Category Archives: innovation

Funky fungi for healthy fields

fungus-twitter-englishBy Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

St Catharines – Brock University researchers are looking for growth – fungal growth that is – and they are doing it with agriculture in mind.

PhD students Larissa Barelli, Soumya Moonjely, and Shasha Hu are trying to understand the relationship between entomopathogenic fungi – a naturally occurring bug-killer – and plants.

By studying how the ground-based fungi work within the soil, they could develop an effective and more naturally derived method of pest control that also promotes plant growth.

“These fungi exist all over the globe. There are numerous varieties in Ontario alone, and each has its own unique characteristics and target insects,” says Barelli. Continue reading

Canadian mobile device offers instant dairy cow health check

results-webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Queensville, Ontario – “A dairy farmer, an engineer and an accountant walk into a barn…”

That’s the setup for Dairy Quality Inc., a Queensville, Ontario-based company that prides itself on creating high tech solutions to meet dairy farming challenges. The company’s latest product is an innovative new device that gives dairy farmers instant updates on a cow’s health and milk quality.

With the RT10 device and Dairy SCC app, farmers use a mobile fluorescent microscope connected to a smart phone to test milk samples from individual cows. The device works with an iPhone app to provide real-time readings of specific health indicators, including somatic cell count (SCC), which is the most important indication of dairy cow health.

“Currently, dairy farmers across North America receive a monthly report from Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) that indicates SCC data,” says Chris Gans, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dairy Quality Inc. “Our product doesn’t replace that service, but a lot can happen on a dairy farm in 30 days. Dairy SCC offers farmers the ability to have more immediate information relating to the health of each individual cow.” Continue reading

Locally grown okra could soon be an option in Canada

okra - webBy Kelly Daynard for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland, Ontario – It’s no secret that there’s a growing ethnic population of Canadians who have preferences for foods from their home countries. That fact brings with it unique opportunities for farmers to produce crops that haven’t traditionally been grown locally.

Okra is one such crop.

Over six million kilograms of okra is imported into Canada every year and the demand climbs annually. India is the top producer of the world’s okra, growing more than 70 per cent of the global crop. Other big producers are Nigeria, Sudan, Iraq and Pakistan. Continue reading

Researcher coaxes biomaterial out of its shell

(L to R) Brooke Marion, Dr. Chris Murray and Kayla Snyder used chitosan and crumb rubber to make pavement - web

(L to R) Brooke Marion, Dr. Chris Murray and Kayla Snyder

By Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Thunder Bay – There’s a naturally-occurring material found in discarded shells from crab and shrimp that offers properties with promising industrial uses.

Now, a researcher at Lakehead University is studying the material, and exploring potential for a broad range of applications ranging from wastewater treatment to better pavement.

Dr. Chris Murray studies the properties of chitosan – a naturally occurring long sugar molecule that is found in nearly all invertebrates.

“Chitosan plays a role in many animals that have exoskeletons,” says Murray. “It can be really tough and it provides a lot of physical strength for organisms.” Continue reading

A gut full of health

Emma Allen Vercoe Close-Up_University of Guelph_Photographer Martin Schwalbe_DSCF0262 - webBy Jeanine Moyer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – The key to better health is through our gut. At least that’s what Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe, Associate Professor at the University of Guelph, has concluded from her research on the human gut microbiota ecosystem.

It’s a big term but simply put, microbiota is a collection of microbes found within the gut. And those microbes are important, because they’re strongly linked to the overall health of a human or animal.

Dr. Allen-Vercoe’s latest research is applying what she’s learned about the human gut microbiota to pigs to enhance the gut system and improve the overall health of the animal. Because just like humans, better health means less disease and less antibiotic use.

“Our goal is to reduce the use of antibiotics in pigs,” says Dr. Allen-Vercoe. “If we can naturally improve an animal’s health by colonizing its gut with healthy microbes, the animal’s overall health will improve and reduce the need for antibiotic treatments.” Continue reading