Research roundup

FIND OUT WHAT’S NEW IN THE WORLD OF RESEARCH

Mind the herbicides for safer replanting
Joey Sabljic
Planting earlier maturing corn hybrids or soybeans in response to wet weather could help producers salvage soggy growing seasons. But at the same time, herbicides that are being put on the ground at the beginning of the growing season could be harmful to replacement crops. 

Dr. Clarence Swanton of the University of Guelph is part of a joint study involving a team of researchers from the University of Guelph, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and OMAFRA. They tested several herbicides to discover which ones were safe for the crops at different intervals between application and planting. 

For soybeans, they found that herbicides containing Converge or Banvel harmed crops up to six weeks after being applied. Herbicides with combinations of Atrazine, Callisto or Dual proved considerably safer to use during the same interval.  

“Producers need to be conscious of what herbicide they’re using as the season progresses, so that if they need to make changes to their crop, they can,” says Swanton.

Funding for this study is provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. •

New uses for soy oil and straw
Matt McIntosh
Soybean oil and stalks are making their way into epoxy resin.  University of Guelph Plant Agriculture Drs. Manju Misra and Amar Mohanty have found a combination of functionalized soy oil and cellulose-based fibres extracted from crushed, post-harvest soy stalks can be a viable substitute for petroleum products in epoxy resins. 

Resins that are totally soy-based aren’t as durable as their traditional epoxy counterparts. However, they can be mixed with petroleum bases or other additives to improve their chemical compatibility and strength.

Misra says if these new soy-based resins catch on, they could be useful for producers and consumers.

“Farmers would be able to take advantage of a new market for soy stalks,” says Misra, “and consumers get a highly effective, more renewable product.” 

Funding for the research is provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario, Manitoba Pulse Growers Association and the Natural Sciences and the Engineering Research Council.

Exchange rate huge factor in cross-border differences
Nicole Yada
Canada’s multi-billion-dollar fertilizer and pesticide industries — and the farmers that rely on them — are being challenged now more than ever, relative to their American counterparts. 

The exchange rate, as well as fuel costs and patent protection laws, are just a few of the factors affecting how farm inputs are priced in Canada and across the border. 

Dr. Ken McEwan at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus monitors the prices of 47 farm input products four times a year in Ontario, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. 

“Most notably affecting the price differences has been the influence of the exchange rate,” says McEwan. “The impact of that can’t be underestimated.”

With the Canadian dollar going from being worth $0.62 US to being roughly at par, it’s clear that Canada doesn’t have the same price advantage it once did.  

In 2000, 24 products of the 48 monitored products were cheaper in Ontario; as of 2010, only eight products are cheaper in Ontario. 

“It’s tougher for Canada, with its smaller market size, regulatory differences and extensive crop production, to remain competitive,” says McEwan. 

This monitoring project is assisted by Randy Duffy. 

Funding is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and by Grain Farmers
of Ontario. •


Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a SPARK writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667.

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