Author: Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts directs research communications and teaches at the University of Guelph, and is president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. You can find him on Twitter as

Have your say about food waste from the farm

Food waste has become the poster child for inefficiency in agri-food. But how much are farmers contributing to the problem…or to the solution? That’s what a study led by Second Harvest and Value Chain Management International (VCMI) is trying to find out, in what they say is the world’s first comprehensive look at food loss… Read more »

Profitability quest driving adoption of field data management software

More Canadian farmers believe that the need for improved profitability will prompt them to use field data management software in the future — and nearly one-quarter of non-users and current users say they are likely to adopt new software in the next three years. These are among the findings from Stratus Ag Research, in its… Read more »

Ear tag sensor-based feed program field tested on Canadian dairy

Production efficiency is said to be one of the biggest limiting factors in dairy production. So to that end, for the past six months, animal nutrition and health company Alltech has been researching and developing a new production efficiency program called Smart Dairy. It combines nutrigenomics (the study of how nutrition affects gene expression) and… Read more »

Benchmark study shows health challenges for dairy cull cows at auction

The first benchmark study of the condition of culled dairy cows in Canada shows many animals in less than optimal condition are transported to auction in Ontario, and sold at discounted prices. The study, by a University of Guelph research team, involved 4,460 cows at three Ontario auctions. Over 16 weeks last May through August,… Read more »

Rural investment efforts get a huge global ally

With the Ontario election campaign in full swing, the drive to arm rural-friendly politicians with substance for strategic policies and talking points has received a huge global boost. The international Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has issued a report called Rural 3.0. – A Framework for Rural Development, saying rural regions will play… Read more »

Staking a claim for ag in the social media jungle

Marketing and farming go hand in hand, says UK communications specialist Simon Haley. In a swing through Ontario that starts later this week, he’ll be urging farmers to use their intrinsic marketing skills to get back in touch with consumers. “Farming is where marketing started,” says Haley. But over the years – as nations became… Read more »

Urban Ontario gives its rural cousin a mixed review

Rural Ontario has long been seething at provincial Liberals for a list of problems it lays at their feet. Now, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has added a new villain to the list of those it says should show more love for rural Ontario: that is, urbanites. Prior to the provincial budget being announced,… Read more »

Needed: Free-flowing ag sector employment pipeline

A massive turnover in the agricultural workforce caused by retiring baby boomers means the employment pipeline needs to be flowing more freely than ever. That’s the word from Scott MacDonald, insecticide marketing manager and horticulture lead for BASF. He says universities will be the key source for providing agriculture with new talent. “They’ll make a… Read more »

Young leaders grow where they’re planted

Calls abound for programs and leadership to help strengthen rural Canada, to make sure the voices of this country’s farmers are heard outside the farm gate, and to help urban people understand farmers’ crucial, daily role in feeding the world. The question is, who’s responsible for developing leaders? Maybe one answer to the leadership question… Read more »

Nominations wrapping up for $100,000 ag and food prizes

Nominations are closing this week for two unique global food innovation awards — and there’s every reason to believe Canadian agriculture could produce a winner. The awards are the first Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards, from the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph. The institute was created from a $20-million donation from the… Read more »

Researchers put veal calf health under the microscope

It’s true that most male calves won’t be members of a herd for long. Nonetheless, being in good health is vital for their success on the veal or dairy beef farm where they’re headed. And maintaining good health is becoming more of a challenge in the rapidly changing livestock industry. Consumer demands for more natural… Read more »

Microbiome: A growing term that could improve agriculture

Right before the New Year, RealAgriculture asked a few contributors to predict what the agriculture community should keep an eye on in 2018. The field is crowded. So I picked issues I’d written about: a veterinary shortage, as well as mental health issues. Both were percolating through 2017 or before. Hopefully, this is the year… Read more »

No kidding: small ruminants are coming on big

Ontario’s veterinary community is responding to the rise in goat and sheep production with new education and research initiatives. Jeff Wichtel, dean of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), says since September, his school’s curriculum has expanded teaching to include more information on small ruminants, and is conducting several new research projects to build up health… Read more »

Producers warned about veterinarian shortage

If you have a sick animal, there’s no such thing as a “timely” veterinarian shortage. But the current situation, which is seeing fewer veterinary service hours available and much more demand expected, is particularly worrisome. It’s raising caution flags in the veterinary sector, and has a leading veterinary educator searching for solutions. Here’s the situation…. Read more »

First rural municipalities ready to roll with Farm 911

Municipalities are stepping forward to help Ontario’s Farm 911 emergency signage project for agricultural land get off the ground. The initiative, named “The Emily Project” after seven-year-old Emily Trudeau who died in a farm accident in 2014, is designed to promote the idea that emergency addresses and signage are important for vacant rural land, including… Read more »