Using sensors, block chain for better animal welfare in transit

By Lilian Schaer

Guelph – A new sensor-based tracking system for livestock could provide peace of mind for farmers, food companies and consumers that animals are being treated humanely during transport.

Transport Genie monitors microclimate conditions inside livestock trailers and provides that information to users along the supply chain using block chain technology.

Block chains are a digital ledger of all transactions in a supply chain – information is passed along digitally as an attachment to the chain instead of through a paper trail and the permanent links between the blocks eliminate the possibility of data tampering.

“The devices currently monitor conditions like humidity and temperature inside a trailer, but could in future also track things like CO2 levels, acceleration and breaking to ensure livestock arrive at their destination safely, alive and healthy,” explains Kristen Celotto, part of the Transport Genie development team. “And if animals are injured or die in-transit, the sensors can indicate what went wrong and when.” Continue reading

Research institute helps make Ontario wines world class

By Tiffany Mayer

St. Catherines, Ontario – The glass is half full when it comes to grape and wine research in Ontario. And it’s only getting fuller thanks to the efforts of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

The research institute, established in 1996 in partnership with the Grape Growers of Ontario, the Wine Council of Ontario, and the Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario, has tackled significant vineyard and winemaking issues, elevating local tipple to world-class status in the process.

It’s done so by taking on the multi-coloured Asian lady beetle, which can taint an entire vintage, and kept many bottles of wine tasting their finest in the process. It has 20 years of research dedicated to icewine production and authentication to ensure integrity for Canadian versions of the sweet nectar.

The effects of climate change on grape growing, sparkling wine production, and resveratrol and the Ontario wine industry also get serious research attention at CCOVI to the benefit of Ontario vintners and grape growers. Continue reading

Mobile business solution makes traceability easier, more affordable for farmers

By Lilian Schaer

Elora, Ontario – New data capture technology is making traceability and food safety risk management easier for Canadian beef, dairy, bison, goat and sheep farmers.

Go360 bioTrack, an initiative of AgSights, offers expanded data collection and management capabilities. It helps farmers track everything from livestock inventory numbers and animal movements to pedigree, reproduction, health, and body condition scoring information.

“We are using technology to take away headaches for people by making traceability and record-keeping simple,” explains AgSights General Manager Mike McMorris. “The latest version offers a lower cost entry point and some big improvements in terms of functionality.”

The base version that simply helps farmers keep track of their cattle inventory numbers is free. A small monthly subscription fee allows for tracking of animal movements from farm to farm or from farm to market, an increasingly mandatory requirement for Canadian livestock farmers. Continue reading

Consumer preference work contributes to Ontario apple cider strategy

What’s in a cider?

By Lisa McLean

Vineland – Ontario consumers are thirsty for more hard apple cider, and the province’s apple sector is poised to deliver. But first, researchers are profiling consumer preference to be sure the industry serves up cider that hits the spot.

The project developed in response to research needs identified in the 2016 Cider Research and Innovation Strategy is a partnership with the Ontario Craft Cider Association and the Ontario Apple Growers. The strategy aims to see seven million litres of Ontario craft cider come to market by 2020.

“Our work is about developing a better understanding of who the cider consumer is, and the sensory, flavour and taste profiles they’re looking for in a cider,” says Amy Bowen, Research Director, Consumer Insights at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).

Bowen used Vineland’s trained sensory panel to develop a lexicon of 22 sensory attributes to describe taste, aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and colour of hard apple ciders. The same panel then applied those attributes to 50 cider brands currently available to consumers through the LCBO and Ontario cideries. Continue reading

Harnessing physics for better seed germination, higher crop yields

By Matt McIntosh

Waterloo – Physics, the science of the cosmos, is critical to our understanding of the natural world – and on a more practical agricultural level, it might be able to help improve crop yields.

According to entrepreneurs and former University of Waterloo students Amir Zhumagulov and Ilyas Ashirov, physics – or a force within the science called electromagnetism – can be used to stimulate grain seeds into earlier and more productive growth.

If done at the right time, Zhumagulov says electromagnetically stimulating grains like wheat, corn, and rice can hasten germination time and facilitate early root development. In turn, this gives farmers a more uniform and early crop, which can translate to higher, more consistent yields.

“Every seed comes with its own nutrients so it can start growing,” says Zhumagulov. “Before planting, low-frequency electromagnetism can be used to stimulate how fast enzymes in the seed begin breaking down the starch and proteins contained within it, giving the seed a more vigorous start. Faster root development also comes from increases in protein synthesis within the seed.” Continue reading