Category Archives: production

Sterile insect technique promising in fight against greenhouse pepper pest

photo by Lilian Schaer, AgInnovation Ontario

By Jane Robinson

Ontario’s greenhouse pepper growers are struggling to control a very problematic invasive insect, but have very few effective options. Pepper weevils are threatening the province’s $420 million greenhouse pepper industry – a high value crop that covers about 520 hectares (1,285 acres) in Ontario.

University of Guelph researcher Dr. Cynthia Scott-Dupree is testing a genetic control strategy that could bring much-needed hope to growers.

“Pepper weevils began causing substantial economic losses in Ontario in 2015,” says Scott-Dupree, a professor in the School of Environmental Sciences and Bayer Chair in Sustainable Pest Management.  “There really aren’t any effective insecticides that control the adult, and the direct damage caused to the pepper is invisible until you cut it open.”

Adult female pepper weevils lay a single egg in a puncture wound on the surface of the pepper. When the egg hatches, the larvae chew into the pepper to feed. The adult emerges inside the fruit, feeds on the pepper a little longer, mates and then exits the fruit. And the cycle starts all over.

Scott-Dupree started working on sterile insect technique (SIT) about five years ago to control a leafminer in Ontario-grown chrysanthemums. She was then approached by Bruce Power about the potential to use gamma radiation to mitigate insect pest problems in Ontario agriculture.

“I steered them to the pepper weevil issue as I knew that growers were stuck for solutions,” she says. 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

Agri-food development centre proves if you build it, they will come

By Jeanine Moyer

It’s been nearly two years since the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre (OAFVC) opened its doors to grow the agriculture and food industry in Eastern Ontario and the results are outstanding.

“Our clients are winning international food awards, creating new processing opportunities for local farmers and generally boosting the food and farming industry in our area,” says Trissia Mellor, Agriculture Manager with Northumberland County and OAFVC.

Designed with farmers in mind, the not-for-profit, small batch food processing facility supports fresh thinking and value-adding opportunities to increase farm revenue. OAFVC specializes in services and on-site features for recipe development, food-processing start-up and expansions, research and development and test batches and packaging. Continue reading

Sky high scouting zeros in on crop stressors

Using drones, farmers can save money and increase their crop yields by mapping their fields to identify areas of stress.

By Jane Robinson

Peterborough ON – What started as a move back to the Ontario family farm for Norm Lamothe turned into a big move forward in crop scouting technology for Canadian farmers.

Lamothe left a 10-year career in the aviation industry to return to be the sixth generation on the family farm near Peterborough. At the encouragement of a neighbouring farmer, Lamothe bought his first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone in 2015. He had a small group of area farmers already signed up to have a block of acres viewed by the new technology and help share the investment risk.

“We quickly identified the opportunity for farmers to save money and increase their crop yields by mapping their fields to identify areas of stress,” says Lamothe. Continue reading

Better food through better data communication

By Lilian Schaer

Guelph – Vast amounts of data are being collected on Canada’s farms through the advent of precision agriculture technology and the Internet of Things (IOT).

Many types of tools, equipment and devices gather data on everything from crop yields to how many steps an animal takes in a day. However, much of that data is underutilized because it’s collected by systems that don’t or can’t communicate with each other.

The need for better decision-making on farms through better data use resulted in Ontario Precision Agri-Food (OPAF), a partnership of agricultural organizations led by Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT) that’s developing an open agri-food innovation platform to connect and share data. Continue reading