Category: Water

Why water quality should be monitored throughout summer

Water quality can affect animal welfare and the financial bottom line long before visual symptoms start to appear. “It never bothered them before” is an often-heard refrain when the welfare of animals is impaired by poor water quality. “We just can’t determine the quality of water by just looking at it,” explains Leah Clark of… Read more »

Ontario ag retailers make 4R stewardship a priority

Ontario ag retailers need to provide leadership in helping farmers adopt 4R nutrient stewardship and a new audit program can do just that, says AGRIS Co-operative agronomist Dale Cowan. In 2015, OMAFRA, the Ontario Agri Business Association, Fertilizer Canada, and ag retailer stakeholders signed a memorandum of understanding stating that 4R nutrient stewardship – right source,… Read more »

Mole drainage leaves subsurface tunnels without the pipe

Mole drainage is a concept for reducing waterlogging in heavy clay soils by creating underground tunnels for water, similar to tile drainage, but without the cost of pipe. The subsurface drains are created using a single-shank plow with a cylindrical “torpedo” attached at the bottom, leaving a channel for water to flow along, generally at… Read more »

Water is the ultimate public good. So why doesn’t the public pay for its protection?

I wrote a column last week that caused quite a stir, as was the intention. My tongue-in-cheek title did what it was intended to do: it sparked conversation and some lively debate, but it also got some tempers flaring over the increased regulatory burden farmers not just endure, but must also pay for. Read Top… Read more »

Connections key to building soil organic matter

There’s consensus that healthy soils with higher organic matter deliver a range of benefits from supplying nutrients, to building soil structure, to increasing water-holding capacity, and reducing erosion. But are enough farmers taking the required steps to increase soil health and organic matter? United States Department of Agriculture research agronomist Shannon Osbourne believes a stronger working… Read more »

Manitoba PCs introduce new watershed legislation

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government introduced new legislation on Thursday aimed at protecting wetlands, while simplifying minor drainage maintenance. The Sustainable Watersheds Act also lays the foundation for an ecological goods and services program that would see farmers receive incentives for implementing best management practices that are in the public good, such as grassland and wetland… 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 »

Should ‘vertical’ factory farms get a free pass?

In a recent Fast Company magazine article there was a feature on the benefits of using technology to produce food. The article praised the efficiency gains made by implementing the latest in what technology could provide. The farm in the article is located in San Francisco. That’s right, it’s a vertical farm. The company’s name… Read more »

Ontario CCAs Taking Lead on 4R Nutrient Management

Almost half of North American Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) holding a new 4R Nutrient Management designation reside in Ontario. That puts Ontario’s crop advisors at the forefront of efforts to help farmers and agriculture improve water quality, environmental stewardship and sustainability, says Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Association executive director Susan Fitzgerald. Earlier this week, the… Read more »

Strange Bedfellows team up for consumer support

If you need any more evidence that times are changing in farming, look no further than a new partnership between the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and an activist group called Environmental Defence. You likely know the former. The OFA describes itself as Canada’s largest voluntary farm organization, representing more than 36,000 farm families across… Read more »

OSCIA Announces Controlled Tile Drainage Project

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) has announced a new partnership through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriRisk Initiatives (ARI) program. The project, entitled ‘Controlled Tile Drainage – Calculate Your Benefits’, will partner OSCIA with scientists at the University of Ottawa to research the crop yield benefits of controlled tile drainage. Controlled tile drainage… Read more »

Canadian Roundtable on Sustainable Crops Announces New Vision & Working Group

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crop’s (CRSC) has created an agro-ecosystem working group. The group has created a “vision for sustainability” for Canadian agriculture over the next 10 years. With a commitment to using science as the guiding principal for development of 12 key outcomes for 2026, the seven member organizations of the working group include:… Read more »

Understanding Rainfall and the Fate of Soil Nutrients

To understand what happens with nutrients in the soil and how to manage zones within a field, you have to pay attention to how the soil handles water. If that wasn’t obvious enough, it becomes clear when you visit Mitch Timmerman and his ‘rainfall simulator’ trailer. “Water can influence the fate of nutrients, the development of… Read more »

Ontario Ag Minister’s Marching Orders are Heavy on the Environment

Ontario’s focus on the environmental side of farming has just been underlined and intensified, even more. With the midpoint mandate of her provincial government having been reached, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne put pen to paper last week to help guide both new and established ministers on the next part of their journey. Her mission was… Read more »

Heavy Rains, Nutrient Losses and the Case for “Variable Source” Nitrogen

Excess water after heavy rains in parts of Western Canada is not only impairing plant growth through oxygen deficiency, but it’s also causing significant nitrogen losses. As John Heard, soil fertility specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, explains in this video, N losses depend on soil type, with rain causing leaching in sandier soils and more denitrification… Read more »