www.OntarioGrainFarmer.ca Publ ished by MID-SEASON AUGUST 2022 Tar spot in Ontario HERE TO STAY
September 20-24 at the Kemptville Campus the ipm is back this fall! The Municipality of North Grenville and the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario are proud to present the 2022 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo! We invite you to join us in this celebration of agriculture and rural living to explore our many antique and educational displays , daily entertainment, and 100s of vendors and exhibitors. Relax and enjoy an amazing outing with friends and family! There is something for everyone at the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo and we cannot wait to see you there! Visit our Website www.plowingmatch.org/IPM2022 for information about the IPM. Our Presenting Sponsors Our Hosting Sponsors
6 ON THE COVER Tar spot in Ontario Treena Hein HERE TO STAY From the CEO’s desk TALKING ABOUT GRAIN 4 Save money on grain drying Matt McIntosh 10 2021 Census of Agriculture Owen Roberts 12 Business side Conversations with business experts 9 GrainTALK newsletter An update on Grain Farmers of Ontario news and events 16 Smarter farming Lois Harris 14 Crop side Agronomic information from crop specialists 26 Dedicated industry champion retires Jeanine Moyer 18 The shows go on Barb Keith 20 Mental wellness Ontario Grain Farmer 22 Urban sprawl Rose Danen 24 Good in Every Grain Updates on our campaign 30 Digging deeper into soil health Melanie Epp 28 AUGUST 2022 volume 13, number 9 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 Photo courtesy of Albert Tenuta.
Canada in adopting environmental practices such as cover crops, rotational grazing, and producing renewable energy. These are just a few of the good-news stories that Grain Farmers of Ontario will be talking about as we get out on the road this summer and fall. As Covid-19 pandemic restrictions ease and public events are in full swing, we’re hitting the road with our public trust outreach initiatives, including the Grain Discovery Zone trailer that attends local agricultural fairs and festivals and the new ‘Grains on the Go’ trailer that will be featured at larger events like the Honda Indy, the Canadian National Exhibition, and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Staff and farmer-member volunteers will be talking to consumers about how we’re proud to produce safe, nutritious, and environmentally sustainable grain and oilseed products that help feed Ontarians, Canadians, and people worldwide. We’re also excited to see our farmer-members face-to-face at events like Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show and the International Plowing Match after two years of cancellations and virtual events. We’ve also been talking to our elected representatives about the important role Ontario’s grain farmers play in national and international food security, the environment, and the economy. In June, we held our first reception in more than two years for federal MPs and senators and their staff, and we were pleased to be joined by our partners, Les Producteurs de grains du Québec, Atlantic Grains Council, and Spirits Canada. Staff and Board members connected in person with federal representatives from all parties to talk about how important the grain industry is in Canada and how the federal government can help farmers meet the domestic and global demand for grains and oilseeds. While we’ve been doing a lot of talking about grains and oilseeds lately, we’re also here to listen! The Grain Farmers of Ontario staff and Board want to hear from you — what are your challenges? Stop and talk to us at farm shows or events, or give us a call to share your ideas. l Talking about grain EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK, grains are a hot topic these days, and it’s not just farmers who are talking about crop production. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, global food insecurity on the rise, inflationary pressure causing increased grocery bills, and climatechange-influenced natural disasters happening around the world, Canada’s role as a grain-producing and exporting nation has come into sharp focus in recent months. Ontario’s grain and oilseed sector is well-positioned to meet these challenges head-on. After the 2021 Canadian Census of Agriculture data was released earlier this year, Ontario was referred to as an “agricultural powerhouse,” with grain and oilseed production leading the nation in many categories, including growing more than half of Canada’s soybean and corn acres. The census reports that Ontario farmers have the highest rate in Crosby Devitt, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario From the CEO’s desk 4
What makes the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System the #1 grown soybean system in Canada*? It’s the only system that combines the high yield potential of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans with built-in tolerance to both glyphosate and dicamba chemistries. Applying the higher rate of Roundup Xtend® 2 with VaporGrip® Technology in your rst pass provides short-term residual activity on small seeded broadleaves** with the added ability to effectively manage resistance concerns. THE SOYBEAN SYSTEM YOU CAN’T RESIST. traits.bayer.ca STAY AHEAD OF WEEDS WITH THE EARLY SEASON CONTROL OF CANADA’S #1 GROWN SOYBEAN SYSTEM. *Based on market research surveys conducted in 2021 with Canadian soybean growers. **Performance may vary from location to location and from year to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the growers’ elds. Bayer is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS).Bayer products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Bayer’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. These products have been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from these products can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to con rm their buying position for these products. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its labeling. NOT ALL formulations of dicamba or glyphosate are approved for in-crop use with products with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans. ONLY USE FORMULATIONS THAT ARE SPECIFICALLY LABELED AND APPROVED FOR SUCH USES. Contact the Pest Management Regulatory Agency with any questions about the approval status of dicamba herbicide products for in-crop use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans or products with XtendFlex® Technology. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate and dicamba. Glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Dicamba will kill crops that are not tolerant to dicamba. Contact your Bayer retailer, refer to the Bayer Technology Use Guide, or call the technical support line at 1-888-283-6847 for recommended Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System weed control programs. Bayer, Bayer Cross, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup WeatherMAX®, Roundup Xtend®, VaporGrip®, XtendFlex® and XtendiMax® are registered trademarks of Bayer Group. Used under license. ©2022 Bayer Group. All rights reserved.
Cover story 6 TWO STRAINS OFtar spot — Mexican and Caribbean — are here to stay in Ontario, and growers need to take active steps to achieve good control of this corn disease this summer and in the years ahead. The good news is that Ontario growers are well-equipped with knowledge and tools for effective management resulting from projects supported by Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, and U.S.-based pathologists. Corn growers in the U.S. were first faced with this pathogen in 2015; by 2018, it had arrived in Canada. By 2021, it was present in almost 20 Ontario counties west of Toronto. Tar spot spores are spread by wind, but they also survive in crop debris and could be spread field-to-field through infected cropping implements. However, Albert Tenuta, OMAFRA field crop pathologist, notes the studies done in the U.S. have shown that whether it has overwintered in the soil is a much bigger factor than residue. “In the Rodney, Ontario field that we studied last year,” he says, “there was almost no residue, but there was tar spot development by the first week of July and over 50 per cent leaf infections by the first week of September.” The spores are hardy and able to survive one or even two winters, but corn-on-corn rotations are slightly more at risk. The biggest factor in disease development within the crop is humidity, particularly in the Great Lakes region. “The longer and earlier in the season that humid conditions start, the greater the potential for disease development,” says Tenuta, “but you have to have had the inoculum load already in your field or early storm fronts which blow the spores onto your farm.” Marty Vermey, Grain Farmers of Ontario senior agronomist, says the worst-case scenario is humid weather and light showers at the end of June and into July. Early disease infection can reduce yield by up to 50 per cent. “If cooler and wet weather comes in later when plants have developed, the impact will be less,” he says, “but spores also build up for next year with the possibility of spreading further east.” The symptoms of tar spot are similar to that of leaf rust, physoderma brown spot, or eyespot. Insect droppings can also look like tar spot. The disease appears as raised, black spots in a scattered pattern on both upper and lower surfaces of leaves. Severe infections will also result in spots on husks and leaf sheaths. Around the spots, brownish lesions with dark borders can also be present. As with any foliar leaf disease, tar spot will cause plant stress, impairing photosynthesis and causing the plant to take reserves from the stalk to develop grain. Stalks become spongy, and lodging can result. ACTION PLAN Growers should download the free Tarspotter app, developed at the University of Wisconsin and updated in February, which provides a forecasted risk of the tar spot fungus in a corn field based on whether real-time weather conditions have been favourable for tar spot development. Tar spot disease development in Ontario and the U.S. can also be tracked in real-time on the corn ipmPIPE map website www.corn.ipmpipe.org. “It also enables users to set thresholds to guide spraying decisions,” says Tenuta. “It’s a big plus with this disease that we have a very active community of extension personnel, scientists, and seed and chemical companies watching the progression of tar spot not only in Ontario but the U.S. and providing tools to watch for and control it.” RESISTANT VARIETIES Tenuta’s findings so far show that about 25 per cent of available varieties are tolerant ‘with variability.’ In 2021, he and Dr. Dave Hooker tested hybrids in several southwestern Ontario research plots, including the Ontario Corn Committee (OCC) trials at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus and Tilbury and Dresden. Tenuta also analyzed 64 commercial hybrids with Grain Farmers of Ontario funding support at his Rodney plot. Some germplasm lines that are potentially tolerant are now being further tested by Tar spot in Ontario HERE TO STAY Treena Hein continued on page 8 • Tar spot was first found in the U.S. in 2015; it has now spread across the U.S. and in 20 counties west of Toronto in Ontario. • The symptoms of tar spot are similar to leaf rust, physoderma brown spot, or eye spot. • The disease appears as raised, black spots in a scattered pattern on both upper and lower surfaces of leaves. • The free Tarspotter app can forecast tar spot fungus risks based on real-time weather conditions. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 7 AUGUST 2022 TAR SPOT ON CORN LEAF. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALBERT TENUTA.
8 OMAFRA and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s corn breeding program led by Dr. Aida Kebede. “Private companies are also testing their lines against tar spot,” says Tenuta, “and some have some preliminary results showing some lines with tolerance, but we need to know if that’s a purely genetic response or geneticenvironmental interaction. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that with tar spot being a new pathogen to the U.S. and Canada, having a choice of hybrids that are verified tolerant is a few years away. And, of course, growers need to select hybrids according to the total trait package they need on their farms. It is important that farmers evaluate an assortment of hybrids on their farm each year and select hybrids based on individual field needs.” FUNGICIDE CONTROL Tenuta reports that the results of the 2021 fungicide trials done for tar spot in Ontario match that of U.S. research and have contributed Ontario findings to the North American pool of data. He and his colleagues have also engaged with two U.S.-based groups, the Tar Spot Working Group and the Corn Disease Working Group. “So, we’re really well ahead in terms of this being a new disease,” he notes. In general, it’s been found that fungicide application should be done at V.T. stage to silking, which is the same window that applies to DON and other fungal diseases. “So, spraying for tar spot fits into a grower’s existing spraying schedule, which is great news,” says Tenuta. “However, scouting is still critical. We may have favourable environmental conditions, so you may need to apply earlier if disease develops rapidly.” It’s also good news that several multimode fungicides tank mix combinations or preformulated that work well for tar spot also works for DON, northern leaf blight continued from page 6 and other fungal pathogens, but only certain active ingredients will control either DON or tar spot. Vermey notes that weather conditions could lead to multiple infections, and you may need a second spray. “We do not want to create resistance with any disease, so using a good disease management plan and multiple modes of action with alternative prevention methods (hybrid selection) is the best plan,” he says, “with recommended rates and application practices.” Vermey also advises spraying on the first sight of disease presence to reduce spread to the rest of the plant. “If disease is found near the bottom of the plant, this indicates the disease spores came from the field and will continue to spread within the canopy,” he says. “If the disease is found on the top of the canopy, this indicates the disease blew in and is developing from the top down.” l TAR SPOT ON CORN LEAF. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALBERT TENUTA.
9 (J.M.) WHAT IS THE DEMAND FOR CUSTOM FARM AND FIELDWORK IN ONTARIO? (C.H.) Custom farmwork is becoming more popular. As equipment prices and labour issues continue, hiring a contractor is quickly becoming a smart business decision, especially for small to mediumsized farms. And it often makes sense for farmers of any size to outsource their manure application. We’re seeing this trend growing across Ontario and North America, as operation costs for smaller-sized farmers are getting harder to pencil out. The most popular contracted services in Ontario are spraying, manure application and hauling, planting, combining and harvesting. It’s worth noting that most of these services increasingly require more expensive and technical equipment, like variable-rate seeding, high-speed planters or tire deflation systems to reduce compaction. For many farmers, it’s not worth the level of investment in this type of equipment or expertise required to operate. HOW DO YOU SET YOUR RATES? Rates are always the first question farmers ask, but there’s so much more to consider when outsourcing your farmwork than just the cost. Professional agri-contractors — those who are full-time operators, not just a neighbour who offers custom work on the side — often factor in the ‘going rate’ for farmwork and their cost of production to determine rates. For many, the ‘going rate’ is low because neighbours or local farmers often underestimate their rates. For those of us contracting full-time, hiring skilled operators, managing overhead, and investing in the latest equipment to serve our customers, our rates may be a little higher. These rates reflect that the agri-contractor is a professional, providing a range of equipment options to meet the needs of the individual farmer and soil conditions, along with skilled and experienced operators. If you’re looking for a starting point, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) offers a custom farmwork rate calculator based on a survey of operators. I encourage customers to use this as a baseline reference because a lot has changed since the survey information was collected, including inflation, equipment prices, parts shortages, and labour challenges. And we can’t forget fuel, especially this year — anyone hiring custom farmwork should expect a fuel surcharge. DOYOUHAVEANYADVICEFORFARMERSCONSIDERING WORKING WITH CUSTOM AGRI-CONTRACTORS? The best way to evaluate a potential agri-contractor is to take a drive and check out the fields they are operating. Take a look at the crops – how are they performing, the weed pressure, are there ruts in the field, etc. The quality of the crop is the greatest testament for a custom operator. When it comes to evaluating whether or not to hire a custom agricontractor or who to choose, here are my top five recommendations. Do your homework. If you think an operator is too expensive, price out what it would cost for you to do the work yourself. Be sure to include purchasing or renting equipment, labour, account for breakdowns, the stress of working around the weather and long hours in the field, etc. For most farmers, taking a hard look at your operation and production numbers makes the decision easier, and it often pencils out in favour of hiring out the work. Quality of equipment and services. Equipment and skills are invaluable. Understand the quality of the services, like a combine with a chopping head vs. one that doesn’t. Or equipment to apply variable-rate vs. bulk spreading fertilizer. Today’s field equipment is expensive and complex; hiring a custom operator may open up new field tillage and planting options or more precise, costsaving fertilizer applications. Proximity to your farm. It’s worth asking how close the contractor is to your farm. Sometimes a local contractor is preferred, and sometimes distance can be a benefit, especially if the weather is favourable for fieldwork in your area. Hours of availability. Some days there are never enough hours to complete all the farmwork – for you or your contractor. Find out what hours and days of the week they operate. And if you have a preference, like no fieldwork on Sundays, be sure to communicate to make it the best experience for everyone. Build a relationship. The best outcome is trust and professionalism from both parties — farm owner and custom operator. Be open, honest, and ask questions to ensure the contractor is a good fit for your farm. Remember, you are both invested in the success of the crop or task. l Jeanine Moyer Cliff Horst, Country Custom Ag and Director, Ontario Professional Agri-Contractors Association, www.opaca.net. Custom agri-contractors BUSINESS SIDE WITH... Business side ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 9 AUGUST 2022
10 GRAIN DRYING ISnot a cheap process, even in the best of times. With record-setting fuel prices, reducing drying bills has become even more essential. Grain drying technology is well established, and the expense of installing new systems is burdensome. While options may be constrained, close analysis of individual systems and operation characteristics can help grain handlers find opportunities with what’s already on-site. SOME TIPS Do the calculation: A critical first step is understanding how much energy is being used, says James Dyck, crop systems engineering specialist with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). That doesn’t mean just looking at fuel bills and bushels dried. Analyzing the number of cubic litres used against grain volumes and other factors like average moisture highlights the true number. Prices change, after all, while energy volumesmay not. Dry just enough: Control systems with more accurate readings go a long way, allowing for the more effective monitoring of moisture sensors to ensure grain is not being heated more than necessary. “You don’t want to find out you dried 1000 bushels of corn to 10 per cent when they only needed to be 15. That’s wasted fuel,” says Dyck. What can your system do? Grain dryer systems are meant to last decades. Assuming the dryer is not up for replacement, operators can contact their dealer or the equipment manufacturer for additional information about their on-site system and any optimization opportunities. Dyck says those in the market for a new dryer might want to consider designs with heat recovery capability — that is, systems capturing air at lower sections within the bin, where grain is drier, and up-cycling it. “Lots of new dryers have that, but lots of manufacturers have retrofit kits available too, especially for the larger dryers,” he says. Maintenance and insulation: Keeping burners clean and free of fines (very small particles) is important for burner efficiency. Finding ways to reduce air cooling between the burner and the grain column is another potential option, particularly for exposed ductwork. Dyck reiterates that even a small amount of heat loss while air is in-transit can amount to significant costs and that insulation material needs to be suitable for the outside environment, as well as machinery vibration. “A small percentage of a million BTUs is significant. You can’t just slap anything on the duct, but it is an opportunity to save a bit.” Moving grain: Dyck says cooling grain in the bin after running the dryer in full heat mode is an option for gaining “a bit” of energy efficiency. “You can pull corn at 17 to 18 per cent instead of 15 per cent, for example. Pulling the grain to another [location] removes the last percentage,” says Dyck. However, he adds handlers usually need a bin which is slightly larger than average. Time is also required since the cooling process can take 10 or 12 hours. “You need to have all your infrastructure sized appropriately.” ALTERNATIVE HEAT SOURCES Petroleum isn’t the only thing that can burn, of course. Biomass-fueled burners are common and employed to great effect in many industries, such as greenhouses. Dyck says finding an energy-dense fuel source for grain drying is possible. Indeed, some suppliers have grain drying options, though Dyck says he has not seen any in person. Save money on grain drying INSULATION, ALTERNATIVE FUELS, BETTER DESIGNS Matt McIntosh Production “The challenge comes with scale. With grain drying, you need a lot of heat very quickly. The biomass system may get quite large… With any of this, it’s a high-intensity thing you do for a couple months,” he says. “Grain dryers are simple machinery. Heat, auger, and a fan, and there are not a lot of places in that design to find savings. Make sure the dryer is sized for what you need. Other than recapturing the wasted heat, that’s probably the best option.” RESEARCH INTO NEW TECHNOLOGY Attempts to lessen energy bills and find reliable sources of heat have prompted Evan Krebs, a Hensall-based grain farmer, custom operator, and mechanical engineering student, to investigate the viability of hybrid propanebiomass systems. With support from Grain Farmers of Ontario, Krebs aims to improve grain drying efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As described in a project proposal submitted to Grain Farmers of Ontario, initial research suggests hybrid propane-biomass fuel systems have considerable potential. “In most cases, propane infrastructure will be available with the existing grain dryer. It offers the ease of propane with the low cost of biomass.” Krebs describes the project as an effort to “look to the future and find alternatives” based on what materials are available to grain handlers in their area. While wood biomass is available in Frontenac, for example, Southwestern Ontario provides an abundance of cornstalks. With the right balance between soil health management and stalk harvesting, cornstalks could be very beneficial for grain dryers unable to access natural gas. Getting propane equipment approved to be used in conjunction with biomass materials is one of the main challenges, Krebs says. He
ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 11 AUGUST 2022 wondering if a tipping point might eventually be reached. “Historically, even with drying, it does seem to be more profitable with higher-yielding varieties. Eventually, drying, in theory, will be so expensive it starts to make sense to grow something you can manage more efficiently,” he says. “Long season growth and low drying costs — you get one, not both.” l Those in the market for a new dryer might want to consider designs with heat recovery capability – that is, systems capturing air at lower sections within the bin, where grain is drier, and up-cycling it. VUA = Variety Use Agreement Genes that fit your farm®is a registered trademark of SeCan. Soft Red Winter Wheat ✔easy to harvest, strong strawed variety ✔consistent high yields across Ontario ✔locally developed by University of Guelph breeding program Genes that fit your farm. ® 866-797-7874 secan.com NEWOAC Constellation NEWWinter Barley Varieties ✔LCS Calypso ✔SU Ruzena TM believes this may result froma lack of insurance precedence for such hybrid systems. “Currently, we’re trying to design the biomass side of it,” he says. “The bale burning technology is a chunk of it…We need to talk to more experts about the propane regulation stuff.” CONTRADICTORY WANTS Krebs reiterates that any system must be operationally efficient and economically suitable — providing lots of heat and air for short periods of the year. The agronomic cost of residue removal will also be critical, particularly considering the high costs of fuel and fertilizer. Even if petroleum prices were in the realm of reasonable, Dyck considers higher-thandesired drying costs will continue to be a reality as growers continue pushing yields and heat units. It’s a reality that has him
12 ONTARIO’S GRAIN AND oilseed sector has grabbed an unprecedented share of the spotlight in the new Census of Agriculture. The census, conducted every five years, shows that Ontario grain and oilseed farms account for a growing share of the total Canadian farmland dedicated to grain and oilseed production. That share was nearly 28 per cent, compared to 26.5 per cent in 2016. Only Saskatchewan ranked higher, at 31.4 per cent. Similarly, Ontario farms classified as grain and oilseed increased by 4.6 per cent, compared to the national estimate of -0.4 per cent. Operating revenues (sales from commodities) in grains and oilseeds realized a whopping 30 per cent increase from 2015 to 2020, rising to $4.8 billion. And while the total number of farms in Ontario fell by 2.5 per cent (as they did nationally, by 1.8 per cent), the number of operations identifying grains and oilseeds as their main income source rose by almost eight per cent. Canada overall saw a 0.7 per cent increase in total farm area for farms classified as grain and oilseed. Ontario realized a 2.5 per cent increase. 2021 Census of Agriculture GRAINS AND OILSEEDS GRAB A SHARE OF THE SPOTLIGHT Owen Roberts "Grains and oilseeds are bucking any downward trend," says Statistics Canada analyst Matthew Shumsky, who specializes in agriculture. "You're seeing grain and oilseed farms in Ontario taking a larger share." Profitability is one reason for the interest in grain and oilseed production. Statistics Canada noted that the expenses-torevenues ratio across farm types showed that farms classified as oilseed and grain farming were the most profitable in 2020, with an expenses-to-revenues ratio of 0.76 (sheep and goat farms had the highest ratio, at 0.97). BIGGER FARMS TREND UPWARD The census showed that bigger farms were trending upwards. In Ontario, the number of grain and oilseed-dominant farms with $2 million or more in sales (based on current dollars) skyrocketed by 90 per cent. Nationally, those farms increased in number by almost 65 per cent. Farms in the top sales classes in Canada also account for the largest share of total farm operating revenues and a larger share of total farm employees. For example, in 2020, farms reporting at least $2 million in sales accounted for 51.5 per cent of total farm operating revenues, 10 per cent more than in 2015. Shumsky says the large-farm growth is noteworthy. "Farms are becoming larger business entities as agriculture becomes more sophisticated," he says. "The sector is adapting and modernizing, with higher rates of technology adoption, renewable energy production, use of direct marketing solutions, and sustainable farming practices… in view of the issues and challenges all farm operators have faced, such as the pandemic, trade disputes and rising land prices, the grain and oilseed sector's performance in Ontario speaks to its resiliency." Industry News ↑11% (2016) 65%of farms engage in sustainable practices ↑8%GRAIN AND OILSEED FARMS IN ONTARIO ↑125% 1 in 8farms report renewable energy production
Canada's smallest farms are also finding a niche and enjoying a growth spurt. Across Canada, farms under 10 acres grew by a little more than 400 farms to 13,607. Farms in the next smallest category, 10 - 70 acres, held their own at about 32,000 farms. And farms 70 - 130 acres saw the biggest increase, with nearly 1,000 more units added. That may reflect consumers' interest in niche products, greenhouse produce, on-farm and direct sales, farmers' markets purchases, or local food sales by select retailers. AN AGING PROFESSION Statistics Canada pointed to numerous other findings when the census results were released in May. For example, farm operators are continuing to age. The average age of farmers increased by one year to 56, and the proportion of farm operators aged 55 and older grew by six per cent, rising to almost 61 percent. Compare that growth to Canada's share of young operators, which fell to 8.6 per cent from 9.1 per cent in 2016. The number of farm operators reporting off-farm work has grown too, to involve 125,280 farm operators, up 3.8 per cent from the previous census. That's 47.7 per cent of farm operators in Canada. Of these farm operators, the proportion who worked off-farm on a full-time basis declined slightly to 66 per cent…but the number of those working part-time off the farm increased two per cent to 34 per cent. TOP CROPS As for crops, canola remained the top crop acreage in Canada among all types of hay and field crops in the 2021 census — despite a ban from China that restricted total canola exports from Canada in 2018 and 2019. In 2021, Canadian farms reported 22.3 million acres of canola, an 8.1 per cent increase in canola acreage from the previous census. Farms also reported a 2.1 per cent increase in spring wheat acreage, the second-largest crop in Canada in 2021, with 16 million acres. It was followed by barley, alfalfa, and durum wheat. Nearly one in eight Canadian farms in Canada — close to 12 per cent of the total — reported some form of renewable energy production in 2021. That was more than double the previous census. Statistics Canada says technology has a growing role in Canadian farming. Automated guidance steering systems use is up 28 per cent from the previous census, as is geographic information system mapping (up nearly 59 per cent). And more producers were engaged in environmental sustainability activities, citing in-field winter grazing or feeding, rotational grazing, plowing down green crops, planting winter cover crops, and having shelterbelts or windbreaks. In 2020, almost 65 per cent of farms reported such practices, an 11 per cent jump. Producers also reported shifting their focus to more drought-tolerant crops, such as barley, which saw a 24.3 per cent increase in acreage. That was the biggest percentage increase among Canada's top 10 contributors of hay and field crops. The number of farms that produced organic products increased significantly from the last census, up nearly 32 per cent, involving 5,658 farms. These farms made up three per cent of total farms in 2021, compared with 2.2 per cent five years ago. "Sustainable practices are becoming a hallmark of Canadian agriculture," says the department. l ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 13 AUGUST 2022 While the total number of farms in Ontario fell by 2.5 per cent, the number of operations identifying grain and oilseeds as their main income source rose by almost eight per cent. From barns to silos, 11,000+ farm operators like you have one thing in common. They are understood, valued and insured by The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group. Find a qualified broker in Commonwell Country today: CommonwellCountry.ca/farm NOTHING SMELLS AS SWEET.
14 PROFITABILITY MAPPING MAY be the way to go for grain growers who want to realize higher profits while reducing costs, according to a recently completed demonstration project. “I would definitely recommend this technology, especially with the cost of everything — it’s so expensive,” says Tyler McBlain. “We want to spend our money wisely, find out if we are losing it and, if so, how we can fix it.” McBlain, his parents, and his wife farm 2,000 acres and do custom work on another 2,000 acres in Brant County north of Hamilton. They grow corn, soybeans, wheat and oats. HOW IT WORKS Profitability maps are generated from yield maps and cost of production data — including seed, fertilizer and other inputs. They show the geospatial distribution of profitability in individual fields, for example, the difference between a hill and a valley or a headland and the interior. “It looks a lot like a yield map but shows what parts of the field are making money and which aren’t,” says Aaron Breimer, vice president of Data Insights with Deveron, an agricultural technology company that uses data and analysis to increase yields, reduce costs and improve outcomes. Breimer presented the results of a two-year demonstration project administered by the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) during a webinar late last summer. Sue Brocklebank, GRCA conservation specialist, headed up the project, which began in the fall of 2020 and included 10 farmers recruited in early 2021 to develop profitability maps on about 100 acres of crops each. Most of the crops were corn, soybeans, and wheat with some oats. The project was led by a steering committee comprising farmers, industry representatives, and the conservation authority, and was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. It was also supported by the Brant and Waterloo Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Associations. “We’re always looking for ways in which farmers and the environment can benefit,” Brockelbank says. “This was something we saw that could maximize nutrient use efficiency — reducing runoff — and help farmers be more profitable.” Data security for the project was tight, with only Brocklebank, Breimer, and the landowner having access to the records. For the first year, because they were deep into the busy planting season, they used provincial averages for input costs to generate the profitability maps. “It was a good starting point but being able to use actual costs from the 2021 harvest was even more worthwhile because it was accurate to each operation,” Brocklebank says. MUST HAVE GOOD, CLEAN DATA Good data is essential to creating useful profitability maps, so having accurate records in terms of yield maps and costs of production is critical. Breimer says that some of the project participants used variable rate applicators, and this data was also included in the profitability maps. “As with anything, if you put garbage in, you get garbage out,” says McBlain. “You have to take the time to get it right and prepare the data properly.” Getting it right, however, can be a gamechanger. Breimer cited an example from a Smarter farming PROFITABILITY MAPPING PROVIDES VALUABLE INSIGHT Lois Harris conference he attended in the U.S. in which the presenters showed data from 2017 that indicated 52 per cent of all the land in their database was not profitable, which meant that 48 per cent of it was making up for the difference. Breimer cautions that a big challenge to developing the maps is ensuring consistency in how records are named and recorded. “You need to name the same fields the same way every time,” he says, adding that growers also use different names for the same input products. For example, 28 per cent urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) can be 28 UAN, 28-0-0, 28% or just 28. He suggests hiring someone to set up the naming convention and perhaps getting someone to clean up and organize their data if they’re not comfortable with that job or don’t have the time. For the project, Brocklebank pitched in to clean up some of the data. “GIS (Geographic Information System) software is necessary to create the maps, so right now, farmers need to engage an agricultural services provider,” says Brocklebank, adding that, in the future, the technology may evolve to be more widely available commercially. Surveys were conducted with the participants before and after the project, and overall, the consensus was that profitability maps are valuable. Two-thirds of the participants were interested in trying the technology again in different fields. Coming out of the project, some farmers did more intensive soil sampling to discover what exactly was going on, and some made changes to their variable rate prescriptions or changed the zones that they had created for the Production
profitability maps. Others changed up their cover crop strategies. One said he was going to start using cover crops as a result of the project. YIELD ISN’T EVERYTHING Brocklebank says that nowadays, the attitude is more about farming smarter, not just getting higher yields. “You can get more profitable by getting the most out of your inputs versus putting a lot of nutrients on the field to obtain better yields,” she says, noting that with the high price of land, farmers are looking at getting more profit out of what they already have, rather than expanding. McBlain agrees and says he will continue using profitability maps. He says he enjoys analyzing data and information, especially when it helps his bottom line. He actually had seven years’ worth of historical data to use for the project. “It was a good exercise — now I know what’s not profitable, and I’m working on why it isn’t and finding out if it’s something we can fix,” he says. At the beginning of June, he was trying out a more precise way of managing his soil with Soil Optix, an agricultural technology company that maps, samples and analyses soil. Going forward, Brocklebank hopes to be able to build on this pilot project and find ways to continue to support producers who want to try the technology. l ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 15 AUGUST 2022 Profitability maps show the geospatial distribution of profitability in individual fields, for example, the difference between a hill and a valley or a headland and the interior. brandt.ca 1-866-427-2638 The new Brandt DXT dual-auger grain cart delivers the capacity and speed to meet the demands of your fast-paced harvest season. HARVEST HAULER. LEAD THE FIELD. More Efficient The high-slope tank and high-capacity auger deliver unload speeds of 1,000 bushels per minute. MoreVersatile Choose from five model sizes, 22" or 24" auger, and right or left side unload to fit your operation. More Reliable High-quality components and low maintenance requirements ensure maximum uptime.
16 An update on Grain Farmers of Ontario news and events ASA CORTEVA YOUNG LEADER PROGRAM – APPLICANTS WANTED Grain Farmers of Ontario seeks a soybean farming couple or individual to represent Ontario in the 2023 Class of the American Soybean Association Corteva Young Leader Program. The Young Leaders program enhances participants’ skills through leadership, communications, and issuesbased training and builds a strong peer network, generating increased success in their businesses and communities. Phase one of the program will be held at the Corteva Global Business Center in Johnson, Iowa, from November 29 to December 2, 2022. Phase two takes place in conjunction with the Commodity Classic on March 7 - 11, 2023, in Orlando, Florida. Young Leaders are not necessarily young in age but are new in their leadership development. The ideal candidate is looking to become more involved in Grain Farmers of Ontario. For more information on the program, read about 2022 Class participant Kevin Vander Spek at www.ontariograinfarmer.ca. Applications can be submitted to the American Soybean Association directly at https://soygrowers.com/ or by contacting Rachel Telford, manager, Member Relations for Grain Farmers of Ontario, at firstname.lastname@example.org. WOMEN’S GRAIN SYMPOSIUM Save the date! Grain Farmers of Ontario will be holding an in-person Women’s Grain Symposium November 28 – 29 in Guelph. The two-day event will be an opportunity for female farmer-members to make connections with each other and participate in professional development. All female farmer-members are invited to attend. Please check www.gfo.ca for more details as they become available. OMAFRA WELCOMES NEW STAFF Grain Farmers of Ontario welcomes Colin Elgie, who has joined the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs field crops team as a field crop soil fertility specialist. He will work out of the Ridgetown office. Elgie has a B.Sc. (Agr.) from the University of Guelph and more than 10 years of experience working as an agronomist with Sylvite Agri- Services. He has demonstrated industry leadership by training industry agronomists on 4R nutrient management, soil fertility, and soil test translation. He has been a Certified Crop Advisor since 2012, achieved his 4R nutrient management specialty in 2016, and volunteers with local agriculture associations like the Soil and Crop Improvement Association and Alternative Land Use Services. FIELD OBSERVATIONS The Grain Farmers of Ontario agronomy team, Marty Vermey and Laura Ferrier, publish a weekly field observations report on the Ontario Grain Farmer website and in the weekly CropTalk e-newsletter. Find out more on www.ontariograinfarmer.ca. SIGN UP TODAY FOR GRAINTALK E-NEWS Get the latest farm news and important Grain Farmers of Ontario updates delivered to your inbox each week! GrainTALK is Grain Farmers of Ontario’s weekly e-newsletter that highlights the organization’s latest activities, breakthroughs in research and timely production information. Sign up today and get your weekly dose of Grain Farmers of Ontario in a concise email. Go online to www.gfo.ca and click on the button to subscribe. • FROM THE CHAIR A Q&A with Brendan Byrne, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. Is Grain Farmers of Ontario shifting any priorities now that the provincial election is over? Our priorities are very consistent. We absolutely need our provincial government’s support as we continue to push for the removal of tariffs on fertilizer. Canada is the only country with these tariffs, and removal is critical as it places us at a global disadvantage against all those countries with access to product that costs up to 40 per cent less. The provincial government has been a strong partner and advocate for us on the Carbon Tax exemption we need from the federal government. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has invested in the Risk Management Programs — we are asking them to continue those investments and build on them to ensure the risks we take as grain farmers have more adequate support in times of crisis. We also continue to push the government to invest in new opportunities for domestic processing that will provide new ways of using Ontario grain and to invest in agricultural research that will benefit farming innovation and make Ontario a leader in that innovation. • Do you have a question for our chair? Email GrainTALK@gfo.ca.
NEW LICENSE FEES The Grain Farmers of Ontario Board of Directors has approved the budget and check-off fees. Here are the check-off fees for all grain settlements occurring on July 1, 2022 or after. Fees are calculated on a per tonne basis. For more information, visit www.gfo.ca/marketing/dealers/. Fees as of July 1, 2022 Barley** $1.29/mt Corn * $0.41/mt Oats ** $1.41/mt Mixed oats and barley** $1.41/mt Soybeans* $1.42/mt Wheat* $0.85/mt *Includes GFP Premium **GFP is not applicable to this commodity MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION CHANGES Farmer-members and industry associates who have changes to their mailing address or wish to cancel their subscription to the Ontario Grain Farmer magazine can contact Phaedra McIntosh, Grain Farmers of Ontario fee collection and reporting specialist, at email@example.com or 519-767-4130. MARKET COMMENTARY by Philip Shaw On June 10, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintained the U.S. corn crop at 14.6 billion bushels based on 89.5 million acres and a U.S. national yield of 177 bushels per acre. Soybeans remained at 4.640 billion bushels based on a record acreage of 91 million acres planted with a U.S. national yield of 51.55 bushels per acre. On June 30, the USDA released their latest estimates, which has the potential to change these numbers significantly. Hot and dry weather in U.S. Midwest fields might do the same going into July. In Ontario, cash prices have dropped based on the decrease in corn, soybean, and wheat futures prices. In fact, Ontario wheat prices have dropped $4 since May. The Canadian dollar is a savings grace, as of June 26 at 77.6 U.S. DECLARATION OF ELIGIBILITY OF GRAIN AT DELIVERY Grain farmers in Ontario will be required to fill out the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) “Declaration of eligibility of grain at delivery” at CGC licensed terminal elevators and may be asked to complete the form at country elevators that are not licensed by the CGC but make sales to licensed terminal elevators. The declaration is required to fulfill Canada-U.S.- Mexico Agreement obligations to ensure that grain being delivered to CGC licensed elevators is a variety registered in Canada. The declaration form applies to crops that are subject to variety registration; and for which merit criteria applies as part of variety registration. Farmers are not required to declare the variety delivered, only that grain is produced from a registered variety. For more information, visit the CGC website. 2022 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING The Grain Farmers of Ontario Annual General Meeting will be returning to an in-person format on September 13, 2022, at the Craigowan Golf Club, 595838 Hwy 59 N, Woodstock, from 8 a.m. – noon. Buffet breakfast and lunch will be served. The meeting will also be live-streamed. The meeting is held in conjunction with Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, held at the Discovery Farm, Woodstock, September 13-15. More information and registration details will be posted on www.gfo.ca. 17 ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER AUGUST 2022 DECLARATION REQUIREMENTS Declaration required Declaration not required barley, beans, buckwheat, canola, fababeans, flaxseed, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peas, rapeseed, rye, triticale, wheat (including durum) canary seed, chickpeas, corn, safflower, soybeans (food grade), soybeans (oilseed), sunflower Win! Enter the monthly online contest for 2022 at www.OntarioGrainFarmer.ca. In August — enter to win 4 tickets to the 2022 event courtesy of International Plowing Match 2022 (prize valued at $100). Five prizes to be won throughout the month of August. The contest is open to all farmer-members and is online only.
18 WHEN IT COMESto witnessing advancements in Ontario field crops, David Morris has had a front-row seat. But he wasn't a bystander. Morris is one of the longestserving secretaries on the Ontario cereals and corn committees — two organizations dedicated to the performance testing of hybrids and varieties to help growers make the best seed decisions for their farms. With a tenure that spans more than 25 years, Morris recently retired from the Ontario Cereals Crop Committee (OCCC) and Ontario Corn Committee (OCC) in November 2021. Often working in a supporting role, Morris' dedication to extension and disseminating valuable information to help provincial growers grow their best crops are his legacy. "I have great memories of touring the province to inspect OCC trials with Dave," says Greg Stewart, agronomy lead with Maizex and longtime OCC member. "Dave's unique advantage was that he had a full understanding of the past and an eye to the future." Over the years, the roles of the cereal and corn committees have evolved, but the purpose remains the same — to support the provincial field crop sector by coordinating performance testing and disseminating research results to Ontario growers. The OCCC is also responsible for recommending cereal variety registration, a service the OCC provided until 1996, when corn hybrid licensing was discontinued. EARLY DAYS Morris says he was always interested in research and extension. After graduating with a master's in crop science from the University of Guelph, he started his career in extension as an assistant ag rep in Brant County with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) in 1975. After gaining experience, Morris moved to the OMAF Soils Dedicated industry champion retires DAVID MORRIS — A LEGACY IN FIELD CROP EXTENSION Jeanine Moyer MEMBERS OF THE ONTARIO CEREALS COMMITTEE INSPECT PLOTS ON A TOUR IN 2014. PHOTO COURTESY OF ONTARIO CEREALS COMMITTEE. and Crops Branch with territories across southwestern Ontario. "I met plenty of interesting people and learned a lot about a variety of field crops," he says. "My job was to update growers with the latest information and help them solve crop production problems." One of his responsibilities was representing OMAF on research committees, and in 1979 Morris joined the OCC. At the time, the committee was still involved in registering corn hybrids, testing and evaluating performance trials. Morris joined the Publications Committee that produced the results for growers to reference when making seed selections, and the Deletions Committee that oversaw removing hybrids from the recommended list. Over time, Morris moved through the committee, becoming chair in the mid-1980s and secretary in 1989. He took a short break from the committee when he changed careers in the early 1990s, resuming his role as secretary in 1997. "I saw a lot of changes in the corn industry during that time," says Morris. "Like the removal of the registration requirements for corn that allowed Ontario growers to access the latest genetics faster. It was a good thing, but it also changed how the committee worked and our contributions to the industry." In 2009, Morris was approached by the Ontario Forage Crops Committee to be their secretary and, again in 2012, he was asked to serve as secretary to the OCCC. "There was a time when I was working with three crop organizations, all serving an important purpose to conduct research and share the results with producers," says Morris. "David always worked behind the scenes, coaching committee chairs, keeping meetings running and providing the necessary institutional knowledge of the OCC," says Marty Vermey, Grain Farmers of Ontario senior agronomist. "He will be missed." Industry News