Efficiency
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.

The goal, according to lead director Dr. Karen Hand of Precision Strategic Solutions, is getting data, wherever it exists (both data repositories in industry or government and data generated by countless sensors) so it can be used to help advance important food production issues like food safety, traceability and plant and animal disease surveillance.

For example, information about the prevalence and control of insect pests like cutworms that damage soybean crops lies with many different people and organizations, including university and government researchers, crop advisors, input suppliers and farmers.

“There is no single spot where all of the information about a particular pest can be accessed in a robust, science-based system and used in decision-making and that’s where OPAF’s platform will help,” Hand says.

Pilot projects are underway with Ontario’s grain, dairy and poultry producers to identify their needs in areas like crop protection, sustainability and food safety and how OPAF can provide data-driven solutions to benefit farmers.

“We sit down with farmers, advisors, associations, government and researchers to find out what data they have, where they exist and if we were able to connect them, what value or benefit that would offer participants – either specific to the commodity they are producing or on larger food-related issues such as food safety or impact on trade,” she explains.

And OPAF’s efforts are gaining global recognition. Earlier this year, Internet of Food and Farm 2020, a large project in the European Union exploring the potential of IOT technologies of European food and farming, recognized OPAF as one of three global projects to collaborate with.

“This is going to be changing the face of data enablement in Canada and contributing globally,” says Tyler Whale of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT). “We are creating a platform that is the base of something new, and although we are piloting this in Ontario, it will be available nationwide to those who want to use it.”

OPAF partners include OAFT, University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, Niagara College, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Farm Credit Canada, Ontario Agri-Business Association, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, and Golden Horseshoe Farm and Food Alliance.

This project was funded by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with GF2 delivery in Ontario.
Published in New Technology
Capturing at least some of the heat from stale or “old” air being exhausted from poultry and hog barns is one more step in developing intensive livestock operations with net zero energy barns. The net zero term means a barn is producing as much energy as it is using.

Two poultry barns in Alberta, for example, have installed heat recovery systems that capture heat from air being exhausted from broiler and layer barns and use it to warm cold fresh air that’s being vented into the barn.

The heat recovery ventilators (HRV), used primarily in winter months, take some of the cold edge off the fresh incoming air, helping to reduce heating costs inside the barn. It’s not so dramatic as being able to feel hot air going out, and then being replaced inside the heat exchanger with hot fresh air coming in, but the system can warm up cold winter air by 15 to 20 degrees. | For the full story, CLICK HERE
Published in Barn Management
Canada and Prince Edward Island are working together to take climate action and find solutions to help Canadians save money, reduce energy waste, create jobs, and support healthy communities.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay—on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna—and Prince Edward Island’s Minister of Communities, Land and Environment, Richard Brown, recently announced a federal investment of $23.8 million to help the people of Prince Edward Island improve energy efficiency in their homes, businesses, industries, and farm operations across the province, as well as reduce carbon pollution in the forestry sector. This joint investment totals $47.8 million.

The Government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund will support three of the province’s programs that take climate action.

The first program—Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Built Environment Through Energy Efficiency and Fuel Switching—will provide assistance with building retrofits, and it introduces new residential, commercial, and industrial programs with instant rebates on the purchase of energy-efficient products and their installation.

The program will also target fuel switching and process changes in the industrial sector and support carbon-pollution reduction in the agricultural sector.

The second program—Exploring Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Opportunities with Agriculture Producers—will support efforts to reduce carbon pollution in the agricultural sector.

The program will accomplish this goal by partnering program and policy experts with the agricultural community, who, together, will explore best practices and will design action plans for growers, leading to more innovation and efficient farming systems.

Finally, the Expanding and Managing Forests for Carbon Sequestration program will also receive funding. This program will enhance the capacity of carbon storage through the conversion and development of new forests on idle and less productive agricultural land.

Prince Edward Island is investing $24 million to support a wide range of projects to help families, businesses, industries, farmers, and landowners make environmentally friendly changes that benefit the economy and the environment. With this investment, Islanders will continue to benefit from a clean environment and make the province a leader in the global fight against climate change.

The Government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund provides $1.4 billion to provinces and territories that have adopted Canada’s clean growth and climate action plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework, to deliver on commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The environment and the economy go hand in hand. By investing in PEI to make homes and buildings more energy efficient and by reducing emissions in the agriculture and forestry sectors, we are supporting PEI’s economy, creating good middle-class jobs, and tackling climate change while providing savings for Islanders," said MacAulay.
Published in News
Sustainability, in the broadest sense, simply refers to maintaining the conditions necessary to our well-being. This clearly includes a healthy environment – for example, clean air, clean water, fertile soil and a stable climate. It also includes healthy societies and communities, in which we have opportunities to pursue what we understand to be a good life. And, importantly, it requires healthy economies.
Published in Layers
It seems like every second conversation about installing new equipment in barns eventually leads to boilers. Now I’ll grant, it may be because I have a tender spot in my heart for boilers due to my plumbing and gasfitting background. They have become so much more technical over the past few years.
Published in Barn Management
Sustainability has been a topic of discussion globally for quite some time now. It is a term that we have all heard, but what exactly does it mean? How can we responsibly apply this concept to the poultry industry from the ground up?
Published in Barn Management
Bill Van Heyst grew up on a mixed farm near Grand Bend, Ont. He remembers looking after 500 laying hens – that was the maximum amount allowed under quota at the time. He also remembers switching over the old tunnel ventilated 1960s vintage poultry barn to battery cages from free-range. If he’d only known then that free-range would be fashionable once again…
Published in Barn Management
Sustainability is not a buzzword in farming. It’s a day-to-day reality. If you don’t sustain the soil and greater environment on a farm, you won’t have a future. And if you don’t efficiently use – and maybe re-use – energy, water and other resources, you won’t sustain your farm business financially either, again jeopardizing your future.
Published in Layers
Dealing with the high cost of food in the North is a constant challenge for producers and consumers. Through innovation and new thinking, Choice North Farms in Hay River is hoping to make a difference by undertaking the PoultryPonics Dome Project, supported with over $80,000 of CanNor funding.

The announcement was made by Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament (Northwest Territories) on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for CanNor.

Choice North Farms is a private egg producing company in Hay River. Their pilot project will integrate vertical hydroponic units and poultry production in a small geodesic dome. This combination will reduce the amount of nutrients and energy required for production, while providing a good supply of quality local fresh produce and meat substitutes.

If the pilot project is successful, this innovative clean technology could be scaled and adapted in other Northern communities, promoting economic diversification, reducing the cost of living, and enhancing the quality of life in remote communities.

"The Government of Canada has long supported the development of the agriculture sector in the North. We are pleased to support innovative technologies that not only grow the economy of Hay River, but also have the potential to provide affordable food to Northern communities," McLeod said. 

CanNor has invested $80,497 in the project through its Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED) program, with Choice North Farms contributing $67,910, the Government of the Northwest Territories injecting $6,586 and the Aurora Research Institute providing an additional $6,000. Total funding for the project is $160,993.

"We are thrilled at North Choice Farms to be able to pilot this green technology, thanks to the support of CanNor. We are confident it will allow us to produce more food locally while reducing our carbon footprint and production cost. This is great for our business, for the agricultural sector in the NWT and for Northern consumers, " said Kevin Wallington, business development manager, Choice North Farms.


READ CP's related feature article: Chickens in the greenhouse
Published in Producers
Paul Leatherbarrow grew up on a mixed farm and began helping his parents with broiler chickens and other farm chores about 50 years ago when he was a teen. “Obviously, so much has changed,” he says. “It was nine weeks for a production cycle and now it’s five weeks.
Published in Broilers
While on a recent farm visit, a poultry producer said something that really resonated with me. We were talking about lighting and he referred to the use of incandescent bulbs as “the good old days.”
Published in New Technology
Hydro One and Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. recently announced the AgriPump Rebate Program, the first program of its kind in Ontario to offer instant rebates to customers who purchase a high-efficiency pump kit.

The program is ideal for all farming applications, including livestock, greenhouse and vineyards. Upgrading to a high-efficiency pump will improve performance and could save customers up to 40 per cent of their system's energy costs.

"This energy conservation program is focused on helping our agricultural customers manage their electricity and water usage all while saving money," said Cindy-Lynn Steele, vice president, Market Solutions, Hydro One. "As Ontario's largest electricity provider to farming customers, we are committed to offering a variety of energy solutions to help them save on electricity and invest in programs that will meet their important needs while delivering a positive return to their bottom line."

"This collaborative approach with IESO and Hydro One allowed us to be very innovative with this new program," says Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. CEO and president Brian Wilkie. "We're happy to be able to cater to the agricultural sector and provide this instant rebate program on high efficiency pump sets with advanced control technology."

"Water conservation and high energy costs are a big concern for farmers in the Niagara region and across the province," said Drew Spoelstra, director for Halton, Hamilton-Wentworth, Niagara North and Niagara South, Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "The Save on Energy Conservation Program and this type of cross-utility initiative to launch the AgriPump Rebate Program is great for agriculture."

To be eligible for a rebate under the program, each kit must be between 0.5 hp and 10 hp and must comprise of a pump, motor, variable frequency drive and accessories. Customers can receive up to $610 per constant pressure pump kit. The pumps are quick and easy to install and guard against wear and tear.

The AgriPump Rebate Program is only available to agriculture customers in Hydro One and Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. (NPEI) service territories. The instant rebate is fulfilled at the point of purchase.

To learn more and participate in the AgriPump Rebate program, visit: www.agripump.ca
Published in News
Dalaine Farm
Sector - Broilers
Location - Shakespeare, Ont.
Published in Companies
The recently updated Canadian code of practice for the care and handling of broilers includes new requirements regarding lighting. The code takes into consideration expertise from a committee of researchers and specialists, and also considers several studies out the University of Saskatchewan, conducted by poultry researchers Karen Schwean-Lardner and Henry Classen in collaboration with Aviagen. Schwean-Lardner presented her findings at a recent Poultry Industry Council broiler meeting.
Published in Broilers
Canadian farmers are important drivers of the Canadian economy, and also make important contributions in the fight against climate change by adopting sustainable technologies and practices. Clean technology permits farmers to undertake efficient uses of energy and the production of renewable energy, while contributing to the protection of the soil, water and air.

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the research, development, demonstration and adoption of clean technologies, because they create good jobs for Canadians and help meet Canada's climate change goals.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay, recently visited an innovative farm in St-Eugene, Ont., to announce the Agricultural Clean Technology Program. This $25 million, three-year investment will help the agricultural sector reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the development and adoption of clean technologies.

Provinces and territories are eligible to apply for federal funding through this program, and are encouraged to work with industry on projects that focus on precision agriculture and/or bioproducts.

"This investment will help Canadian farmers stay on the cutting edge of clean technology by targeting developments in bioproducts and precision agriculture. Our government has made both agriculture and clean technology a priority for growth in our economy. This new program will contribute to Canada's place as a world leader in agricultural clean technology, helping farmers to develop new and efficient uses of energy, while also protecting our environmental resources and mitigating climate change," said Minister MacAulay.

The Agricultural Clean Technology Program is part of the Government of Canada's suite of clean technology programs and initiatives announced in Budget 2017.

The program will launch on April 1, 2018, and a program guide will be available in the coming weeks.
Published in News
Archer's Poultry Farm Ltd.
Sector - Layer, hatchery
Location - Trenton, Ont.
Published in Companies
As it marks its 75th year in business, family-owned and operated Sargent Farms is investing $10 million to enhance and retrofit its halal chicken processing facility in Milton.

The upgrade project, scheduled to begin this spring, will ensure the third-generation business will continue to deliver the highest quality, fresh products to a growing base of loyal customers in the retail, food service and restaurant sectors for decades to come.

“Milton has been an important part of our history and our home base for three quarters of a century,” says Bob Sargent, Vice President of Sargent Farms. “We’re committed to making the investments needed to continue growing our operation, provide our customers the best possible products and help make our community a great place to live and work.”

The footprint of Sargent Farms’ processing plant in Milton’s downtown core will remain the same, but all processing equipment inside the facility will be replaced with the latest, state-of-the-art technology. The retrofit will be carried out in stages over three years, primarily during off hours, allowing the plant to continue operating throughout the project.

Sargent Farms, which produces 100% Halal chicken processed by hand, has experienced significant growth over the past decade, driven in part by two retail stores it recently opened in Milton and Mississauga.

The new processing equipment will increase the plant’s efficiency, allowing it to satisfy growing consumer demand by processing more chicken in a shorter amount of time. Greater efficiency will also contribute to the processing plant’s overall profitability, increasing stability for its workforce of almost 300 employees.

Among other benefits, the project will help Sargent Farms continue to enhance its animal care standards and diversify its line of top-quality, local chicken products.

This latest upgrade for the Milton plant follows an investment of approximately $4 million in 2014.

“It’s important to us to continue to build on our long-standing reputation as a progressive and innovative processor. The investments we’ve made in recent years and will continue to make in this project will help us make good on that commitment,” says Kevin Thompson, CEO of Sargent Farms.

In addition to its Milton headquarters and processing operation, Sargent Farms also operates a further processing facility in Mississauga.
Published in News
Ontario is supporting farmers and agri-food businesses to improve their energy efficiency, save money and fight climate change through two new programs from the Green Ontario Fund, a non-profit provincial agency funded by proceeds from the province's cap on pollution and carbon market.

Chris Ballard, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, was recently joined by Parminder Sandhu, Green Ontario Fund board chair and interim CEO, and Dr. Helena Jaczek, MPP for Oak Ridges-Markham, to announce the launch of the GreenON Agriculture and GreenON Food Manufacturing programs.

GreenON Agriculture will provide funding to help improve energy efficiency in climate-controlled production facilities such as swine or poultry barns, greenhouses and grain dryers.

Improvements include new or upgraded energy curtains and cover materials in greenhouses and building insulation in walls and ceilings of livestock facilities.

GreenON Food Manufacturing will help encourage food and beverage processing facilities to adopt innovative, cleaner technologies, with opportunities for low-carbon fuel use, waste heat recovery, improved air balance and upgraded refrigeration systems.

Supporting farmers and agri-food businesses in the transition to a low carbon economy is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

“A competitive and sustainable agri-food sector is vital to Ontario’s economy. Helping our province’s covered agriculture and food and beverage processing sectors transition to a low-carbon economy will help ensure their long-term sustainability while supporting Ontario’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Published in News
For as long as he can remember, Dan Kampen has been in poultry barns. “My mom introduced me to the barns before I was two years old,” the Abbotsford, B.C. turkey and egg farmer recalls.
Published in Producers
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