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Title: The Community Supported Agriculture Project

Club Name: Community Supported Agriculture Project
Contact: Chris Beeman, Coordinator, (613) 549-4800
Funding/Duration: $38,947 to conduct a four year project

Objectives:
The main objectives of this Club are to:

  1. demonstrate the viability of community-supported agriculture (CSA), both in terms of its contribution to ecologically sustainable agricultural practices and its potential to involve and educate the community on issues of sustainable agriculture;
  2. facilitate the dissemination of information regarding the environmental, economic, and social benefits of CSA to farmers in the Kingston area and to other small-scale farmers in Ontario; and
  3. promote public education of issues in sustainable agriculture through the community-supported farm, e.g., "Open Farm" days.

Project Description:
Project 1 - Community Participation:
Four open farm days will be conducted throughout the farming season. This will provide an opportunity for community members to see how their food is grown and for local farmers and other members of the public to observe sustainable farming practices within the context of anintegrated farm. Tools will be provided so that community members can be involved in farm activities. Both the actual techniques of farming as well as the general philosophy of sustainable farming and its implications for society in general will be informally discussed.

Project 2 - Season Extension:The season extension project comprises three sub-projects: (a) cold frames and lights (b) mobile hoop greenhouse, and, (c) coverable trellises.

The uses of these different structures will be demonstrated to local farmers and community members on the four open farm days. Cold frames will be used primarily to start warm weather crops early thus speeding growth and reducing dependence on external greenhouses. Mobile hoop greenhouses will be used to extend the growing season of taller warm weather plants and to advance the planting dates of large quantities of cool weather crops. The trellises will provide tall climbing plants with the potential for early frost protection.

Project 3 - CSA Manual: A how to manual for small-scale farmers interested in CSA will be developed. It will include general descriptions of successful CSA farms, their own growers journal, an analysis of potential pitfalls, suggested steps on how to start one's own CSA farm, and comments from farmers and community members about their own experiences with CSA.

Project 4 - Heritage Seeds: Rare vegetable varieties no longer considered profitable in the market, but possessing important ecological value will be grown for the purpose of enhancing genetic diversity. During two open farm days, both farmers and community members will be informed as to the value of rare varieties and encouraged to distribute the seeds to other farmers. Planning and preparation of this project necessitates research into the specific requirements of each population species, ie. plant breeding techniques.

Achievements: 1994/95
Community Participation: Increased participation by community members was recognized with three open farm days, one farm workshop, one public meeting, four public presentations and the distribution of the first issue of Annandale Farm Notes.

Low-Input Systems: A season extension project was under way, and the Club completed three new cold frames, experimenting with glass vs. plastic and automatic openers vs. manual control. Members are also researching adaptations of growing space to best use three new drip-irrigation systems.

CSA Instructional Video: The first edition to the CSA Manual was completed in the fall of 1994, and the second edition in spring 1995. During the same timeframe, the Club completed the treatment for the CSA film, identified filming sites, and filmed the first of the footage.

Heritage Seeds: Club members continued to grow and share heritage varieties, both for the sake of preserving threatened species and because often their nutritional value and taste is better than modern varieties. By integrating the open pollinated and heritage varieties of crops, the Club maintained a high level of eating quality of the vegetables.

Status: Completed

Table of Contents

Title: Development and Demonstration of Approaches to Manage Drinking Water Quality on the Farm

Club Name: Waterloo Centre for Groundwater Research
Contact: David Rudolph, Assistant Professor, Waterloo Centre for Groundwater Research, (519) 885-1211.
Funding/Duration: $173,000 to conduct a four year project.

Objectives:

The goal of this group is to investigate the occurrence and movement of nitrate-N in the shallow groundwater system in the vicinity of the well and evaluate strategies for improving the groundwater quality on various farms in Southern Ontario.

Project Description:
Multilevel monitoring wells will provide a method for mapping the distribution of nitrate-N both in the lateral and vertical dimensions in order to confirm the source of the contamination as being from a point source (septic field, feed lots, manure storage) or a distributed source field application of manure or artificial fertilizer.

On the basis of these results, a series of approaches will be investigated on a site-by-site basis to mitigate the groundwater contamination problem. These will include the construction of shallow cased wells with short screens placed well below the zone of high nitrate-N concentration in order to draw water only from uncontaminated zones. The placement of new cased wells at alternative locations away from point sources that appear to be causing the contamination will be another strategy.

Achievements:
A total of four farms were established as demonstration and investigation sites with active farm cooperators. These sites were selected primarily on nitrate contamination levels in the ground-water which exceeded drinking water standards of 10 mg/L NO3-N. A second criteria was the selection of sites that would represent typical farming practices and soil types on a provincial scale.

Sites were selected because of specific characteristics: sand permeability, rolling topography, chemistry and groundwater flow conditions under a wood lot adjacent to agricultural properties, nitrate concentrations exceeding drinking water standards, active and inactive cattle and dairy farming, the latter to offer an opportunity to assess the long-term effects of animal manure contamination.

Common to all four sites is the observation that the water table reached an annual high in March and a low in October; the average water level across any given site fluctuates on the order of one metre. Some site variances suggest that there is less average fluctuation of the water table in primarily horizontal highly permeable flow systems. The temporal and spatial variability of nitrate concentration with depth within the multilevel monitoring wells was also monitored and it was noted that general vertical distribution of nitrate near the drinking water wells does not change except for the magnitude of the concentration; and the maximum nitrate concentration in the multilevel monitoring well located near the drinking water well also reflects the month with the maximum nitrate concentration in the drinking water.

Future plans include continued groundwater flow direction monitoring, and the use of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a method for groundwater age dating in order to study the effects of long term leaching from an inactive feed lot.

Status: Completed

View / Download Final Report  [3014 KB pdf]

Table of Contents

Title: Introducing No-Till Systems into Crop Rotation Based upon Tomato Production

Club Name: Kent County Vegetable Growers Association
Contact: Mary Weber, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, (519) 674-1614
Funding/Duration: $36,951 to conduct a three year project.

Objectives:

This project will field-test no-till tomato crops in both a replicated design, and small plot scale in two locations, testing various tillage options. In addition, field scale trials will be conducted of no-till tomatoes by several commercial growers.

Project Description:
No-till tomatoes have been tried before, but only as a first year no-till and with limited success. This project will focus on long-term no-till locations to determine if accrued benefits of no-till can make tomato production successful.

Achievements:
The activities in 1994/95 included the revision of the research plan, selection and establishment of representative small plot sites, and establishment of three field scale no-till sites with growers in the Kent County Vegetable Growers.

Goals for the next year include continued development of the small plot sites and tillage treatments, as well as monitor and observe all no-till crops (pest relationships are of particular emphasis) in preparation for the 1996 no-till tomato year.

Status: Completed

Table of Contents

Title: Project I - Ridge Till and Strip Cropping Field Days

Project II - Comparison of Strip Cropping with Field Cropping Management
Club Name:
Ontario Ridge Till and Strip Cropping Club
Contact: Joe Omielan, Coordinator, c/o University of Guelph, (519) 824-4120 ext. 3770
Funding/Duration: $73,357 to conduct a four year project

Objectives:

Project #1 - The whole community will have the opportunity to examine research trials, the ridge till strip cropping system, and machinery demonstrations.
Project # 2 involves the following three questions about strip cropping: (i) how economic is it, (ii) how much greater are the corn yields, (iii) how much lower are the soybean yields in the strips next to the corn.

Project Description:
Project #1
will hold 2 Field Days per year to be held in both Southern and Eastern Ontario at the end of August. Land will be left unplanted and crops will be sown late in the season with main crops or with cover crops to allow for proper demonstration of the planting, cultivating, and ridging operations. Participants will be encouraged to observe all the operations for themselves in the same day and see how the host farmer adjusts his equipment to get the job done.

The Field Days will be held at different locations each year. In 1993, the program for the Thamesville Field Day included demonstrations of planting, cultivating and ridging operations as well as tours of the farm explaining the management involved in strip cropping and tours of research plots such as those comparing yields in strips compared to yields in blocks. Other activities such as viewing the displays, slide presentations and video tapes were also available.

The St. Isidore de Prescott Field Day will tentatively include demonstrations of the cultivating and ridging operations as well as tours of the farm and tours of manure management research plots.

Project # 2 - Field experiments addressing strip-cropping questions will be conducted by the Club. The experiments will be conducted on two sites in each region (Southern and Eastern Ontario) for a total of four sites. The strips and fields will be set up as randomized side by side trials with at least six replications. The width of the plots will be sufficient to avoid the shading by the corn but are not likely to be wide enough to avoid the windbreak effect of corn. The hand harvested and combine harvested yields will be measured on areas with the same cropping history (i.e. the harvested soybeans will all be growing on areas growing corn the previous year). Individual row yields will be determined by hand harvests in areas which had been previously staked out in the spring after crop emergence. These same areas will be measured throughout the season to obtain information on crop growth in the two systems. The results will be analyzed statistically and economically.

Achievements:
Project 1 -
A field tour for 15 participants was conducted on August 23, 1994 to visit four farms in Eastern Ontario and Eastern Quebec. Farm activities included ridge tillage and strip cropping, and the use of a homemade seed drill and a John Deere drill. A southern branch field day was held on August 25, with a farm tour that included soybean and corn variety plots as well as "lure" plots planted by Ducks Unlimited. Dr. Richard Cruse of Iowa State University provided an overview of narrow strip intercropping; more than 80 people attended. The following day, 12 people toured members' farms in Kent County.

These trips provided vital opportunities for members to exchange information about ridge tillage and narrow strip intercropping, and created important links with progressive growers and researchers in Quebec and Iowa.

The 1995 field trips will include a farm tour on August 29 in Lambton County.

Project 2 - In 1994, experiments were conducted at two locations (one in the east and one in the south). The experiments compared the yields of soybeans in narrow strips with the yields of soybeans in wider strips. The corn under strip management had higher plant population on the outer rows. The east experiments also compared side-dressing and split applying nitrogen fertilizer to corn, different corn populations under narrow strip intercropping management, and the effect of potassium starter fertilizer on corn yield and quality. A preliminary trial of planting earlier season varieties next to the corn strips was conducted and evaluated, however heavy white mould pressure made interpretation difficult.

Goals for next year include the continued study of narrow and wide strips of soybeans to compare their yields, with areas plotted without any "corn windbreaks" on the farm.

Status: Completed

View / Download Final Report  [296 KB pdf]

 Table of Contents

Title: Pre-Tillage Equipment Evaluation on Cereal (Winter Wheat) Stubble

Club Name: Middlesex Pre-Till Club
Contact: Amy Szentimrey, Agronomist, (519) 345-2881
Funding/Duration: $72,260 to conduct a four year project

Objectives:

To evaluate various types of pre-tillage equipment in wheat under a range of soil textures in Middlesex County.

Project Description:
In 1993, 17 field pre-tillage sites (2 acres), using the Aerway, Dynadrive and the Rowbuster, were established throughout the county, with most treatments being done between Sept. 22 - 24. With the exception of one site, a No-till plot was used as the standard of comparison. Plot maps for each site were constructed, including information on soil type, drainage, straw height and weed pressure. In late November, residue coverage was evaluated by the rope method.

Major 1994 activities throughout the growing season included data collection by Agronomists in field checks for residue and tillage, soil temperature checks at planting time, population and height measurements, crop scout, silking checks, and at harvesting, a yield check with weigh wagon. Data was also collected by farmers throughout the season, including evaluation of the planting operation, records of crop inputs, recorded dates of emergence, and harvested yield checks.

Achievements:
The 1994 data showed a greatest yield benefit from plowing, so a concerted effort will be made to increase the number of plowed plots in the third and fourth years of the tillage study, in order to verify this trend. Future efforts will also be made to study the effect of nitrogen on no-till, which has not been possible in previous trials.

Demonstrations were also conducted throughout the summer at several plots along main roads, with two main tours and several `casual' tours by curious neighbours. Additional networking opportunities included regular contact with the University of Guelph regarding its tillage trials and shared field sites, and contact with U.S. equipment manufacturers to share stateside data.

Status: Completed

Table of Contents

Title: Soil Life Demonstration Project

Club Name: Essex Conservation Club
Contact: Paul Hermans, Essex Region Conservation Authority, (519) 776-5209
Funding/Duration: $9,600 to conduct a three year project

Objectives:

  1. To study the population of earthworms present in different tillage systems (comparison of conventional tillage, mulch tillage and no-tillage).
  2. To study the population of earthworms present in a field that is converted from conventional tillage to no-till and study this field over an extended period of time.
  3. To determine if other considerations such as soil type, crop rotation or manure application have an effect on this population.

Project Description:
Earthworm population studies have not previously been performed or documented in Essex County to demonstrate the effect of a residue management system on earthworm populations.

Earthworm populations will be determined using two different methods:

  1. The number of earthworm holes present will be counted. This is performed by removing the top 2.5 cm of the soil from a 0.25 sq. m. area. The surface will then be smoothed out with a flat scraper and loose soil will be removed with a portable vacuum. A 0.25 sq. m. frame will then be placed on the surface and holes greater than 1 mm diam. Within this frame will be counted.
  2. Within this same frame a weak solution of formaldehyde solution (2%) will be applied generously. This will irritate the earthworm's epidermis causing them to travel to the surface. A more reliable count will then be taken of live earthworms existing in the soil.

Achievements:
In 1994, 12 Essex County participants signed up for the study, with farm sites varying from conventional tillage to organic farming, to no-till. Farmers used a weak formaldehyde solution to determine the number of worms present on their respective farm operations. To compare disturbed and non-disturbed sites, worm counts were also taken from an air strip and a forest site.

Data collected includes soil type, cropping practices, crop rotation, herbicide application and other management practices.

Goals for next year include continued monitoring of earthworm populations on these sites. Soil testing will be completed in 1995 to determine texture analysis and nutrient composition. Further species identification will be completed to determine a linkage between species and agricultural setting.

Status: Completed

Table of Contents

Title: Management of Corn Rootworms on Farms by Monitoring Eggs

Club Name: Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph.
Contact: Cliff Ellis, Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, (519) 824-4120, ext. 3076
Funding/Duration: $124,600 to conduct a four year project

Objectives:

The goal of this project is to further develop and test an ovipositional trap for monitoring the number of rootworm eggs laid in corn fields. The University of Guelph, where the trap was developed, will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and with corn growers to develop the cheapest way to use the traps for monitoring. They hope to demonstrate to growers that the traps are reliable in predicting damaging populations that require crop rotation or insecticide treatment, and demonstrate that the sampling can be done cheaply enough to be practical. Grower confidence, low cost and a reduction in pesticide use are essential.

The monitoring of eggs will be done on selected farms in the Guelph and Centralia area and in Central Ontario. Participants will be selected from producers who are not managing the rootworm well with crop rotation. Further selection will be made based on the severity of their rootworm problem.

The objectives of the project are as follows:

  1. to further refine and test ovipositional traps for monitoring the need for treating rootworms,
  2. to test the traps over three years of different climatic/weather conditions for reliability of predictions,
  3. to determine the critical average number of eggs per traps that indicates a potential rootworm problem. This value must be established with confidence.
  4. to obtain producer feed-back on the traps, and to modify the procedure so it is as simple as possible and still reliable,
  5. to develop a monitoring program from the above that is reliable and cheap, and which can be used by OMAF and corn producers to reduce pesticide use.

Project Description:
In 1993 test traps were set up to monitor the eggs. Twenty-five sites in various counties were set up, with forty traps per site placed and serviced regularly from Guelph and Stirling, Ont. The Department worked with O.M.A.F.R.A. to test traps for monitoring eggs, and conducted additional sampling on farms in the Quinte area. The efficiency of the 1994 traps was low, and graduate student David Inglis worked on the project throughout the year to develop a more efficient trap. Rootworm beetles were imported, and a series of laboratory experiments on oviposition in large cages is Completed, as part of the objective to develop a better trap model for the 1995 field season.

Achievements:
Sampling showed that rootworm populations are much lower than corn growers imagine, and this is greatly reducing pesticide use.

Goals for 1995 include the testing of a modified trap in 25 fields, with follow-up on fields sampled in 1994. A major emphasis will be to finish the graduate project in the next fiscal year.

Status: Completed

Table of Contents

Title: Non-Chemical Methods of Control of the Colorado Potato Beetle in Potatoes

Club Name: Ontario Potato Pest Management Club
Contact: Mark Sears, Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, (519) 824-4120, ext. 3567
Funding/Duration: $79,947 to conduct a four year project

Objectives:

To establish and evaluate non-chemical methods for Colorado Potato Beetle control in grower fields.

Project Description:
The Colorado Potato Beetle is the major pest of potatoes in Ontario. Because of the high volume of insecticides applied, resistance to these insecticides has developed in some areas of the province. Club members will provide sites, primarily in the Alliston and Shelburne areas, in cooperation with the evaluation team and will also help with applying the control techniques. Demonstrations and experiments will be carried out in Simcoe and Dufferin Counties, in collaboration with growers under the direction of Dr. Mark Sears and Dr. E. Banks.

Evaluation of plastic lined trenches for control of Colorado potato beetle: Seventeen sites were established along the edge of a potato field prior to the emergence of the crop. A plastic lined trench was constructed, and trapped beetles were monitored for the remainder of the season to determine the effect of the trench in reducing infestation.

Achievements:
The method proved effective at eight sites, and eliminated the need for one or two insecticide applications. At six sites the potato beetle population was significant enough to warrant control, while at three sites the trenches were not effective in reducing the infestation and some defoliation occurred before the beetles could be adequately controlled.

Efficacy of seed mixtures of transgenic potatoes for control of Colorado potato beetle: A field trial of transgenic potatoes containing the genome for production of the toxic protein produced by Bacillus thuringiensis tenebrionis (Btt) - specific for Colorado potato beetles - was established in an Alliston grower's field. The trial, in conjunction with a new product developer NatureMark, Inc., monitored the plots and yields of different mixtures of transgenic and non-transgenic seed. At one location, where transgenic Btt potatoes were planted in mixtures of transgenic and non-transgenic seed, control was nearly complete in all mixtures, even a 50/50 mix.

For next year, the trench digger has been modified for improved plastic laying and provide steeper, smoother surface. The use of teflon on the plastic will also be monitored for its ability to trap beetles in the trenches. Two new insecticides, Admire and Novodor, will be incorporated into the trial.

Status: Completed

Table of Contents

Title: Ontario Land Care - Extension Project Sites

Club Name: Ducks Unlimited Canada
Contact: Cal Holden, Ducks Unlimited Canada, (705) 721-4444.
Funding/Duration: $187,700 to conduct a four year project.

Objectives:

To establish five project sites in different counties across Ontario to demonstrate management practices that benefit agriculture and also improve waterfowl/wildlife habitat.

Project Description:
Most demonstrations will be at field-scale; however, one "special demonstration field" is proposed for each site in which specific management practices will be implemented to show variety and species comparison, establishment, fertilizer, weed control, grazing practices and other specifically-related management practices.

Grazing will remain the primary use of the land and the pastures will be managed by local Pasture Committees. Sites are located at Leeds, Victoria, Bruce Community, Long Point and Plum Hollow.

Achievements:
In 1994, all five demonstrations were fully established and major work was completed at three sites. Two twilight meetings were well attended. Specific achievements for 1994 included wetland fencing and construction, grass yields monitored, prickly ash demo started, training electric fencing installed, rotational grazing systems fenced, alternative watering systems installed, no-till seeded soybeans, buffers seeded, and erecting signs at all sites.

In 1995, the goals are to complete site set-up, finalize a sixth project, maintain the seeding/monitoring programs at each site and hold public relations events at each site to publicize the activities.

Status: Completed

Table of Contents

Title: Farming for Maximum Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability

Club Name: Innovative Farmers of Ontario
Contact: Helen Lammers-Helps, The Stewardship Information Bureau, (519) 767-5020
Funding/Duration: $100,000 to conduct a four year project

Objectives:

The E Plus Program has three primary goals directed at participating farmers:

  1. economic efficiency - maximize net economic returns per acre;
  2. erosion control - maintain soil erosion losses within the tolerable or "T" limit to protect long-term productivity; and
  3. environmental protection - minimize the impacts of agricultural production practices on the environment.

Project Description:
"E Plus" is a record-keeping and analysis program that enables farmers to compare yields, and cost/profit per acre to those of other farmers growing the same crops under similar farming systems. An environmental cost in terms of erosion control is built in, linking environmental and economic aspects of production.

Achievements:

In 1994-95, 60 farmers participated in this program, submitting records for 122 fields. Data was presented in a report at a workshop organized in conjunction with the Innovative Farmers' Association Annual Meeting.

New plans for operation of the program in 1995-96 were also implemented this year, when farmer records received - some containing inaccurate data - suggested that grower participation will not be as high as projected. A new partnership agreement has been developed, and an improved procedure developed in order to increase participation rates during the coming year. New corporate sponsors have also been sought, with Pioneer Seeds the first to join. As a result of these changes, the project is evolving to become more than a demonstration tool, but a unique and comprehensive management tool of great potential use to farmers and agri-business.

The goal for next year is to have 225 participants, entering 500 data sets. Criteria for data sets has been expanded to allow for side-by-side comparison plots.

Status: Completed

 


 

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