Automating the acoustical devices that keep birds away from grape crops in Ontario’s vineyards could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of these tools.
Better management options for the devices – also known as bird bangers – can reduce crop losses and improve relations with non-farm neighbours put off by the noise, according to a recently completed Ontario study. Continue reading Keeping birds away from wine grapes
I get to learn about some pretty neat things in my life as someone who writes about food and farming. The following story, which was released by the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre a few weeks ago, ranks high on my list of all-time favourites.
PlantForm Corporation, a University of Guelph spin-off company, is using tobacco plants to manufacture treatments used to combat critical illnesses like cancer using technology developed by university researchers. Continue reading Tobacco plants may save lives
Biomass is a promising emerging market in Ontario and farmers can learn more about growing and making money from these purpose-grown crops on a series of upcoming regional car tours. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) also showcased miscanthus (seen in the image at left) and switchgrass test plots at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show last week.
The plots are part of a larger research project in conjunction with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) that is evaluating the potential of biomass crops in Ontario, including establishing a business case and determining possible market opportunities. Continue reading Growing plants for energy
Ontario lavender bunches
Lavender, hazelnuts and sweet potatoes are not crops we commonly associate with this province.
Yet they’re starting to emerge in Ontario’s south coast area, the fertile sand plains in Norfolk, Brant, Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford counties where tobacco used to reign supreme.
As the decline of the tobacco industry continued over the last decade, agricultural and economic development leaders in the area began grappling with key questions governing the future of their region, which is a key producer of many Ontario foods, including fruits and vegetables.
How can we bring new life and new value to this farmland? How can we keep farmers profitable and sustain the rural and regional economies? At the same time, is there an opportunity to bring new products to Ontario or to grow crops here that we’re currently importing from other places around the world? Continue reading New crops in local soils raising high hopes
Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak announced this spring that, if elected, he’d make convicted provincial prisoners work to clean up Ontario’s highways.
According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a variation on this theme was recently launched in Georgia, where teams of probationers are working on fruit and vegetable farms.
Many farm workers there don’t have legal status and with a new law cracking down on illegal labour, many no longer come to the state looking for employment as they used to. Continue reading The farm labour side of local food
Mmm, there’s nothing quite like cracking open a bag of fresh, crunchy potato chips.
I confess to consuming more than my fair share of the salty snacks over the years and love seeing what new flavours will be coming out next.
But one thing I’ve certainly never really thought too much about was how the contents of that crinkly bag get there in the first place.
I mean, I know chips come from potatoes and that there are farmers who specialize in growing potatoes – but that was pretty much the extent of my potato knowledge.
Well, as it turns out, there’s nothing easy about growing a perfect potato chip potato.
And after spending a couple of hours with Ontario farmer Jack Murphy on his Alliston-area potato farm recently, I have a whole new perspective on the contents of that chip bag – and on the work that farmers put into growing those potatoes just right. Continue reading Where potato chips are grown