Category Archives: bioeconomy

How Canadian soybean farmers are protecting the Bruce Trail

This story comes to us from Soy 20/20

Cutting the Bruce - Image provided courtesy of Tom Hall - web
By Lilian Schaer for Soy 20/20

Niagara Escarpment – What do soybean farmers and Ontario’s famous Bruce Trail have in common? More than you might think.

The Bruce Trail, popular with hikers, runs the length of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere reserve, from Niagara to Tobermory, Ontario. It is maintained by a team of volunteers, who use their chain saws and other equipment to manage the trail and keep it useable and safe.

All that equipment leaves an environmental footprint, though – oil residues from chain saw cutting, volatile organics from combustion, and sometimes respiratory irritation for sawyers during extended periods of cutting. Continue reading

Locally produced algae cleans waste water, feeds livestock

Noble 2 - courtesy Trent University - web

Dr. Andressa Lacerda

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Peterborough – Local researchers have developed several strains of algae that can clean waste water as well as serve as a potential livestock superfood.

Nobletech Inc.’s Noble Purification division is currently piloting its algae-based clean water technology, and Noble Biotech has developed sustainable animal feed that is high in protein and omega fatty acids. The company is part of the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.

“Our core technology for both of these applications is the algae product itself,” explains Dr. Andressa Lacerda, a recent Ph.D. graduate of Trent’s environmental and life sciences program. “We’re algae farmers, and we grow algae with different purposes.” Continue reading

Swapping wheat straw with switchgrass to grow mushrooms

MushroomBed - webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Ontario mushroom growers can substitute switchgrass for wheat straw when they’re growing their crops without impacting yield or quality, while also reducing their production costs.

That’s the outcome of a research project led by Mushrooms Canada and funded through the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP).

“Ontario’s mushroom growers have encountered the perfect storm regarding raw materials for the production of mushroom growing medium, known as mushroom substrate, so identifying substitutes for the traditional ingredients has become a high priority,” explains Ryan Koeslag, Executive Vice President of Mushrooms Canada.

Standard raw materials are wheat straw, poultry litter, horse stable bedding, gypsum and water. For maximum mushroom production, substrate has to contain both a source of carbon – wheat straw, hay or stable bedding – and nitrogen from poultry litter or stable bedding. Continue reading

Potential industrial uses spell market opportunity for new soybean

Renowned Guelph soybean breeder first discovered variety 20 years ago

By Lilian Schaer for Soy 20/20

Guelph – A soybean variety first identified at the University of Guelph twenty years ago is now seeing a future as a possible feedstock for industrial uses.

Istvan Rajcan

Prof. Istvan Rajcan (Photo courtesy I. Rajcan)

Currently known as OAC 13-55C-HL, the soybean is high in linoleic fatty acids, lending itself particularly well to industrial material applications like paints, coatings, polyols and epoxies.

Renowned University of Guelph soybean breeder, the late Dr. Gary Ablett first discovered the variety two decades ago while he was working to develop soybeans with oil profiles more suited to the food industry, but market demand at the time wasn’t strong enough to warrant pursuing it further. Continue reading

Turning tree waste into green glue

Eco-friendly adhesive technology ready for commercialization
By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario
20110118_NingYan_002 - web
Toronto – Two types of extraction techniques have been developed by Ontario researchers at the University of Toronto that can turn tree bark into desirable liquid ingredients for products like environmentally friendly adhesives and foams.

And the technology, which is now ready for commercialization, might have application for agricultural feedstocks like crop residues, too, says project leader Dr. Ning Yan, a professor in the Faculty of Forestry and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, and Endowed Value-Added Wood and Composite Chair at U of T.

“We hope to expand the work we’ve done to develop the bark extraction techniques and the resin formulations to convert the liquefied bark into adhesives to other feedstocks,” she explains. “It could be transferable to agriculture, whether there are biomass residues as well, not just in forestry.” Continue reading