BC farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture are gearing up for the first phase of an intense battle with the invasive brown marmorated stink bug this year. Acheampong says new funding will be dedicated to putting up new traps in farms, to get an idea of just how far the stink bugs have spread into farmland. The pesky and sometimes smelly pests are a major concern for farmers throughout the US and Canada. A 2010 study found the insect caused $37 million in damage to the US apple industry alone, and since then the stink bugs have moved into southern Ontario, Prince Edward Island and now British Columbia. The stink bug also attacks and damages various tree fruits, berries, grapes, vegetables, corn and a variety of ornamental plants. The first sighting of the destructive Brown Marmorated species was in Penticton in 2016, but as of November last year most of the sightings of the insect have been in or around the City of Kelowna.
Use of Brassica Crops to Extend the Grazing Season - Cool-season perennial grass and grass-legume pastures typically become less productive as the grazing season advances from June to November. Forage brassica crops such as turnip, swede, rape, and kale can be spring-seeded to supplement the perennial cool-season pastures in August and September or summer-seeded to extend the grazing season in November and December. Brassicas are annual crops that are highly productive and digestible and can be grazed 80 to 150 days after seeding, depending on the species (see table on back page). In addition, crude protein levels are high, varying from 15 to 25 percent in the herbage and 8 to 15 percent in the roots, depending on the level of nitrogen fertilization and weather conditions.
The Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. (IAF) is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Award of Excellence for Innovation in Agriculture and Agri-Food. This award celebrates B.C.'s agriculture and agri-food leaders who have implemented specific projects or initiatives leading to economic, environmental or social benefits to British Columbia and the industry in general, or to a specific sector. The award is open to agri-food producers and processors; retail, food service, agri-food and/or private sector businesses; industry associations and organizations; input, technology and support service providers; academic institutions; regional districts and local governments. Applicants must have a head office or be registered in B.C. Innovations will be evaluated for their: Originality and uniqueness; Degree of economic, social and/or environmental benefit to British Columbia; Extent to which the project has advanced the industry or sector. Nominations close January 31, 2018. The 2018 award winner will be announced on April 12, 2018 at the IAF Project Showcase and Luncheon in Abbotsford.
Recently the seasons aren’t as short as they used to be, and they tend to be wetter, leaving farmers wondering what to do with all that excess moisture. That’s just one reason why cover crops might make sense, says Yvonne Lawley, a cropping systems researcher at the University of Manitoba. Cover crops are being used as green manure for organic production, as catch crops to prevent nutrient leaching, to improve soil organic matter and nutrient cycling, break up hardpan, protect soils from erosion and to increase the productivity of grazing systems. But Lawley said the soil health benefits of cover crops go beyond those traditional objectives. “If we think about the whole chain of microbes that exist in soil, they’re really being fed by the inputs and cycling of nutrients within the agro-ecosystem. If we can have plants growing for a longer period of time, capturing more sun, we can provide more input through either organic matter or exudates from roots that feed the fungi, bacteria and nematodes that then feed the higher trophic structure like earthworms.”