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dry pond and ban

flooded corn field

In 2016, many areas of the province saw very warm and dry conditions, and many wells were still dry leading into the winter. In other years, like the start to the 2017 growing season, the province experienced periods of excessive rain, leading to saturated soils and flooding. Both situations create many challenges for livestock and poultry farmers.

No one can control the weather, but we can plan for it. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) encourages you to plan for future weather – conserving water and using it efficiently can help during low water conditions, and having effective drainage systems in place can help with saturated soil and runoff.

Things to consider for low water conditions:

  • Plan ahead: Know how much water your animals need and try to predict how long it would take for your water sources to run dry. Have a contingency plan ready that you can carry out in case your water sources have maxed out. Use the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association’s Emergency Plan low water worksheet to help you with the contingency plan.
  • Include a list of alternative water sources in your contingency plan. This can include water haulers and well drillers. Keep in mind that these sources may be unavailable at the height of low water conditions, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
  • Think about installing water-metering equipment to get accurate measurements of water use.
  • Apply for a Permit to Take Water through the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (special rules and circumstances apply).
  • Monitor heat stress in your livestock and have management solutions on-hand when heat stress runs high, but water levels run low.
  • Look at your feed inventory now. If stocks are low for this time of year, consider looking for additional or alternative feed for fall and winter. It’s not too early!

Things to consider for excessive water conditions:

  • Look at your feed supply, as excessive rain can affect planting and harvesting times.
  • Make sure you have enough straw or other bedding materials.
  • Examine your property, your buildings and hard surfaces (like loading areas and parking lots) for flood risk areas. Install eavestroughs to redirect water away from your buildings and create a drainage plan. Plan the steps you’ll need to take to move livestock, feed and equipment in the event of a flood.
  • Create a plan to manage barnyard/feedlot runoff. Determine if you have enough liquid manure storage capacity to store extra material from wet barnyards, and have a plan ready if you don’t (such as using a neighbour’s storage). Also consider what you’ll do to avoid manure storage overflow from rain and flood water.
  • Have a plan ready in the event that manure spreading is delayed due to rain and your storages are full.
  • Think about your electricity generators – are they adequate for your farm’s needs in case of a power outage?
  • Pre-plan alternate routes to avoid travelling on flooded roads, considering services both into and out of the farm (such as feed trucks).

OMAFRA is working with other provincial ministries, conservation authorities and other partners to develop ways to help you manage water. There are existing resources that can help you, too:

Ontario has business risk management programs in place to help you when factors beyond your control affect your operation. Contact Agricorp for more information about these programs.

Visit OMAFRA’s Adverse Weather, Low Water, Irrigation and Drainage web pages for resources to help you prepare for various weather conditions.

Do you have questions about contingency planning? Contact OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

ontario.ca/omafra

Give your company a competitive edge – take free eLearning courses to learn more about industry best practices and to be more competitive in the marketplace!

Access the new Food Safety and Traceability eLearning courses online on the Agriculture and Food Education in Ontario online learning system through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus.

The new Traceability eLearning courses show how good practices can:

  • maximize productivity, improve business efficiency, reduce costs and improve business processes
  • be used to increase competitive advantage by accessing new markets
  • improve supply chain management

The new Food Safety eLearning courses will help you to:

  • identify food safety hazards that can occur in your operation
  • understand best practices and develop programs to control these hazards
  • decrease the likelihood of food safety hazards that can lead to a foodborne illness outbreak or product recall

Visit the University of Guelph website to register for a FREE account. Then simply log in and begin learning – wherever and whenever is convenient for you! Accessible versions of the courses are available. For more information, contact the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus at rcagfood@uoguelph.ca or 519-674-1500 ext. 63295.

Do you prefer classroom-based learning? Food Safety and Traceability courses and workshops are still offered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). Visit their website for the dates and locations of upcoming in-person opportunities.

Online course development was funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector.

Save your old tires and help make dreams come true!

The 8th annual Tire Take Back event will be held from May 23 to June 4, 2017. OFA members can drop off their used tires for free at any participating Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) location across the province.

This 13 day event, organized by Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) and Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS), in association with Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), helps support the work of The Sunshine Foundation of Canada.

Over the last seven years, Ontarians have helped raise $1,060,306 through the collection of 458,185 tires as part of the annual Tire Take Back events.  See more at: http://rethinktires.ca/tiretakeback/#sthash.aPQ4VApA.dpuf

  • Start stockpiling your used tires
  • Find a participating OARA location near you
  • Drop off your tires for free from May 23 – June 4, 2017

If you have approximatley 50 or more tires on your property that you would like to recycle, please click here to contact one of the participating OTS Haulers.

For more details, visit rethinktires.ca/tiretakeback.

Looking for information on enrichment for pigs?  Laura Eastwood, OMAFRA Swine Specialist has written a helpful article Enrichment for Pigs that summarizes  ‘Section 1.8 Enrichment’ from the Code of Practice.

penning with pig toys attachedDSCF5988

The agri-food sector has always been innovative in running businesses, adapting practices and collaborating to compete in the world economy. To help spur and to celebrate this innovative spirit, the Government of Ontario created the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Program.

Have you developed and implemented a unique product or process that helps foster innovation in Ontario’s agriculture and food sector? Apply and you could be eligible to receive one of these awards:

  • Premier’s Award (one award valued at $75,000)
  • Minister’s Award (one award valued at $50,000)
  • Leaders in Innovation Awards (three awards valued at $25,000 each)
  • Provincial Awards (45 awards valued at $5,000 each)

Primary producers/farmers, processors and agri-food organizations are invited to apply. You can apply with a range of innovative projects, including projects that have shown innovation in environmental stewardship and bio-energy. Some examples of previous environmental project award winners:

  • In 2009, Leamington Area Drip Irrigation won the top level Premier’s Award for their project to improve water efficiency on 13 partner farms. The final pipeline is 36 kilometres long and the system can precisely monitor the amount of water being delivered from Lake Erie to 2,500 acres of tomatoes in the Leamington area.
  • Truly Green won an award in 2014 for their system that uses by-products from a neighbouring ethanol plant to make their greenhouses carbon neutral.
  • Van Arkel Farms won an award in 2016 for their soil health projects. Some of their innovations include experimenting with different cover crops for soil protection and rapid sequestration of nutrients, pioneering a reduced tillage system and developing a custom manure injector that decreases runoff and minimized soil disturbance.

There are many different areas and projects that could qualify beyond environmental stewardship. Download the 2017 Program Guidebook and Application Form at ontario.ca/agrifoodinnovation. The guidebook gives ideas for different innovative areas and projects, but applicants are not limited to this list. Read about past Premier’s Award winners at ontario.ca/agrifoodinnovation for more project ideas.

Apply today for a chance to be a Premier’s Award winner! Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 28, 2017. You can find submission information in the guidebook.

Contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or email premiersagrifoodinnovationaward@ontario.ca for more information.

If you couldn’t attend this year’s London Swine Conference “Where Research Meets Production” check out the proceedings available online at www.londonswineconference.ca.

We’re excited to let you know about the latest updates that we made to the Agricultural Information Atlas (AIA). What is the AIA? It’s the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) free, easy-to-use online tool that can help you to:

  • Develop nutrient management strategies and plans.
  • Plan tile drainage for your farm.
  • Develop a farm sketch for Pest Assessment Reports and Bee Yard Registration and other government programs, including the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI).

So, what are the changes?

The AIA is now housed on a new platform. If you are a current user of the AIA, you’ll need to update your bookmarks to the new URL so you can find the AIA quickly and easily. Better yet, the AIA is now mobile-friendly. Open it up on your phone or tablet for quick access while you’re in the field or on the go.

Our updates include new features and tools, such as:

  • The ability to add your own user data, such as GPS points or shape files.
  • Auto-population of 911 addresses.
  • The removal of the “Label Map” function, and an added “export markup” function (i.e. text and graphics) that allows you to save and bring data back in again at another time
  • Right-clicking on the map will give you quick and easy access to GPS co-ordinates, basic markup tools and other functions.
  • 2015 southwestern Ontario imagery data.

We’ve also added a Farm Fire Safety Sketch template in the “Create Map” section. You can use the template to develop a sketch of your farm showing features like fire risk areas, utility shut-off points, water sources, livestock barns and access routes for emergency vehicles. This sketch can be shared with local first responders to have on-hand in case of a fire or another emergency. Visit the Farm Fire and Emergency Sketch web page for help with making a sketch for your operation.

Most of the changes we made were based on user feedback. Let us know what you think about the updates and new features at omafra.gis@ontario.ca so that we can continue to improve the AIA.

Need help with the AIA? Our Help page answers some common questions. You can also contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

agmap
ontario.ca/agmaps