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
Biorefining company expands partnership with local crop farmers with new glucose-processing facility
By Matt McIntosh
Sarnia – Making more money on the same amount of land – it’s a mantra for today’s farmers, and one that’s increasingly relevant as land prices and production costs continue to rise.
A Sarnia refining company is helping local farmers expand their return per acre by providing a market for an otherwise low-value material: the corn stalks and wheat stubble left over after harvest.
With planning for a new facility well underway, Comet Biorefining is expanding its partnership with Ontario farmers who are members of the Cellulosic Sugar Producers’ Cooperative – a partnership that started in 2014 – to turn an additional 60,000 tonnes of crop residue into 30,000 tonnes of cellulosic dextrose, or industrial processing sugar, each year. Continue reading
From left – Michael Floros, Suresh Narine and Michael Tessier of Trent University
By Lisa McLean
Peterborough – When the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning in 2016 about the connection between drinking very hot beverages (above 65 C) and esophageal cancer, researchers at Trent University had an unlikely solution: soybeans.
Within months, they developed a travel mug that uses a unique soy-based material inside its walls to cool beverages to safe temperatures within minutes, and maintain the temperature in a perfect range for several hours.
Dr. Suresh Narine, professor in Physics, Astronomy and Chemistry who also heads up the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research (TCBR), has been experimenting with energy storage properties in lipids. He says the research team developed the material in response to a challenge: how to use biomaterials to store energy, and control how that stored energy gets released.
“We figured out how to design materials that melts or crystallizes at specific temperatures,” says Narine. “It stores the heat when it melts, and when the material crystallizes, it gives that heat back.” Continue reading
By Lilian Schaer
Napanee – Eric Kaiser has spent a lifetime transforming 14 former Loyalist settlement properties into a large, productive egg and field crop farm business – and always with a singular focus on the environment and innovative, sustainable soil conservation practices.
His efforts have earned him the 2017 Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) Soil Champion Award, which is handed out annually to recognize leaders in sustainable soil management.
“There is no one practice that defines conservation farming, it’s a management system and every component has a part to play,” says Kaiser, who has a civil engineering degree from the Royal Military College. “Sustainability has many components, but the preservation of top soil must be the final result.” Continue reading
By Lilian Schaer
Stoney Creek – A local company focused on robotic cutting solutions is experimenting with an ultra-high pressure no-till system. A-Cubed (Advanced Agriculture Applications) is using fluid jets in place of coulters on standard, commercially available seeding equipment they’ve modified.
The goal, according to Agricultural Business Development Manager Jeff Martel, is for farmers using no-till (planting without tilling the soil) to cut cleanly through heavy residues and cover crops using water – either on its own or potentially supplemented with inputs like lime or fertilizer, for example.
Leading development of the technology has been the South Australia No-Till Farmers Association (SANTFA) – and a connection between SANTFA and Martel brought the idea to Canada, where Martel’s employer I-Cubed Industry Innovators is now launching A-Cubed to move the technology forward.
Initial plot trials by the company last year produced intriguing results. Fluid jet-planted corn had a 20 per cent higher yield by weight than the same corn planted conventionally in the next rows. And each fluid jet-planted soybean plant held more pods than the conventionally planted soybeans and had significantly bigger and longer root systems. Germination time was a day sooner on average for the fluid jet-planted plants too. Continue reading