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

Blood test can identify litter-limiting genetic problem in pigs

A lab has been established in Guelph to screen boars with a genetic abnormality that results in smaller litters. The abnormality happens naturally, when cells divide. “Sometimes, the genes just don’t line up the way they should when cells are developing,” says University of Guelph Prof. Allan King, who established the lab. That results in… Read more »

Global youth talk mental health at 4-H summit

Mental health challenges on the farm are not restricted to operators, or even their spouses…they affect their kids, too. And that’s one reason the Global 4-H Network Summit has dedicated a session to mental health and awareness when leaders from 70 countries converge in Ottawa this week. On Friday, July 14, the final day of… Read more »

Farmers taking measures to clean up Ontario water

Producers can, and will, continue asking the age-old rhetorical question about why anyone thinks they are, or would be, insensitive to the environment when (unlike most people) they and their families actually live where they work. And although it’s a valid question, I get a feeling that the way our what’s-in-it-for-me society has evolved, logic… Read more »

ClimateCorp bringing its agronomic data platform to Canada

The wealth of information available to producers though digital ag platforms has created some on-farm data management issues. A survey earlier this year shows most producers are gathering agronomic data electronically, but many are not yet using that data for management purposes. Could that change, as companies try to make it easier to put data… Read more »

Real AgVentures: Cheers to Music City, where the action is

If you’re a hockey fan, you had to be excited and inspired by the support Nashville showed for its Predators through the playoffs, whether you liked the team or not. The buzz downtown was fantastic. I can only imagine those images will draw even more tourists to Music City than the record numbers that have… Read more »

Five reasons you should complete the national food policy survey

Producers need to make their voices heard now, as Ottawa proceeds with public consultations about the first-of-its-kind national food policy. Ottawa says a food policy is a way to address issues related to the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food. It says such a policy “will set a long-term vision for the health, environmental,… Read more »

Wet weather prompts warning about northern corn leaf blight

If above average moisture continues through June, growers should start scouting early for northern corn leaf blight (NCLB). Rob Miller, BASF’s technical development manager for eastern Canada, says NCLB can appear as early as the 8-10 leaf stage in a wet season. Lesions appear on the lower leaves and move upwards, as the infection often… Read more »

Ontario farm leaders head south to keep U.S. ag trade flowing

Starting Wednesday, Ontario ag leaders are headed south of the border to try to mend some of the trade fences that embattled U.S. President Donald Trump has crashed through. Led by Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs minister Jeff Leal, the group – which includes representatives from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the… Read more »

Survey shows gap between precision data collection and use

Precision agriculture counts on not only data collection, but also on data management as well. And while a new survey of 700 farmers across Canada shows most producers are indeed gathering agronomic data electronically, many are not yet using that data for management purposes. The survey, which took place over three weeks in November and… Read more »

Door Opens for Easier On-Farm Business Development in Ontario

With 98 per cent of businesses in Canada employing less than 100 people, it really is true that, cliché or not, small business is the backbone of the country. In Ontario, agriculture and food already employs some 800,000 people. Its presence is clear. But once businesses are up and running, they then have to grow…. Read more »

More Farm and Food Teacher Ambassadors On Deck

Rejoice, people who say we need more agriculture education in the classroom. Here’s some good news. In Ontario, plans are underway to have up to 50 agriculture in the classroom teacher ambassadors – twice as many as now exist — trained and available for assignment by the 2018/19 school year. This initiative is being driven… Read more »

Could Investing in Rural Canada Make for Affordable Cities?

We know that housing prices – regardless of whether you buy or rent — are out of sight, especially in Canada’s major cities, and in particular, Toronto, where housing prices have jumped more than 30 per cent in one year. As part of what’s called the Fair Housing Plan, announced Thursday, April 20, Ontario Premier… Read more »

Africa’s Farmers Need Investment to Feed Africa

Globally, the big question in food production – the one that reverberates in any discussion about the future – is who will feed the increasingly hungry world, and how. Most of the focus is on Africa, and the growing population there. So the question goes: Who will feed Africa? Well, after spending two weeks with… Read more »

Real AgVentures – Swimming Pigs: They’re Bringing Home the Bacon

[GREAT EXUMA, THE BAHAMAS] – Farmers everywhere – including the Bahamas — used to get in and out of pigs relatively quickly. It’s not really like that anymore, as farming has become more sophisticated. But back then, when prices went up, herds grew quickly. When prices went down, herds shrunk about as fast. And so… Read more »

Equine Infertility Answers Could Help Humans

When it comes to mating horses, there’s a lot at stake. Stud fees can soar into the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. And likewise, offspring from a particularly promising pairing can be extremely valuable. These animals could be the start of a new line, and lead to generations of prime performers. But… Read more »