Research roundup

FIND OUT WHAT’S NEW IN THE WORLD OF RESEARCH

Rotation profitability app
Elisabeth Aerts
Complex crop rotations provide yield benefits to Ontario farmers, suggests plant specialists — and they have the mobile application to back it up – Cash Cropper.

Professor Bill Deen and Ken Janovicek, from the University of Guelph Department of Plant Agriculture, along with Professor Dave Hooker, University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, conducted long-term trials comparing the profitability of simple versus complex rotations. The team collaborated with Mike Cowbrough, provincial weed specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), to integrate their research into the Cash Cropper app.

The app allows Ontario farmers to compare the profitability of simple and complex crop rotations by considering nutrient removal, straw value, and commodity prices for each rotation.

For farmers using the app, the first step is to note their location, soil type, and input costs into the program. Next, the app’s software combines the farmers’ information with Hooker’s and Deen’s findings. The app then gives farmers an estimate of yields and return for each type of rotation.

Both Deen and Cowbrough say that farmers may be surprised by how frequently the complex rotation ends up being the most profitable.

The researchers plan to market Cash Cropper to Ontario producers and potentially expand into the Northern Corn Belt states where farmers are dealing with similar decisions regarding rotation complexity. Download this free app at www.cashcropper.ca/ or through Grain Farmers of Ontario’s FarmCentral gateway app, which houses all current and new apps relevant to Ontario grain farmers.

This research is funded by the OMAFRA – U of G Partnership’s Knowledge Translation and Transfer Program, with additional support from AgNition and Grain Farmers of Ontario. •

Evaluating winter wheat qualities
Alexandra Sawatzky
Canadian wheat has long been associated with western hard red spring varieties, which are mainly used for bread making. However, the understanding of these western varieties does not extend to that of the behaviour and properties of eastern winter wheat, which is used in products ranging from cookies to noodles.

Likewise, evaluating the quality of these varieties requires a different approach. That’s why Professor Jayne Bock, from the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph, is conducting a systemic investigation of eastern winter wheat, with a particular focus on soft varieties.

Working closely with Wei Cao, a post-doctoral researcher at Guelph, Bock analyzed variations in wheat protein conformation as a potential determinant of performance within a given product.

To establish a benchmark for evaluating and comparing protein conformations between varieties, the structures of 30 lines of both soft and hard winter wheat were compared in each of three distinct states — flour, dough, and hydrated slurry.

Despite the diversity between initial protein structures in the flours, when incorporated into optimally mixed dough and batter, the end conformations were very similar. That means the degree of change that occurs during processing may be the key to explaining the behaviour of each wheat variety within a given product.

This research is funded by Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Cereal Industry Research Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the AgriInnovation Program. •
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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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