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Protecting endangered birds with certified bird-friendly hay

Many of Ontario’s species at risk – such as grassland birds – make their homes in farmers’ fields.

In honour of Earth Day this week, here’s a glimpse at a program that lets rural landowners do their part to protect those species.

Attempts to protect habitats for grassland birds can be a hard sell to farmers, especially if it involves taking existing fields out of production.

Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), however, is hoping for a more positive response to a project that it has just launched to expand habitat areas for endangered grassland bird species like the Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark.

That’s because it involves bringing former farmland back into agricultural production by linking non-farming landowners with local farmers who are interested in growing hay for horse or other livestock owners who want later-cut hay. Continue reading Protecting endangered birds with certified bird-friendly hay

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New water storage eliminates daily ground water use

This is the third article in a series this week where we’re profiling Ontario farmers and some of their on-farm environmental improvements – in honour of Earth Day, of course.

Botanix Oxford Instashade - garden centreThe hot, dry summer of 2012 was the tipping point for Oxford County farmer Jan Veldhuizen, who was using up to 6,000 gallons (22,700 litres) of water a day to keep his tree nursery and garden centre going.

Veldhuizen was pulling water directly from the ground through the small well on his property, and he knew he needed to better manage his water supply in a way that was good for both his business and the environment. Continue reading New water storage eliminates daily ground water use

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Constructed wetland purifies vineyard waste the natural way

This is the second in a series of stories showcasing the innovative things Ontario farmers are doing on their farms to improve the environment – in honour of Earth Day.

Constructed wetland in a Nigara vineyard helps treat wasteTough new regulations governing vineyard waste management meant the owners of Sixteen Mile Cellar in the Niagara Region had some tough choices to make.

Previously, small estate wineries were allowed to store the liquids and residues from their grape crush on-farm and then haul them away.

The rule change now requires waste treatment facilities on site, which can get very expensive very fast. Continue reading Constructed wetland purifies vineyard waste the natural way

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Biotechnology key to production growth in Argentina

LS-OF-biotechnology Argentina Idigoras EU ambassador-Sep 10

Gustavo Idigoras, former ambassador to the European Union for Argentina, addresses IFAJ delegates.

Most of the time what I write about on these pages have to do with food and farming in Canada.

This is the second in a series of articles about agriculture in Argentina – a key global competitor for Canada’s farming sector.

Public perceptions and consumer attitudes can make some Canadian farmers think twice about if or how they use popular production tools like pesticides or biotechnology.

Not so in Argentina. Continue reading Biotechnology key to production growth in Argentina

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Soy underpins Argentine economy

Argentinian flagMost of the time what I write about on these pages have to do with food and farming in Canada.

Every once in a while, though, I’m lucky enough to have a chance to experience agriculture in other parts of the world – as I did last month with a fascinating trip to Argentina for the 2013 International Federation of Agriculture Journalists congress.

Much of Canada’s agriculture sector depends on exports so it’s important for us to be aware about what’s going on with other nations who export agricultural products as well. Thanks for reading.

Continue reading Soy underpins Argentine economy

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Focus on reducing food waste, not just boosting production

Note: This commentary was originally published in Ontario Farmer, June 25, 2013 edition.

June 5th was World Environment Day. I don’t normally pay much attention to these kinds of things – we seem to have a day for everything – but this one got me.

The theme of World Environment Day this year was food waste. Continue reading Focus on reducing food waste, not just boosting production

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Our love affair with smartphones is still growing

My first cell phone made phone calls. And that’s it. There was nothing smart about it. In fact, when you left the digital network urban areas, you had to insert an extra adapter so it would continue to work in then-still analog rural Ontario.

The ups and recently mostly downs of homegrown mobile device pioneer Research in Motion has made me think lately about how mobile technology has changed in the eight years since I got my first Blackberry, colourless screen, track wheel and all. Continue reading Our love affair with smartphones is still growing

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