The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops (CRSC) released the results of its consultation on the Responsible Grain voluntary code of practice this month. The majority of participants do not support the draft as it is currently written. However, most provided constructive feedback the code development committee will use to improve and simplify the document.
A large Alberta distiller, Canada’s national spirits industry association and the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions are concerned a generous provincial distillation subsidy will prove a double-edged sword. In its current form, they say, it may eliminate the incentive for small distillers to use Alberta grain, flood the market with cheap out-of-province alcohol and harm the entire spirits value chain.
Jody Wacowich, executive director of AgSafe Alberta, expects dry conditions may be the norm in the near future, which makes fire safety and awareness a priority on the province’s farms. “That’s something we have to plan for” she said. “At this time of year, we don’t have that green grass growing yet. Everything is dry and combustible. The wind picks up a spark and a fire can go for miles before anyone can do anything about it.”
Two research projects funded by the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) have made significant advances in cereal crop genetics. Overseen by Pierre Hucl of the Crop Development Centre (CDC) at the University of Saskatchewan, the first of these examined the viability of a new dwarfing gene in bread wheat. Secondly, Nora Foroud of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) developed new wheat and barley lines with improved resistance to Fusarium head blight (FHB).
Edible insects are not to everyone’s taste. It turns out, however, a surprising number of people purchase powdered crickets as a protein supplement. Claudio La Rocca and his partner Silvia Ronzani operate Camola Sustainable Foods in Edmonton, a business that produces the food ingredient as well as cricket-powder enhanced foodstuffs.
Like the ale versus lager taste debate, the decision to grow malt or feed barley has strong proponents on both sides. As barley farmers ponder their crop options for the coming year, the choice has been complicated by an unusual development: “intent to grow” contracts for malting barley priced below that of feed barley. This erosion of the price premium for malting barley may have implications for maltsters and farmers.
The use of nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture has increased over the years as farmers have sought to boost crop yield. This reliance can bring unintended consequences in the form of nitrous oxide emissions, a greenhouse gas that contributes to ozone depletion. For decades, scientists around the world have worked to remedy this problem.
Led by University of Manitoba researcher Martin Scanlon, a nearly complete project aims to reduce the formation of potentially harmful acrylamide in wheat-based baked goods. This will be done through chemical analyses, bread quality evaluation and agronomic and genetic strategies. The project’s main objective is to maintain Canadian wheat markets by assuring customers the crop meets safety and functionality requirements.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is looking at changes to tank-mix policy. These adjustments could make many tank-mixes illegal. This is a concern for farmers and industry groups as the issue reflects policy conflicts and not the correction of potentially unsafe application practices.
In the world of technology and investment, agriculture is hot. Big data, robotics and automation technologies are coming to market in the crop and livestock arenas, and promise big changes and rewards for farmers. Canadian agtech companies turn heads worldwide, and are supported by a favourable funding environment and growing support network.