Public consultations on ag policy coming to Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Anybody interested in giving their views on future agricultural policy will get their chance at public consultations being held in the province in early February.

The next generation consultations are being held across the country, and all interested stakeholders are being invited to provide their input during these important meetings.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is handling the sessions in co-operation with provincial governments. The stated objective is to work with stakeholders to develop the next generation of agriculture and agri-food policy.

The current Agricultural Policy Framework was developed by the two levels of government in 2003. Its current provisions are set to expire in 2008.

In Saskatchewan, public consultations will take place on February 5 in Swift Current, February 6 in Regina, February 7 in Yorkton, and February 9 in North Battleford. Those interested in attending any of these sessions are asked to pre-register.� Registration can be done online at

Paul Johnson with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) is a member of the federal-provincial committee that designed the consultative process. He noted, This is a national process, and Saskatchewan is only one part it.� It�s important that Saskatchewan stakeholders get out and voice their opinions. This process is an excellent forum for providing input into the future of agricultural policy in this country.

Johnson urges all interested parties to give some thought as to how agriculture policy should look, specifically from a Saskatchewan point of view. He says that the results of these consultations, once combined with results from similar sessions across Canada, will become part of future federal-provincial negotiations on the new Agricultural Policy Framework.

Take an active interest, because it will have an impact, Johnson said. I urge stakeholders to register early�as the sessions will be full�and to take the time to learn as much as they can about the nature of the Agricultural Policy Framework.

In addition to the consultative meetings, the public can submit comments to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada using the website, or by mail to 930 Carling Avenue, Room 833, Ottawa, Ontario; K1A 0C7.� Also available on the website are background policy documents and other information that may be of interest. �Hard copies of this material can be requested by calling 1-800-622-6232.

Following the public consultations, governments will organize invitation-only working sessions with key agricultural groups to focus on analyzing the input received as a way of guiding future policy development.

For more information, contact:
Paul Johnson, Manager, Economic and Commodity Analysis
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-5882

E. Coli vaccine important development for beef industry

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A ground-breaking vaccine for cattle, brought to commercial viability by the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) in Saskatoon, is a major addition to the Canadian beef industry's quality and safety arsenal.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has just approved the distribution of the vaccine to Canadian veterinarians. Based on a discovery by University of British Columbia researcher Brett Finlay, the science behind the vaccine was refined by a VIDO research team headed up by Associate Director of Research Andrew Potter.

The new vaccine greatly reduces the amount of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria shed by cattle into their environment that works by stopping the attachment of the E. coli bacteria to the intestinal surface in cattle.

VIDO Director and CEO Lorne Babiuk says this makes Canada the first country in the world to access a vaccine for the E. coli O157:H7 strain.� This is also the first time animals will be vaccinated to protect human health.

Our producers have always prided themselves on the safety and quality of Canadian beef, said Babiuk. This will be one more way we can maintain that standard.

The new vaccine will be commercially distributed through Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., an Ontario-based company.� Babiuk says some of it will be marketed within six months, and it is expected to be widely available to veterinarians within 18 months.

Babiuk notes that urbanization is putting increasing pressure on the environment for cattle producers, and if we can reduce the threat of contamination, this will support the safety of our food supply.

Babiuk says he expects that the E. coli vaccine will likely not be widely used by individual producers for their herds; however, he can see a day when it is used in feedlots.

The issue depends on how processors view this, said Babiuk. At some point, the large buyers of beef may require certificates of vaccination as a part of their standards.

The success of this development is encouraging VIDO to research vaccines for other closely related bacteria that produce similar toxins, include Salmonella and other E. coli strains.

The new vaccine's development was supported by numerous investors, including the Canada Beef Industry Development Fund and the Alberta Livestock Industry Development Fund.

Babiuk is pleased to see another world first from VIDO, which is based at the University of Saskatchewan.

It takes great minds and vision, he said. Imagination is great when combined with scientific ability.

For more information, contact:
Lorne Babiuk, Director and CEO
Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization
Phone: (306) 966-7475

Good soil management pays off in spades for farmers

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The 19th annual meeting and conference of the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association (SSCA) will take place February 14 and 15 at the Saskatoon Inn in Saskatoon.

The SSCA is a non-profit producer organization. Its vision is to promote conservation production systems that improve the land and the environment for future generations. According to Juanita Polegi, the Assistant Manager of the SSCA, both the association and its annual conferences have come a long way since their early beginnings in terms of how they work at achieving that vision.

In the old days, conferences used to focus on how producers could practice basic soil conservation. We used to teach things like direct seeding and promote its benefits, Polegi said.

Now, many of these practices are quite common, their benefits are well-known, and we've advanced a ways beyond that initial stage. Now, we're helping producers to improve their competitive advantage, discussing the latest agronomic information that will enhance their ability to look after the environment and at the same time enhance their production. The two very much go hand-in-hand, and we try to help producers maximize both, she added.

This year's conference, entitled Farming Moving Forward, will feature sessions on a number of important topics, including: new crop technologies, beneficial soil microbes, grass and cows, the environment and reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, alternative uses for prairie crops, improving pesticide efficiencies, and new and emerging issues.

We've chosen a different format for this year's conference, but our lineup of speakers is going to be as solid as ever,� said Polegi, noting that 32 different presenters will be addressing delegates over the course of the two-day event.

We've got a mix of researchers and farmers. The researchers are going to be relating their latest findings on a variety of topics, and farmers are going to be commenting on how they employ that research in their own farm situations.�

Another popular session will be a Youth Vision for Agriculture presentation by two schools participating in the Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) initiative. According to Polegi, AITC put together a hypothetical farm, then asked the schools to propose short-term and long-term plans for the viability of the operation.

We always find it really interesting to see how the kids take the information that they've got, their own experiences, their experiences with their parents, the research that they do, and the kinds of solutions that they come up with for the hypothetical farm, she said. That's always a crowd pleaser.

In addition, the conference will feature two bear-pit sessions: one on crop management and one on cattle and grain.� An evening banquet will include the presentations of the SSCA Award of Merit to a deserving individual and the Farm Family Award for excellence in conservation.

Polegi says the conference is one that has appeal to both grain farmers and livestock producers, and many of the sessions overlap the two sectors. People who attend are going to find out a lot about their soil resource and how to manage it well, be it through proper grazing techniques or proper crop production, she said.

As producers manage the soil resource better, it becomes more productive, and it just becomes a continuous cycle. Take care of soil and the soil will take care of you.

Anyone interested in attending the conference can register by calling the SSCA toll-free at 1-800-213-4287. Registration is $95.40 per person for SSCA members before February 2, and $116.60 after. For non-members, the fees are $116.60 per person before February 2, and $137.80 after. GST has been included in all fees quoted.

More information on the conference can be found on the SSCA website at

For more information, contact:
Juanita Polegi, Assistant Manager
Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association
Phone: (306) 786-1526
Website :

U of S "Market Prospects" program continues in 2007

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

For over 20 years, the University of Saskatchewan�s Market Prospects program, shown on CTV's Farmgate, has been helping producers make critical decisions in their farming operations.

The series will be going strong again throughout 2007, with its annual market analysis and forecasts for livestock, grains, oilseeds and specialty crops featured every Saturday through to April 21.

Market Prospects delivers timely commodity market and outlook information to people in the agricultural sector prior to spring planting.� Interviews with leading experts inform producers about changing conditions that will influence production levels and prices of major Saskatchewan crops in the coming year. Analysts also provide specific price forecasts for individual crops.

Dr. Larry Gutek, the Manager of the Crop Business Section of Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), says the program can be especially valuable to farmers as their businesses become increasingly complex and technical.

Farming is a challenging occupation. Producers are forced to constantly expand their knowledge base and their understanding of major issues that affect the sustainability of agricultural production and marketing,� Gutek said.

That's where a feature like Market Prospects can be most beneficial, in helping producers stay up-to-date and learning what the leading industry experts are anticipating as they make important decisions for the coming crop year on their farms.

The series is co-ordinated by the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Saskatchewan, in co-operation with CTV. The lineup for the remainder of 2007 focuses on many areas of importance to the overall agricultural industry and individual farm operations. Among the topics that will be featured are: the U.S. perspective on various crops; the world oilseed outlook; developments in organic agriculture and marketing challenges; approaches to addressing labour shortages in the industry; agriculture and the environment; CWB crops; pulse crops; canola and flaxseed; special crops such as mustard, canary seed and others; and oats, hulless barley, winter wheat and triticale.

Market Prospects 2007 receives financial support from the federal Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) program, SAF, the Canadian Wheat Board, the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

It is estimated that more than 75,000 viewers in the province watch the show each week, and it is also available across Canada through satellite television.

Gutek says that producers who want to keep informed on market outlooks and key policy issues in 2007 should be sure to tune in. There's something for all prairie farmers and anyone else interested in the agricultural industry, he noted.

More information on the program can be obtained on the Market Prospects website at or by calling the SAF Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Larry Gutek, Manager, Crop Business Section
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 933-5568

Farm stewardship expansion program benefits producers

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Canada-Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Program, which provides producers with financial assistance to maintain or improve the quality of soil, water, air and biodiversity, has recently made several additions to its list of �Beneficial Management Practices� eligible for funding.� Producers who have completed an Environmental Farm Plan�or those who have been part of an Agri-Environmental Group Plan�are eligible for funding under this program.

The Farm Stewardship Program began in 2005 as a component of the Agricultural Policy Framework.� Its objective is to accelerate the adoption of beneficial management practices to create positive environmental changes in farming methods.

A beneficial management practice is defined as one which:

1. ensures the long-term health and sustainability of land-related resources used for agricultural production;
2. benefits the long-term economic and environmental viability of the agriculture industry; and
3. minimizes negative impacts and risk to the environment.

According to Wayne Gosselin, Environmental Policy Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), more than 8,500 farm units have attended environmental farm planning workshops over the past two years.� As a result, �over 5,000 environmental farm plans were filed, and more than 4,000 projects were approved for funding to the end of 2006,� Gosselin said.

The Farm Stewardship Program now provides up to $50,000 of funding, covering 30 to 50 per cent of eligible costs, for approved projects where producers invest in adopting any of the identified beneficial management practices, up from the original $30,000 cost-sharing cap.

Changes to the program that came into effect in November 2006 allow the labour rate for in-kind contributions by producers to increase to $15 per hour.

Another significant change is the addition of several new beneficial management practices to the program list.� Those of most interest include: costs of removing underground fuel storage tanks; removal of the acreage limit for forage establishment on saline or erodible land; inclusion of gang- and shank-mounted on-row packers as an eligible item for conversion to low-disturbance direct seeding; and inclusion of costs for protection of biodiversity, for mapping, and for consulting related to First Nations Traditional Land Use.

Gosselin said, �These are changes that were requested by producers, and have been approved by the national committee,� which establishes the approved list of practices for the program.

Producers who are interested in participating in the program, or would like more information, can call the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Client Service Centre at 1-800-667-8567, or check the program information on the SAF website at

For more information, contact:
Jason Fradette, Regional Ag-Land and Agroforestry Manager
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration
Phone: (306) 975-4663

A Conversation with Doug Kimmel

The Marion Daily's Cherri Flinn sits down with Williamson County Airport Manager Doug Kimmell in this week's conversation piece.

What jumped out at me was where the reservations were coming from for the new air service to Chicago.
Doug: ... Pursuing getting an additional carrier is something we all knew we wanted to achieve.

Cherri: Isn't that the struggle all small airports face?

Doug: It really is. That's one of the unique things about the opportunity we have right now of starting service to Chicago from here, and also from Decatur and Quincy as well. They are very similar airports as far as size and the markets that they represent. So far, 95 percent of the reservations have come from this market.

I guess now with the new air service beginning we can start talking about a need for a new airport terminal, especially when they start looking for a third airline.

A new terminal isn't a new proposal. It was being talked about when I covered the airport board back in college which around the same time as the development of the Illinois Centre mall.

Friends Group at Refuge Seeks Members

The Friends of Crab Orchard Refuge, a non-profit volunteer support group to the wildlife refuge is calling on the public to get more involved.

Dues are $10 for individuals, $100 for corporations and $250 for a lifetime membership. Members also receive a 10 percent discount on any purchases in the store at the Visitors Center on Route 148.
Not only has a new year begun, but we are also ready to usher in a new era for the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge. With the adoption of the CCP (Comprehensive Conservation Plan) there will be come exciting new times for those of us who enjoy helping the Refuge.

... We still need your help — both financially and physically, if possible, in our effort to support the implementation of the new guidelines for the Refuge.

Meetings take place each month on the first Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Visitor Center.

New generation says Yes! to agriculture

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

“There is so much focus on the way it used to be. We need more focus on how it is going to be. We need to be able to get into people’s heads that things are changing.”

That is the vision of Lynden Butler, the chairman of the Young Ag-Entrepreneurs, and the focus of an upcoming conference aimed at showcasing the new organization.

The “YES! to Agriculture” conference runs February 2 to 4 at the Saskatoon Inn.

The Saskatchewan Young Ag-Entrepreneurs (SYA) is a new and dynamic group, active at both a provincial and national level. As a provincial affiliate of the Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum (CYFF), the SYA’s goal is to provide a networking opportunity for young ag-entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan so that they can exchange ideas and access development opportunities.

SYA also raises funds to allow members to travel across Canada in order to meet other young agricultural entrepreneurs, helping them to make contacts in industry and government in order to advance skills such as business development.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 40 who is involved in production and agri-business can be an SYA member. It provides a motivational platform for young people in agriculture to help shape the future of the industry in the province.

SYA has been around for over a year, and is looking for an opportunity to show people what it is all about. Butler says the YES! to Agriculture conference provides that opportunity.

“The conference is sort of the kick-off for us. We’ve got a lot of interest, but we need a big event to show people what we can provide,” he noted.

Butler says there are a number of sessions over the three-day conference designed to empower the next generation of producers by giving them the tools they need to succeed. “We’ve got sessions on everything from environmental planning to business planning. We’ve got sessions on the value chain, as well as two workshops offered through Farm Credit Canada’s AgriSuccess program.”

Butler says that, beyond the education and information exchange, the chance to meet other young farmers is a key component of the conference.

“You can’t predict the future from the past because of the way things are changing so rapidly in the agricultural industry,” he stated. “We need to have that network out there and to be able to talk to peers in the industry. We need to be able to look at it from the inside out; and we need to be talking to a peer group that is looking to the future, not looking to the past.”

To learn more about the YES! to Agriculture conference, SYA, and future SYA events, call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377, or e-mail inquiries to

For more information, contact:

Lynden Butler, Chair
Saskatchewan Young Ag-Entrepreneurs
Phone: (306) 373-2464
Cell: (306) 260-5645

Booster shot of U of S Vaccine Centre

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A proposed international vaccine centre at the University of Saskatchewan has received a boost from the federal government.

Health Minister Tony Clement was in Saskatoon this month to announce an additional $25 million for the International Vaccine Centre (InterVac). InterVac will be the first facility of its kind in the world to focus on vaccine development for both animal and human pathogens.

When completed, it will be one of the largest vaccine research labs in North America, with leading edge facilities not found anywhere else on the continent.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, says better understanding of animal disease, especially in large animals, will help researchers learn more about human diseases and how to fight them. These diseases, like Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) and West Nile Virus, threaten both human health and the livestock industry.

“Some 80 per cent of emerging human diseases originated in animals,” said Butler-Jones. “Everything from plague itself to influenza to tuberculosis to measles.”

The centre would have the capacity to study up to 180 cows or 5,000 chickens.

The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) is a key group behind the push to make the $110 million dollar project a reality. VIDO Director Lorne Babiuk says that infectious diseases are not a local issue. “Infectious diseases do not have passports,” he said.

VIDO is hoping to secure the final piece of the InterVac project funding in the near future. The federal government previously committed $24 million, the Government of Saskatchewan provided $25 million and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) provided $32 million. The University of Saskatchewan contributed $3 million and the City of Saskatoon provided $750,000.

InterVac construction is expected to begin this spring and be completed by 2010. The laboratory will be owned and operated by the University of Saskatchewan.

VIDO was created in 1975 with a mandate to develop vaccines for the protection of livestock against serious and economically devastating diseases, and to ensure that technology reached the producer. It has gone from a staff of five, temporarily housed in trailers, to a new name, a brand new state-of-the-art building, and more than 140 employees and researchers occupying 100,000 square feet.

For more information, contact:

Tess Laidlaw, Communications Officer
Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization
Phone: (306) 966-1506
Fax: (306) 966-7478

Support plans help rural areas attract immigrants

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Various sectors of the Saskatchewan agricultural and food processing industries, as well as many individual farm operations, are struggling with labour shortages. At the same time, most rural areas of the province would dearly love to bolster their populations with an influx of new families.

Immigration can provide a key piece of the puzzle on both fronts, but Lyle Selinger, a Human Resource Consultant with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, points out that attracting immigrants to settle in smaller communities is really only half the battle—retaining them is another matter altogether.

“Research suggests that the key factors that attract immigrants to a community include the presence of social and cultural networks and better employment and educational prospects,” Selinger said. “If a community has a support plan in place, it will foster social, economic and cultural integration for immigrants, and strengthen the recruitment and retention of skilled workers in rural Saskatchewan.”

A community support plan is a settlement and integration action plan developed by employers and other local stakeholders to address the settlement needs of immigrants nominated through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). According to Selinger, a successful community support plan is based on community consensus, engagement and action, and creates a “welcoming community” for immigrants by providing practical support services and cross-cultural mentoring necessary to help them adapt smoothly to their new environment.

Employers wishing to sponsor immigrants through the SINP receive additional points in the consideration process if they develop or participate in a community support plan or employer support plan. “This is done to encourage employers to help ensure a good support network is in place for the workers and families they might want to bring into the province, and to better assist them in adapting to the new culture they will be facing when they arrive here,” Selinger said.

Selinger noted that community support plans are usually quite comprehensive, covering several elements. Participants will want to consider how they might aid newcomers in areas such as finding accommodation; community orientation; language training; schooling for children; health care needs; transportation needs; cross-cultural training; social, cultural and recreational opportunities; and spousal employment.

“These are all factors that affect a new family’s sense of belonging in a community, and influence them to remain there once they have settled. The absence of supports in these areas is often cited as a major reason why immigrants sometimes leave smaller towns for larger centres,” Selinger said.

“With the level of hospitality and ‘good neighbourliness’ found in rural Saskatchewan, making people feel welcome often seems like second nature to the people living there. However, it sometimes just requires a little bit of effort to develop it into a more concerted plan that can be followed to meet the particular needs immigrant families often have.”

Rural communities or employers interested in finding out more about developing support plans as a means of attracting and retaining new immigrants can speak with Lyle Selinger at (306) 682-6722, or e-mail him at

For more information, contact:

Lyle Selinger, Human Resource Consultant, Livestock Development Branch
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 682-6722

Low-stress pig handling for hogs and producers

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Nancy Lidster compares herding pigs to being “it” in a game of tag in a small, crowded gymnasium: everyone is trying to dodge away in the exact opposite direction to avoid you at all costs.

Lidster has spent the last six years teaching people in the pork industry how to handle hogs with a lot less stress for both human and animal. She is holding several workshops this spring at which producers can learn how to become better and more humane hog handlers. The first workshop takes place on January 31 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Ramada Hotel in Saskatoon.

Nancy and her husband Don raised pigs themselves for approximately 20 years before Nancy was inspired by a Bud Williams stockmanship seminar she attended. The Williams methods for handling cattle sparked ideas in Lidster about how to handle hogs, and in 2001, the Lidsters emptied their barns to focus solely on teaching low-stress pig handling to others in the industry. They also make training videos on virtually all aspects of pig production, from conception to ventilation.

“It was sort of a matter of self-preservation and frustration,” said Lidster of her decision to attend that first workshop. “Taking videos of our farm, in our barns, and reviewing them to find out what we were missing in the equation to be able to move stock more easily.”

From the early videos, Lidster moved into teaching some of the Williams methods to her fellow producers.

“We found out that, quite often, we figure we’re the only ones in the industry that have a particular problem, but when you get talking, you find out that other people are facing similar challenges,” she said.

Lidster started taking videos of other producers and industry players and analyzing techniques that seemed to work for lower stress handling. Some of those videos are used during her workshops. Lidster also invites producers planning to come to her sessions to submit videos of their own operations for her to watch and analyze prior to attending the seminars.

Workshop topics included working with pigs’ survival instincts; recognizing fear, stress and distress in the animals and what it means; using your position effectively to move the pigs; and setting up to elicit the response you want from the animals.

“We expect pigs to act in ways that they actually don’t act. A lot of times, we’re going to instinctively try to chase them. It’s a matter of understanding how to use our position so pigs will do what we want them to do rather than fight us,” said Lidster.

Registration is still available for the January 31 workshop, but space is limited, so Lidster recommends registering as soon as possible.

If you miss the cut-off for the January 31 workshop, there are other workshops being held throughout the spring, all in Saskatoon at the Ramada Hotel from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The other workshop dates are: Wednesday, February 28; Wednesday, March 28 and Wednesday, April 25.

To register for any of the sessions, contact DNL Farms by phone at (306) 276-5761 or by e-mail at

For more information, contact:

Nancy Lidster
DNL Farms Ltd.
Phone: (306) 276-5761

Winter seminar from IHARF goes January 31

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation (IHARF) is holding its Winter Seminar and Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, January 31 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Indian Head Memorial Hall. Producers, IHARF members, and all other interested individuals are encouraged to participate in this event.

Guest speakers will discuss several key agricultural issues at the Winter Seminar. Scheduled topics include: grain market update; bagged grain storage – a low-cost alternative; an update of the Greenseeker™ optical sensor technology and its ability to manage nitrogen levels in wheat, canola, oats and barley crops; perennial weed management of Canada thistle and dandelions; nitrogen management in oilseed crops including sunflower, canola-quality Brassica juncea, canola and flax; greenhouse gas measurements; and use of fungicides.

In addition, IHARF will give an update on its work with the Greenseeker™ technology, which measures the Normalised Difference Vegetative Index (the amount of biomass present) and translates that information into how much nitrogen is required to meet potential yield. “There’s an algorithm that we’re developing that will relate the measurement taken – for wheat it’s at about six weeks of growth – and compare that to what the potential yield is and then you add nitrogen accordingly,” said McKell.

Another presentation will take into account one of the “hotter” topics in current events these days: greenhouse gases. McKell says greenhouse gas measurement is becoming more of a reality on the farm, especially since farmers have been able to sell some carbon credits onto the market. The greenhouse gas presentation will address measuring nitrous oxide, which McKell said is important to get a handle on, since it’s a much worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. “Measurement will let farmers know whether they’re producing it (nitrous oxide) and if they need their carbon to offset it, or just where they are in terms of greenhouse gas production,” said McKell.

Registration begins at 9:00 a.m., and the attendance fee is $10, which includes lunch. IHARF’s annual general meeting will follow the seminar presentations. To register, contact IHARF at (306) 695-4200.

For more information, contact:

Judy McKell
Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation
Phone: (306) 695-4200

Sanitation video latest service from food centre

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Food processors in Saskatchewan will have some help in keeping their facilities clean, well-sanitized and safe for production.

The Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre has released a training video, entitled “Sanitation – A Defensive Approach,” which provides important information to people in the food processing sector.

Carmen Ly, Communications Director for the Food Centre, says the project has proven to be very relevant to the industry. “Food safety has been a big issue in the food industry of late. We’ve had recent events like the E. coli contamination of spinach from the United States, as well as some other product recalls in the past few months. So the issue is on the minds of consumers, and on the minds of manufacturers,” she said.

“Proper cleaning and sanitation is a key step in reducing the risk of contamination of food products during processing, and that’s what our video is squarely aimed at. We found that the industry was very interested in this kind of training, especially smaller companies.”

Ly said the Food Centre wanted to make the video as comprehensive as possible to cover a wide variety of sanitation issues facilities might face. “It covers the appropriate steps to properly clean your plant to ensure there is no risk of contamination in your food products while manufacturing. It also deals with the appropriate usage of chemicals in the cleaning process. The video will assist processors in training their staff in proper plant sanitation to ensure the production of safe food.”

The video was developed through funding support from Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF). As a result, the Food Centre is able to make it available to Saskatchewan food processors free of charge. Processors interested in obtaining a copy can contact the Food Centre at (306) 933-7555, or by e-mail at

The video is just the latest service offered by the Food Centre to assist the food processing industry in the province. The centre was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1997, as a partnership between SAF, the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Food Processors Association.

This partnership has brought together a wealth of experience and expertise in a broad variety of areas, which the Food Centre has been able to deliver to the food industry. In fact, Ly says the agency can help food processors with almost any aspect of their operations, from the moment they come up with a product idea to the moment they begin operating their own plant.

“Our main focuses are product development, interim processing and industry training,” she explained. “We provide technical support to help clients with the research and development of new product ideas, production processes and such. We assist them with packaging options, nutritional labeling and sensory evaluation of products. Through our partnership, we provide business development support in terms of regulations, costing, marketing and getting into the retail aspect.”

The Food Centre has proven to be particularly valuable in assisting smaller entrepreneurs and start-up companies take their product ideas from the page to the store shelf. It can serve as an incubation-type facility that can get the products manufactured on a small scale for test-marketing, then pass the manufacturing duties back to the producers when they are ready to graduate to their own facilities.

One of the clients using the Food Centre’s services is Sandy Purdy, owner and operator of Prairie Berries Inc. in Keeler. The Food Centre is currently helping her to develop and test a dried saskatoon product.

Purdy says that, without the Food Centre, many small businesses like hers wouldn’t stand a chance of taking their product concepts to the next level. “Who do we have, resource-wise, to help us develop these ideas and thoughts? I’m certainly not trained in food science, so I don’t have the technical knowledge; nor do I have the equipment or facilities to test these ideas,” she stated.

“The people in the Food Centre are just a wealth of knowledge, and when they don’t have the knowledge, they’ll do the research to help us find the information we need to move forward. They work on my project with the same heart that I give to it, so I just can’t speak highly enough of this resource that we have here in Saskatchewan.”

For further information, contact:

Carmen Ly, Communications Director
Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre
Phone: (306) 933-7555

Sandy Purdy
Prairie Berries Inc.
Phone: (306) 788-2018

Beef symposium arms producers with latest research

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Cattle producers attending the upcoming Saskatchewan Beef Symposium have a terrific opportunity to learn about issues and opportunities currently facing the beef industry, as well as those that are on the horizon.

The conference is being held February 7 and 8 in Saskatoon. It is co-sponsored by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, the University of Saskatchewan and the Western Beef Development Centre.

Dr. John McKinnon, a professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the U of S and the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Chair, is one of the conference organizers. He says the symposium’s steering committee has developed a program that will not only share leading-edge research on beef industry issues with producers, but will also assist them to incorporate new found best practices into their cattle operations.

“The four partners co-sponsoring the symposium are bodies that are charged with either conducting beef cattle research, or are in the extension field working with producers to help them adopt technology into their production practices,” McKinnon said. “So we’re working together to provide the latest findings to producers so that they can incorporate them into their operations, both for their own benefit and for the overall well being of the Saskatchewan beef industry.”

The symposium will discuss topics such as: Beef Production in the Information Age; Growing Saskatchewan’s Feeding Sector; Saskatchewan’s Competitive Advantage in the Cow-Calf Sector; and Grazing and Wintering Beef Cows.

“We’ve designed the symposium to accomplish two things. Our first goal is to get the most up-to-date research results out to producers. A second goal is to focus producers’ attention on areas of the industry that are active and growing, and have the possibility for expansion,” McKinnon said.

He noted that these two goals of research and expansion are intertwined throughout this year’s program, and cited the discussion on cow-calf operations as an example. “We think there’s a tremendous opportunity to grow Saskatchewan’s cow-calf sector. So we have a session that looks at the competitive advantages of the cow-calf sector. Then we follow that up with the latest research on grazing and winter management for beef cows that will help producers make the most of these opportunities.”

McKinnon also indicated that the conference focuses not only on issues producers encounter on their farms today, but also on those they are likely to face in the future. “Two major initiatives in the beef industry are age verification and electronic identification of animals,” he said. “Our very first session looks at the opportunities that tracing information on animals will provide to producers: how it will open new markets for them, and what technology is going to be available to accomplish this. So we think that session is very applicable to what producers will face in the next five years.”

While researchers and technical experts will be prominent on the symposium agenda, McKinnon noted that many of the conference speakers will actually be producers. In this manner, cattle producers can hear directly from their colleagues in the Saskatchewan beef industry who are putting these techniques and technologies into practice.

McKinnon feels the symposium will be valuable for anyone associated with the sector, be it cow-calf producers, producers integrated with forage operations, or backgrounding and finishing operations. “We think that all of these different aspects of the industry will be able to gain some information from this conference and be able to take something home that they can apply to their operations, and hopefully improve their economic competitiveness,” he noted.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Saskatchewan Beef Symposium can download the conference brochure from the Western Beef Development Centre website at, or contact Dr. John McKinnon at the U of S at (306) 966-4137.

For more information, contact:

Dr. John McKinnon, Professor, Department of Animal and Poultry Science
University of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 966-4137

Nominations now open for new Rosemary Davis Award

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Canadian women involved in agriculture should apply now in order to be considered for the new Farm Credit Canada (FCC) Rosemary Davis Award. Producers are also welcome to submit a nomination on behalf of a woman in agriculture who they think deserves recognition.

“FCC is proud to announce this award that recognizes innovative women in agriculture who demonstrate a passion for the industry and serve as role models,” said John Ryan, FCC President and CEO. “We are committed to agriculture and want to highlight the industry as a viable career option for women.”

The five award winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to participate in the 2007 ATHENA International Conference in Chicago. The conference focuses on building strong leadership skills and provides networking opportunities for women.

“The FCC Rosemary Davis award also honours Rosemary Davis, Farm Credit Canada’s first female board chair and a successful agribusiness owner and operator,” said Ryan.

A nominee can be any woman who leads in Canadian agriculture and makes the industry stronger and more diverse. Nominations can be submitted using the online form available on the FCC website. Chris Clemett with FCC Public Relations has a few suggestions for getting through the nomination process smoothly.

“First, take a look at the eligibility guidelines and the rules and regulations on our website,” said Clemett. “I suggest that people print out the questions in advance and go through them on paper. It will save them time later on if they fill out a rough draft before completing the official form online.”

The nomination form requires complete information about the nominee (full name, mailing address, employer), as well as written sections on the nominee’s background, and a short section about her contribution to agriculture.

Clemett also reminded potential nominees that the deadline to send applications is fast approaching. Nominations through the online process close at midnight on Thursday, February 1, 2007.

Five recipients for the Rosemary Davis Award will be selected from across Canada. They will be announced by March 1.

Anyone with questions about the award or the application procedure should contact FCC at 1-888-332-3301, or by e-mail at

For more information, contact:

Rosemary Davis Award
Farm Credit Canada
Phone: 1-888-332-3301

Landowners co-operating to proactively manage weeds

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Every farmer and rancher is familiar with the trouble caused by weeds. Leafy spurge and other aggressive, invasive exotic plants represent serious threats to the productivity and profitability of many agricultural operations and wildlife habitats. An invasive weed can reduce the market value of land, degrade zoning capacity and devastate wildlife habitat.

Some invasive plants can also reduce the lifespan of man-made structures such as roads and rail lines. When the deep-penetrating roots of perennial plants like leafy spurge or spotted knapweed burrow into the normally impermeable road or rail bed, channels are left through which water can seep and cause premature degradation.

Ignoring or putting off dealing with invasive plant problems will simply result in the spread of the weed, and ultimately add to the time and cost required to contain and control the plant and recover lost productivity/habitat. For example, if herbicide is the control method of choice, delaying application can mean a ten-fold or even hundred-fold increase in the amount of herbicide required. This will result in increased costs and increased herbicide-loading in the environment, in addition to the damage done by the plant up to that point.

But a unique approach being tried in southwestern Saskatchewan may become a model for proactive weed management by facilitating co-operation among landowners in combating the spread of invasive plant species.

The Frenchman River-Wood River Weed Management Area (WMA) was established in 2005 across seven rural municipalities and the Grasslands National Park, which have similar habitats and share pathways of invasion that make the territory particularly susceptible to the spread of aggressive plants like leafy spurge or spotted knapweed.

Sue Michalsky, a rancher and board member of the WMA, says it is believed to be the first of its kind on the Canadian prairies, although these bodies are more common in the United States.

“A WMA is a clearly defined land area based on characteristics such as similar geography, topography, weed species, climate or land usage,” Michalsky said. “Its size and shape are determined by natural and logical boundaries that influence where specific types of weeds reproduce and spread.”

Since weeds are not limited by arbitrary man-made boundaries, neither are management areas. They can coincide with a broader watershed region, or cut across several municipalities, as is the case with the Frenchman River-Wood River WMA. In fact, since this particular zone borders Montana, plans are even being developed to partner with similar WMAs south of the border to prevent weeds from spreading in either direction.

“This reflects the reality that a land manager’s or producer’s success in combating an invasive weed species is generally not determined by his or her own efforts alone. It requires a co-operative, concerted approach before the spread of a weed can truly be controlled,” said Michalsky.

Weed management areas offer many advantages as a vehicle for weed management efforts. Rather than a year-by-year approach to weed control, Michalsky says management areas emphasize a long-term plan for combating the problem. They enable local landowners to establish priorities; emphasize particular threats; pool talents and resources; share information; communicate with the general public; deliver educational programs; assess risks to local water sources, crops and endangered species; and help to secure more stable funding for long-term management efforts.

The Frenchman River-Wood River WMA received funding from Environment Canada’s Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program to assist with weed prevention, detection and control programs. Additional funding will be provided by the Grasslands National Park and the participating municipalities. It is expected the project will also be able to access technical support from other existing initiatives, such as the Greencover Canada program, administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the Invasive Plant Program, delivered jointly by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and funded under the Agri-Environmental Group Planning Program of the Agriculture Policy Framework Environmental Chapter.

Business is now picking up for this southwest WMA. The group recently hired a co-ordinator, Julie Mackenzie, and will soon engage in public consultations. Land managers within the RMs of Val Marie, Old Post, Waverley, Mankota, Glen McPherson, Wood River and Pinto Creek will have an opportunity to learn more about this innovative project in February, when a series of public meetings will be held. More information will be made available in the coming weeks.

SAF encourages groups to try the Weed Management Area concept. Anyone interested in finding out more about WMAs can contact the SAF Weed Control Specialist, Clark Brenzil, at 306-787-4673.

For more information, contact:

Sue Michalsky
Frenchman River-Wood River WMA
Phone: (306) 295-3696

"Cows, Grass and Cash" set to be discussed in Yorkton

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The agenda is set and plans are being finalized for Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food’s annual “East Central Beef and Forage Seminar,” taking place January 25 in Yorkton.

“Producers in the east central region can look forward to an event where they learn, share and renew their awareness regarding management practices, new technologies and production issues,” said Jodie Horvath, SAF Livestock Development Specialist.

Horvath says this year’s theme, “Cows, Grass, and Cash,” promises to deliver valuable insights to producers in areas such as improving the profitability of their operations and understanding the impact of environmental programming on the Canadian cattle industry.

SAF Livestock Development Specialist Naomi Paley said, “The seminar will feature discussion on timely topics such as winter feeding of livestock. The presentations will tie in management strategies such as lowering the cost of production, reducing work load and increasing profit.”

The program will also include presentations on the latest research results related to cattle operations. For example, the afternoon sessions will focus on feeding options for extensive winter grazing, and introduce some new findings from the Western Beef Development Centre. Dr. Bart Lardner will share some of the recent data from a swath grazing trial involving feeder animals rather than cow-calf pairs.

The event is also an opportunity for producers to get an update on environmental programs such as the Canada-Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Program, and to meet the individuals who are delivering it in their area. The program offers technical and financial support to producers who are looking to improve their management practices.

The day will be capped off with a panel of producers, who will share their experiences in using low-cost feeding methods in their cattle operations.

“Having the producers share their experiences is a great way to wrap up the seminar,” said Horvath. “It really validates the research that is ongoing and the management principles we promote. Producers are able to hear directly from their colleagues who are trying these same approaches in their own operations, which usually generates some good discussion and a lot of interesting questions.”

People attending the seminar will also get the chance to visit booths and displays, and to mingle with other producers.

The event is held in co-operation with Yorkton Agricultural Information Inc., a non- profit corporation dedicated to promoting agricultural information that will benefit area producers.

The seminar will take place at the St. Gerard’s Parish Complex. The cost to attend is $15, including lunch, if delegates pre-register by January 16, or $20 at the door.

Anyone interested in obtaining more information or registering for the East Central Beef and Forage Seminar can call Jodie Horvath at the SAF Regional Office in Yorkton at (306) 786-1509.

For more information, contact:

Jodie Horvath, PAg., Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 786-1509

Deer Harvest Up in Williamson

The figures for the 2006 Illinois Firearm Deer Harvest show a decent increase in the number of deer harvested this year in Williamson County.

Hunters took out 1,330 during the first season and 678 in the second season for a total of 2,008. That's up from 2005 when they only bagged 1,884.

Williamson County ranked 15th this year overall. We were 14th last year.

Pike County in western Illinois remains the champ with 3,795 deer harvested. Neighboring Adams County came in second with 3,061.

Here in the region we were beat by Jackson at 2,596, Jefferson at 2,710, Marion at 2,218, Pope at 2,218 and Randolph at 2,763, Union at 2,127 and Wayne at 2,032.

Some of the differences can be explained simply by geography, Jefferson and Marion are 33 percent larger than Williamson. In the region, all but Pope County are larger than us.

Still, one of the reasons for Pike and Adams Counties' success is in part a well-developed system of hunting leases for private lands. In going through the old files I found a proposal about a decade old to do something similar here in Williamson. I'm not an expert in hunting, but it's something we will definitely look into as we work on a county-wide Tourism Development Plan.

ACAAFS surpasses 100-project mark in Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

An initiative that helps position Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector at the leading edge of capturing new opportunities has now funded more than 100 projects in Saskatchewan.

The Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) program was launched in April 2004 as a five-year commitment and invests $3.22 million annually to strengthen the province’s agricultural industry.

As of December 2006, a total of 103 projects had been approved for an overall ACAAFS commitment of more than $5.3 million.

The program is delivered within the province by the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development (SCCD). SCCD Executive Director Laurie Dmytryshyn says that the program has a fairly broad set of criteria so that a wide variety of projects can be considered for ACAAFS funding.

The program has been built around three pillars. Pillar I focuses on industry-led solutions to emerging issues. This includes industry-led projects that test new ideas and approaches. Funding is intended to assist the agriculture and agri-food sector in responding to current and emerging issues, and capturing new opportunities through collaborative projects.

“Under this pillar, we aim to support the development of new ideas, or new value-added products and processes,” Dmytryshyn explained. “The intent is to take advantage of opportunities for growth and diversification in areas that are recognized as industry priorities.”

Pillar II deals with capturing market opportunities by advancing research results. This pillar assists in creating market opportunities within the agriculture and agri-food sector by transferring research results from industry, government and educational institutions. The goal is to encourage business growth and improve the sector’s competitiveness through the commercialization of research results.

“Examples of projects funded here are business plans, marketing plans, feasibility studies, market assessments, engineering work and product prototypes,” said Dmytryshyn.

Pillar III supports sharing information to advance the sector. Funding provided under this pillar is intended to assist the agriculture and agri-food sector in gathering, analyzing and sharing information that will strengthen its ability to participate in the policy dialogue and shape the future of the industry.

“This pillar is more policy-oriented,” Dmytryshyn noted. “For example, health and wellness is obviously a priority area, so if there is a policy issue that needs to be addressed through a workshop combining health and agriculture, there may be an opportunity to seek funding assistance.”

Sandy Purdy is one of the applicants whose project was approved for ACAAFS funding in 2006. Purdy, the owner and operator of Prairie Berries Inc. in Keeler, received support to develop and test a dried saskatoon berry product that could lead to greater demand in the saskatoon market and increased value-added processing within the province.

Without this kind of program, she feels many smaller entrepreneurs like her might not be able to bring their good ideas to reality. “Without funding from ACAAFS, some of these projects would be out of the reach of small businesses like mine,” Purdy said. “We have small cash flows for research and development, and we’re just trying to pay the bills and stay alive. So these things wouldn’t be possible if ACAAFS didn’t exist.”

ACAAFS project decisions are made by the SCCD Board of Directors, which meets five times during the year to review applications. There is a separate, fast-tracked process for projects requesting under $10,000 in funding. “This provides a bit more flexibility for applicants if they’ve got a smaller project they want to get going on fairly quickly,” Dmytryshyn said.

The next ACAAFS application deadline is March 26 for projects seeking more than $10,000, and February 9 for requests under $10,000. However, there are additional deadlines throughout the year where projects can be submitted for consideration.

Groups or individuals interested in learning more about ACAAFS or obtaining an application package can visit the programs section on the SCCD website at, or contact the SCCD at (306) 975-6849.

For further information, contact:

Dallas Carpenter, Communications Officer
Saskatchewan Council for Community Development
Phone: (306) 975-6856

Sandy Purdy
Prairie Berries Inc.
Phone: (306) 788-2018

Prairie Cherry drives business for Lumsden fruit growers

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

It’s a short drive from Regina to Lumsden, but it was a long journey for Dean and Sylvia Kreutzer from city dwellers to organic fruit growers. In the six years since they made the leap, they’ve planted 25 acres of fruit trees, begun producing various fruit-based products, and have just opened a dessert bar to go with their store in Lumsden.

Dean was a computer programmer by training and experience, when his backyard fruit tree growing inspired him to begin studying plant breeding, and finally to become a full-time fruit producer.

“It’s four years from the day you plant a tree until your first harvest, so you have lots of time to plan,” he said. “We made the important decision to be not just growers, but also processors and sellers of the finished product.”

Among the 3,000 fruit trees in the Kreutzers’ Over The Hill Orchards near Lumsden, you’ll find apples, apricots, grapes and plums – but their signature product is the Prairie CherryTM. Dean says this hardy fruit is the product of over 60 years of research at the University of Saskatchewan to create a variety that was suited for Saskatchewan growing conditions.

“It’s a tart cherry, with more natural sugars than the B.C. varieties, and a higher acidic content, which creates a full flavour,” he noted. “The fruit retains its colour very well, and does not require much sugar added during processing.”

The Prairie CherryTM is at the heart of the Kreutzers’ most popular product, handmade chocolates with a cherry centre, all made without any artificial additives or preservatives. Natural flavour and colour is important to Dean and Sylvia, who grow all of their fruit using organic farming methods.

“Our fruit must taste good, as well as being healthy,” Dean said. “Most of our customers come to us for the flavour. The fact that we grow organically is secondary.”

Their fruit products, including pie fillings and jams, are currently distributed through stores in Regina, Saskatoon, Yorkton, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Fort Qu’Appelle. They have filled e-mail orders from as far away as British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, but Dean says they won’t look at expanding markets until they can keep up with Saskatchewan demand. He estimates that there may be up to 100 Prairie CherryTM growers in Saskatchewan, but only a handful with enough harvest to operate commercially.

The Kreutzer family operation employs three people full-time at the Lumsden store, Prairie Cherry Corner, where they just opened a dessert bar that serves organic coffee. Dean says the biggest challenges of growing fruit in Saskatchewan are weather, markets and capital. However, he is proud of what their operation has done to show the potential diversity that exists for food production in the province.

For more information, contact:

Dean Kreutzer
Prairie Cherry Corner
Phone: (306) 731-1442

Soil biological processes research truly a team effort

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The University of Saskatchewan Department of Soil Sciences research chair for Soil Biological Processes, funded by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), differs from most other SAF research chairs: it is occupied by two people.

Doctors Richard Farrell and Diane Knight are both soil biology specialists by training and experience. They are “job sharing” the research chair position.

“We overlap on projects that we do together, but we have separate projects as well,” Dr. Farrell said. “Our background and interests split along certain lines, and we just follow those.”

Their collaboration doesn’t end there, though. It extends to home and family, as the Ph.D soil scientists are also husband and wife.

They met at the U of S when Farrell, a native of Rhode Island, came to the university for post-doctoral studies. After a brief sojourn back to the U.S., they returned to Dr. Knight’s home, Saskatchewan, to raise a family.

The mandate assigned to their SAF chair position is to conduct research on the soil-plant relationship, focusing on biological processes and inputs that will enhance environmental and economic sustainability of soil resources.

One of their projects that is in the final stages of reporting involves “phyto-remediation” of old gas flare pits on oil and gas drilling sites in Saskatchewan.

“It’s an effort to develop and understand the agronomy of getting plants to grow in contaminated land, to actually reduce the contamination and restore the soil to an agriculturally-useful endpoint,” Dr. Farrell said.

Their test site has been a now-closed oil well near Carlyle. Prior to environmental regulation, flare pits not only burned off excess gas at ground level, but were also used as oil and chemical dumping grounds.

Dr. Farrell’s work starts after contaminated topsoil is removed, and various grasses are planted to bring the remaining soil back to life.

“The producer whose field (the Carlyle site) sits in said he never thought he’d see anything green grow in it again,” he said. “Today, that site is covered in healthy grasses, and the owner, Talisman Energy, is using it as a demonstration for staff.”

Environment Canada estimates there may be 100,000 such sites in Saskatchewan and Alberta, each of which is two to four acres in size, meaning a great deal of land can be reclaimed for production.

Doctors Farrell and Knight have also reported on greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the use of nitrogen fertilizer. It is known that some percentage of the fertilizer returns to the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, one of the greenhouse gases. However, their work indicates that conventional standards applied to the gas emission were developed in U.S. farming areas that are much higher in moisture and use much heavier fertilizer application than is typical on the prairies.

“We were always arguing that the results weren’t really applicable to Saskatchewan, nor to the prairies in general,” said Dr. Farrell.

Indeed, their research has found that the gas released from Saskatchewan fields is only about half the amount commonly found in the American studies, which will impact on any future federal standards developed for these emissions.

Looking ahead, the Soil Biological Processes program will be continuing its work on organic farming systems, use of inoculants to increase nutrient cycling in alfalfa, and the impact of changing no-till land to intermittent till.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Richard Farrell, SAF Research Co-chair, Soil Biological Processes
University of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 966-2772

Dr. Diane Knight, SAF Research Co-chair, Soil Biological Processes
University of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 966-2703

New project aims to help sustain species at risk

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Canadian prairies are home to some of the most incredible and unique species of plants and animals. Unfortunately, some of these species exist in numbers so low they are considered to be in danger of disappearing.

However, thanks to the co-operative efforts of several agencies, a new project is being launched across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to help sustain these species-at-risk by identifying and promoting beneficial agricultural management practices that will help to keep them safe and sound into the future.

According to Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) Forage Development Specialist for Ecological Services Dale Weisbrot, the “Species at Risk Beneficial Management Practices” project has two primary intents:

* to develop producer-friendly information packages describing beneficial agricultural management practices for prairie species-at-risk specific to eco-regions and habitat types; and
* to provide technical support to appropriate extension and program delivery agencies to support implementation of beneficial management practices by agricultural producers and land managers.

“The project’s goal is to review current agricultural practices and their impacts – positive, negative and neutral – on Canadian prairie species-at-risk,” Weisbrot said. “That information will then be used to identify beneficial management practices that leverage positive impacts and mitigate negative impacts on these species in each eco-region.”

The project is being funded primarily through the Greencover Canada Program, a Government of Canada initiative to help producers improve land management practices, protect water quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat. It is directed and supported by a partnership that includes Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, Alberta Fish and Wildlife, and Manitoba Conservation. Numerous other partner organizations across the prairies are providing technical advice to the project, and plan to assist in disseminating the resulting information to producers.

Sue Michalsky, a rancher from Eastend, is the Project Manager co-ordinating the consultation and overseeing the reviews and reference material design. Michalsky says that consultation will play a big part in the success of this initiative. She indicated that representatives of the federal and provincial agencies involved in species-at-risk issues plan to work with producers and species experts to develop consensus and craft technical information on best management practices.

“The project team is currently seeking producers or other land managers who actively manage for a species-at-risk on their land to act as advisors to the project,” Michalsky noted. “Fortunately, the project has generated a great deal of interest within the agricultural sector, and many individual members of partner organizations have become engaged in providing technical assistance.”

The development of beneficial management practices as they pertain to agriculture will be guided by a number of principles. The practices will:

1. be species-based, ecologically driven in a landscape context;
2. be measurable, based on the best available science and knowledge;
3. encourage stewardship and a co-operative approach that is relevant to producers;
4. be context driven, adaptive to the needs of the species, and flexible;
5. be targeted to species-at-risk, and not wildlife or species generally;
6. consider socioeconomic constraints for producers;
7. consider compliance and regulatory issues; and
8. consider technology transfer applicability.

Once developed, the beneficial management practices will be recommended and promoted to producers and other important stakeholders, whose activities can have considerable impact on the environments of the various species-at-risk. Current land management practices having a negative impact on species at risk will also be identified so that beneficial management practices can be developed to replace them.

The information will also be freely available to government departments, producer groups or NGOs that may be able to help implement the results. Federal and provincial agencies, for example, could incorporate the beneficial management practices and products into their technology transfer initiatives. The information could similarly be provided to help various authorities responsible for environmental assessment and regulatory review in identifying potential mitigation methods.

A Stakeholder Consultation Workshop is planned for January 24 and 25 at the Cypress Hills Provincial Park in Saskatchewan. The workshop will facilitate the provision of feedback by key stakeholders from the prairies on how the beneficial management practice deliverables can be made more meaningful and effective. Any individuals interested in this initiative are invited to participate in the project.

For further information, contact:

Dale Weisbrot, Forage Development Specialist, Ecological Services
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-9476

Sue Michalsky, Project Manager
Paskwa Consultants Ltd.
Phone: (306) 295-3696

Pulse workshop offers producers a chance to expand horizons

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The upcoming Regional Pulse Development Workshops are the place to be for any producers currently growing pulse crops, or those considering branching into the market.

The workshops are being held in three locations – Swift Current on January 30, Moose Jaw on January 31, and Weyburn on February 1.

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) Communications Manager Erin Athmer says the conferences are scheduled for the southern part of the province because that’s where the greatest interest has been in the pulse workshops, as they provide information for those producers who live further away from Saskatoon, where Pulse Days are held during Crop Production Week.

According to Athmer, the three main pulse crops produced in Saskatchewan are peas, lentils and chickpeas, with dry beans and faba beans also gaining ground.

Athmer says the advantages pulse crops offer should interest all Saskatchewan producers.

“Pulses should be included in every farmer’s rotation, because they fix their own nitrogen,” she said. “As a result, when you have pulses in your rotation, your fertilizer requirements are reduced – and nitrogen costs have been going up and up. There are also many great environmental benefits to growing pulse crops. So all in all, they offer a fantastic alternative for producers to consider.”

Athmer says the regional workshops offer “a little bit of everything” for producers currently growing pulse crops or those thinking about getting into the industry. There are sessions on market outlook, new herbicide and pesticide registrations, new pulse crop varieties, pulse diseases, agronomy research results, and global drivers impacting Saskatchewan agriculture.

“Our general theme for these seminars focuses on increasing profitability for our farmers,” Athmer noted. “We try to provide them with the latest research findings that are going to help them make the most of pulse market opportunities. We try to give them the information and the tools they need so that they can make the right decisions for their operations.”

The program also features a session entitled “Your Check-Off Dollars at Work,” where SPG directors and staff talk about projects and initiatives the group is working on, and seek feedback from the producers in attendance.

Athmer says that most of the presenters featured at the workshops come from within the province, so that Saskatchewan producers get to hear about research and market perspectives that are most relevant to their operations. This is possible because of the wide range of experts and specialists located in the province with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, and the University of Saskatchewan.

“We have sponsors that attend the workshops, as well,” Athmer added. “The sponsors have trade show booths at each location, so it’s a chance for producers to spend some time getting additional information.”

Registration for the workshops is $15 per person, including lunch and all coffee breaks. “We know it’s been a tight year for producers, so we’ve kept the fee the same as last year,” Athmer said. “Given the amount of information being offered, I think it’s a deal that producers will find hard to beat!”

Although registration can be handled at the door, producers are kindly asked to pre-register before January 26 by calling the Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

More details on the Regional Pulse Development Workshops can be obtained on the SPG website at, or by calling the association at (306) 668-5556.

For more information, contact:

Erin Athmer, Communications Manager
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers
Phone: (306) 668-9988
Copyright © Tourism News. All Rights Reserved.
Blogger Template designed by Click Bank Engine.