Category Archives: crop protection

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

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

To the moon and back: New unmanned robotic platform has applications in agriculture

By Lisa McLean

New Hamburg – An Ontario company that developed lunar rovers for the Canadian Space Agency has adapted the technology for use on earth. The resulting vehicle – called Argo J5 XTR (Xtreme Terrain Robot) — has applications across a variety of industries, including agriculture.

Ontario Drive & Gear Limited (ODG) is well-known to many consumers as the maker of Argo, popular all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that can travel on rough terrain through land and water. The Argo J5 XTR is an unmanned robotic platform that travels on rough terrain in a variety of conditions ranging from war zones to underground mines — without putting an individual operator at risk.

“We’ve been working on space projects since 2008, but most years we only got to build two vehicles at a time – a primary and a back-up,” says Peter Visscher, chief technology officer for ODG. “We had an offer from a defence contractor to commercialize the vehicles, so we built a version for use on earth – and being Argo, we also made them amphibious.” Continue reading

A weatherman for every acre

Southwestern Ontario weather measurement system lets farmers use minute meteorological data

AGRIS employee Darren Clark setting up a weather station

By Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

Farmers are notoriously keen meteorologists, but the weather information readily available to them isn’t always the most precise. That can be a bit nerve-wracking when your livelihood depends on conditions at the beanstalk level.

In an effort to make weather information more practical for individual farmers, AGRIS Cooperative Ltd., together with Wanstead Farmer’s Cooperative and Haggerty Creek Ltd. launched the AGGrower Daily Dashboard.

This lets them offer an up-to-the-minute rainfall and temperature data service using 80 automated and 200 manual weather stations.

Wirelessly connected and distributed at 10 kilometre intervals between Essex, Sarnia, Mount Brydges, and the northern shore of Lake Erie, the stations measure rainfall and temperature in their immediate area.

Gathered data is then fed back to a central database, which farmers can access through their computer or mobile device. The difference, though, is that those measurements can be taken by the metrerather than the kilometre. Continue reading

Going O-Naturel:

Local company enhances naturally-occurring microbes to aid greenhouse growers

By Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

Toronto – Healthy growing conditions are critical to the success of any crop, and chemicals designed to help plants grow and resist disease are common, useful tools for farmers – whether growing conventional, organic, indoor, or outdoor crops.

Metagenom Bio Inc., however, is one company trying to help growers reduce their reliance on chemical controls.

With help from Bioenterprise, an organization that supports the development of agri-technology companies, through its Bioenterprise Seed Fund, Metagenom Bio Inc. uses improved microbe communities to both enhance plant growth and reduce the impact of disease.

“We’re what we like to call a ‘microbiome’ company,” says Patrick Ang, chief executive officer and the self-identified “business guy” for Metagenom Bio Inc. Continue reading