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6 ON THE COVER Turning the friendly skies green Owen Roberts THE FUTURE OF BIOFUEL IN AVIATION From the CEO’s desk MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD 4 Reducing compaction Treena Hein 10 Getting the most from your nitrogen Matt McIntosh 12 Business side Conversations with business experts 14 GrainTALK newsletter An update on Grain Farmers of Ontario news and events 16 Gathering data in Ausable Bayfield Matt McIntosh 15 Crop side Agronomic information from crop specialists 27 4Rs in Ontario Michael Buttenham 18 Early and late season planting Lois Harris 20 Managing waterhemp Jeanine Moyer 22 Oats to oatmeal Laura Ferrier 24 Writing Canada’s sustainability story Melanie Epp 28 Good in Every Grain Updates on our campaign 30 APRIL/MAY volume 13, number 7 ONTARIO GRAIN FARMERis published 9 times a year (December/January, February, March, April/May, June/July, August, September, October, and November) through Grain Farmers of Ontario. Distribution is to all Ontario barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmer-members. Associate Membership Subscription available upon request. Views and opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the policies of Grain Farmers of Ontario. Seek professional advice before undertaking any recommendations or suggestions presented in this magazine. PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 40065283. Return undeliverable items to Grain Farmers of Ontario, 679 Southgate Drive, Guelph, ON N1G 4S2. © Grain Farmers of Ontario all rights reserved. Publisher: Grain Farmers of Ontario, Phone: 1-800-265-0550, Website: www.gfo.ca; Managing Editor: Mary Feldskov; Production Co-ordinator: Kim Ratz; Advertising Sales: Joanne Tichborne Look for these symbols for bonus content in our digital edition.
province’s GDP, employ more than 75,000 people, and generate more than $2.7 billion in provincial tax revenue. As we head into the election, Grain Farmers of Ontario is engaged in an active campaign to make agriculture and grains and oilseeds priorities top-of-mind for candidates across the province. We are asking candidates to commit to supporting industry priorities such as increasing the province’s investment in the Ontario Risk Management Program, investing in the planned Ontario Sustainable Crop Research & Innovation Centre at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus, addressing the costs of carbon taxes on the fuel for grain drying, and investing in a value-added grains and oilseed industry. We will also be telling our sustainability story to candidates: we want them to know that Ontario’s grain farmers care about the land that we grow our crops on and the communities where we live, work, and play. Our efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, decrease our carbon footprint, improve biodiversity on our farms, improve our soil, and protect our water sources are all good news stories that we want to share. You can find out more about Grain Farmers of Ontario’s election campaign at gfo.ca/government-relations/provincial-priorities. As a farmer-member, you can help tell the Grain Farmers of Ontario story and get candidates talking about agricultural issues on the campaign trail. You can do that by getting to know the candidates in your riding and learning about their party platforms and their personal priorities, going to an all-candidates meeting and asking questions, or writing letters to tell them about the importance of the grains and oilseed industry in Ontario. Better yet, consider inviting your local candidates to your farm to show them firsthand how you produce high-quality grains used for food, feed, and fuel products, how you work to protect your local ecosystems, and how you make a positive contribution to your local and provincial economy. But most importantly — vote! Make your voice heard. l Make your voice heard YOU ARE LIKELY seeing lots of signs of spring — the days are getting longer, daffodils are blooming, trees are budding, and tractors are starting to make their way to the field for the 2022 planting season. You will likely start to see more signs — election signs, that is. Ontario voters are heading to the polls to elect Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to serve in the 43rd Parliament of Ontario. Grain Farmers of Ontario works closely with MPPs at Queen’s Park to influence policy decisions that will benefit our 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmer-members. Our staff and Board of Directors work hard to communicate to policymakers the importance of the grains and oilseed sector to the Ontario economy: Ontario’s grain farmers contribute $18 billion to the Crosby Devitt, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario From the CEO’s desk 4
FARMER WELLNESS The last session in this series will teach participants about prevention through self care and review tips, strategies and practical applications on how to take care of yourself and your mental health for future mental wellness. Join us: April 7, 2022, 1 p.m. Topic: Self care Register at www.gfo.ca/farmerwellness/prevention Brought to you by Talk, Ask, Listen WEBINAR SERIES #GrainTALK ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 5 APRIL/MAY 2022
Cover story 6 IF HIGH-PERFORMANCEIndy cars can run on soy-based fuels, why can’t jet planes? Well, it turns out they can. And as 2021 came to a close, United Airlines proved it, shining yet another bright light on biofuel’s promising horizon. On December 1, from Chicago, United operated what it described as “an unprecedented flight that will serve as a turning point in the industry's effort to combat climate change,” by flying a new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft full of passengers — including United’s CEO Scott Kirby and a host of other aviation business leaders and government officials — burning 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in one of its two engines. SAF is an alternative fuel made with nonpetroleum, renewable feedstocks including corn, oilseeds such as soy, and dedicated energy crops. MAKING HISTORY The flight, which United called a first in aviation history, took place between Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. The Max 8 aircraft used 500 gallons of what United called “drop-in ready” SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional jet fuel in the other engine, to further prove there are no operational differences between the two. For an industry so fuel dependent, plagued by flight shaming — that is, an effort by environmentalists to instill guilt in air travellers about aviation greenhouse gases (GHG) — the flight was practical, promising, and symbolic. First, according to United, it set the stage for more scalable uses of SAF by all airlines in the future. As well, SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel…but with a fraction of its carbon footprint. And that’s what the U.S. government, in its zeal to have the U.S. be seen as a global environmental leader, wants from sectors like aviation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says aviation GHG emissions make up 9-12 per cent of U.S. transportation GHG emissions. AGRICULTURE’S ROLE Agriculture is seen as having a huge role in aviation GHG mitigation. The U.S. Department of Energy says the country's feedstock resources could meet the projected fuel demand of the entire U.S. aviation industry. The department estimates a whopping one billion dry tonnes of biomass can be collected sustainably each year in the United States, enough to produce 50–60 billion gallons of low-carbon biofuels. SAF made from renewable biomass and waste resources have the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, giving airlines solid footing for decoupling green GHG emissions from flight. It says some emerging SAF pathways even have a net-negative GHG footprint. So it’s working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal government agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce SAF on a commercial scale. Farmers are clearly a part of the U.S. plan. “By growing biomass crops for SAF production, American farmers can earn more money during off seasons by providing feedstocks to this new market, while also securing benefits for their farms like reducing nutrient losses and improving soil quality,” says the energy department. Further, it acknowledges that biomass crops can control erosion and improve water quality and quantity. They can also increase biodiversity and store carbon in the soil, which can deliver on-farm benefits and environmental benefits across the country, it says. And finally, it says producing SAF from wet wastes, like manure and sewage sludge, Turning the friendly skies green THE FUTURE OF BIOFUEL IN AVIATION Owen Roberts continued on page 8 • Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is made from non-petroleum, renewable feedstocks including corn and soybeans. • The first commercial airline flight using SAF took off from Chicago in December 2021. • Aviation accounts for 9-12 per cent of transportation-based greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. • Future use of the fuel could drastically reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. • Use of SAF is instrumental to helping United Airlines achieve its goal of being 100 per cent green by 2050. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 7 APRIL/MAY 2022
reduces pollution pressure on watersheds, while also keeping potent methane gas—a key contributor to climate change—out of the atmosphere. The flight drew criticism from some quarters. For example, The Guardian newspaper noted that SAF has been a dream of the aviation sector for more a decade, yet it still only makes up less than 0.1 per cent of aviation fuel and costs about three to four times more than conventional fuel. However, timing is everything, and the aggressive U.S. environmental agenda stands to accelerate SAF development significantly. So does public sentiment: A tweet from United Dec. 1 about the flight garnered 2,600 likes. 8 “This is an unfolding and very dynamic market disruption,” said Mac Marshall, vice president of market intelligence for the U.S. Soybean Export Council, in the United Soybean Board’s Soy Hopper newsletter. “I think it is a positive disruption. The real excitement is when you start to see the investments come in with announcements from corporate and end-users.” INVESTMENT IN BIOFUEL DEVELOPMENT Excitement grew further in January when Microsoft announced it was investing $50 million in a sustainable jet fuel biorefinery development in Georgia. The investment will come from the company’s Climate Innovation Fund, which has committed $1 billion over four years to speed up carbon removal technology. All this makes aviation CEOs like United Airlines’ Kirby optimistic. His company’s goal is to be 100 per cent green by 2050, by totally reducing its GHG emissions by 2050 without relying on traditional carbon offsets. That means more opportunities for feedstock producers, like farmers. "Today’s SAF flight is not only a significant milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry,” he said, “but when combined with the surge in commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we're demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes." l continued from page 6
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refinement of Best Management Practices for preserving soil structural integrity,” says Heck. “Lastly, the results will also be useful to machinery manufacturers and retailers, and further our collective scientific understanding of soil behavior.” The project also includes the development of strategies to minimize and remediate impacts of soil compaction on soil health and the development, evaluation, and/or improvement of the resolution of testing procedures to measure key soil health parameters. Whether quantitative indicators of soil 3Dmicrostructure can be used as tools for evaluating the degree of soil compaction will be determined. SENSOR DATA Getting a full sense of how much track-based and tire deflation strategies might decrease the impact of compaction pressure on topsoil and subsoil means taking different measurements using several devices. “We are merging three main measurements,” Heck explains. “These are advanced in-field pressure sensing techniques and penetrometer resistance, with high-resolution x-ray CT imaging and micro-penetrometer profiling of intact soil cores, with conventional soil physical characterization of parameters like density and moisture retention.” Gillespie’s research is focussing on the role of organic matter in mitigating compaction. The trials are comparing track-equipped tractor/load assemblies with wheel-based ones involving both upper and lower recommended inflation pressures. The trials are also taking place on a range of soil textures — coarse, medium, and fine-textured — but all fields are zero-till. In terms of crops, Heck explains that “the direct focus of this research will be on field crops — corn, soybeans, and wheat — but because we are considering the impact of 10 DEPENDING ON A particular farm’s soil profile, compaction is a bigger issue for some grain farmers in Ontario than others. However, all are aware it must be minimized. As Dr. Richard Heck, professor in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph, explains, surface and subsurface compaction due to machinery traffic continues to be a major problem facing the province’s crop farmers. “Degradation of the soil structure due to compaction generally reduce aeration, thereby negatively impacting soil biological activity — including root development and soil exploration — and ultimately impacting crop performance in the long-term as well as in the short-term,” he explains. “It’s not simple to determine the potential loss of revenue that compaction can cause. The loss might be due to reduced yields or increased expenditures associated with greater tillage/planter draft or both. And both these factors are complicated by the variety of soil types and cropping systems that may be used on a specific farm.” One trend affecting all of Ontario, however, is the increase in average farm size, and with that the use of larger, heavier equipment that causes more compaction. Higher wheel loads cause increased soil compaction at depth, whereas larger wheels with their increased surface area cause more compaction at shallower depths and less compaction at greater depths. “In addition,” Heck says, “our weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable due to climate change, which can also increase the compaction risk.” EXISTING TECHNOLOGIES Two available solutions are track-based (instead of wheel-based) tractors and implements and remote-activated tire deflation/ re-inflation systems. These systems have been available for tractors for several years and some farmers in Ontario have put them into use. However, Heck points out that the impact of such solutions, relative to soil texture, management system (tillage, rotations, etc.), and moisture status is still not fully understood, especially in terms of soil structure impact. Two years ago, Heck began a compaction research project with University of Guelph colleagues Dr. Adam Gillespie, Dr. Alex Barrie and Dr. Ian McDonald, as well as Danish colleague Dr. Lars Munholm. A PhD student, Olatunbosun Ayetan, has also joined the team. However, as was the case with many recent research projects, the pandemic impeded progress, and then again during fall 2021, field trials were not possible. “The issue was not being able to source the tractors, primarily due to supply chain related issues,” says Heck. “We are now hoping to proceed during spring 2022.” The results will help farmers more effectively select a solution to extend their window of operations on the field while still minimizing undesirable impacts on soil structural quality. “They will also guide growers in the Reducing compaction TRACKED TRACTORS AND TIRE DEFLATION Treena Hein Agronomy
ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 11 APRIL/MAY 2022 RE VY L U T I ON AGA INST DI SEASE . PLOT A Always read and follow label directions. AgSolutions, REVYSOL and VELTYMA are registered trade-marks of BASF; all used under license by BASF Canada Inc. REVYSOL and/or VELTYMA fungicide should be used in a preventative disease control program. © 2022 BASF Canada Inc. Corn growers can rise up against disease like never before thanks to the outstanding protection of Veltyma® fungicide. It delivers powerful, fast-acting control of a wide range of key foliar diseases and extended performance with the unique binding activity of Revysol®. Visit agsolutions.ca/veltyma to learn more. New Veltyma fungicide, with Revysol technology, provides broader, stronger and longer protection. agricultural machinery on soil in general, it is relevant to all types of crops and soil management systems.” In the trials, cropping history and moisture status of all trial fields is also taken into account. USING RESULTS If track-based farm machinery is found by Heck and his colleagues to be significantly better in terms of reducing soil compaction — and other studies have already found this — this does not mean widespread adoption will occur. Conventional wheeled tractors are less costly, better for travelling distances between farms, and have other operational advantages. (The other solution of deflating tires reduces tractor pull capacity, but it also reduces fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent.) Equipment Ontario (formerly Stoltz Sales & Service), with five locations in southern Ontario, has sold tracked equipment for more than 15 years. Owner Marlin Stoltz says low speeds and high costs have impeded adoption, but speeds have improved. His tracked sales have been less than one per cent, and to farmers who want to reduce compaction and whose topography makes wheeled equipment inefficient. Stoltz has two new orders for tracked equipment for 2022 so far. This project was funded in part by the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, a collaboration between the government of Ontario and the University of Guelph. l This research project received funding from Grain Farmers of Ontario.
12 THE PRICE OF nitrogen fertilizer has risen to double, if not triple, the standard multi-year average. With costs so high, ensuring the nutrient is applied as efficiently and effectively as possible is critical. In a presentation delivered this past January, corn specialists Daniel Quinn and Jason DeBruin — associate professor of agronomy at Purdue University and field experimentation research scientist with Corteva, respectively — highlighted a variety of considerations for growers to lower the burden of fertilizer on both the environment and their bottom line. APPLICATION AND TIMING Achieving maximum yield does not equate to the highest profit, says Quinn, since corn yield responses flatten as nitrogen rates increase. A 30-bushel yield gain might be the result of 100 pounds of applied nitrogen per acre, for example, whereas 150 pounds only brings an additional 15-bushel gain. Go high enough, and nitrogen fertilizer brings little beyond financial and environmental costs. Optimizing returns is a matter of calculating fertilizer benefits to grain price. Inputs must reach the crop at the right time, of course. While unavoidable in some cases, Quinn suggests growers avoid fall or early spring application since there is more time for loss. If nitrogen is applied in the fall or earlier in the growing season, nitrification inhibitors can be a beneficial addition. “A urease inhibitor can buy you seven to 14 days before volatilization,” he says, referring to surface-applied nitrogen specifically. Quinn adds soil temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) bring additional risk of loss. Critically, only 25 pounds of nitrogen is absorbed by corn between the VE and V6 stage, meaning a front-loaded nitrogen program leaves more unutilized nutrient in the field for a longer period of time. Split application is thus the preferred method. Reducing the initial application and supplementing with another during the crop’s peak uptake period significantly increases yield potential, while reducing loss. Weather is also an unpredictable factor. “Nitrogen is always cycling in the soil. It’s really difficult to predict…It’s so environmentally dependent. It’s a very leaky system,” says Quinn. He later reiterates split applications may not always bring yield increases, but the practice consistently minimizes the risk of loss while improving nitrogen use efficiency. DIFFERENT PRODUCTS, DIFFERENT BENEFITS Anhydrous ammonia is considered the safest choice for fall and early season application because it’s the slowest to convert to nitrate. Urease inhibitors can help slow the process even further, reducing leaching risks. Quinn adds inhibitors can similarly provide an extra seven to 14 days to the effective period of dry urea — a compound more prone to volatilization, particularly in no-till and high residue systems. Incorporating dry nitrogen into the soil, however, removes the need for inhibitors. Getting the most from your nitrogen REDUCING ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS Matt McIntosh Urea Ammonium Nitrate (28 or 32) can be employed in conjunction with both urease and nitrification inhibitors, but proper timing and placement can eliminate the need for inhibitors. IS HYBRID SELECTION IMPORTANT? As described by DeBruin, the genetic potential of corn hybrids has steadily increased over the better part of a century — but “there’s Agronomy HOW NITROGEN IS LOST • Excessive rain or concentrated moisture (ponding) causes leaching. • Hot and dry conditions bring insufficient mineralization and plant uptake, increasing the risk of volatilization. • High carbon levels from heavy field residues cause higher rates of nutrient immobilization.
no free lunch,” in that nitrogen requirements have increased in kind. The trend is expected to continue, meaning an additional 0.69 pounds of nitrogen per acre requirement year over year. “As yield increases, there will be additional need for nitrogen. That doesn’t mean we need to dump a bunch on it,” says DeBruin. Like Quinn, he believes careful, calculated application is the key. Whether there are notable nitrogen response differences between hybrids is a matter of some contention, however, partly because of the inherent difficulty in matching yield gains to early positive responses to the nutrient. DeBruin’s research has shown notable differences in the past, but replication has proven difficult. “We don’t have enough info and prediction power to make good claims,” he says. “Yes, you can document it at specific locations and years, but if you try to replicate it over a number of locations and years it goes away.” Consequently, hybrid selection should not be considered a critical management strategy with regards to nitrogen. “Go for a top yielding hybrid and manage your nitrogen relative to the environment,” says DeBruin. l ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 13 APRIL/MAY 2022 As yield increases, there will be additional need for nitrogen. That doesn't mean we need to dump a bunch on it. Careful, calculated application is key.
(J.M.) TELL US ABOUT THE NEW FOUNDATIONS IN AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM (J.C.) The new Foundations in Agricultural Management online course (www.guelphagriculturalmanagement.com) is free, and available to any Canadian farmer interested in learning and developing new farm business management skills. This program is designed to help producers develop business management skills on their own time and at their own pace and build their confidence to take their farm operations to the next level. We hope participants can get excited about investing in themselves, their skill set, and their businesses. The online management course is divided into eight modules. Each video module is approximately 20-25 minutes long and features University of Guelph researchers and professors. The modules also include producers who share their journey and experiences as they relate to the module topic. Working at their own pace, farmers can watch the course modules and complete a quiz to move on to the next module topic. The course begins with module topics that are meant to form foundational building blocks and moves to more specifics as producers advance through the modules. Module topics include business planning and strategy, financial literacy, human resources, risk management, transition planning, and managing mental health. WHAT CAN PARTICIPANTS EXPECT FROMTHE COURSE? Our goal is to create a culture of continued and lifetime learning for farmers. The Foundations in Agricultural Management program is designed to guide participants in implementing effective business planning processes, leveraging financial tools, motivating teams, managing farm transition, and more. Participants have the opportunity to learn new business management skills, and the program is intended to provide a framework to help farmers make decisions and develop the confidence to take a serious approach tomake changes to their operations. Wewant farmers to ask themselves ‘wheredo I want tobe in fiveyears, andhowdo I get there?’ We hope another outcome will see producers understand the importance of mental health, that’s why we implemented the last module on mental health. We want to give farmers the courage and conviction to speak out if they’re not feeling ok and reach for help. HOW WAS THE PROGRAM DEVELOPED? The University of Guelph, in collaboration with RBC and Farm Credit Canada, developed this program. Itwas ayear andahalf in themaking, where we worked closely with both ag lending partners to groundtruth the course topics and engage with Canadian producers to share their experiences as part of the program. I think the addition of the producers in the course modules is one of the unique aspects of this program, because they really offer authenticity and help participants relate. The course launched in January 2022. The enrollment has been encouraging already, and we’ve even had producers from outside of Canada sign up. The program was created for Canadian farmers, but the skills and insights are easily transferrable and translate to other parts of the world too. WHO IS THE PROGRAM DESIGNED FOR? The course is designed for everyone, any farm type or geography, and is relevant for all Canadian farmers. We did have two specific audiences in mind when we developed the content though — younger producers, and mid-generation farmers who may be at a stage where they are transitioning from operator to more of a farm management position. Elements of the modules have been created to help younger or new and beginning farmers establish the fundamentals of business, and those who have been in the business for a while who may be looking to upgrade their skills or are in a business growth stage. We hope the program can serve as a call to action for producers to seek additional resources, like professional advice and advisors to take their business to the next level. The course also provides additional resources for participants to continue implementing their business management skills on their own time. WHY SHOULD FARMERS COMPLETE THE COURSE? Farm finances, evaluating cost of production and risk management are perennial events on most farms, especially grain farms. Three of the eight modules focus on financial literacy and risk management and have a lot to offer grain farmers. The business planning, human resource, and farm transition focus areas of the course are also essential to operating a grain farm. It’s never been more important to have a written business plan, and in many cases, program participants are transitioning to a management position where they are responsible for attracting and retaining talent on their farms, making human resources another important new skill set. And we intentionally created two modules on farm transition and succession planning because this is another significant topic, especially on grain farms. l Jeanine Moyer John Cranfield, PhD Associate Dean - External Relations, Department of Food, Agricultural & Resource Economics, Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph Free online course BUSINESS SIDE WITH... Business side 14
IT’S TOUGH TO make good agronomic decisions without baseline data. The same is true for environmental improvements. Indeed, it’s the reason the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) continues to invest in its Watershed Report Card initiative. ABCA has been releasing environmental report cards every five years since 2007. Covering its 16 separate watershed areas, each report assesses the state of the region’s forest conditions (percentage of forest cover, forest interior, and streamside cover), percentage of wetland cover, groundwater quality (concentrations of nitrate and chloride), and surface water quality (concentrations of total phosphorus, E. coli, and an index of invertebrate stream animals). Communicated via a grading system, the organization says such indicators provide an overall measure of the region’s ecological health. Each watershed report is intended to provide meaningful information for landowners and community groups interested in taking action to protect the local environment HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2018 WATERSHED REPORT Forest cover — Much of the region is considered to have “poor” tree cover, though coverage is slowly increasing. The value of protecting existing forest remains high, in that high productivity and demand for agriculture continues to limit the potential for more widespread forest. Wetland cover — More water retention areas are needed throughout the region, particularly at field edges and other “strategic locations.” There is opportunity to enhance the water retention capacity of already wet areas. Surface water quality— Most surface water is considered “fair” in quality. Several watersheds showed measurable improvements in E. coli levels from the initial 2007 report. Groundwater quality— Nitrate and chloride concentrations in most measured wells proved better than the standard for drinking water, though not all. In some cases, well-monitoring locations were chosen to measure known water quality issues. ACHIEVEMENTS AND ONGOING CHALLENGES Mari Veliz, healthy watersheds manager for ABCA, says nutrient loading in waterways, as well as downstream erosion and flooding, continue to be persistent challenges in rural areas. Chloride concentrations is another for more urbanized locals. Conversely, significant reductions in E. coli levels through several watersheds has been a notable achievement. Though further reductions are desirable, those realized thus far could prove sufficient for a general reduction lowering across the region. A more widespread understanding of environmental challenges among Ausable Bayfield residents — challenges both local and global — has itself been a win. “The overall environmental understanding seems to have shifted. There’s more of an interest in ‘what can I do’,” says Veliz, later noting the significant and positive response to ABCA grant programs on the part of landowners in 2020. ANALYZING THE RIGHT INDICATORS Data gathering for the 2023 report — expected to be published in March of that year — will be ongoing throughout 2022. The indicators used will be the same as those employed previously. Deciding what to analyze is challenging, says Veliz, given the number of potential indicators. The decision to focus on nutrient loading, chlorine levels, tree cover, and other factors was taken to strike a balance between generating useful data, ease of communication, and limited resources. “We could bring in other indicators. The trade-off is it makes things more complicated and harder to communicate. We’re trying to be as comprehensive as possible, with reasonable indicators to drill-down trends over time,” she says. Highlighting overarching trends generates a database from which more area-specific research is founded. ABCA continues to work with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and other farm organizations on more targeted projects. Veliz reiterates not collecting baseline data makes it impossible to know whether improvements are being achieved. Just like working towards a weight loss goal, she believes setting more intermediate goals — rather than focusing exclusively on overall nutrient loading, for example — would augment the macro-level watershed report data. “Goals need to be achieved without being prescriptive. It’s trying to figure out how to do the best at the individual scale,” says Veliz. “How do we get there in a way that’s actually a workable solution?” l Matt McIntosh Gathering data in Ausable Bayfield WATERSHED REPORT CARDS PRESENT BASELINE DATA Industry News ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 15 APRIL/MAY 2022
16 An update on Grain Farmers of Ontario news and events YOUR GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO TEAM Here is our next installment of profiles of your Grain Farmers of Ontario team. ALLISON HESSELS, POLICY ADVISOR Grain Farmers of Ontario welcomed Allison Hessels in October 2021 to the government relations team in the newly created role of policy advisor. Hessels is a recent graduate from the University of Waterloo, with a BA in Political Science. She brings a strong background in agriculture to her role, having grown up on a cash crop and chicken farm in Canada and Australia. Prior to joining Grain Farmers of Ontario, she worked as a summer student for FS Partners in Drayton supporting agronomic tasks such as soil sampling, crop scouting, and yield counts. In the role of policy analyst, Hessels will help shape Grain Farmers of Ontario’s government relations strategies by conducting research, writing policy briefs, monitoring government policy, and liaisingwith industry and government. HAYLEY MICALLEF, MARKET DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR Hayley Micallef joined Grain Farmers of Ontario as market development coordinator in December 2021. In this role, Hayley supports Grain Farmers of Ontario market development priorities including the Grains Innovation Fund and the Ontario Wheat Survey. Micallef is a graduate of the University of Guelph, receiving a BA in International Development with a focus in Rural and Agricultural Development in 2018. She obtained a post-graduate certificate in Agribusiness Management from Fanshawe College in 2019. Before joining Grain Farmers of Ontario, she worked as a grain control specialist and grain merchandiser working with grains, oilseeds, and feed. Micallef currently resides in Guelph and enjoys camping, hiking, baking, and discovering the great local eats Ontario has to offer. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ELECTED At the Grain Farmers of Ontario inaugural board meeting, held in February, the Executive Committee was voted into office for the year. Brendan Byrne, director for District 1 (Essex) has been re-elected as chair. Jeff Harrison, director for District 12 (Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings), and Scott Persall, director for District 5 (Elgin, Norfolk), will serve as vice-chairs. Josh Boersen, director for District 9 (Perth), will hold the position of executive member. A full listing of the 2022 Board of Directors, as well as a contact list for all district delegates, can be found at www.gfo.ca/about/districts. ONTARIO PROVINCIAL ELECTION Ontarians will head to the polls in June for the Ontario general election. As we approach election day, Grain Farmers of Ontario will be sharing election-related news, commentary, and information on the website, and in the weekly GrainTalk e-newsletter. We will be actively engaging with candidates to tell the Grain Farmers of Ontario story, outline our provincial priorities, and to make agricultural issues top-of-mind in this election. To learn more about our election platform and what candidates are saying about agricultural issues, visit www.gfo.ca/governmentrelations/provincial-priorities. FROM THE CHAIR A Q&A with Brendan Byrne, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. How is Grain Farmers of Ontario helping to showcase the sustainability practices of Ontario’s grain farmers? As farmers, we know the value of healthy soil and water better than almost anyone, and that’s why we take care to have the best impact we can on the world. Grain Farmers of Ontario has been involved in several programs and committees to ensure that we have the best information to back us up when we speak to the government or the public about farming and sustainability. This year, we launched the Grain for Good campaign to increase public support for the environmentally sustainable practices farmers already have in place. We spearheaded a cover crop report that highlighted the breadth of cover crop use in Ontario that already exists, and we can take those findings to showcase the efforts of farmers when it comes to soil health. A Grain Farmers of Ontario staff member from our market development department sits on the board of directors of Field to Market Canada, and we participate in the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops to ensure our farmer-members voices are heard in those discussions. And, our new large educational trailer will visit schools across Ontario to tell our stewardship stories. • Do you have a question for our chair? Email GrainTALK@gfo.ca.
MARKET COMMENTARY by Philip Shaw On February 9, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. USDA decreased Brazilian soybean production down 5 million metric tonnes to 134 million metric tonnes. They also adjusted Argentinean production down 1.5 million metric tonnes to 45 million metric tonnes. CONAB, the Brazil government agency, dropped the Brazilian crop to 125.5 million metric tonnes on February 10. In addition, on February 24, USDA released preliminary 2022 crop acres at 92 million for corn and 88 million for soybeans. This will be updated on March 31. This was a sideshow to the eruption of war between Russia and Ukraine on February 24 which sent grain markets into violent war volatility. The Canadian dollar continues to flutter in the 78-79 cent U.S. level, a stimulus to Ontario cash grain prices. CEREAL RYE Growers of cereal rye have expressed interest in increasing future opportunities for the crop and have asked Grain Farmers of Ontario to consider adding this crop to its mandate. Should this occur, Grain Farmers of Ontario would look at leveraging agronomic research, market development, public communication, and advocacy for programs and policies for cereal rye. As part of the process, all farmers that grow and harvest cereal rye are asked to register. This registration does not imply support for the inclusion of cereal rye to the Grain Farmers of Ontario mandate. Rather, the registration will be used to keep farmers growing cereal rye updated on the issue and seek input, as required. To register, visit gfo.ca/marketing/ cereal-rye-growers. AALP DREAM AUCTION The Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP), from the Rural Ontario Institute, is hosting their biennial Dream Gala on June 24, 2022, at the Delta Hotels Guelph Conference Centre. The event, themed ‘A Whole New World’, will include a cocktail hour featuring a “Celebration of Ontario” tasting experience, dinner, and a live auction. New this year, AALP will also be hosting a golf tournament at the Victoria Park East Golf Club. Grain Farmers of Ontario manager of communications and Class 18 participant, Victoria Berry, is a co-chair of the 2022 Dream Auction. The event raises funds to support AALP Class 19, including participants Jeff Harrison, vice chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario Board of Directors and director for District 12 (Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings), and Mike Buttenham, environment and sustainability lead at Grain Farmers of Ontario. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit aalpdreamauction.com. FARMER WELLNESS WEBINAR SERIES The final installment of the Grain Farmers of Ontario Talk, Ask, Listen Farmer Wellness Webinar Series, featuring the topic ‘Self Care’, will be held on April 7, 2022, at 1 p.m. For more information, to register, or for more wellness resources, visit gfo.ca/ farmerwellness/prevention. MARKET DEVELOPMENT NEWS The Market Development team have been promoting Ontario grains by participating in virtual trade missions. The Cereals Canada’s New Crop Missions, held in a series of four webinars in November 2021, reached buyers from 34 countries. The mission provided buyers with technical information to help them understand the quality differences of each new crop year. In March 2022, Grain Farmers of Ontario participated in Soy Canada virtual seminars with Japan and Asia. Steve Twynstra, director for Region 4 (Middlesex) represented Grain Farmers of Ontario. 17 ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER APRIL/MAY 2022 Win! Enter the monthly online contest for 2022 at www.ontariograinfarmer.ca. In April/May - 6 farmers will win a 1.2L bottle of Shieldex corn herbicide courtesy of Gowan Canada (valued at $478 per bottle). The contest is open to all farmer-members and is online only.
18 THE UNITED NATIONS’ (UN)Sustainable Development Goals have identified clean water and sanitation as one of their 17 goals to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation. Clean water is a top priority in Canada, with many international, national, and provincial agreements in place to protect our water resources. The Great Lakes Basin is home to the largest freshwater supply in the world and not only supplies drinking water, but also provides recreational uses such as cottaging, swimming, boating, and fishing. Water quality impacts can be felt when drinking water is impacted and canceled daily outings to the local beach due to algae blooms. 4R ONTARIO In response to some of these water quality concerns, the Ontario agriculture industry made a voluntary, industry-led commitment with a goal to work towards the long-term improvement of water quality of the Great Lakes and Ontario’s rivers, streams, and lakes. In 2018, a three-year Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) was signed with Fertilizer Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Ontario Agri-Business Association (OABA), Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO), and Grain Farmers of Ontario to implement Fertilizer Canada’s voluntary nutrient stewardship initiative in Ontario, known as 4R Nutrient Stewardship. 4R Ontario Steering Committee was assembled to work towards achieving the goals and deliverables of the agreement. This is made up of a diverse group of stakeholders including the signatories (OMAFRA, Fertilizer Canada, OABA, OFA, CFFO, Grain Farmers of Ontario) and Conservation Ontario; The Nature Conservancy — Ohio; the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change; Plant Nutrition Canada; the Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Board; and Ontario agri-retailers. Through 4R Ontario, Steering Committee members have agreed that 4R Nutrient Stewardship is an effective, science-based, voluntary approach to improving nutrient management and improving water quality 4Rs in Ontario THE PAST, THE PRESENT, THE FUTURE Michael Buttenham outcomes and have committed to the continued implementation of 4R Nutrient Stewardship in Ontario. 4R CERTIFICATION One of the main outcomes has been the development of the 4R Ontario Certification program. This program was launched in 2018 and follows a standard based on the best available science, technology, and regulatory requirements for Ontario conditions. The standard follows 37 auditable criteria that an agri-retailer must follow to become a ‘4R Certified Retailer.’ While farmers aren’t certified as part of the program, they are vital to its success. The ‘4R Certified Retailer’ staff will work directly with farmers to develop a custom crop nutrient plan to fit each farm’s unique climatic, soil, cropping, and operational conditions. The plan includes following best management practices (BMPs) including conducting soil tests at least once every four years and identifying the location of sensitive features (such as a creek or wellhead) before applying nutrients. Since the program’s inception, significant achievements have been made in certifying retailers and gaining support from farmers. Today, 2,451 farmers are participating in the 4R Certification Program with their agriretailer, covering just under one million acres across the province, and 28 full-service agriretail locations have completed full certification in Ontario. THE NEXT MOC Earlier this year, the 4R MOC agreement was renewed with the existing signatories (OMAFRA, Fertilizer Canada, OABA, OFA, CFFO, Grain Farmers of Ontario) to carry the momentum forward over another three years. The core of the renewed agreement remains the same — the 4R Ontario will continue to work towards improving nutrient use efficiency on Ontario’s cropland by maintaining productivity while remaining committed to protecting our environment. Sustainability
While improving the nutrient use efficiency of all crop nutrients falls within 4R Ontario, additional emphasis will be placed on nitrogen (N). Canada has committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is examining a voluntary commitment to reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from nitrogen fertilizer applications by 30 per cent. With these known targets, there is an opportunity for the 4Rs, as a science-based practice for reduced nutrient loss, along withGHGemission reductions to help meet broader goals. This agreement also will be looking to set short-term targets for the 4Rs in Ontario which could include goals for acres, farmers, and agri-retailers participating in the program by 2025. A large focus will be on communication and outreach, both to the farmer and the agri-retailer to further scale the program. The 4Rs are constantly evolving, just like the agreement with our partners — it is about improving and adapting to a changing environment. The 4Rs in Ontario is about using the best information and science to make informed decisions on what you are applying, when you are applying, and how much you are applying to optimize nutrient use efficiency. The 4Rs is as much about minimizing impact to the environment as it is about maximizing profitability and when those two things happen, everyone wins. Michael Buttenham is the environment and sustainability lead at Grain Farmers of Ontario. l ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 19 APRIL/MAY 2022 2,451 farmers are participating in the 4R Certification Program with their agri-retailer, covering just under one million acres across the province, and 28 full-service agri-retail locations have completed full certification in Ontario. Shieldex ® 400SC Herbicide is the latest Group 27 herbicide available for 昀eld, seed, sweet and popcorn growers. Independent research has shown that the active ingredient tolpyralate, as part of a comprehensive herbicide program, provides the most consistent control of important broadleaf and grassy weeds in corn. • Excellent control of Canada Fleabane, Waterhemp, Lamb’s Quarters, Pigweed, Green Foxtail, Barnyard Grass & much more! • A highly compatible re-cropping pro昀le following the year after application. • Good tank-mix compatibility and an excellent 昀t with atrazine Post Emergent Control of G27 Corn Herbicides 2 Weeks after Application Lambs Quarters Shieldex + Atrazine (30 + 1000g ai/ha) Armezon + Atrazine (12+ 500g ai/ha) Callisto + Atrazine (100 + 280g ai/ha) Velvet Leaf Pigweed Common Ragweed Lady’s Thumb Wild Mustard Green Foxtail Barnyard Grass 100 80 60 40 20 % CONTROL University of Guelph Ridgetown College (2015-17) KILLS THE WEEDS THAT MATTER GOWANCANADA.COM Shieldex is a registered trademark of Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha, Ltd. Always read and follow label directions.
20 Early and late season planting RESEARCHING FOR RECOMMENDATIONS Lois Harris EXPERIMENTS WERE CONDUCTED IN RIDGETOWN, BORNHOLM (IN PERTH COUNTY), AND WINCHESTER. PHOTO COURTESY DAVE HOOKER. Research EVERY PLANTING SEASONis slightly different. Sometimes you can get into the fields in early April, and sometimes it is well into June before it is ‘go’ time. The very late planting dates for 2019 made Ontario government crop specialists and University of Guelph researchers take particular notice. Knowing that seed corn and soybean variety maturity is linked with expected planting dates, they thought there may be opportunities to choose seeds that perform better if they are planted really early or really late. “We needed more information to make the best hybrid corn and soybean variety decisions based on the weather that’s presented to us every year,” says Dr. David Hooker, associate professor in the university’s Department of Plant Agriculture. Currently, this kind of data is only available from the U.S. Hooker and his colleagues, as well as Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) crop specialists Horst Bohner and Ben Rosser, are conducting two experiments in three major corn and soybean growing regions — Ridgetown, Bornholm (in Perth County), and Winchester. EASTERN ONTARIO While many research trials are conducted in the Ridgetown and Perth County areas as well as in the Elora area, experiments for this project are also being conducted in Winchester to obtain eastern Ontario data. “Dr. Joshua Nasielski is relatively new to the department of plant agriculture, and he’s doing a fantastic job, along with his research technicians, of bringing more research into eastern and northern Ontario regions to fill the knowledge gaps for those areas,” Hooker says. Nasielski is an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph. In one experiment, the effects of different planting dates on Crop Heat Unit (CHU) maturity ratings and seeding rates on yield will be measured, along with other parameters. There are three planting dates for corn and soybeans: an ultra early planting date, a normal planting date and an ultra late planting date. For each of those planting dates, there are a number of varieties with highly varied maturity dates. Hooker says that the objective for this part of the project is to provide recommendations to farmers about whether they should, for example, in a planting season that can’t begin until mid-June, switch to an earlier maturing hybrid. “The seed companies welcome customer requests to take back seed and replace it with an earlier or later maturing variety,” he says. The researchers are even musing about whether, in some cases, it would be better to plant soybeans before corn. “This project is designed to test that question — how important are soybean planting dates compared to corn?” Hooker asks. INCREASED YIELD, BETTER PROFITS Making the right decision could make a big difference in yield. In an example written