www.OntarioGrainFarmer.ca Published by ENVIRONMENT APRIL/MAY 2023 Biodiversity and agriculture INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FINDS A BALANCE
Scan to learn more In agriculture, we know the value of checking in. Checking the fields. Checking the markets. Checking the weather. But what about checking in on yourself? Make sure your well-being is a priority and talk to somebody if you or someone you know needs help. Where can you start? FCC has a mental health check-in online. Learn more at fcc.ca/Wellness Take time. Take stock. Take care.
APRIL/MAY 2023 volume 14, number 6 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 6 ON THE COVER Biodiversity and agriculture Pierre Petelle INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FINDS A BALANCE From the CEO’s desk GLOBAL WINS 4 Wacky weather Lois Harris 10 Sustainable Canadian Soy program Jeanine Moyer 12 Business side Conversations with business experts 9 GrainTALK newsletter An update on Grain Farmers of Ontario news and events 16 Made-in-Huron fertilizer Matt McIntosh 14 Crop side Agronomic information from crop specialists 25 Sustainable Agriculture Strategy Rebecca Hannam 18 4R and grain corn Treena Hein 20 Single-use plastic recovery Barb Keith 22 Resilient woodlots Mary Feldskov 24 Does organic production need tillage? Mary Feldskov 26 Good in Every Grain Updates on our campaign 30 Patchwork broadband Rose Danen 28 BIODEGRADABLE POLY
Food and Rural Affairs Minister Lisa Thompson and colleagues from the animal agriculture and horticulture sectors to meet with dozens of current and potential trade partners to promote Ontario’s grain and oilseed sector. Paul Hoekstra, vice president of strategic development and Scott Persall, vice chair of the Board, took part in a Soy Canada trade mission which met with more than 200 importers, processors, and customers. We learned on this program that many of our international partners are building their brands based on the value of Canadian ingredients — the maple leaf featured prominently on items on grocery store shelves and in restaurants we visited. Growing Canadian brands, like the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program, are helping showcase the quality and sustainability of Canadian grown food. While Canadian grain and oilseeds have a solid international reputation, trading partners want to be assured that they are buying the best — and that includes sustainability. Working with groups like Soy Canada, we are investing in developing programs that can quantify the hard work that Canada’s farmers put into growing high-quality and sustainable grains and oilseeds. You can read more about Soy Canada’s new Sustainable Canadian Soy program on page 12. This program will help us meet the international demand for sustainably grown soybeans. Here at home, we continue to see investment in processing capacity for Ontario-grown grains and oilseeds. With recent announcements of investments from biofuels producer Greenfield Global and pasta maker Andriani S.P.A., the market continues to show growing demand for the commodities that our farmermembers produce. At this year’s March Classic, we had the opportunity to celebrate these market development successes and more. This annual event is a highlight of the year for me, and it was great to share with farmer-members the measurable successes and wins that Grain Farmers of Ontario has had over the past year. l IT IS SPRING, which means farmer-members across the province will be gearing up for one of the busiest seasons of the year — planting. After a long winter of researching, learning, and planning, it is time to put that plan into action and get the crops in the ground. When the planting season begins, we never know for sure how things will shake out at harvest time. Will we have good weather? What insect or disease pressure will we see this year? How will the yields be? We cannot know the answers to those questions, but one thing we do know is that at the end of the season, there will be demand for the barley, corn, oats, soybeans, and wheat produced here in Ontario. Canadian farmers have always had a reputation for supplying high-quality and sustainable grains and oilseeds — and this reputation has built a solid domestic and international market for commodities destined for food, fuel, and feed. During two recent trade missions in February to Asia, we learned firsthand from trade partners in Japan, Vietnam, and Malaysia that Ontario agricultural commodities are highly sought after. I had the opportunity, along with Grain Farmers of Ontario chair Brendan Byrne, to accompany Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, From the CEO’s desk Crosby Devitt, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario Global wins 4
2023 March Classic March 21, 2023 Grain Farmers of Ontario Cultivating New Tomorrows Thank you to our sponsors Supporter Platinum Gold Silver ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 5 APRIL/MAY 2023
Cover story 6 WHILE GLOBAL NEGOTIATIONSand agreements on climate and the environment can seem far removed from our daily lives in Canada, they can significantly impact Canadian policymaking. This is why when the world descended on Montreal in December of 2022 for COP15 (the United Nations Biodiversity Conference) to negotiate a set of goals to guide global action through 2030, we were paying close attention. With more than 190 countries involved in the negotiations and a wide range of stakeholders from industries including mining, oil, fashion, and agriculture on site for the weeks-long negotiations, you can imagine that consensus was not an easy thing to come by. While not the sole focus of the event, agriculture was a significant part of the discussions, with several of the negotiated 23 targets touching agriculture. And while there were representatives from both the domestic and international agriculture communities onsite, a number of groups were also present to protest modern agricultural technologies. These groups made some splashy headlines, but at the end of the day, science-based decision-making largely prevailed. This certainly did not happen by accident and resulted from a great deal of sustained effort from the agriculture industry to bring forward and advocate for reasonable, science-based decision-making that gives individual countries the flexibility to work towards joint goals with a domestic context in mind. The draft language used as a starting point for negotiation on several targets was very problematic for the agriculture sector and could have spelled disaster if adopted. In many cases, this was language that favoured ideology over science, and it was clear that Europe’s approach to agricultural policy was at the forefront. BALANCED RESULTS Fortunately, the final result of the conference and the agreed-upon targets were relatively balanced. This is good news for countries like Canada that are highly dependent on agriculture. And ultimately, it is good for biodiversity as we can collectively focus on taking science-based measures to protect biodiversity while at the same time continuing to sustainably grow enough food to feed the world and support global food security. Of the 23 targets being negotiated, Target 7, which is focused on pollution reduction, was among the most concerning for the agriculture sector. The draft text included language around the reduction in pesticide use by up to two-thirds. After extensive engagement from governments around the world, including the Canadian government, and industry stakeholders, the final language in Target 7 focuses on reducing the risk of pesticide pollution rather than the use. It refers to the role of integrated pest management, science as a basis, and the importance of taking into account food security and livelihoods. Arbitrary pesticide use reduction targets, as we have seen in Europe, would have been devastating for Canada. Canada is a world leader in pesticide regulation with a risk-based system that provides the utmost protection for human health and the environment while at the same time providing growers with timely access to innovative technologies that allow them to be more productive and more sustainable. Under Biodiversity and agriculture INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FINDS A BALANCE Pierre Petelle continued on page 8 • Delegates from more than 190 countries gathered in Montreal in December, 2022 for COP15, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference. • CropLife and other agriculture industry stakeholders participated in the conference. • While not the main focus of the conference, agriculture issues touched many of the 23 negotiated targets. • Agreed-upon targets were balanced and science-based, which is good news for Canada's agriculture industry. • Target 7, which focuses on pesticides, focuses on reducing the risk of pesticide pollution rather than their use. • Canada is a world leader in the adoption of best management practices for the stewardship of crop protection products. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW PIERRE PETELLE.
ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 7 APRIL/MAY 2023 NEGOTIATIONS AT COP15 FOCUSED ON REDUCING THE RISK OF POLLUTION FROM PESTICIDES, RATHER THAN RESTRICTING THEIR USE. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE HOOKER.
8 the Canadian system, only pesticides that have gone through a rigorous review and do not pose an unacceptable risk make it to market. RISK REDUCTION What we can and should collectively focus on is pesticide risk reduction. This is supported by science-based regulatory systems like we have in Canada and extensive training programs and best management practices to ensure the proper use and stewardship of pesticides. A pesticide applied to a field to control a pest and protect a crop would not be considered pollution. Instead, the focus is on ensuring that there is not any unintended off-site movement and that pesticides do not end up in places they should not. Canada is a world leader in the adoption of best management practices for the stewardship of crop protection products with a focus on continuous improvement. And there’s an opportunity for Canada to help with knowledge transfer to other parts of the world so that we can collectively work towards some of these global targets. Improved crop genetics also stand to play a critical role in reducing the risk of pesticide use. As more crop varieties come to market with resistance to various pests, it will give growers even more options to control pests. Gene editing stands to lead to the development of a wide variety of improved crops in the years and decades ahead. COP15 has concluded with an agreement on high-level global targets. Next comes the negotiations on what frameworks will be used to measure success against these targets. And as always, the devil is in the details, which is why CropLife Canada will continue to monitor and engage in these discussions. Pierre Petelle is the president and CEO of CropLife Canada. l Conference of the Parties (COP) 15 and 27 have been in the news recently. What’s the difference? The 15th COP to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held in Montreal in December 2022. First signed by 150 leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summitt, the CBD’s main objectives are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. The CBD focuses on sustainable development to address food security, access to medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment. The CBD has now been ratified by 195 parties. COP27 is short for the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was held in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022. In2015, COP21, held in Paris, resulted in the signing of the Paris Agreement, where 194 Parties signed on to address climate-related goals. COP28 will be held in November 2023 in the United Arab Emirates. While the two conventions have run independently from each other, there is growing recognition that the issues are interconnected. “These are two intertwined crises that need to be addressed together,” says Elizabeth Mrema, executive secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. continued from page 6 COP15 AND COP27
9 (J.M.) WHAT DOES THE CANADIAN AGRICULTURAL LABOUR MARKET LOOK LIKE TODAY? (K.D.) Canadian farmers continue to report that labour shortages are chronic and pervasive across the country. Canada consistently depends on international workers to fill on-farm labour positions. This lack of local workers was highly impacted by COVID-related travel restrictions and remains an issue. Finding and retaining employees is a challenge across the industry. Agricultural companies surveyed in the 2022 - 2023 Agriculture & Food H.R. Review (H.R. Review) said competing for talent was the top H.R. challenge. It noted that finding applicants with the required skills was the top reason for their recruiting difficulties. HOW HAS FARM LABOUR RECRUITMENT CHANGED? Word of mouth, classified advertising, and farm ads on AgCareers.com have been effective in the past, but as technology changes and employees are harder to find, employers need to adjust their recruitment strategy. Recruiting farm labour has also gone digital and global in recent years. The H.R. Review also revealed that Canadian agricultural employers report that besides employee referrals, online job boards are the most effective means of reaching applicants. Social media can also be utilized to help promote postings. When it comes to required skill sets, agricultural employers surveyed as part of the H.R. Review noted that finding applicants with the required skills was the top reason for recruiting challenges. They also reported applicants' lack of experience makes it harder to find employees, and hourly staff positions are the most difficult to fill. WHAT ARE EMPLOYEES LOOKING FOR IN A FARM EMPLOYER? Today's job market is leaning in favour of the candidate, causing employers of all sizes to re-evaluate their compensation and benefits packages. Candidates also have higher expectations, especially when it comes to flexibility and remote work. Employees and candidates surveyed as part of the H.R. Review said flexibility was the most important employer perk provided. Across the board, more employers are using flexible work arrangements, and more employees expect them. The most common flexible work arrangement in Canadian agriculture reported in the H.R. Review was flexibility in schedule. Flexibility can be hard to transition to some farm jobs, but not all. The tight labour market has also resulted in various compensation issues that companies must tackle. The H.R. Review reported agricultural employers are most concerned about rising wage rates and their ability to quickly adapt to changing market rates. Another study, The AgCareers.com Employee and Candidate Benefits Survey, found that higher compensation was the most likely motivator for employees to leave their current job for a new opportunity. Since compensation is such a priority for job seekers, my advice to farm employers is to ensure your pay scale is on target with local competition. The AgCareers.com Compensation Benchmark Review offers salary benchmarking information. ANY TIPS OR STRATEGIES TO HELP ONTARIO FARMERS FIND AND RETAIN EMPLOYEES? Start by thinking of the candidate or potential employee as a customer. Create a job posting that is an advertisement rather than a list of requirements and duties, and ensure that the job posting aligns with the actual job description. Answer questions like, why is the job significant? And what is the value of the position on the farm? Pay transparency is increasingly important to job seekers, so list a specific salary in the job posting or at least a pay range. In a job seeker market, the candidate's experience is also imperative. Clear communication throughout the hiring process is the most influential candidate experience, so make it positive. Start with acknowledging the application, make the interview a great experience and set expectations for response time and the post-interview process. To compete against other employers and retain workers, Canadian agricultural employers are using a positive work culture and providing safe and healthy work environments for employees. Employers surveyed as part of the H.R. Review reported their top retention strategy was regular pay increases, with some offering retention bonuses. Other effective retention strategies included keeping employees productive and challenged and using bonuses to motivate staff. Are you looking for help finding success in hiring and retaining employees? AgCareers.com offers helpful and educational content on current trends, challenges, opportunities and employment in the agricultural industry, including an Employer Resource Library that offers a collection of easy-to-navigate information. l Jeanine Moyer Kathryn Doan, Director AgCareers.com Farm employees BUSINESS SIDE WITH... Business side ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 9 APRIL/MAY 2023
10 DISTRUPTIVE WEATHER PATTERNSlike too much rain causing flooding, too little rain causing drought, windstorms, snow storms, hail, tornadoes and more can be explained by the jet stream, according to Andrew Pritchard. “When we talk about weather risks, whether it’s short-term, long-term, chronic or acute, it all comes back to the jet stream — a river of air that’s flowing 35,000 feet above our heads,” said the senior meteorologist for Nutrien Ag Solutions. Pritchard, who is based in Champagne, Illinois, was a keynote speaker on Crop Day at the Grey-Bruce Farmers Week in January 2023. He said that the North American growing season is determined by the position of the jet stream’s summer block. The omega-shaped block has a high-pressure ridge sitting basically inthe middle of the continent with lowpressure areas on either coast. This is the kind of block that set up in the summer of 2022, causing, among other things, spring flooding in the Midwest. From June to mid-July, there was a ‘Ring of Fire,’ or an area above the high-pressure ridge that was across the U.S. Midwest, the top of which was parallel to the Canada-U.S. border. It provided much-needed rain in western Canada, unlike the summer of 2021, when the ridge was farther south, making the area extremely hot and dry. By the fall, the ridge had moved to the west, and an area of low pressure developed over the Great Lakes, causing cooler, drier air in the east and unusually high temperatures in the west. In fact, it was so dry in the Midwest that there were shipping problems in the U.S. with record low levels along the Mississippi River. FORECAST FOR 2023 Going into 2023, Pritchard said that many organizations and hundreds of individuals across the globe are trying to figure out what the weather will be coming into the spring and summer. Wacky weather LA NINA, LA NINO, AND THE JET STREAM “Nobody knows exactly where it’s going, and if somebody tells you they do know three to four months out, they’re lying to you,” he said. Conditions in early January included torrential rains along the west coast of California, which had been experiencing severe droughts in previous years. In the east, with the exception of a blizzard around Christmas, it had been mild with “light doses of snowfall” caused by a disorganized flow of jet stream winds. Pritchard emphasized the influence of the Pacific Ocean and the effects of La Nina, which causes cooler surface temperatures along the equator and warmer temperatures in the north. El Nino is the opposite, with warmer sea surface temperatures along the equator and cooler temperatures elsewhere. “What’s really driving things are the trade winds,” he said, adding that strong trade winds bring the cooler water up to the surface at the equator, causing La Nina, and weaker trade winds cause the water to heat up, causing El Nino. Going forward, La Nina is expected to weaken, and El Nino may be in play coming into winter 2023. When La Nina is in full force, as in 2021, big storms track across the eastern part of the continent. With El Nino, the jet stream consolidates and dips lower into the United States, causing it to be quieter in Canada, with fewer winter storms. The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a phenomenon in which the vertical motions of surface winds that intersect cause thunderstorm activity along the equator. The energy from that activity is transported into the jet stream, which changes its behaviour and affects the weather in North America. Historical data on MJO and whether La Nina or El Nino is in play from similar situations can be used for forecasting purposes. Lois Harris Industry News
“Typically, when La Nina is retreating, there’s an overcorrection with El Nino,” he said. In the coming months, he said that the risk of prolonged excessive heat and droughts should “begin to peel back” as La Nina retreats. CLIMATE CHANGE In answering a question from the conference floor, Pritchard explained that in North America, the effect of climate change on weather has included more frequent, heavy rainfalls and muggier, damper summer days — especially in the central-east. More corn and soybeans are being grown across the Midwest because of the longer growing seasons, with earlier last frosts and later first frosts. “It’s inappropriate to take one weather event and say, ‘climate change caused that,’” he said. “What climate change does is put the ingredients for these significant ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 11 APRIL/MAY 2023 When we talk about weather risks, whether it is short-term, long-term, chronic or acute, it all comes back to the jet stream — a river of air that is flowing 35,000 feet above our heads. When recycling ag containers, every one counts Great job recycling empty pesticide and fertilizer containers (jugs, drums and totes). Every one you recycle counts toward a more sustainable environment in your agricultural community. Thank you. Ask your ag retailer for an ag collection bag, fill it with rinsed, empty jugs and return to a collection site. REMEMBER! You can also return empty seed, pesticide and inoculant bags for environmentally safe management. Details at cleanfarms.ca Find a collection location near you at cleanfarms.ca email@example.com @cleanfarms weather events into place, so they happen more frequently.” He cited the fact that Illinois, where he is from, experienced tornadoes on January 3, which is very unusual. He also said that the jet stream becomes more variable as climate change heats up the oceans. “It’s not a linear increase with more intense and more crazy weather,” he said, noting that some years are very active with many storms, and others are quieter. l
12 PROVIDING HIGH-VALUE soybeans for premium markets has put Canada on the map for quality soybeans. Ontario’s soy industry has been a leader in building Canada’s reputation for Identity Preserved (IP) and food-grade soybeans, consistently meeting and exceeding customer needs. But the market continues to evolve, and the industry is preparing for the next step to keep pace with the competition and maintain market access through a new Sustainable Canadian Soy program. Launched in March 2023, the Sustainable Canadian Soy program results from extensive industry consultations to meet customer needs for verified sustainable soybeans. “We have heard our customers and are excited to launch a program that keeps pace with their demands for verified sustainable soy,” says Soy Canada executive director Brian Innes. “It’s an opportunity for our entire industry to maintain access to discerning markets and for our growers to see how they score against international sustainability criteria.” WHY NOW? “A documented sustainability program is the cost of admission to sell to our current international soybean markets,” explains Matt Renkema, grain business manager with Sevita International. “Our competitors are already providing this, and without our own program, our customers are left to make assumptions. For some customers, we need to be able to show how we’re following sustainable production practices.” Customers buying food-grade, IP soybeans for the Japanese and European Union markets are currently driving the need for a verified supply of sustainably produced soybeans. At this time, the new program is aimed at growers, grain handlers, and exporters of food-grade and IP soybeans. The need to verify production practices is not a new concept. Led by Soy Canada, extensive industry consultations to develop the program began in earnest in 2021 with board discussions, member meetings, and one-on-one conversations. The entire Canadian soybean value chain was consulted throughout the process, including grower associations like Grain Farmers of Ontario and other grain associations like Pulse Canada. In addition, focused consultations with 25 different organizations, including member and nonmember grain handlers and processors, were conducted. WHAT DOES SUSTAINABILITY MEAN? The Sustainable Canadian Soy program is a market-driven whole-farm program that will enable the Canadian soybean industry to compete with international competitors, like the U.S. and South America. The program is the industry’s collective response to meet customer needs while generating economic opportunities along the soy value chain and encouraging increased adoption of sustainable farming practices in Canada. “Most farmers are already implementing sustainable practices like cover cropping, minimum tillage, and nutrient management, so why not document these activities to support market opportunities?” asks Scott Persall, Grain Farmers of Ontario director for District 5 (Elgin, Norfolk), who sits on the Soy Canada Board and is member of the sustainability program development working group. “More market opportunities mean more value for our soybeans and more stability when market conditions change.” A variety of sustainability program options were evaluated throughout the program development and consultation process before Soy Canada working group members, along Sustainable Canadian Soy program DRIVING VALUE FOR ONTARIO FARMERS Jeanine Moyer with the organization’s board of directors, decided to implement a verified sustainable Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) system in mid-2022. Persall explains that the group reviewed options, including the Canadian Roundtable on Sustainable Crops Code of Practice, International Sustainability and Carbon Certification program used for EU biofuels, and even considered creating their own Canadian soy program. The final decision to offer the globally recognized FSA aligns with Sustainable Canadian Soy priorities and recognizes Canadian federal and provincial legislation. The foundations of the new Sustainable Canadian Soy program include land use efficiency, climate-smart farming, soil health, water stewardship, biodiversity, and habitat. Innes notes that while there is a need to develop a sustainability program to meet soy market needs today, every step of the program development process considered that Canadian farmers and exporters handle multiple crops. “We’ve been guided by implementing a program that meets our customer needs but also reflects that our farmers grow soybeans as part of a sustainable rotation. It’s important that we work together as an industry to implement a system that is as streamlined and involves collaboration wherever possible,” says Innes. HOW IT WORKS The Sustainable Canadian Soy program is voluntary for any grower, grain handler, and exporter interested in meeting this market need. Founded in 2002, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) developed the FSA as a harmonized and flexible sustainable sourcing model for buyers to Market Development
understand the sustainability performance of their supply chains based on farm-level data. FSA powers the new Canadian program, providing a whole farm sustainability assessment incorporating economic and financial viability, social responsibility and environmental protection. For Canadian soy customers, the FSA will provide access to a third-party verified sustainable supply backed by a globally recognized system. “It’s a system that will demonstrate how Sustainable Canadian Soy is comparable or better than other origins,” explains Persall. “This assurance process also enables users of Canadian soybeans to make sustainability claims with confidence, including food packaging.” FSA also has benchmarks for many international programs, including the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP). The U.S. program is equivalent to FSA silver, a benchmarking level Soy Canada anticipates Canadian growers will achieve through the new program. Starting with the 2023 soybean crop, Ontario IP and food-grade soybean growers interested in participating in the program can sign up with their exporter or grain handler. Program participation requires completing a questionnaire that looks at all aspects of the sustainability of a farm operation. A small number of growers will also be required to participate in an assessment by a third party each year, a process managed by their exporter or grain handler. “The Sustainable Canadian Soy program will drive value for the soybean industry,” predicts Innes. “This program is designed to minimize the additional documentation workload while maintaining access to markets that recognize the quality of Canadian soybeans, open new opportunities, and ultimately, get the most that we can for our soybeans.” To learn more about the Sustainable Canadian Soy program, visit soycanada.ca/ sustainability. l ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 13 APRIL/MAY 2023 The foundations of the new Sustainable Canadian Soy program include land use efficiency, climate-smart farming, soil health, water stewardship, biodiversity and habitat. Basic wheat anatomy 1st leaf crown seed main stem 3rd leaf first tiller second tiller 4th leaf 5th leaf nodal roots coleoptile tiller 2nd leaf seminal roots During the vegetative stages, the auricles are often a good way to distinguish between different cereal crops. leaf sheath leaf blade auricles [ This illustration shows the basic anatomy of a Growth Stage (GS) 22 plant (1 main stem and 2 tillers); the intention of the drawing is to illustrate and annotate an ideal plant. Plants in the field are rarely ideal and are often missing leaves, tillers, etc. Auricles blunt and hairy; leaf sheath and blade always hairy; ligule medium length; leaf blades twist clockwise. WHEAT Atiller is capable of forming a single head (spike). The headis made up of spikelets. Each spikelet contains individual florets. Individual florets can produce a single kernel. Are tillers important? Tillers are absolutely necessary for high yields. 1can produce 4-5 planted seed tillers are also called auxillary or side shoots; not all tillers will complete development and produce grain. Tillering tillers KEY YIELD COMPONENT The total number of tillers that are produced in the fall is dependent on the number of GDD accumulated since planting. In Ontario, the recommended seeding date for optimal tiller development is dependent on your location. Scan the QR code below or see the Contributors and Acknowledgments section to access a map of recommended seeding dates. Flowering GS61 FLOWERING Beginning of flowering awn Anthers dangle outside the florets during flowering. This stage begins shortly after the head has completely emerged from the leaf sheath. Cereal crops are most susceptible to Fusarium head blight (FHB) during the flowering period. If using a protective T3 fungicide, starting now, and continuing 5 - 7 days after this stage, is the optimum time for application. anther The male flower part that produces and releases pollen. pollen The powder-like grains that enable fertilization. T3 fungicide timing x4.25 2022-12-22 2:47 PM Page 46 A Visual Guide to Winter wheat staging with contributions from: Cereal Staging Guide_7.5x4.25 2022-12-22 2:45 PM Pag with contributions from: Learn about: • Wheat anatomy • Important stages throughout the season • Scouting tips • Key yield components High definition photographs In-depth descriptions Download your FREE copy of “A Visual Guide to Winter wheat staging”, created specifically for Ontario farmers, by scanning the QR code: https://gfo.ca/agronomy/crop-management/ A Visual Guide to Winter wheat staging
14 ONTARIO MAY BE one step closer to decreasing reliance on imported fertilizer. Bruce County-based Carlsun Energy Solutions is in the early stages of establishing a new hydrogen plant on the site of the former Bluewater Juvenile Detention Centre near Clinton. With a letter of intent signed by the company and the Municipality of Central Huron, the yet-to-be-constructed facility will start by producinghydrogen for fertilizer. A TIMELY DISCUSSION Jim Ginn, a Central Huron farmer and mayor for the region, says the municipality bought the Bluewater site from the province in 2021, with the cost of demolishing derelict buildings removed from the purchase price. Talks with Carlsun Energy to utilize the site for hydrogen production were ongoing well before Russia's invasion of Ukraine brought fertilizer supplies — and costs — back into the spotlight. "We were in discussions and had things pretty well hammered out before the tariffs were applied to nitrogen fertilizer. That just made the deal better. I think we will and should get a lot of support from the farm community on this," says Ginn. "The whole project will go inside the fenced area that is the former detention centre. We're not using up any agricultural land for this development." SCALING UP PRODUCTION The Bluewater plant is just one of several hydrogen projects Carlsun Energy is trying to develop in Ontario, says Paul McCleave, the company's process engineer and project manager. He and his colleagues aim for 40 megawatts of energy production capacity in the initial development phase, and a 200megawatt capacity is the goal for the project's subsequent second phase. Made-in-Huron fertilizer CARLSUN ENERGY TO CONSTRUCT HYDROGEN PLANT Matt McIntosh Hydrogen is manufactured via electrolysis — using electricity to split water molecules into its base elements, hydrogen and oxygen. Roughly speaking, one tonne of hydrogen can produce approximately 5.5 tonnes of ammonia. Because hydrogen can also be used as energy, though, production volumes are usually discussed in wattage. "Once it's in ammonia form, it can be used as a fertilizer, but ammonia is also the building block for all nitrogen fertilizers, so another aspect of the engineering studies will be what other forms should be produced if any. For example, we have received a lot of feedback from farmers that ammonium nitrate would be preferable to ammonia for local use as only a small number still use ammonia directly." McCleave adds how large the facility will get and how fast it can be operational depends on many factors. This includes environmental and traffic assessments and air and water quality impact studies. "There is still a lot of variability in how much the project may produce. It will need to be determined both through the engineering studies to be undertaken but also based on feedback from the Ontario Government, the grid operator (IESO), and the transmission operator, Hydro One," he says. "The intent is to operate the plant off-peak so as not to add to the electricity demand during peak hours. This provides benefits to the grid overall and helps to reduce electricity prices for all ratepayers." "The other consideration is that both the hydrogen and the ammonia are clean fuels, so while one of the intents is to manufacture clean fertilizer(s), we also intend to produce clean fuels at the facility, and the exact mix of how much is fuel and how much is fertilizer will also need to be determined based on engineering and economic studies." Talks with Hydro One about the plant's potential energy requirements are ongoing, Industry News
and McCleave anticipates there should be enough electricity to effectively produce the initial goal of 40 megawatts of hydrogen. He is also encouraged by wider developments in hydrogen energy, although government and public awareness about hydrogen — and how it can support decarbonization — is still lacking in Canada. "Hydrogen and all the benefits it offers is not very well understood. Governments are coming around and realizing the opportunity, but one challenge is there's not a lot of talk about it. And things are happening quickly, especially in other parts of the world, especially in Europe, because of the war and other challenges. A lot of things here seem to have caught people off-guard," says McCleave. "Some groups will try to argue against it saying [the energy solution] should be batteries or another alternative fuel. But wedon't question that we have both gasoline and diesel — we can use both batteries and hydrogen. It's a new fuel for most people. Hydrogen is used regularly in the production of gas and diesel and has been produced through electrolysis for over a century, but people are not well associated with it." As discussions and planning continues, McCleave adds his company plans to support the project by connecting with the agriculture community and the wider public at events and through presentations. l ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 15 APRIL/MAY 2023 Hydrogen is manufactured via electrolysis – using electricity to split water molecules into its base elements, hydrogen and oxygen. Roughly speaking, one tonne of hydrogen can produce approximately 5.5 tonnes of ammonia. A POWERFUL NEW ADDITION TO OUR REVYSOL® FUNGICIDE. THE REVYLUTION JUST GOT STRONGER. Visit agsolutions.ca/VeltymaDLX to learn more. Always read and follow label directions. AgSolutions, REVYSOL and VELTYMA are registered trademarks of BASF; all used under license by BASF Canada Inc. REVYSOL and/or VELTYMA DLX fungicides should be used in a preventative disease control program. © 2023 BASF Canada Inc.
16 An update on Grain Farmers of Ontario news and events 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 for a third term. Jeff Harrison, director for District 12(Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings), and Josh Boersen, director for District 9 (Perth), will serve as vice-chairs. Scott Persall, director for District 5 (Elgin, Norfolk), will hold the position of executive member. A complete listing of the 2023 Board of Directors and district delegates can be found at www.gfo.ca/about/districts. UPDATE: LAMBDACYHALOTHRIN Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Agri Business Association, Ontario Bean Growers, and Ontario Canola Growers Association continue to monitor Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and its reviewed use of lambda-cyhalothrin. This active ingredient, commonly sold under the tradenames Matador, Silencer and others, is a broad-spectrum insecticide used by dry edible bean, grain, and oilseed producers to protect crops against insect pests. As a result of the review by the PMRA, the use of this pesticide on crops destined for livestock feed is not permitted. It is also recommended that Ontario dry edible bean, grain, and oilseed producers not use any product containing lambda-cyhalothrin in the 2023 season. For more information on alternative products, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) entomologist Tracey Baute has prepared a summary that can be found on OMAFRA’s Field Crop News website, www.fieldcropnews.com. NEW FACILITIES BRING OPPORTUNITY FOR ONTARIO’S GRAIN FARMERS In February, Italian gluten-free pasta maker Andriani S.P.A. announced plans to develop a 50,000 sq foot production facility in London, Ontario. In the future, this facility may have the potential to utilize nontraditional pasta grain ingredients, such as corn and oats. This announcement follows a series of engagements with Andriani S.P.A. highlighting Ontario’s value chain and providing insight into the availability and quality of Ontario-sourced grains, delivered by Grain Farmers of Ontario’s Market Development team in collaboration with value chain stakeholders, including the Ontario Agri Business Association and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Additionally, Ontario biofuels producer Greenfield Global Inc. announced progress on a $2 million agricultural waste-to-clean fuel project funded by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada under the Agricultural Clean Technology Program, Research and Innovation stream. Their press release acknowledged the support of Grain Farmers of Ontario, who helped bring this project to fruition through engagement and advocacy during the funding application process. The project has the potential to create new, regionalized value-added processing opportunities for Ontario agricultural residues like corn stover to be transformed into low-carbon renewable diesel fuel, which could be used on-farm and elsewhere in the transportation sector. FARM SHOWS Staff, directors, and farmer-member volunteers have taken part in a number of winter and spring farm shows, including the Chatham-Kent Farm Show, the London Farm Show, the East Central Farm Show in Lindsay, and the Ottawa Valley Farm Show. Join us in Northern Ontario at the Earlton Farm Show April 14-15. FROM THE CHAIR A Q&A with Brendan Byrne, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. You recently represented Grain Farmers of Ontario during a trade mission to the AsiaPacific region. What did you learn from that experience? Crosby (Devitt, CEO) and I were invited by the Ontario Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to accompany them on trade missions to Japan and Vietnam. It is vitally important that Grain Farmers of Ontario be part of trade missions like this. Areas and markets around the world are looking for grains that we can provide. The trade missions allowed us to showcase our willingness to help and be part of their success. I also came to quickly realize how good it was to be back in person and how much deeper relationship-building can be with other nations when it is face-to-face. One of the really positive aspects was hearing how well respected our farmers and farms are in other areas, and that high quality was synonymous with Ontario grain. I also found that working with other groups can help amplify our voice, and theirs, to these markets and customers. For example, being there when the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program was signing an MOU with the Vietnam Chef Association helped me give voice to the Ontario corn part of the story, which was incredibly important to the discussion. • Do you have a question for our chair? Email GrainTALK@gfo.ca.
INDOOR RECESS KITS When rain or extreme cold disrupts recess, Ontario’s teachers have to figure out how to keep their students entertained and engaged during indoor recess. Good in Every Grain has come to the rescue by delivering fun and engaging Indoor Recess Kits to 130 schools across the province in February. Filled with crafts, games, puzzles, activity kits, play dough, crayons, and more, these kits will provide endless hours of enjoyment for more than 2800 elementary-aged students — and help them learn about grains, oilseeds, and the farmers who grow them. This is the second year that Good in Every Grain has run the Indoor Recess Kit program, with positive reviews from teachers and students alike. MARKET COMMENTARY by Philip Shaw In the last week of February, nearby corn futures lost about 50 cents per bushel, and nearby soybean futures lost 55 cents. It is always hard to know exactly why, but harvest pressure and Safrinha corn planting progress in Brazil is weighing on the market. Futures started a rebound in the first week of March. Before that in the February United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, U.S. domestic corn yield was dropped 200 million bushels down to 13.730 billion bushels, the lowest in 3 years. U.S. corn yield was revised to 173.3 bushel/acre. U.S. soybean production was revised to 4.276 billion bushels based on lower harvested acreage and a lower yield of 49.5 bushel per acre. As of March 3, the Canadian dollar sat at 0.7348 U.S., which is adding stimulus to Ontario cash grain prices and mitigating futures price drops. NEW WINTER WHEAT RESOURCE Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have produced a visual guide to winter wheat staging that is now available for download in PDF on the Grain Farmers of Ontario website. The guide will help farmer members understand the growth stages of winter wheat while sharing scouting tips and information about key yield components to make informed and profitable management decisions. GRAINS ON THE GO The Grains on the Go trailer has been making its way to schools across Ontario. Doug Wagter, Grain Farmers of Ontario’s grains educator, has been test-piloting educational programs for Ontario students in grades 2 - 6. For more information on Grain Farmers of Ontario’s education and outreach program or to find out how to get the Grains on the Go trailer to visit your local school(s), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. GRAINS IN ACTION After a 3-year hiatus, the Grain Farmers of Ontario Grains in Action program returned in February. During the three-day tour across southern Ontario, 30 young farmers got an opportunity to learn more about the grain and oilseed industry as they toured facilities such as Pride Seeds, Cargill in Sarnia, Harrow Research facility, Hiram Walker distillery, the Arva Flour Mill, and Wallenstein Feed. The program also featured presentations by some of our government partners and Grain Farmers of Ontario staff. FIELD OBSERVATIONS FROM GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO AGRONOMY TEAM With the spring planting season underway, be sure to check out the weekly field observations report from Marty Vermey, senior agronomist, and Laura Ferrier, agronomist. The agronomy team brings you weekly updates about field conditions across the province, tips and advice relevant to the season’s conditions, and updates from agronomy partners. The field updates can be found at www.ontariograinfarmer.ca or in the weekly GrainTalk e-newsletter delivered to your inbox on Thursdays. To subscribe to the GrainTalk e-newsletter, visit www.gfo.ca/GrainTalk. 17 Discover other ways to join the GrainTALK conversation: E-News, Webinars, Podcasts, Radio, Research Days, and events. Visit www.gfo.ca/ GrainTALK. ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER APRIL/MAY 2023
18 SUSTAINABILITY IS THE focus of a new strategy being developed by the federal government to set a shared direction on priority environment and climate issues in Canadian agriculture. The Sustainable Agriculture Strategy (SAS), previously referred to as the Green Agricultural Plan, began as a discussion document released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) last December. The consultation process included an online survey and virtual town hall engagement sessions. "The SAS comes at a critical time for Canadian producers," explains Mary Robinson, former president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). "Farmers are being asked to balance immediate financial pressures with long-term sustainability goals. This approach, which considers all facets of sustainability — environmental, economic, and social — is needed to ensure we can find pragmatic business solutions that support continued competitiveness and reduce the sector's environmental footprint." STRATEGY OVERVIEW The government indicates that the strategy will serve as a guide to support farmers' livelihoods while growing a sustainable sector. It will aim to contribute to the goals and targets of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The SAS will focus on five priority issues — soil health, adaptation and resilience, water, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity. The discussion document acknowledges the environmental leadership that farmers have shown over the last two decades, including improving soil health and doubling production while greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have risen only slightly. But it notes that there is room for improvement, particularly in terms of reducing GHG emissions, improving resilience to climate change impacts, supporting biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, and reducing risks to surface and groundwater quality. According to AAFC, the benefits of developing the SAS include strengthening collaboration Sustainable Agriculture Strategy INDUSTRY GROUPS CONSULT ON A FEDERAL STRATEGY Rebecca Hannam on environment and climate action, proactively managing climate change impacts, supporting the long-term vitality of agriculture, leveraging economic opportunities, supporting Canada's position as a trusted global food provider, contributing to national and international climate targets, and helping to identify research and innovation opportunities. YOUR VOICES HEARD Dana Dickerson, Grain Farmers of Ontario's manager of market development, recently completed the online consultation survey on behalf of the organization. "Our response was informed by our understanding of sustainability and market requirements, and we made sure to highlight the good work that farmers are already doing in terms of sustainable production," she says. "We want to ensure that the Ontario regional perspective and the perspective of our specific crops are properly represented." In addition to the public consultation that ended on March 31, a Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee has been formed to facilitate collaboration, transparency and information sharing. The group is co-chaired by AAFC and CFA and involves 21 national organizations, including Grain Farmers of Ontario's value chain partners, Cereals Canada, and Soy Canada. Brian Innes, executive director of Soy Canada, has participated in bi-weekly committee meetings since last December and says they will continue to meet with AAFC and Environment Canada officials throughout 2023 as the input provided by broad consultation is synthesized and the analysis of what will be included in the strategy advances. "With many national agriculture groups at the table, our perspective is sharing what is useful for our customers and ultimately Sustainability