB said it is so dry, the
ground is cracking. She said there is minor surface and subsoil moisture left because of the extended periods without meaningful moisture. “So with our clay soils, what happens is they contracted, so they start to crack,” said Sabourin. “That’s nature’s way of getting rid of deep compaction issues in soils. As farmers drive on their somewhat wet fields, they can squish out the air and displace the water, compacting the soil. This is nature’s way of getting rid of that
versus deep subsoil ripping. But it also indicates that the plants don’t have much soil moisture whatsoever to absorb any nutrients they need from the soil.” Jennifer said crops in their immediate area are good but travelling west or east the quality drops significantly. “The start was ok, and then it dried up,” she said about the spring rain. “No snow over winter; it dried up early. Some producers seeded earlier in the season, the beginning of April. A bit of snow
fell, and then nothing until the May long weekend rain, and then it froze. All seasons were thrown into this particular growing season.” She and her husband, Brunel, run Antara Agronomy and do crop tests, crop plots, and other agronomic work. “Our fungicide trials, being so dry, showed very little disease pressure,” said Sabourin. “We did test some of these products to see what their effects are on the crop throughout the dry period looking at what the claims
different products have, and if they still say, we’re good in a drought, or what not, then we’ll see if their claims are correct.” Antara tests different products, fertilizer placement, timing and source, different seeding rates, row spacing, in both dry and wet years. When contacted by the Agri Post she was scouting a field for increased grasshopper population which occurs after three and four years of drought conditions. She said first, it is about assessing the headlands because grasshoppers will often concentrate in ditches and the headlands.””We look at population, pressure, and damage.” She noted that it is best to check fields all around the green or harvested areas because grasshoppers in one field will move on going to whatever is green. “If the population is high enough, are they eating leaves? Are they chewing on pods? Where’s the damage, and is it going to be economical to spray or not?” she said on the questions that producers need to ask themselves while scouting fields. She said with the bad news
of a higher grasshopper population the good news is when you also see an increase in the number of crickets. The more crickets’ people see this also means more grasshoppers she said. Sabourin explained that grasshoppers overwinter by the adults laying eggs in the ground. Then the young hatch and the adults die. Next spring, those grasshoppers start eating the planted crop. “We have to remember that if we see high populations of grasshoppers in the field at this time of year, most of them are likely adults and capable of laying many hundreds of eggs, and then you’ll be seeing their babies next year,” said Sabourin. The good news though is when people see a higher cricket population at the same time. “The reason that you have a higher cricket population; they’re natural predators of grasshoppers.” “The higher population of crickets just lets you know that we have a very high population of grasshoppers because their levels will follow their food level, and so they have a lot to eat,” said Sabourin.”
Jennifer Sabourin with Antara Research at St. Jean-Baptise, MB scouts a soybean field for grasshoppers.
Images on Twitter with a measuring stick down into a crack in a cropping field shows the lack of subsoil moisture was down 36 inches in Submitted photos the ground.
Market Demand Combined with Crop Shortfalls Make For a Challenging Year By Harry Siemens Because of the drought, marketers, buyers and producers are all vying for positioning in the markets keeping analysts busy. Jonathan Driedger, vicepresident of LeftField Commodity Research said it appears there are two parallel stories. “We’re at that time of year where the primary focus is working out crop size, production and yields,” he said. “On the one hand, the US corn and soybean crops are in good shape. But, on the other hand, it’s not in the bin yet with some weather still ahead. As a result, some areas look great, and some don’t.” However he noted that the market feels like the US corn and soybean crop is in pretty reasonable shape reflected by the markets and that is a stark contrast to field conditions on the Canadian Prairies and in the Northern US. The conditions reflect the production of canola, hard red spring wheat, barley, oats, and pulses in areas where markets may be reflecting some tighter supplies. Some of the futures traded crops like canola and spring wheat are at high levels but stalled out for a little while, said Driedger. “It seems like the market priced in the dry conditions fairly early, and we haven’t gone anywhere,” he said. He said that that cash prices for durum, barley, and peas have increased recently. “With farmers
locking in prices at various levels and yields lower, it isn’t easy to understand both sides,” he said. When it comes to forward contracting, it will vary from farm to farm. “Everyone’s got maybe a little bit of a different appetite in terms of how much production risks they’re willing to take on with making a forward contract,” said Driedger. He explained that many farmers would be comfortable with 20 or 25 per cent of early forward sales of whatever it might be; usually that is a safe number. However, unfortunately, there are not many years when a farmer will not get at least a quarter of his crop. And unfortunately this year, in too many cases that is what is occurring. “I suggest having that conversation with your buyer and having it early. Boy, you certainly hope that buyers are fair. On the one hand, they also have commitments that they need to make,” he said. Driedger talked to one buyer struggling with being fair to their farmer clients, but they also have commitments and ca not easily replace what a farmer cannot deliver. This creates a challenging situation all around. “And I think it looks different in each case. And so, it’s just a complicated situation all around,” he said. “Unfortunately, no easy answers for farmers that are maybe on the wrong side here on an
Flying farmer Don Schellenberg of Roland, piloting while Harry Siemens takes pictures on August 13, 2021, at the Pembina Triangle of southern Manitoba. Photo by Harry Siemens
Jonathan Driedger, vice-president of LeftField Commodity Research said it appears there are two parallel stories between working out crop sizes, production and yields. Submitted photo
earlier commitment.” “And in many cases, not because they were maybe, let’s call it, reckless with what their pre-sales were, but quite conservative and with a drought of historic proportion, maybe not conservative enough, but who would have known, right?” said Driedger. Early yield reports from his clients across western Canada are low and in some cases in the single digits and quite variable. He hopes that the later crops will do better. As much as you hear anecdotal reports, whether chatting with farmers or on Twitter or other forums, this year crops are variable. “And I think it’s going to be a little while until we have a great handle on what the actual crop size is. Variability, as much as it’s poor across the bulk of the Prairies, there is variability even in local areas,” explained Driedger. “And so then, it’s hard to know exactly what’s out there.” He said it has also been challenging dealing with clients in these difficult times. Driedger said he tries hard to give a good perspective on what is available in the market for a crop for pricing and markets going forward. This year has been a greater challenge he noted. “We certainly try our best to be, how you say, levelheaded about it. But, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion. Our clients use our information to try and make decisions within their business, and we work hard to try and get it right. But that’s not easy in a year like this. And so, we’re doing our best. But yeah, it is a challenging year in terms of what markets, what are prices going to look like going forward?”
August 27, 2021
Funds Available for Livestock Pasture Surface and Ground Water Sources Canadian Agricultural Partnership funding is provided through the Managing Livestock Access to Riparian Areas beneficial management practice (BMP) under Ag Action Manitoba – Assurance. Eligible items include: - Water source development, constructing new or rehabilitating existing wells or dugouts; - Solar, wind or grid-powered alternative watering systems; - Permanent fencing to restrict livestock access to surface water and dugouts; and - Permanent pipeline development. Applications for the next intake will be received until 11:59 pm on September 1. For information on how to apply, visit gov.mb.ca/agriculture/environment.
August 27, 2021
Feed Costs and Availability Affecting Saskatchewan’s Farms By Harry Siemens Mark Ferguson, the general manager of Sask Pork, said Saskatchewan could go from the lowest cost region to feed pigs to the highest, as pork producers rely more heavily on imported feed this coming winter. Western Canada has suffered from a severe lack of rainfall this growing season, and feed prices will be high for all hog producers across the west said Ferguson. He said Saskatchewan typically grows enough feed wheat and feed barley to satisfy the need for feed and rarely imports corn, but this is probably one of those years where that will happen. Hog farms are watching the feed situation closely, especially the feed pricing with the total quantity produced dropping.
“We don’t know what the end quality is going to be yet but, depending on the grade, whether it ends up being feed or go into existing number one markets for food consumption, I think for what is left out there, we’re likely going to have a higher price.” Producers may have to import corn for the hog sector and word has it some farms are already using some imported corn, commented Ferguson. The US seems to have a decent crop on the way, which is the saving grace for this sector he said. “I think that the issue for hog producers will be, can you live with the price the feed is available for? When you’re importing product, you’re not feeding at the lowest cost in North America anymore.” Often, Saskatchewan pro-
ducers have the lowest cost feed sourced locally but importing from the US and considering the lower Canadian dollar; it quickly shifts to the highest cost feed explained Ferguson. From a competitiveness standpoint, it is certainly not going to be good for Saskatchewan producers. Ferguson said the drought is impacting a huge swath of Saskatchewan’s agricultural economy. Fortunately, hog producers had a good year in terms of price, but looking at the forward prices and feed prices the hog sector may likely be in negative margins this fall he noted. “In Saskatchewan, they’ve made some adjustments to the AgriStability program, going to the 75 percent advance needed this fall as farms get into negative margin territory,” said Ferguson.
Rapid Progress Made Harvesting for Foodgrains Bank By Elmer Heinrichs Farmers and volunteers took some time out of their busy schedules to assist the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) by harvesting CHUM’s 150-acre wheat crop on August 16. Co-ordinator Isaac J. Froese and regional representative Gordon Janzen addressed the harvesters at a pizza lunch at the field east of Highway 30 north of Altona. “These harvest gatherings are special days and they’re fun for me but they represent the communities working together over the growing season,” said Froese. “We are very appreciative of the groups that work together through the year to remember those who are hungry around the world and making a real difference for them,” said Janzen. “Just a great big thank you,” said Froese, co-ordinator of the CHUM grow project. “Every year it seems a bit overwhelming at times...but when it all comes together, it’s rewarding,” he added, noting it’s a good feeling to know they are helping people less fortunate. “One of my friends always says, ‘Who else can do what we do?’, and that’s a very true statement. Glad we can help,” said Froese. It was the 24th year of the CHUM project. “We get good involvement from the
family that allows us to have the land year in and year out, from local dealers, input suppliers and seed dealers. We get a fair bit of cash donations throughout the year. Bring it all together and we have another crop standing here this year,” said Froese. Co-coordinator Doug Dyck said the crop yielded an astounding 68.8 bushels an acre, thanks to “timely rains” and was sold to Patterson Grain at Morris. Darrell Stoesz, part of a core group of volunteers, said it was a time of celebration and thankfulness on August 19 as volunteers and supporters with the Common Ground grow project gathered on a field east of Rosenfeld to harvest this year’s crop for the Foodgrains Bank. Stoesz pegged early potential yields at 61 bushels an acre, which he said, “Is great considering the drought conditions this year.” Ron Tone, with the HELP project near St. Pierre-Jolys, said they increased their acreage to 55, growing oats, soybeans and corn. While yields were disappointing he was pleased with the generosity of member growers. Ten combines and a halfdozen trucks and trailer units came out for the Killarney Foodgrains grow project harvest on August 18. The 100-acre field of Brandon
Red Spring Wheat, located north of Killarney, did better than expected, bringing in 165.51 tonnes, averaging 60.81 bushels per acre. Landowner Blair English said he was very pleased with the crop and how it was managed by the Foodgrains grow team. The dry conditions were concerning but the harvest went well he said. “We have 38 active growing projects in Manitoba and northwest Ontario this year and I’m so glad to have them,” said CFGB representative Janzen. “It’s been a difficult year for all the farmers, for all of us in the drought, but I’m amazed at the crops that have grown in these dry conditions.” “We’ve had several other grow project harvests with St. Pierre and Morden beginning Friday, August 14. Most of the crops have been spring wheat but one was fall rye. Overall the yields have been much better than expected given the dry conditions this year,” said Janzen. Other projects harvesting were, SHARE, near Morden, 220 acres of wheat; Landmark, 150 acres of wheat; Killarney, 100 acres of wheat; Pembina, near Manitou, 94 acres of fall rye; CHIPIN, near Glenlea, 60 acres of canola, and CHOICE, near Elm Creek, 80 acres of wheat.
August 27, 2021
Farm Group Applauds Federal Climate Action Fund By Elmer Heinrichs Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA) is applauding the federal government’s $200 million announcement and call for proposals around the On Farm Climate Action Fund to support farmers in reducing greenhouse gas and build resiliency to climate change. “As we all know, we are in the middle of a hard-hitting drought complete with some areas hammered by a grasshopper infestation here in Manitoba and many producers are facing challenges and hardship,” said Larry Wegner, MFGA Chair. “At the same time, in the community spirit and fortitude that Manitoba’s agricultural community is well known for, we know that even in these tough times that Manitoba livestock and forage producers are sharing insights and expertise around rotational grazing and cover crops.” Wegner points to the outstanding success of the MFGA regenerative agriculture conference over the past three years and the recent pandemic-impacted in-person tour of Ryan Boyd’s South Glanton Farms near Brandon as strong links to the announcement. “Farmers like to learn from farmers and work with farmers. They trust a farmer down the road, or two municipalities over, or a producer from a nearby prairie province as much as they trust anyone,” added Wegner. “We know this and because of this, MFGA gives the producers exactly that forum to exchange information and expertise among each other. We have Made-in-Manitoba experts on rotational grazing and a long line of cover crop expertise from our producer advocates who have been advancing cover crops in Manitoba, at the outset, basically on their own dime and time. He said that the background should be doubly valuable and doubly-counted now and hopefully the minister and the federal government will look hard at local options to help this program realize best success. “Manitoba producers will respond to a Manitoba-led non-prescriptive, collaborative approach on this important stuff. We have seen that first-hand,” said Wegner
August 27, 2021
Upgrades with Next Generation Robotic Milkers Increases Productivity By Harry Siemens One of the first things you notice when walking into a barn with robotic milkers is that it is quiet and almost surreal. One of the reasons is that cows are comfortable with very few human encounters. When touring several dairy barns over the years where the owner uses robotic milkers, there is no mooing from the cows. As for human activity, there is very little because Skyline Dairy has only a fraction of the workforce a traditional dairy farm of a similar size would need. Robotics changed things for Skyline Dairy Ltd, operated by David and Charles Wiens at Grunthal, MB, back in 2008 when they installed their first four robotic milkers. “We replaced our DeLaval robots this spring, meaning we’re now into the next generation of DeLaval robots, and that part is working out well.” Due to the new robots’ improved technology and capacity, Skyline Dairy did not have to increase the number and now have room to expand their 240-cow herd by nearly 15 percent using the new model. The new cameras are quicker to identify teat placement, so it does not take as long to put on the milker and the wash cycle is more efficient, cutting the washing time. “We can increase the throughput simply by upgrading the robots.” David said the 2008 models have been working for 13, 14 years every day, 24/7, so they did very well. However, the new ones with improved technology and precision has allowed their operation to
Big changes helped grow Skyline Dairy Ltd, operated by David and Charles Wiens at Grunthal, MB when Photos supplied by David Wiens they installed their first robotic milkers back in 2008.
increase the cow numbers. “So again, without installing more robots, we can increase the throughput.” The Wiens built a new 240cows free stall barn in 2007 with a 4-stall DeLaval robotic milking system. In an interview back in 2013, David said that automating the feeding, milking, and barn cleaning systems saved them an estimated $80,000 annually. At that time, Wiens considered the robotic milkers, automated feeding and manure handling systems as long-term investments and in terms of labour, it removes the menial tasks. “It is more and more difficult to find people who are willing to
do that work. It has reduced daily mundane tasks, and helped with shift work early mornings, evenings and in the middle of the night. “It doesn’t mean we close the doors and don’t have to come in here at night,” said David. “It means the herdsman still spends a good part of every day in the barn, but now he can focus on managing the cows.” Wiens said that the new robots would continue to move in the direction of increasing efficiencies, improving milk even more. He said that milk quality is better than ever. “In part, very timely milking, quicker throughput, we think that we could increase
the throughput by another 15 per cent.” There are mainly two companies used in Manitoba, DeLaval of Sweden, and Lely, from the Netherlands along with several other brands, each with slightly different concepts but all ultimately doing the same thing. Wiens, who is also Chair of the Manitoba Dairy Farmers and vice-president of the Canadian Dairy Farmers said Manitoba had the highest percentage of robotic dairy farmers about 30 per cent over a year ago. However, one dealer told him recently they had installed several more so that number may be over 30 per cent.
August 27, 2021
Excitement Added to Soap Making with Non-Traditional Ingredients By Les Kletke Fawn Purnell believes that soap should not be boring. She also believes that Manitoba provides a great number of ideas that can be used to make soap more exciting. Purnell who operates a Bed and Breakfast in St. Pierre-Jolys also believes that a source of community pride can differentiate products specific to the area. That is why she developed a Maple Syrup soap for the Maple Sugar Festival this past spring. “There is so much going on with the boiling of the sap and the pouring it on the snow, I thought why not make a soap that contains some of the syrup?” she said while staffing a table promoting her business at the Grunthal Farm to Plate Market. Her soap is not intended to find its way to the plates of Manitoba’s families but it does have a place in their life.
St. Pierre-Jolys’ Fawn Purnell uses Manitoba ingredients in her soap. This one has the profile of sand from the Carberry desert. Photo by Les Kletke
She is currently working on a Milk and Honey soap to be emblematic of Kleefeld. “It is about celebrating the culture, our heritage and or life,” she said. She also has a soap that celebrates her Métis heritage. “It is a celebration of my heritage and is made with things that are a part of Métis life.” She has been commissioned to make soaps for specific reasons with specific content. “I have a friend who is a hunter and wanted a soap that incorporated the tallow from the animals he had harvested,” she said. “It is called Woodland Walk.” A teacher by training she incorporates some factor of the ingredients into the name of the soap. She does not restrict herself to her immediate area sourcing material from further afield. “I have a soap that uses sand from the sand of the Carberry desert,” she said. “I also use plants from my garden. I like to use the herbs from my garden; I have one soap that has dill in it.” The desert soap is made in a profile to include a sand coloured layer contoured through the cake of soap. Purnell sees the possibilities as endless. “We have so much in this province,” she said. “We need to use more of it and think about using it in non-traditional ways. Most people would not think of incorporating these kinds of things into soap but I have found a great response to the soaps when they are available.”
August 27, 2021
Two Old Men in a Wagon
Joe Alexander and Derwin Clarke made the journey by horse-drawn wagon from East End, SK to Virden, MB.
By Brenda Hunter It’s not every day that two 70-something-year-old men set out on a nearly 700-kilometer horse-drawn wagon adventure spanning two provinces. But try telling that to cousins Joe Alexander of Virden, MB and Derwin Clarke of Balzac, Alberta who recently did just that. The duo made the journey from East End, SK to Virden, MB to re-enact the same trek their grandfather made over 100 years prior.
“We were just two old guys who wanted to go on a wagon ride,” laughed 73-year old Clarke. “We had no idea that people would be interested in what we were doing.” The journey took them a total of 19 days along the Red Coat Trail (Saskatchewan provincial highway #13; MB provincial highway #2) arriving at the family farm just south west of Virden on July 25, a total of 675 kilometers behind them. They averaged 37 km per
day in a modified covered wagon pulled by two Percheron cross horses. So, what in the world would inspire the cousins to make such a trek? Every year, the cousins reconnect by taking a wagon trip to the mountains. On their last such trip, the topic came up about how their grandparents left Virden in 1914 to homestead near Frontier, SK. Four years and two children later, after struggling to make a go of it in drought-like con-
Photos by Brenda Hunter
ditions, their grandparents made the difficult decision to return and settle near Virden. Their Grandpa, Sam Clarke, put his wife, Mildred, and three young children (two of which were Joe’s mother and Derwin’s dad) on the train in East End, SK and then set out himself driving his team hitched to a democrat with all their worldly possessions aboard and a saddle horse in tow. How many days it took him to arrive at Virden and his exact route is unknown,
August 27, 2021
but the cousins came up with the bright idea to recreate the trip. “We got sitting around one night [in the mountains] and got talking about Grandpa and how he’d made that trip,” said 76-year-old, Joe. “And thought, we could do that. And the more we talked, the more we started thinking, ya we’d better do it, cause we’re not getting any younger.” The decision made, they took the first half of 2021 to prepare the wagon and condition the horses for the trip. On July 7, with the wagon packed and loaded, they met in East End to begin their journey. The wagon was stocked with enough feed for the horses for the entire trip, 270 liters of water aboard at all times, and plenty of supplies for the teamsters. They started out setting up camp in the ditches and occasionally sought shelter in a fair or rodeo grounds; even a baseball dugout one night when it stormed. But usually, they slept under the stars because it was good for the soul. However, what happened next was not what they expected. Kindness. Generosity. Respect. Down-home hospitality. It restored their faith in humanity. To say that they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from family, friends and even strangers, is an understatement. People would stop them along the road with
muffins and coffee, water and oats for the horses. Individuals went out of their way to find the outfit shelter from the elements when it stormed. Traffic was respectful of their space on the shoulder of the highway and moved over and/or slowed down to pass. Neither Alexander or Clarke were ever concerned for their safety; on the contrary, they never felt more welcomed or assured in what they were trying to accomplish. People were genuinely interested in what the pair were doing. They were attracted by the horses. They visited about the good ‘ol days. They reminisced with stories of how their ancestors had had similar experiences. Clarke, Alexander and the horses were something that people could relate to. Never in their wildest dreams did they ever think that anyone would be interested nor care about what they were trying to achieve. After all, they were just two guys going for wagon ride, albeit a long one! When asked if they would they do it all again? “In a New York second,“ Clarke said without hesitation. In a FaceBook post at the conclusion of their journey, Clarke wrote this, “In the end, it was all about the people and hospitality showed to us. We will never forget you, for you, in the end, were what the trip was about.” Happy trails!
August 27, 2021
Farmers’ Market Business Turns Into Year Round Venture By Les Kletke For Eva Derksen it was a matter of reading the demand for a value added product and taking her garden production one step further that turned a farmer’s market vendor into a year round marketing venture. Derksen sells canned goods from her home west of Blumenort year round. On a Wednesday in mid-August Eva was home canning while husband Henry manned the store at the Grunthal Farm to Plate Market. Derksen attends markets in Steinbach, Oak Ridge, St. Norbert, and Kleefeld along with operating her home outlet. She does offer some fresh vegetable but turns most of her production into canned products. Henry said that nearly two acres of garden was a challenge in this year’s drought. “We have 1.8 acres of production,” he said. “We
Henry Doerksen inside the Farmer’s Market trailer emblazoned with wife Eva’s name that has become a popular retail space for the Derksens who also sell products year round from their home at Blumenort. Photo by Les Kletke
don’t have an irrigation system in place but do water with a soaker hose from a tap.” It was an almost full time challenge with water over the summer, he said. The Derksens are on year 16 attending farmers markets and they are still leaning they said although they do have a pretty good idea of what people like. “It is the traditional things,” said Henry. “They like the things they remember from their youth and buying pickles like their mother or grandmother made is a favourite.” Cucumber and peppers did well in the heat of the summer, and he said beets have also proven popular. “When we started going to markets we found there were a lot of vendors selling their vegetables so Eva decide to process them and add value. The pickles have proved a popular item and people come back to the markets or stop by our home.” The Derksens have a trailer emblazoned with Eva’s name on the side and it is fully equipped with shelves to provide and indoor shopping experience for visitors to their location at markets. Henry said that he has not seen a summer with this severe a drought and had difficulty convincing himself of it earlier on. “I kept waiting for rain, and was late in getting water on the potatoes so that hurt the yield,” he said. “The squash did okay but everything struggled. He is not convinced that this summer’s weather pattern is long term and has no plans to change for next year. “I believe it will rain again,” he said with a smile. “It always has.”
An Old Skill Sees Resurgence By Les Kletke Adina Boschman and her display of quilts at the Grunthal Farmer to Plate Market may not have fit the parameters to the letter but the intent of her booth and the impact she has cannot be argued, she deserved a place in the market. Boschman operates Oma’s Quilts in Grunthal and was one of the nearly 40 vendors at the Grunthal market in July and August. Boschman sold quilts and aprons at her booth that was staffed by herself and two granddaughters, how fitting and yes they do call her Oma. She said that the appearance of COVID has meant resurgence in skills that were being lost. “I see a lot more people interested in quilting,” she said. “There is interest from all ages, those that have always been quilting and a new generation that is getting involved.” She said the hobby at one time was a required skill on the farm when blankets were all made at home has kept pace and appeals to a new generation. “There is interest in the traditional patterns that have been around for a long time but there are new patterns developed that appeal to the new generation,” she explained. “It is not a clear separation by generation. Some of the younger people want to make a traditional pattern. It is very much up to the individual.” It is not only quilting that has seen resurgence. “There is an increase in home baking,” she said with a smile. “Aprons are selling well and we have them in all sizes for Grandma’s helper.” She has been in business for 17 years and said that while things have been steady over the years, the last two have seen a dramatic
upturn in interest and sale of material. Over the past winter, retailers reported a shortage of sewing machines as a new generation took up the craft. When asked about how many sewing machines she has, Boschman laughed and counter them up on her fingers, it took both hands. “Well, I guess I have seven,” she chuckled. “Some are better for one job than the other, and sometimes you just don’t want to change the colour of thread you have in a machine.” Her granddaughters reminded her of one more machine. “Oh that is the one you use,” she replied. It became apparent that Adina Boschman is helping to keep a farm skill alive and in her own way overcoming a pandemic.
Adina Boschman said the past two years of pandemic have been good for the quilting business. Photo by Les Kletke
What to Do With What You Grow By Joan Airey Normally I would write a gardening column, but some friends have been asking for “meals to the field” recipes so here’s a couple that I use at times. Pepper plants in the garden are producing nicely so these recipes have been put to use. My Fresh Bite peppers on the patio are out doing themselves and also producing so quickly because of the heat my husband thought I hadn’t been using them. At times a short cut is needed to preserve what we grow, this Refrigerator Pickle recipe comes from an old cookbook called A Matter of Taste the Charolais Ladies compiled. Refrigerator Pickles For brine: 4 cups sugar 2 cups vinegar 2 Tablespoons pickling salt 1 teaspoon turmeric 1 Tablespoon mustard seed 1 teaspoon celery seed 1 teaspoon alum Heap an ice cream pail with thinly sliced cucumbers and onions (amount to your preference). Mix all above ingredients together. Bring to boil, pour over cucumbers and onions. (Stir cucumbers into brine they will shrink down into pail with the hot brine.) Cool, then refrigerate. Stir occasionally for the first few days to ensure cucumbers well covered in brine. Personally, I use a gallon jar to store them I prefer it to a plastic pail. This time of year, many of us are carting meals to the field. Sometimes its easier to use the crockpot to prepare a meal to make such things as pepper steak which we’d normally stir-fry. Once in a while its okay to have a children’s menu to the field and serve something like fries and chicken strips with a cob of corn. I normally cook what we grow, beef and sometimes pork along with a variety of fruit and vegetables.
Fresh Bite Peppers growing in a pot ready to use in Pepper Steak Photos by Joan Airey Recipe.
Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Meatballs Meatballs 2 lbs. ground beef 2 eggs ½ cup bread crumbs 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 2 teaspoons garlic powder 2 teaspoons onion powder 1 cup pineapple chunks, drained 1 red pepper, seeded, steam removed and chopped Sauce ¾ cup sugar ½ cup apple cider vinegar (may substitute white vinegar I don’t) 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce 1 teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon onion powder ¼ cup ketchup 1 Tablespoon cornstarch In large bowl combine ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Use your hands to mash everything together until the ingredients are well mixed. Roll the mixture into 1.5 inch balls. Place meatballs side by side in a single layer in the bottom of a greased crockpot. Add pineapple chunks and red pepper. Prepare the sauce by whisking together apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and ketchup. Pour over meatballs in crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 1-2 hours or on low 3-4 hours. About thirty minutes before serving, in a small bowl whisk together cold water and cornstarch. Pour into crockpot and stir. Cover and allow thickening for about 30 minutes before serving. You can cook meatballs
Photograph of Pepper Steak recipe cooked in Crockpot.
in the oven on a tray for 2030 minutes. While they are cooking make sauce on top of stove and add meatballs to sauce when they are cooked. I prefer the slow cooker if I’m having guests in for a meal. Normally I make Pepper Steak as a stir fry dish but during harvest sometimes other jobs come up when its time to make supper. This dish stays hot in the crockpot if you put it in a cooler to keep the heat in. It goes great with rice. Crockpot Pepper Steak Recipe 1.5 lbs. beef strips (thinly sliced strips of round steak) 1 green pepper sliced in strips 1 red pepper sliced in strips 1 onion sliced 1 can of consommé or 1 ½
cups of beef stock 3 Tablespoons soy sauce ¼ teaspoon ginger ¼ teaspoon garlic powder ¼ teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoons brown sugar Place the beef, bell peppers and onion in slow cooker. Add the seasonings, brown sugar and soy sauce over the beef and peppers. Pour the consommé or beef stock in the crock pot. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for five hours or until the steak is cooked through. Serve with white rice. If you would like your sauce thicker one hour before serving in a small bowl combine 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch with a quarter cup of cold water. Mix together. Stir in to the crock pot. Turn the crock pot to high and let the sauce thicken for the last hour of cooking.
August 27, 2021
Renewed Effort Needed on ASF as Disease Found in the Dominican Republic The news that pigs in the Dominican Republic tested positive for the animal disease African swine fever (ASF) is raising alarm bells for Canadian pork producers. ASF has been spreading throughout pork-producing countries in Europe and Asia and has reached the western hemisphere for the first time in 40 years. Although ASF poses no risk to humans or other animals, an outbreak of ASF in Canada could devastate the Canadian pig herd, placing farm families and tens of thousands of jobs along the entire value chain at risk. A single, positive case could result in the immediate suspension of pork and pig exports valued at over $5 billion in 2020. Over the past three years, pork producers and government officials have worked closely to strengthen Canada’s capacity to prevent and, if necessary, respond to an ASF outbreak. The Canadian Pork Council’s Chair, Rick Bergmann was pleased that one outcome of this collaborative effort was the quick decision by Canada Border Services Agency to add Dominican Republic to the list of countries that border officers are screening for ASF risks. This change builds on measures taken in 2019 to increase the number of detector dog teams, enhance public communications about the risks associated with illegal meat imports and control imports of unprocessed grain and oilseeds from ASF infected countries. Bergmann noted Minister Bibeau’s recent statement following the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Meeting in which she reiterated that ASF preparedness and response remain a major priority. He said, “While much progress has been made, there remain opportunities to eradicate wild pigs, enhance biosecurity and develop the response policies and programs that will be needed should there ever be a Canadian outbreak. We look forward to collaborating with the Canadian government to further strengthen our capacity to maintain the health of our Canadian pig herd and pork industry.”
August 27, 2021
KAP Outlines Election Priorities for Each Party to Address
By Les Kletke The country is headed into a federal election and Manitoba’s farm policy group Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) wants to know where the parties stand on four major areas. First though, is the immediacy of the drought situation. KAP president Bill Campbell said, “It is important for every political party to recognize the importance of agriculture at a time when producers in all sectors and all regions of our province are struggling.” After the immediate problem of the drought he would like the parties to address four areas of concern to producers. “Improvements in these areas are essential to the success of agriculture in Manitoba. KAP is ready to work with producers, farm organizations and all levels of government to ensure that agriculture remains sustainable and profitable.” The four areas the organization wants addressed are business risk management programs, environment, economic development and public trust. KAP stated that business risk management programs can with some adjustment provide effective support for the industry and the program should enable producers to mange operational emergencies that are outside of their control so that they can focus on the predictability, stability and timeliness of production. On the environment KAP stated that producers are environmental stewards and implement sustainable practices to ensure a viable industry for future generations. Incentive based programming an important way for producers to adapt to and mitigate climate change. They want a government to develop policies and programs to assist producers and to recognize the ecological goods and services that produces provide. Another point raised is economic development which is important to the success of Manitoba’s rural resident and farm families. KAP requests that governments address the need for infrastructure, rural connectivity, short line railway funding and childcare accessibility. Public trust said KAP is what producers are proud of, by providing safe and healthy food for Canadians. Trust is built by providing consumers with the facts that helps break down the false assumptions and prompts evidence based viewpoints. This includes information about food production, processing, property rights and technology. Trade and environmental contributions of producers are important and should be recognized summed up KAP. A fall election is not a good time for farms and the majority of producers will be involved with harvest during the campaign but KAP is asking the parties to provide the information for producers to consider on their own schedule.
Balance Pineapple Corn Silage into Lactating Dairy Diets
I never noticed a Pineapple cornfield (ref: Emily Ungleshee, DTN, 6/17/2021), until I‘ve seen several of them in Manitoba this summer. As I have done, dairy producers should take them in stride as part of our ongoing drought. When they are ready to ensile a p-cornfield; fermented corn silage samples should be tested for nutritional value as well as any present toxins. In this way, we can formulate and feed it into new lactating dairy diets. A pineapple cornfield is simply what happens to a corn plant after months of severe drought. Despite its natural means of water conservation (i.e.: leave-holes called stomates - close under dry conditions), there is still considerable water loss, coupled with its roots, which are not absorbing enough water. As a result, the inside water pressure of the plants drops, which causes the corn leaves to curl. Coupled with a lack of corncob development and general height to whole corn plants; makes it look like a pineapple crop. The funny thing about a pineapple cornfield is research shows that once it is ensiled, its fermented bio-mass contains about 85 - 95% of the overall nutrition of normal corn silage, despite much lower tonnage per acre, due to drought. A typical area-survey of drought-stressed corn silage has shown: 1- 2% more protein, about 95% of the overall energy of lactation (Nel) and high NDF digestibility compared to good corn silage.
Other dairy science is less favourable about drought corn silage. Some nutritionists point out that it might contain good dietary energy, but it often misses about 25 - 30% of its starch content, which underlies good milk production. Furthermore, drought corn silage is notorious for harboring toxic nitrate levels, despite a 70% reduction of nitrate-nitrogen levels (%NO3-N) due to the fermentation process from original pre-ensiled cornplants levels. For example, I knew one producer that lost several replacement heifers, because a major portion of their diet was largely made up of highnitrate corn silage. Another producer fed untested drought-stressed corn silage to his lactation dairy herd, a few years ago. Soon after it was fed, it led to several digestive upsets and irreversible liver damage among the lactation herd. Plus, he could not get a single milking cow - pregnant for an entire six-week period. It was later discovered by his vet that his drought corn silage contained toxic mycotoxin levels of poisonous aflatoxins. These are two good reasons to test pineapple silage for nitrates and mold/mycotoxin (aflatoxin) screen tests, particularly when opening up the bunk or silo. I would also advise that “before”; ensiled samples be sent away for a moisture test in order to take the best opportunity to put up drought silage in the best possible moisture-condition. Optimum corn silage fermentation occurs when
whole plant moisture is between 65 – 70%. This the standard recommendation for making corn silage in horizontal bags and bunker silos, with a slight drier allowance in tall tower silos. Once these structures are opened-up (along with pending nitrate and mycotoxin tests); I would test fermented corn silage samples - again for moisture as well as now nutrient values: crude protein, soluble and UIP protein, ADIN (heat-damaged protein), NDF, 30-hour NDF digestibility, NFC and dietary starch levels. As a dairy nutritionist, I am now ready to balance a lactation dairy diet (40 litres milk, 4.0% milkfat, DIM = 160), which would not stray too far from a conventional diet formulated with “normal” corn silage. However, I would emphasis the following points in my feeding program: 1. Moisture – Make sure that the moisture content was 50 – 55% moisture. Add water to a dry TMR or more dry hay to a wet TMR. 2. Effective-fiber – Meet a 28% NDF level (with 75%
coming from forage sources) to promote good rumination. 3. NFC and starch level – Limit NFC to 38% of the diet, yet add back lost starch from ground corn or barley. 4. Add liquid molasses – I have a dairy friend that successfully feeds 4 lbs. of molasses as rapid energy, whenever to compensate for a loss of starch in his dairy lactation diet. 5. Bypass fat – No more than 450 g of palm fat should be fed. Case-in-point – I have a dairy producer (200 dairy cows), whom has a 500acres field of pineapple corn. He plans to send away the appropriate samples to an accredited laboratory to make sure his pineapple corn silage is safe to feed as well as conduct an above nutrient profile. Once we get the results back, I will reformulate this lactating dairy diet as if it were any other type of corn silage.
A pineapple cornfield is simply what happens to a corn plant after Submitted photo months of severe drought.
Pork Producers Call on Parties to Support Growth Potential Canada’s 7,000 pork producers are calling on candidates from across Canada to commit to policies that will support a value chain with significant growth potential. “Canadian pork producers work hard every day to provide high quality, nutritious, affordable and sustainable protein to families in Canada and around the world,” said Rick Bergman, CPC Chair. “They need parties to partner with them to deliver economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians.” Canadian pork is increasingly in demand around the world and the value chain has significant growth potential.
That is why Canadian pork producers are calling on candidates to support policies that partner with producers, protect the herd and promote the environment. Parties are needed to partner with producers to maximize the potential of the sector by committing to: - Fix Business Risk Management programs so they work for producers in need - Facilitate access to skilled workers - Defend, improve and expand market access - Resolve trade barriers in China, the world’s largest pork importer The health of Canadian pigs
is one of the value chain’s greatest assets but it is at risk. Parties should commit to protect the herd by: - Committing $50 million to implement the Pan-Canadian African Swine Fever action plan - Establishing a Canadian Foot-and-Mouth disease vaccine bank Canadian pork producers already have one of the lowest environmental footprints in the world and producers are taking the extra steps to make it more sustainable. Canadian Pork Council is asking parties to work with producers to promote the environment by:
- Making concrete emissions reductions by partnering with producers to further improve the environmental sustainability of Canadian pork - Exempting farm fuels such as propane and natural gas from the carbon pricing system, which impacts competitiveness without reducing emissions. “Pork producers are calling on candidates to commit to polices so producers can employ more Canadians, increase the value of exports and build better, more resilient communities from coast to coast,” added René Roy, CPC Vice-Chair.
First Country in Western Hemisphere Reports ASF
By Harry Siemens In Iowa, Swine Health Information Center executive director Dr. Paul Sundberg is confident the first outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) identified in the Western Hemisphere in more than 40 years will not alter North America’s risk level. The Dominican Republic became the first region in the Western Hemisphere to report ASF. Dr. Sundberg said they identified the outbreak through a cooperative surveillance program. Banked tissue samples from sick, dying and dead pigs and feral pigs collected in the Dominican Republic went to the USDA’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory on Plum Island for test-
ing. This lab’s program discovered ASF on the island of Hispaniola. The most significant point to the discovery is its geography. “It doesn’t increase the risk I think, of entry into the US or North America, including Mexico, because of that geography.” But it is also important to point out that both geography and the controls in place to keep the virus out of the US, are working to make sure it stays that way he noted. For example one control measure is with US Customs and Border Protection and the USDA working together to ensure interception is maintained at ports of entry where illegal products may come through. “USDA heightened up sur-
veillance, and we’re doing the things we need to do to try to ensure as best as possible that we’ll contain that virus on the island and not let it get away from Hispaniola.” Dr. Sundberg said the Dominican Republic is taking the necessary action to contain the outbreak. He expects to learn more in the coming weeks about where the virus is, how it got there and the effectiveness of efforts to control it. He applauded the sharing of information on ASF by the European Food Safety Authority’s Panel on Risk Assessment for ASF spread. The first incursion and reporting of ASF into the commercial swine herd in Germany happened in
Swine Health Information Center executive director Dr. Paul Sundberg is confident the first outbreak of African Swine Fever identified within the Western Hemisphere in the Dominican Republic in more than 40 years Submitted photo will not alter North America’s risk level.
mid-July in three outdoor pig farms near Germany’s border with Poland. They focussed on the risk of spreading ASF through outdoor pig farms. And indeed, with their experience especially in eastern Europe where the virus is in the feral pig population that continues to pose a risk for commercial pigs, especially those in outdoor pig farms. One of the recent outcomes is the discovery of ASF on a couple of farms in Germany with that type of production making it the first incursion of ASF into Germany’s commercial production. He said they have acted very quickly to contain it, eradicate the pigs from those farms and are doing everything they can to prevent its spread to other commercial facilities. “I think that’s an illustration of the importance of this risk assessment and of attention for biosecurity in farms that raise pigs outdoors especially, because they may have the opportunity for contact with feral pigs.” Dr. Sundberg stressed ASF does not exist in feral pigs in North America, so no risk there. “This is an example of making sure that we learn all the lessons we can about this virus and the way it spreads and moves within pig populations in those countries that have it within their borders.”
NCC Properties Available to Producers Affected by Drought Interested producers should call 1-866-6836934, indicate which area of Manitoba they are inquiring about, and will be directed to the appropriate local Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) land management expert. Note some properties currently have infrastructure or technical constraints to be addressed in the event of a use request. NCC land management experts will discuss these constraints as inquiries are received. (right) Table of available Nature Conservancy of Canada properties in Manitoba.
August 27, 2021
From Our Farm Gate to Your Plate
By Joan Airey Those are the words on my receipt for vegetables purchased at our local Deerboine Colony which sells a large variety of vegetables direct to the consumer on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1-3 pm. Normally I have lots of vegetables in my own garden but this year my corn was a couple of weeks later producing and it’s a favourite vegetable for some of my family. Also I prefer to shop locally knowing what I spend stays in the community and is fresh, tasty, and home-grown. Another family known as Brown Sugar Produce grow numerous acres of vegetables and sell them direct to the consumer can be found on Fridays at Lady of the Lake parking lot in Brandon from 10 am till 2 pm. Teri and Jon Jenkins also operate a Veggie Lovers Club for members year-round for Brandon and Rivers customers. I haven’t made it to their trailer for veggies this year although previously I have enjoyed a variety of their veggies. Janelle Vachon of Plumas who operates Mad Dog Produce also works along with Brown Sugar Produce selling her produce. Vachon also operates a summer CSA Club. Teri (Brown Sugar Produce) can also be found Saturday mornings at Green Spot in Brandon along with Laryssa from Emerald Earth Farms who sells tomatoes and cucumbers. If you need further info on these producers, search Facebook for them or google them. Another well-know market is Peters Market Garden near Virden. They are at Virden Farmers Market 10 am - 12:30 pm until September long weekend. Saturdays mornings they are at Oak Lake Farmers Market from 10 am -12:30 pm until September long weekend. You can find them on line at petersmarketgarden.ca. In the fall they do a delivery circuit that includes Killarney to Estevan to Yorkton to Dauphin and most everything in between. They have CSA subscriptions for vegetables where you can order their veggies on line. Anyone looking for local fresh produce can visit their local Farmers Market or social media such as Facebook can help locate what you are looking for. If you are looking for fresh fruit grown only in British Columbia, Danielle Barilla of Neepawa a young mother who works in the medical field in a personal care home operates a business personally trucking a Taste of BC herself from her grandparents in Vernon, BC. I learned of her when a friend posted her info on Facebook. The fruit can be found sold from a pink bus in Sportsman’s Park Onanole, just outside Riding Mountain Park, also in Brandon at Humpty’s on 18th, as well as at her home town of Neepawa and Carberry Farmers’ Market. “Without my grandparents support I wouldn’t be able to bring fresh fruit from their stand in Vernon to Manitoba. I drive out with a refrigerated truck and bring back approximately four hundred cases at a time. I hire young people from our community to operate the fruit stands so they get job experience hoping it enables them to find full time work,” said Barilla. “People can check my Facebook page to see what fruit is available, when and where.” Living near Rivers I’m lucky to have an excellent grocery store, drugstore and hardware store so it’s easy for me to shop locally. I had a laugh last week when my neighbour and I went in the local hardware to order fly bags. They asked my friend’s name and phone number. She said, “Don’t you need Joan’s number?” The reply was, “No we have her on speed dial.” Maybe it’s because I’m always asking them to put something away for me till I get into town.
August 27, 2021
Feeding Beef Cows Understanding This Fall is a Challenge Co-insurance In the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of getting on the road to see clients again. I have finally seen the new shops, refurbished hopper bins and fertilizer tanks, house additions, office remodels and an intentionally crooked garden shed that takes the gold medal for lock-down projects that I’ve observed. If you have added, expanded or upgraded your operations during the past year, it is important that you advise your broker, so you don’t get caught up in the wrong side of the math in a coinsurance calculation. One of the most challenging pieces of a property insurance policy to understand is the concept of co-insurance. The premise behind the co-insurance clause is to make sure that insurance companies are collecting fair premium for the risk they are insuring. Simply explained, co-insurance applies to partial losses where the value to replace the item damaged is less than the required total percentage amount required under the insurance policy contract. This is a complex concept as the coinsurance calculation is not completed when the policy is purchased, but rather at the time of loss. In a year like this past year, valuations seem to be fluctuating on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis, creating a varying need for coverage limit to avoid a co-insurance penalty being applied to a claim. This requirement can be the cause of frustration for consumers when they are not properly educated on the responsibilities and requirements of choosing their insurance limits carefully. Here are a few solutions to co-insurance that you can implement to avoid a potential issue. 1. Review your coverage annually with your broker. Ask them questions about what they are seeing for costs to buildings, equipment, tools, bins etc. to make sure your limits are sufficient. Brokers have access to software that can be useful in estimating rebuilding costs. 2. Talk to a contractor about the going price for building in your area. Construction costs are not what they were even a few years ago, so a current conversation will give you an idea of valuation. 3. Ask about stated amount co-insurance for your policy – insurers are more and more willing to provide this condition on commercial insurance policies, and there are indications that some are willing to consider it on farm policies now as well. This simply removes the co-insurance clause from your policy as determined by professional evidence, such as the broker software mentioned above, that the limits on your policy are sufficient. When choosing your insurance broker, make sure that you are working with someone who will educate you on the details within your insurance policy. At Rempel Insurance Brokers Ltd, we work hard to make sure our clients know their coverage and their options. Be sure to seek advice and purchase insurance from those who understand your business! David Schmidt is an Account Executive and Rempel Insurance Brokers in Morris, MB, specializing in insuring farms and businesses across Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Call Office 204-746-2320, Text 204-712-6618, email davids@rempelinsurance. com or visit rempelinsurance.com.
By Peter Vitti Quantity and quality of forage at the end of this summer for beef cows is short. So, where burnt pastures can no longer support the average beef cowherd, whatever forage on hand with the right amount of supplements might be turned into a sufficient autumn feeding program until winter. In this way, we might be able to sustain the brood cow’s value and optimize her calf’s weaning weight. The goal of any good autumn feeding program in drought or with adequate rainfall is to maintain the beef cows’ body condition. A cow going into winter with an optimum body condition score of 5 - 6 (1 emaciated to 9 - obese) has a better chance of maintaining health and a trouble-free pregnancy. This compares to
Burnt cattle pasture in Manitoba. When putting together autumn feeding diets is to test all beef cow forages for nitrates as they are notorious for accumulating in many types of these drought-stricken forages.
a thin cow with a BCS < 4.0, which will likely have a difficult time surviving winter, often ending in a difficult calving season. Early to mid-gestation mature cows, starting off in relatively good shape make the best candidates to be sustained on nutritionally challenged forages compliment-
Early to mid-gestation mature cows, starting off in relatively good shape make the best candidates to be sustained on nutritionally challenged forages complimented with other feedstuffs. Photo by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne from FreeImages
ed with other feedstuffs. To support vital functions and an early-term fetus; these cows have a require 52 55% TDN (dietary energy), 9 - 10% crude protein, 0.40% calcium, 0.25% phosphorus, 0.20% magnesium and salt, essential trace minerals and vitamins. By end of a drought summer, many dire cows are not producing significant amounts of milk. Even if they did, it’s a good idea this year in many areas to early wean their calves. A lot of people simply creep them in drylot. This saves up to 20% dietary energy and protein that the lactating cow would otherwise need. One producer (250 beef cows) that lives in the southern prairies told me that he has no intention of ditching science that wrote these nutrient requirements. Yet, he has no intention of feeding alfalfa-grass hay at over $200/mt and $10-bushel barley. Rather, he is rotational grazing until the end of August, then weaning his calves and feeding his beef cows in his feedlot at home. The cows will be switched (he is already putting out straw bales and 20% protein low-molasses lick tubs on pasture) to an autumn diet of barley straw, complimented with corn distillers’ grains and a 2:1 cattle mineral with salt (Note: He managed to
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Table 1 - The economics of his diet #1 as well as some diets of his friends are illustrated.
secure 150 bales of fair-quality grass hay to be fed toward calving in February). In addition, newly weaned calves (350 - 400 lbs) will be creptfed upon a diet of oat-barley greenfeed and 4 - 5 lbs of an 18% grain-screening pellet. (See Table 1) In all four diets, I made ball-park guesses as to the dietary energy and protein of these three forages: cereal straw > perennial ryegrass straw > bull-rushes. Furthermore, I estimated the $ value of each forage and commodity. As a result, the lower nutritious forage, ground bull-rushes required more nutrient supplementation, yet surprisingly were either the lowest cost diet or were in-line with the other autumn diets. Notably, missing from this table is any mention of barley grain or alfalfa-grass hay. Consequently, one thing that I am advocating this year when putting together autumn feeding diets is to test all beef cow forages for nitrates. That’s because, nitrates are notorious for accumulating in many types of these drought-stricken forages. Mature cows and replacement heifers can safely consume a diet (dm, basis) containing nitrates that are below 0.5% Nitrate (NO3). The same bales should also be tested for molds and mycotoxins. Last, I would also test forages like perennial ryegrass for the endophytes’ toxins. Otherwise, these are the right type of diets to feed to early- and mid-gestation beef cows for the next few autumn months and even into early winter. Their success is how well that they support the cows’ nutrient requirements in order to maintain adequate body condition. Once they achieve this goal, it will probably be a few months away from the calving season, and people should be prepared to put their beef cows on a higher plane of nutrition.
Research Partnership to Drive Innovation in Hemp and Pea Protein The world’s leading brand in hemp foods, Manitoba Harvest will lend its expertise in innovation, product development, and formulation to a consortium of industry leaders through Protein Industries Canada. Manitoba Harvest, the global leader in hemp food, is partnering with a consortium of industry leaders through Protein Industries Canada to develop new hemp and pea varieties with increased protein content, differential starch content, and improved texture. These advancements will dramatically increase the potential for hemp usage in
the growing plant-based protein movement. Manitoba Harvest will lend its expertise in food innovation, product development, and formulation, to improve the potency and functionality of hemp and pea protein. Together with their partners, this work will make hemp proteins suitable for a wider range of food applications. “Diversity of ingredients within Canada’s plant-based foods and ingredients sector is an essential element of helping it grow to become a global leader,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Manitoba Harvest,
Jared Simon, President, Manitoba Harvest says “Developing plantbased protein products with superior taste, functionality and nutrition aligns perfectly with our objectives as a brand, and we have a history of leadership at the farm level, working directly with growers to improve quality throughout the hemp supply chain.”
through their partnership with NRGene, Farmer’s Business Network and Pulse Genetics, is displaying great leadership in the area of hemp ingredient development. The hemppea flour blend they develop through this project will go a long way in meeting the needs of consumers and food manufacturers alike.” “As the largest and longest standing hemp food brand in North America, we are committed to providing our customers with the best hemp products available,” said Jared Simon, President, Manitoba Harvest. “Developing plant-based protein products with superior taste, functionality and nutrition aligns perfectly with our objectives as a brand, and we have a history of leadership at the farm level, working directly with growers to improve quality throughout the hemp supply chain.” The development of these new seed varieties, as well as the hemp-pea flour blend, is expected to create new market opportunities within Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients value chain. NRGene, Farmer’s Business Network, Pulse Genetics and Manitoba Harvest are together investing $3.3 million into the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing an additional $1.8 million.
Pre-Election Survey Shows Strong Support for Supply Management A survey conducted by Abacus Data for Chicken Farmers of Canada showed that government support for the Canadian chicken sector is very popular heading into a federal election in support of Canada’s system of supply management, meaning farmers carefully match production to meet Canadian demand. Supply management ensures that consumers are guaranteed a reliable supply of fresh, high-quality chicken raised with care, and 82% of Canadians support the system. The 5,000 respondents from across the country also shared their voting intentions in the survey, and government support for supply management and the Canadian chicken sector remained strong across the political spectrum. “Voters have indicated that it is important to them that
the government support Canada’s chicken farmers,” said Benoît Fontaine, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. “Canadians have also indicated they don’t want to see any more access granted to the Canadian chicken market in future trade agreements, nor mislabelled broiler chicken crossing the border. Their intentions are clear.” The survey revealed that Canadians have farmers’ backs when it comes to policy support as well with 82% of Canadians wanting the government to crack down on mislabelled broiler chicken from the US. Currently chicken meat is being fraudulently declared as spent fowl in order to bypass import controls, and the chicken sector and voters alike are concerned. This not only takes away jobs and income from Canada’s chicken farmers and
processors, but also puts Canadian consumers at risk due to broken food chain traceability. The survey reported that 79% want the government to support chicken farm operations impacted by the pandemic and that 72% agree that the government should not concede any further access to the Canadian chicken market in future trade agreements and the same amount believe that support programs or mitigation measures should be available to farmers when access is granted. The survey also outlined that party support for the chicken sector will bolster the vote strength, attract opposition voters, and bring in swing voters. In 2020’s Chicken Farmers of Canada annual report chicken farms contributed $8 billion to the economy, and sustained over 101,000 jobs across the country.
August 27, 2021
Finding Fertilizer’s “Sweet Spot” Farmers walk a fine line when it comes to adding phosphorus fertilizer to their fields. If they don’t use enough, they risk lower yields. If they add too much, the excess can be lost to runoff and lead to potentially toxic algae blooms in nearby ponds and lakes. On top of that, the phosphate rock mined to make most phosphorus fertilizers is a limited resource. In addition, fertilizing for other elements, such as nitrogen, can change soil chemistry, which in turn changes the way that phosphorus fertilizers work in soils. Researchers recently moved science one step closer to finding the “sweet spot” for phosphorus fertilizer use. Using the Canadian Light Source at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), the team used light millions of times brighter than the sun to gather highly detailed information about how fertilizing with nitrogen and phosphorus change the chemistry of soils and the availability of phosphorus for crops. The group examined soil from long-term plots at Agriculture and AgriFood Canada’s Swift Current Research and Development Centre near Swift Current, Saskatchewan. They studied soil from plots that were established in 1967, with a fallow-wheat-wheat rotation, and which had received a fixed amount of phosphorus since 1967, with or without nitrogen fertilizer. They also looked at sub-plots where phosphorus fertilization was stopped in 1995 but with no change in nitrogen fertilization (with or without nitrogen fertilizer). The team found that
AAFC Field plots.
long-term fertilization practices, in particular, the use of nitrogen fertilizer have changed the soil chemistry in these plots, which has in turn changed the chemical forms of phosphorus and the ways phosphorus cycles within the soil. In particular, adding nitrogen fertilizer reduced the soil Barbara Cade-Menun. pH (making the soils more acidic). This binds the added understand the specific phosphorus fertilizer more role that pH and organic tightly, making it less avail- matter play in how phosphorus cycles in soil. This able to crops. “Soil pH and organic mat- includes studying other ter which contribute to good crop rotations with differsoil health in general had ent fertilizer rates, such as the largest influence on the lentil-wheat rotations, as forms of phosphorus in soil well as other plots with and the processes these phos- long-term nitrogen and phorus forms undergo within phosphorus fertilizer exsoil,” said Dr. Barbara Cade- periments in other provMenun, a researcher with inces, including Manitoba Agriculture and Agri-Food and Quebec. Everyone benefits when Canada and collaborator on this study. “For producers, producers get maximum the key to optimal cycling of crop yields while using the phosphorus is ensuring their least amount of fertilizer soils have sufficient organic and keeping soils healthy. “I don’t think anybody matter and a neutral pH.” To identify the chemical would argue with wantforms of phosphorus present ing to grow crops that are in soil at a molecular level, healthy and to optimize the team used the Saskatch- our production because ewan Structural Sciences the consumer benefits. Centre (SSSC) at USask and But we want to do that the SXRMB beamline at the in the most cost-efficient CLS. Cade-Menun said the and environmentally sushigh-tech equipment was es- tainable way,” said CadeMenun. “And that means sential to the team’s work. “The SSSC let us look at balancing what the crop phosphorus that is bound to needs with making sure carbon,” said Cade-Menun. it has just enough, but not “The CLS allowed us to too much, fertilizer.” look at the inorganic side and answer questions like ‘Is the phosphorus bound to calcium, iron or aluminum?’ and ‘How are these forms shifting with different fertilizers?’” “These advanced tools allow us to know precisely what is going on in the soil,” she added. The group’s results point to the need to dig deeper to fully Soil extraction.
August 27, 2021
US NPPC Appeals Pork Harvest Facility Line Speed Ruling By Harry Siemens The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is urging the Biden Administration to appeal a court ruling that reduces US pork processing capacity. The Biden Administration has until the end of August to appeal a federal district court ruling that took effect June 29, which strikes down pork harvest facility line speeds allowed under the USDA’s New Swine Inspection System. NPPC spokesperson Jim Monroe said hog farmers asked for a longer stay of the court order or waivers to allow impacted plants to continue operating at NSIS line speeds until they can establish a long-term solution. He said that unfortunately, this is going to have a very negative effect on US hog farmers. It will reduce packing plant capacity by 2.5 percent overall in the US, impacting six plants reducing their capacity by as much as 25 percent. “Again, unfortunately, that’s going to lead to concentration in the industry, more packing plant market power, lost revenue, and additional expenses for US hog farmers,” said Monroe. “It’s going to impact competition in the industry negatively, and that’s never good. Competition drives innovation and is good for consumers.” As far as the impact on harvest facility operations, the impacted plants will lose up to 25 percent of their capacity according to the NPPC report. Those plants will need more hogs available than they have space to process, so that could lead to cancelling contracts with, in particular, smaller producers. The result said Monroe is that those hogs will then sell on the spot market, where they will likely receive less value. In addition, producers will face additional expenses because they have to transport their hogs to more distant planets with available capacity. Monroe said an analysis by Iowa State University Economist Dr. Dermot Hayes projects pork producers will lose $80 million in revenue opportunities due to the ruling this year alone. Dr. Steve Meyer, an economist with Partners for Production Agriculture said the court-ordered rollback would force the construction of new processing plants rather than allow increased capacity through improved efficiency. Meyers said the ruling had cut the capacity of five US processing plants, four of which had been part of a 20year pilot project, from about 1,300; 50 hogs per hour to about 1,100. “If we look at that in total, it cost us about two and a half percent of our slaughter capacity in the United States or about 85,000 head per week. So the danger there, of course is if they get high hog numbers, you might run into that slaughter capacity constraint.” Last summer, the industry had about 2.768 million pigs per week on a 5-4 workday week, which is the standard he used. This would take the numbers back to about 2.683 million head and, based on the March Hogs and Pigs report there is some risk of running into that slaughter capacity constraint said Meyer. However, the June Hogs and Pigs report with its three percent lower March-May pig crop had pulled those numbers back. “I don’t think there’s an immediate threat to the capacity even with these lower chain speeds. But longer-term it takes away some capacity and it’s the easy capacity to add if you play by the rules and do the things that USDA found; during the long pilot project.” He said it is still troubling even though, given the projected fourth-quarter slaughter, he does not think it will be a big problem this year. Dr. Meyer said the ruling sets a precedent for the future that says that a company may have to build a new plant to get more capacity. He explained that the easiest way to add capacity is to run existing a little harder.
NPPC spokesperson Jim Monroe.
Study Finds That Microbes Promote Lima Bean Growth Lima beans are packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of protein, fibre and rich in vitamins and minerals. Lima beans are also good for the environment and farmers. They are effective as cover crops and as green manure. The benefit of lima beans stretches down even into their roots. There, they house microbes that transfer or ‘fix’ atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. Plants can access this fixed nitrogen, which helps them grow. Researchers in Brazil have identified which microbes work well with lima beans in the drier, northeastern parts of the country. “We think our findings can be an important component of sustainable agriculture in the region,” said Fatima Maria de Souza Moreira, co-author of a new study. Microbes are often added to seeds or to the soil when preparing for planting bean crops. These additions, called inoculants can jumpstart the partnership between the plants and microbes. “Sustainable agriculture management aims to improve natural, helpful processes like nitrogen fixation by microbes,” said Moreira. “Knowing which inoculants work well with lima beans in northeastern Brazil will provide economic and environmental benefits.” Lima beans, also called butter beans are an important crop in many parts of the world. Often, these beans are a vital source of food and income in poorer areas. In Brazil, lima bean is mainly cultivated by small farmers in semi-arid regions. “Knowing which microbes are naturally present in the root nodules of lima beans in these areas is important,” said Moreira. “We can then test which species of microbes work best as inoculants to promote lima bean growth. Also, we can determine which of these microbes don’t harm animals and humans.” In addition, climate change makes it even more crucial to get more information about these microbes. “Knowing more increases our chances of finding microbes that perform well in different soils and different climatic conditions,” said
Root nodules from a lima bean plant cultivated in the lab.
Moreira. The researchers collected lima bean plants from farms in the northeast Brazilian state of Piauí. They grew microbes isolated from root nodules. Then they extracted DNA from these microbes and analyzed DNA sequences to identify them. Most of the microbes the researchers identified belong to a group called Bradyrhizobium. These microbes are not harmful to humans or animals and have many advantages. For example, Bradyrhizobium microbes are genetically stable. That means they tend to not accumulate many mutations in their DNA, and the same strains can be used in agriculture for many years, even decades. “In fact, Bradyrhizobium strains used in soybean farming in Brazil have been the same since the 1960s,” said Moreira. Also, the microbes identified in the study were obtained from a semi-arid region with very high temperatures. “They are a great resource for potential use in a warming world,” noted Moreira. The researchers also tested which strains of Bradyrhizobium worked best as inoculants for growing lima beans in the lab. They found several strains that helped lima bean plants grow well under both optimal and adverse soil conditions. “Microbes are versatile lifeforms,” said Moreira. “Very often they work in different soil types and climate regions.” But that’s not always the case. That is why it is impor-
Photo by Tainara L. Rodrigues.
tant to have a large number of microbes with diverse genetic characteristics that can be used as inoculants. That will allow farmers and researchers to choose microbes best adapted to specific soils and conditions. Researchers are now testing the microbes identified in the study under different field conditions. “We are also studying them to explore other diverse biotechnological applications,” said
Moreira. “For sure, the lima bean/Bradyrhizobium partnership can be an important component of sustainable agroecosystems.” Fatima Maria de Souza Moreira is a researcher at the Universidade Federal de Lavras in Brazil. This work was supported by CAPES, the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, and the Minas Gerais Research and Support Foundation.
A transmissionphase contrastmicroscopy photomicrograph of Bradyrhizobiumstrain UFLA02-222 isolated from a semiarid region of Brazil. Photo by Fatima Maria de Souza Moreira.
A view of lima bean plants growing in the field.
Photo by Tainara L. Rodrigues.
August 27, 2021
Promising Green Method for Turning Wastewater Into Fertilizer An international team of researchers is hopeful that their green method for producing fertilizer could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and food insecurity in the future. Farmers rely heavily on fertilizers to help feed the world’s over seven billion people. However, the only commercially available method to produce ammonia, a key ingredient in fertilizers is not environmentally friendly. The standard Haber-Bosch procedure for converting nitrogen gas (N2) to ammonia is energy intensive. This process accounts for about 1-2% of global energy consumption as well as 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A research team involving scientists from both Canada
and the US developed a new, green process for converting the nitrates (NO3) in industrial wastewater into ammonia. Dr. Haotian Wang, an assistant professor at Rice University in Texas, US, and colleagues successfully converted nitrate to ammonia by adding electricity to a single atom catalyst. Honing in on a single atomic site was key to ensuring the desired reaction. “If we have multiple active sites, we could end up with nitrogen gas instead,” said Wang. Single atom catalysts are created by reducing or shrinking a nanoparticle down to a single atom. Nanoparticles are made up of hundreds or thousands of individual atoms. After testing a variety of
Isolated metal atoms can efficiently convert industrial waste water into Submitted photo fertilizer.
single atom catalysts, the team found that iron was the most effective at converting nitrate into ammonia. Wang said the SXRMB beamline at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan was a critical tool in their work. “It enabled us to confirm that the catalyst we used was in fact a single atom catalyst and not a cluster of atoms or a nanoparticle.” Team member Dr. Samira Siahrostami and her colleagues at the University of Calgary, used computational chemistry to study the atomic structure of the catalyst, to better understand why single atoms of iron selectively produce ammonia but do not generate other products such as nitrogen. While these are still early days for this type of research, Wang said the team’s initial results are very promising. “What we found shows that this is possible,” said Wang. “We can use something that is a headache, the wastewater that people want to get rid of, to produce a valuable chemical with the input of renewable electricity. And we can do that without generating more carbon dioxide emissions.” Traditional thermal catalysis uses fossil fuels and the energy conversion is considerably less efficient. Next steps include figuring out how to boost the catalyst’s efficiency and stability so that it can be scaled up for
Dr. Samira Siahrostami with the University of Calgary, Alberta. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary.
Dr. Haotian Wang, an assistant professor at Rice University, Texas, US. Photo courtesy of Rice University.
use in real-world applications and doing more experiments using industrial wastewater, which has a more complex chemistry than the samples the team used. Dr. Samira Siahrostami with the University of Calgary said their team will use what they have learned to fine tune the process and generate a purer, more concentrated form of ammonia from wastewater. “Having a more efficient catalyst material would help to boost the reaction even further.”
Apply the Lessons Learned from COVID to Prevent Influenza Spread in the Farming Industry By Harry Siemens Dr. Susan Detmer, an associate professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine reported record low numbers of Influenza this year and hopes that translates to the pig business. Although the media tracked the spread of COVID-19, little mention of Influenza was made She said that the major cause of Influenza strain spread in the human population is international airline travel. However, the reduction in travel has reduced the prevalence of respiratory pathogens between the southern and northern continents. She encourages pork producers to apply the lessons learned from the COVID pandemic to prevent Influenza on the farm. For humans there are a re-
cord low numbers of Influenza infections. They rose slightly over the winter but started dropping again and there was no declaration of seasonal Influenza in Canada. She said the Influenza B viruses are about a third of the cases in Canada and the opposite proportion in the US, where normally it is twothirds Influenza B. The Influenza As is mixed; H3N2, H1N1 pandemic strain and some of the other seasonal human Influenzas usually seen but there is no distinct pattern, she said. “There’s not enough detected Influenzas in North America to say that there’s a distinct pattern like typically seen with one strain dominating in the human population,” she said. Dr. Detmer said with travel
limited between countries and even within countries and because of social distancing to prevent COVID transmission this has had a positive effect. Currently all respiratory pathogens including Influenza and even the common cold are way down in humans this year. She said that pork producers should apply the same lessons learned from the COVID pandemic to prevent Influenza on the farm. “As Influenza makes a comeback in Canada and the United States, we’ll see more pandemic virus circulating in humans and going back into pigs, and we want to prevent that because it does cause significant production losses,” said Detmer. “So human Influenza in pigs is something that we try to prevent.”
She said that every year, especially in January and February after the Christmas holidays, there is a surge in human to pig transmission of the pandemic H1N1 virus. Still, this last year officials detected minimal pandemic H1N1 in pigs. Furthermore, all H1N1 viruses were more than two years on those sites based on the phylogenetics. “We know that human transmission to pigs was not occurring this year, and that has much to do with the human population not spreading the pandemic virus amongst themselves,” she said. Dr. Detmer said barn workers must make sure not to go to work sick. “If you have a cough, getting tested and wearing masks will still be important to prevent influenza transmission in farms.”
New Test Method Looks at Balancing Nitrogen in Sunflowers Sunflowers have many uses. They are used for floral arrangements, animal feed, biofuels, and even food for us. When grown commercially by farmers, the quality of sunflowers is based on the oil and protein concentrations in the seeds. Sunflower’s oil can be used for cooking and can be made into biofuels. The protein from sunflowers is important in sunflower products like animal pellets and protein powders. To grow quality sunflowers with a high nutritional value, farmers need to ensure the sunflowers have access to nutrients in the soil. One of the most important nutrients for sunflowers is nitrogen. Sunflowers cannot survive without nitrogen, but too much can be a problem. Too much nitrogen can actually decrease the oil concentration in seeds, which decreases the quality of the crop. Nahuel Reussi Calvo a researcher at Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council studies sunflowers. His research aims to determine the best rate of nitrogen fertilizer that will grow high-quality sunflowers. Finding the best nitrogen fertilizer rate has benefits beyond sunflower yields. It also minimizes the economic and environmental costs of applying fertilizer. Modern varieties of sunflower can produce more oil and protein, but they require more nitrogen to do so. Traditionally, scientists measure nitrogen available for sunflowers by taking soil samples before planting. However, the target nitrogen levels for these tests are not upto-date to match the needs of modern sunflowers. Researchers set out to determine if there were better ways to determine how much nitrogen the sunflowers need and tested a few different methods. First, Reussi Calvo and the team used the traditional soil sample analysis method combined with another soil sample analysis. The extra soil sample helps determine the amount of nitrogen provided in the soil when organic matter naturally breaks down. The next method took place during the growing season. The team used sensors to measure leaf greenness at different growth stages. This is a test that has proved successful for measuring nitrogen content in crops like wheat, barley, corn, and potato. After harvest, the team used sunflower seeds to measure grain nitrogen concentration for the third method. This is a useful tool for predicting the nutritional value of crops like corn, wheat, rice, and cotton. Researchers determined the three new methods for measuring nitrogen for sunflowers were better than the traditional soil sample analysis method. Leaf greenness sensors were a promising tool for monitoring nitrogen during the growing season. The grain nitrogen concentration successfully diagnosed nitrogen deficiencies. Argentina is the fourth largest sunflower producer in the world, but the average yield is much lower than other countries. By updating nitrogen recommendations for sunflower crops, scientists can decrease the yield gap and improve sunflower grain quality. The next steps in this research will be to repeat the study on farms with different soil types, management practices, and levels of other nutrients like phosphorus and sulfur.
Nitrogen deficiency can limit sunflower yield and quality. Argentine researchers led by Nahuel Reussi Calvo with the National Scientific and Technical Research Council conducted experiments to evaluate tools for nitrogen diagnosis. Photo by Nahuel Reussi Calvo
August 27, 2021
There is a Fungus Among Us! Fungi play very important roles for plants and subsequently, humans. “Living fertilizers” can help the soil and our crop production systems, too. For over four hundred million years, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi have been forming symbiotic relationships with plants around the globe. Found on almost every continent and in approximately 80% of vascular plants, these important fungi play a pivotal role in plant nutrient uptake in diverse ecosystems. These important fungi begin their life in the soil, in the area where roots can grow. Plants release hormones that help the fungi grow. The plants release the hormones to increase the chance of a root-fungi interaction. Plants seek to interact with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Once the fungi and plant roots meet, the fungi penetrate the root cells. From there, the fungi create and establish incredible structures called arbuscules, which were named for their tree-like structure. Due to their many branches, arbuscules have a high surface area. This allows the fungi to efficiently exchange many different nutrients with the plant. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are known for increasing uptake of phosphorous in the plants they interact with. They can also provide greater uptake of nitrogen, potassium, zinc, and more. In exchange, the host plant provides food to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. The plant shares products it makes during photosynthesis, like lipids and sugars. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi rely on the host plant for life, but it is a small price to pay for the plant to have greater access to essential nutrients. Meanwhile, in the soil, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi form an extensive network of hyphae. The branched hyphal system acts as an extension of the root system. This provides greater access to nutrients that would have otherwise been out of reach. This longer, extensive hyphal system can reach into soil pores that were previously too small for the root system to explore. Although arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are small, they are mighty. One gram of soil can contain between one to twenty metres of hyphae. The microscopic fungi can dramatically improve nutrient uptake for its host plant. It is incredible what these fungi do for plants and, subsequently, humans. Many researchers are exploring arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi’s role in agriculture. Important crops around the world, such as wheat, rice, corn, potato, cotton, and soybean, can form relationships with them. Finding ways to use the fungi’s impressive abilities could enable producers to meet the growing demand for food in an environmentally friendly way. Sometimes referred to as “living fertilizers,” arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi have the potential to maintain yield while reducing some need for fertilizer. These fungi boost nutrient and water uptake. They can enhance soil structure. They even have been shown to improve plant responses stresses, such as soil salinization, heavy metal contamination, and extreme temperatures. With the known benefits, it is no surprise that researchers are looking to further understand how to protect and take advantage of these powerful, ancient fungi to improve crop productivity in degraded soils and a changing climate.
Hayley Crowell, Anna Yang, and others carefully collect cotton root samples to analyze arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colonization rates. Photo by Audrey Gamble
Measuring Nitrogen in Green Manures Both chemical fertilizers and cover crops can help build the nitrogen content in soil. But cover crops come with many other benefits, like improving soil structure and boosting beneficial microbes. Researchers at Cornell University are looking at ways to help breed better cover crops, also known as green manures that could help farmers in their quest to grow crops in the most sustainable way. Katherine Muller and her team are working on strategies to measure nitrogen fixation in breeding programs for two common cover crops, crimson clover and hairy vetch. Both crops can pull nitrogen from the air to help them grow. This is called nitrogen fixation. “Green manures are crops used to improve soil fertility,” said Muller. “They help the soil by adding nutrients. We look at legumes, which bring nitrogen into the soil due to their symbiotic relationship with bacteria.” The use of legume green manures has been around for thousands of years. However, after the 1950s, chemical fertilizers became the main nitrogen source for farmers in developed countries. This is because two scientists, Haber and Bosch, found a way to pull nitrogen from the air, and make chemical fertilizer. Though this type of fertilizer is productive, it also takes energy to make it and it can easily slip into water bodies if not managed correctly. “Cover crops are important ecological management tools,” said Muller. “They foster microbial communities and put nutrients in the soil. Essentially, they help build fertile soil that can supply nutrients when plants need them.” The use of cover crops can be risky to farmers because they cannot determine the
Hairy vetch ripe seeds, which were used in the study to display kinds of samples and measurements available to breeders. Photo by Sandra Wayman
exact amount of nitrogen supplied to the soil. Chemical fertilizers allow for the exact calculation of the amount of nitrogen applied to a crop. But how much nitrogen is provided by each type of cover crop isn’t a known number. The amount of nitrogen supplied by a legume cover crop depends on how well it grows and how much of its nitrogen comes from fixation versus uptake from soil. Currently, cover crop seeds available do not have selective breeding for nitrogen fixation, a valuable trait. Plant breeders are working to develop cover crop varieties that reduce the risks and increase benefits to farmers. They hope that better varieties will increase the use of cover crops as an alternative to chemical fertilizer. Nitrogen fixation is one of their top priorities for legume green manures. “We aim to help plant breeders develop strategies to target nitrogen fixation in cover crops,” explained Muller. “Because nitrogen fixation is a complicated trait that changes as plants grow, the timing of measurements is important.”
A crimson clover plant, which is generally recommended to grow in a mixture of grasses, was used in this study. Photo by Sandra Wayman
A root system of a hairy vetch plant, with nodules that contain asymbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria. Photo by Katherine Muller
For farmers, the most important measurement of nitrogen fixation is when the crop is terminated. Legume green manures are usually terminated in the late flowering stage. Earlier termination means the crop is likely to resprout and become a weed. However, breeding programs for hairy vetch and crimson clover cannot take that measurement, as they need to remove the plant before crosspollination. “Our team did a field experiment with an active breeding program,” said Muller. “We collected plant tissues and measured nitrogen fixation. We were able to tell how much of the plant’s nitrogen comes from fixation versus the soil.” The team tested three kinds of samples that a plant breeder may take to compare them to the sample most relevant to farmers. They then measured nitrogen fixation by sending their samples to a lab that measures total nitrogen content and the abundance of a naturally occurring stable isotope. Nitrogen from soil usually has a higher abundance of the nitrogen stable isotope
than nitrogen from fixation. This allows researchers to estimate the proportion of nitrogen a plant obtains from soil versus fixation. “Our recommendation is to collect stems from each plant in the early flowering stage to measure the nitrogen fixation via stable isotopes,” said Muller. “This provides a good proxy for nitrogen fixation in whole plants, measured in the late flowering stage that is more relevant to farmers.” According to Muller, if breeders are going to add one measurement, it should be this. The proportion of nitrogen obtained by fixation often does not correlate with plant size or other measurements. “It is important to measure actual nitrogen fixed in the cover crop because it can vary,” said Muller. “Farmers want to know how much nitrogen they are bringing into their fields. We need to accurately measure and provide this information to help farmers make decisions. We hope our research will encourage more farmers to adopt legumes cover crops as a nitrogen source.”
Some Like it Hot, But Not Like This
By Les Kletke Hans Steinmann said that some vegetable like it hot, but this year was too much for even these vegetables. Steinmann operates Gods Acres, a 10-acre vegetable farm southeast of Steinbach and was part of the Farmer to Plate Market held in Grunthal, July thought mid August. The weekly market attracted nearly 40 vendors with a variety of goods. Steinmann was one of several vendors featuring locally produced vegetables.
He also attends markets in Steinbach and Richer along with supplying two restaurants in Winnipeg. He said that this year’s heat and dry conditions were too much for his corn which is normally a heat loving crop. “This was just too much the corn suffered and the quality of the crop was hurt by the conditions,” he said. Steinmann has irrigation and with the almost continuous watering he did not have a problem. “We made justification of that when we
dug the well 9 years ago,” he said. “We went deep but never expected anything like this. The water supply was good and we were thankful that we could access as much water as we did.” For the last market of the season in Grunthal Steinmann had a good supply of squash and cucumbers as well as some potatoes. “The squash are nice,” he said. “They love the heat and the cucumbers did well but it was dry, very dry.” He grows sunflowers for
Hans Steinmann said his squash and cucumbers fared best in the heat of this summer. Photo by Les Kletke
the flower market but has resisted cutting them this year. “I like my bees and this year the sunflowers are something that the bees can work; the drought has taken so much else there are few other flowers,” he said. “So I left the sunflowers instead of cutting them and taking them to the Winnipeg market.” He works together with a local bee keeper to provide the flowers for the bees and markets the honey at his booth. Sunflowers are one of the few crops that can handle drought but this year even his sunflowers struggled. “Normally they have a large tap root that can do down to find water, but this year even that was not enough,” he said. “The sunflowers did not do well.” Steinmann stops short of calling himself an organic producer, perfecting the term “natural” for his decision not to use chemicals. It has meant some changes to production choices; he has moved away from the kohl crops. “The flea beets are too bad in the brussel sprouts or cabbage type of crops so we stay away from them,” he said.
My Farm to Your Plate By Les Kletke Perhaps no one captured the spirit of the Grunthal Farmer to Plate Market like Edward Penner. Penner operated the Burgers R Us trailer at the market held July through mid-August and the burgers he sold were from animals he raised on his farm at Vita. While he was the perfect fit for the theme of the market Penner said he bought the trailer early this spring without the market in mind. He was looking for a way to add value to the animals he produced on his farm and came up with the idea of a food trailer. A search on Kijiji yielded several trailers and he decided on a 2018 model that was already equipped with a charcoal grill. “We did not know what to expect from the business,” he said while putting more hamburger patties on the grill. “But it has been going fairly well.” He has already catered two customer appreciation events and has more on the books. “This year is a learning experience, and it has gone well,” he said. “My wife looks after the marketing and the booking of events. I look
after raising the animals.” He began by having one of his beef animals processed at Banman Meats, south of Winkler. The hamburger that resulted has long been served to hungry customers and he had another processed and has expanded his menu. “We like the smokies that Banman’s make so I have taken a hog there to have it processed and that is the smokies now on our menu,” he said. He said the smokies were adding to the bottom of
the menu but are moving up in sales. The resulting bacon has been used on their Bacon Burgers. Penner said that he has no plans at this time to move to a catering business but does not rule anything out. “We have done a couple of events from the trailer and that is what we are looking at doing at this time, this has been a learning year.” he said. As with most farmers, winter will be a time for evaluation and planning for next year.
A reduction in safety and health restrictions such as group sizes resulting from COVID pandemic regulations would provide more opportunities he said. He is also evaluating his French Fry supplier and is happily using a Canadian product in his fryers. “The trailer was equipped with two fryers and that has been a good feature,” he said turning to take another order and keep the chain of Farmer to Plate moving.
Edward Penner flips another burger on the grill. Penner bought a food trailer as a way to market the beef Photo by Les Kletke and pork he produces.
August 27, 2021
Researchers Test New Inexpensive Device to Assess Soil’s Carbon The amount of carbon in farm soils is important to farmers. Soils with high carbon contents tend to provide better yields. They also tend to have more resilience to weather-related crop failure. But measuring the amount of carbon in soil can be expensive and involve several steps. That can make it hard to collect this critical information in regions like subSaharan Africa. Sieglinde Snapp, a professor at Michigan State University, has been working with African farmers to improve growing conditions and provide better measurements for several decades. “Soil organic carbon varies at fine scales across fields,” said Snapp. “Farmers require detailed information to better understand how crops will respond to nutrients and water management. Both processes are regulated by soil organic carbon.” “In sub-Sarahan Africa, typical farm sizes are under one hectare (about 2.5 acres),” said Snapp. These are called smallholder farms. They are also often divided further across numerous, smaller fields. “Soils in this region vary greatly in characteristics,” said Snapp. “Their fertility is highly sensitive to management.” Many farms have degraded soils and are being managed by farmers with limited resources. “This can cause unstable food supplies in the region. Restoring the soils’ productivity through management that increases soil carbon is a major policy goal.” The research team looked for ways to help farmers assess their soil carbon in a quick, inexpensive way. They evaluated a low-cost portable “reflectometer”. The reflectometer the team evaluated collects infrared reflectance at ten wavelengths, which allows a hardware cost of $400. For comparison, a highly accurate laboratory method can require an investment of over $100,000 for equipment.
They calibrated this device with lab tests to verify the data they collected. “We found that the reflectometer predicted soil carbon levels precisely,” said Snapp. “It gave sufficient accuracy to inform soil management. What is unique about this handheld sensor is that it provides the data directly in the field, in the absence of a good phone connection.” “With minimal training extension staff can use the reflectometer to carry out assessment of soil carbon in real time with farmers in their field,” said Snapp. “This represents a significant step forward in improving agronomic management in data-poor locations. Access to such immediate and locally relevant soil data can empower Malawian farmers to make more informed management decisions based on their unique contexts.” Future research will focus on calibrating the device for different regions, or different sampling techniques. The team may also look at incorporating qualitative information collected by farmers and on improving measurements with machine learning. “We expect that as these tools become even more reliable and accessible; farmers will be better able to make informed management decisions. Policy can be more responsive to on-the-ground needs, with the ultimate outcome of improved livelihoods and improved food security,” said Snapp.
The research team calibrated data collected by reflectance to lab soil samples. The application developed provides accurate information to farmers in real time, not needing a good phone connection.
One of the research teams testing a soil sample for soil carbon. Soil carbon is critical for good crop development and food security. Photos by Regis Chikowo
August 27, 2021
Manitoba agriculture news and features.