Farmwest Blog

Ontario restricts use of pesticides blamed for decline of bee populations

The Ontario government has unveiled North America’s first agricultural restrictions on a widely used class of pesticides blamed for the decline in bees and other pollinators. The controversial regulations aimed at reducing the use of neonicotinoid insecticides made by Bayer AG and Syngenta AG by 80 per cent within two years goes into effect on July 1.

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Should farmers sidedress nitrogen fertilizer on their corn fields this year?

  • If the soil nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) in the top 30 cm at the 6-leaf stage of corn (i.e. presidedress nitrate test or PSNT) is greater than 30 parts per million (ppm), there is likely no economic benefit to the sidedress application*.

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June UPDATE to Manure Spreading Advisory #2 2015: South Coast Region

Date: June 1, 2015

Refer to Manure Spreading Advisory #2 of 2015 (April 1, 2015) for the current Advisory (Advisory #2). The following Update does not change the Advisory.

Should farmers sidedress nitrogen fertilizer on their corn fields this year?

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May UPDATE to Manure Spreading Advisory #2 2015: South Coast Region

Manure applications have an overall positive effect on soil biology. Many of the same creatures that live in soil can be found in manure: shredders (arthropods), decomposers (bacteria and fungi), and grazers and predators (nematodes and protozoa). With excessive applications of liquid manure, there can be negative effects on soil biology: increased saturation of the soil, creating anaerobic conditions that increase rates of greenhouse gas emissions (nitrous oxide and methane), and decreasing soil life.

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Manure Spreading Advisory #2 for 2015: South Coast Region

Well-planned manure applications are acceptable on most fields that are seeded, will be seeded within two weeks, or have well-established grasses. Do not apply manure prior to significant rain events to avoid nutrient runoff and leaching. Please check your local weather forecast and see the next page for more information. Avoid manure applications on wet areas or saturated soils. Some fields will dry more quickly than others. Please continue to check you have enough manure storage to hold the average expected precipitation plus any excessive precipitation. Please read the entire advisory for details and important information to assist in the decision-making process for manure application(s) and storage.

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March UPDATE to Manure Spreading Advisory #1 2015: South Coast Region

Date: March 2, 2015

Reminder: It is acceptable to apply manure with certain precautions including a buffer width of 8 meters (26 feet) between the application area and sensitive areas and watercourses including ditches.  Refer to Manure Spreading Advisory #1 of 2015 (Feb 13, 2015) for more information and the complete advisory. The recommended buffer width distance will decrease towards the end of March.

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Weathering the Coming Change

For more than 30 years, Jerry Keulen has farmed the fertile soils next to Boundary Bay. A second generation Delta farmer, Keulen runs Seabreeze Dairy Farm, where he grows forage grass and corn on his 60-hectare property, in addition to his dairy cows. But as he looks upon the dike that skirts his property, he says he knows change is coming. “Climate change,” he says. “The big concern is if the sea level rises, we’re in trouble. So how are we going to protect ourselves?”

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Views from the sky - exploring the use of drones in crop production

Does using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) make sense for your crop operation? UAVs, also called drones or unmanned aerial systems, are available as fixed-wing types, like little airplanes, or rotor types, like little helicopters. They are catching the attention of Prairie crop growers and specialists who want to see how well they work for crop scouting and field mapping, and how the costs compare to the benefits. In Alberta, a project is underway to evaluate the use of UAVs to generate field maps to help in making decisions on weed and disease management. Dr. Chris Neeser, a weed research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD), is leading the project. He wants to develop a set of procedures for acquiring and processing high-resolution UAV imagery and to assess the usefulness and economics of this tool. To map a field, the UAV flies over the field in parallel passes and takes photos at regular intervals. Imagery software is then used to stitch all the photos together to create a map of the whole field.

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What is T-Sum?

T-Sum' is a method to determine when to make the first application of nitrogen fertilizer in spring. The 'T-Sum' value is the accumulated mean daily temperatures (in ° C) above zero, starting on January 1 (below-zero temperatures are ignored). For example, if the mean daily temperatures for a 5-day period were 6, 3, 0, 1, and -4°C, the 'T-Sum' total is 10. The 'T-Sum' concept assumes that rate of spring growth is related to accumulated mean temperature.

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Manure Spreading Advisory #1 for 2015: South Coast Region

It is acceptable to apply manure on established grasses, fields being seeded within two weeks of application, and berry fields if: T-Sum value in your area is greater than 200*, Soil temperature is greater than 5oC, Crop is actively growing (for established crops only), and Expected precipitation and manure applications will not create nutrient runoff to surface water or leaching below the root zone, Nutrient loss risks are greatest on poorly-drained fields at this time. *Please see below for new guidance on interpreting your weather forecast. Please continue to check you have enough manure storage to hold the average expected precipitation plus any excessive precipitation. Field-stored solid agricultural wastes (except agricultural vegetation waste) MUST be COVERED from October 1 to April 1, inclusive.

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