Category Archives: environment

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

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

Host-a-Hive brings bees home

Not all innovative ideas are born in a lab — some are born, quite literally, within the walls of your own home

gees bees swarm catch - web
By Lyndsey Smith for AgInnovation Ontario

Dunrobin, Ontario – When Marianne and Matt Gee bought their home on a small acreage west of Ottawa, they were surprised to find a honeybee hive had already taken up residence.

Not keen to exterminate these helpful pollinators, Matt relocated them to a box and set up the hive in the backyard with a little help from a local beekeeper. The couple soon became beekeepers by choice and discovered they really enjoyed keeping bees.

Soon a call came in about another hive found in a house — would they be interested in rescuing it? Matt, who worked in construction as a career, was in a unique position to access the bees and safely remove them. With Matt’s home building experience and the couple’s beekeeping knowledge, the Gees found themselves rescuing dozens of hives over a number of years.

Fast forward seven years to 2016, and Marianne and Matt are embarking on a much larger honeybee venture — one that moves from just rescuing bees to, instead, setting up individual honeybee hives across several Ottawa neighbourhoods. Continue reading