A gut full of health

Emma Allen Vercoe Close-Up_University of Guelph_Photographer Martin Schwalbe_DSCF0262 - webBy Jeanine Moyer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – The key to better health is through our gut. At least that’s what Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe, Associate Professor at the University of Guelph, has concluded from her research on the human gut microbiota ecosystem.

It’s a big term but simply put, microbiota is a collection of microbes found within the gut. And those microbes are important, because they’re strongly linked to the overall health of a human or animal.

Dr. Allen-Vercoe’s latest research is applying what she’s learned about the human gut microbiota to pigs to enhance the gut system and improve the overall health of the animal. Because just like humans, better health means less disease and less antibiotic use.

“Our goal is to reduce the use of antibiotics in pigs,” says Dr. Allen-Vercoe. “If we can naturally improve an animal’s health by colonizing its gut with healthy microbes, the animal’s overall health will improve and reduce the need for antibiotic treatments.” Continue reading

The discovery that could transform Canada’s wine industry

End of Season growth - Sharifi - webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Peterborough, Ontario – Although Canada is home to internationally award-winning wines, the cold winters and short growing season are a constant challenge. The solution is one that has never been tried with wine grapes before until now: moving production indoors.

That’s what Dr. Mehdi Sharifi, a Canada Research Chair in sustainable agriculture and professor at Trent University’s School of the Environment, has been working on.

And it could change the entire future of Canada’s wine industry, including dramatically expanding organic wine production. Continue reading

Navigating Northern Ontario’s climate shortcomings

Weather Station 2 - webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

North Bay – Farmers in Northern Ontario have a short growing season. There’s little room for error, and every bit of data helps.

That’s why for the past seven years, a research team has built a tool that gives both real-time and historic information that helps growers make more informed crop management decisions.

The project, called GeoVisage, is the brainchild of three Nipissing University researchers – geographers Dan Walters and John Kovacs, and computer scientist Mark Wachowiak.

The team says the project was born from a request from area farmers to collect data that could be shared with farmers in a timely way on their own farms.

“Initially the idea was to collect quality information that could be shared among Northern Ontario farmers without requiring them to meet in person all the time,” says Kovacs. “Our area saw a shift from cattle to cash crops about ten years ago, and farmers needed enough data to decide what different types of cash crops made sense to grow.” Continue reading

Farmer wins innovation award for “potpourri” cover crop practice

Blake Vince with soil in the field - web
By Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

Merlin, Ontario – Cover crops like red clover play an important role in many farmers’ rotation plans.

What, though, would you say to someone who plants 18 different cover crops, simultaneously, every single year? What’s the cost, return, and motivation behind such a practice?

For Blake Vince, a Merlin-area farmer who uses the aforementioned technique, the motivation behind such a cosmopolitan cover crop system is rooted in environmental stewardship.

It’s an innovation that has served his farm well since he started incorporating it in 2010, and has also brought him some social recognition. Continue reading

Demand on the rise for Ontario-grown quinoa

Jamie Draves Quinoa Field - webBy Kelly Daynard for AgInnovation Ontario

Rockwood ON 26 July 2016 – It’s been a whirlwind few years for Jamie Draves. Six years ago, the president and chief executive officer of Katan Kitchens began researching ways to successfully grow quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) in Ontario.

Since then, production is increasing, demand continues to exceed supply, and his efforts achieved a new level of fame after a successful appearance on CBC’s The Dragons’ Den, a reality show that gives Canadian entrepreneurs the chance to pitch ideas to a panel of venture capitalists. Continue reading