PAMI releases software to aid in agri-business decisions

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

After months of research and development, the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) has released an innovative software program created to aid producers and entrepreneurs in making critical agricultural business decisions.

The project, which was funded by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food’s Agriculture Development Fund, was initiated to look at the economics of whole-crop harvesting, but the resulting computer program can be applied to many different types of farming operations, explained Les Hill, the Business Development and Technical Services Manager for PAMI.

“The basis of the program is an outline of a farm model, including multiple crops, prices, yield and the cost of growing the crops, which are re-configurable to different farm situations,” he said. Producers begin by inputting data to create a model of their particular farm situation. Once a farm model has been created, the program allows the producer to see the impact of selecting various pieces of equipment for cutting and gathering, combining and handling the grain. The producer can also calculate the economic cost of different methods of byproduct harvesting based on the choice of equipment.

The program also offers an option to create a second farm plan alongside the first one, so that producers can compare and contrast different variations of inputs and approaches. Hill says the goal was to enable as many combinations as farmers might want to see in order to get their farm plans just the way they want them.

He said the comprehensiveness of the program is one of its best features, enabling producers to look at the full implications of any decision on their overall farming operation. An overview of the “complete system” is provided wherever possible. For example, Hill says the machinery section includes financing and depreciation information, which can significantly affect a lot of the choices a farmer might make.

The flexibility of the program allows producers to set their parameters and to tailor the program to suit every possible scenario in which they might be interested, he stated. “What if I were to go for higher-yield crops? What if I were to change my approach here? What would this do for me?”

Currently, producers can have a copy of the software mailed to them free of charge by calling PAMI at (306) 682-5033. In the future, PAMI may begin charging for the program, depending on demand.

At this moment, there is no telephone support line for the program, but Hill assures that PAMI will do its best to help anyone having issues with the product.

“We will be making arrangements with the first few individuals ordering the software to get some feedback on the program,” he said. “This way, we will be able to see whether we missed the mark or if we were dead on.”

For more information, contact:
Les Hill, Business Development and Technical Services Manager
Prairie Agriculture Machinery Institute
Phone: 1-800-567-7264, ext. 22

Industry supporters host food and fuel conference

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Emerging industries such as biofuels are creating new opportunities and new challenges with respect to the research being done in the agricultural sector.

A number of organizations, therefore, felt it would be timely to have a discussion around the implications these new areas of interest are having on traditional agricultural research. The result of their efforts is the “Food and Fuel” conference, taking place June 4 to 6 at the University of Saskatchewan.

The conference is being hosted by the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society (CAES), the Canadian Agricultural Innovation Research Network (CAIRN) and Knowledge Impact in Society (KIS), a project affiliated with the U of S aimed at helping to increase the connection between science and the public.

Richard Gray, a professor of agricultural economics at the U of S, is involved in both CAES and CAIRN, and is a member of the conference organizing committee.

“We will be looking at the implications [of the new demands for biofuel crops] on agricultural research policy,” he explained. “The additional demands put on agricultural research – including safety, health and environment, to name a few – have pulled resources away from research into increasing yields and lowering costs on the farm.”

If agriculture is going to provide continued food security while addressing the demand for fuel, Gray foresees a need to revitalize productivity growth. “As the world’s population continues to grow, there is significant global demand for products such as biofuel, which, in turn, has created a real need to increase productivity growth in order to avoid a food crisis in the future.”

The answer, according to Gray, is to figure out how to do research more effectively, and to put more resources into agricultural research.

The conference’s organizing committee has assembled a group of speakers from Australia, the United States and Canada to discuss some of these provocative issues.

“We hope there will be a fair bit of time at the end of the seminar for a panel discussion involving some of the major players in the industry, including both the public and private sectors and various funding groups,” Gray said.

Gray feels the Food and Fuel conference will have considerable interest for a broad range of groups, including producers, academics, agricultural researchers, policy-makers and even members of the general public.

By increasing the overall level and effectiveness of agricultural research, not only producers, but society as a whole, will benefit, he said.

Platinum sponsors for the conference are Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development.

Additional information and registration instructions are available on the KIS website at The registration fee is $200 per person.

For more information, contact:
Richard Gray, Professor of Agricultural Economics
University of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 966-4026

Provincial pest control program to be administered by PCAB

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Provincial Council of Agriculture Development and Diversification (ADD) Boards for Saskatchewan Inc., or PCAB, will be given responsibility for administering pest control efforts across the province under a new arrangement with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF).

The “Fieldworker Program,” a co-ordinated pest control effort, began in Saskatchewan in 1972. Grants were provided to ADD Boards and rural municipalities, which worked together to organize control initiatives at the local level. Pest Control Officers (PCOs) were employed by the ADD Boards and RMs to deliver services on the ground and to help property owners develop effective control methods.

As the provincial body representing ADD Boards, PCAB has long played an important role in program delivery, maintaining Pest Control Co-ordinators who focused on creating a more uniform pest control initiative across the province.

For its part, SAF administered the Fieldworker Program, including the designation of grants. However, in order to facilitate improved program delivery, streamline the funding process, and encourage education and awareness, SAF has now given PCAB the opportunity to take over the management of the entire initiative.

According to Tracy Wickstrom, PCAB’s Pest Control Co-ordinator, the move will allow the Council to establish a better line of communication with ADD Boards, RMs and PCOs without disrupting the delivery of a program that has been very beneficial across the province.

“PCAB will handle both administration and delivery, rather than them being separated,” she said. “From the average producer’s perspective, they won’t notice a big change in how the program is delivered. They will still look to their local Pest Control Officers as their primary point of contact.

“What it will do is change the contact between the ADD Boards or RMs and SAF. Basically, their project applications will no longer be going to SAF, they will be coming directly to PCAB.”

Wickstrom expects the streamlining will hold a number of benefits for overall pest control efforts in Saskatchewan, simplifying the process and reducing the number of channels through which program stakeholders need to navigate.

“It facilitates our communication amongst our ADD Boards and PCOs as to the efforts they’re undertaking, and enables us to be in better contact with them on a regular basis about their programs and their needs,” she stated.

PCAB is a non-profit agriculture organization that focuses on timely, effective delivery of agriculture programs to Saskatchewan producers. It is committed to working with both government and industry to ensure a co-operative, efficient approach to agricultural program delivery.

PCAB is the provincial level of the ADD system. Each of the 296 RMs in Saskatchewan has an ADD Committee, from which a delegate is selected to serve on one of 41 District ADD Boards. Each District is then represented on one of six Regional Councils. PCAB’s board of directors consists of two delegates chosen from each Regional Council. This structure ensures a strong connection to grassroots agriculture.

For more information on the organization or provincial pest control efforts, please visit, or call (306) 955-5477.

For more information, contact:
Tracy Wickstrom, Pest Control Co-ordinator
Provincial Council of Agriculture Development and Diversification Boards
Phone: (306) 955-5477

Producers encouraged to use auger intake guard

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Grain augers rank third in machinery-related injuries on the farm. That’s why producers are strongly encouraged to use an auger intake guard when moving grain.

Jim Wassermann, the Vice President of Saskatchewan Operations for the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI), says the device can be effective in preventing some serious injuries.

“The intake of an auger is a very dangerous component. Flighting has the capability to cut or amputate parts of your hands or feet if you accidentally engage it. The types of injuries that may result are major and cause long-term problems,” he said.

An auger guard acts to protect against such accidents, but Wassermann says there are some situations in which producers may want to temporarily remove these protective devices. Inserting the auger into a bin with a small bin hole or moving a trashy crop that is prone to bridging over the top of the guard are two such instances.

Unfortunately, this is where problems often start.

“I do find that producers are eager to use their auger guards,” Wassermann said. “But once they remove the guard, the timing might be inconvenient for them to put it back on immediately, or they will simply get busy and forget to reinstall it.”

The risks of using an auger without a guard are well known throughout the industry. Yet the statistics have not seemed to encourage much change in the way auger guards are manufactured. Wassermann feels this is partly due to the makers of these products facing competing demands.

“In legal disputes regarding this situation, rulings encourage manufacturers to attach the guard in a way that is very difficult for producers to remove. Therefore, the producer’s only option is to cut it off with a cutting torch or remove the number of bolts that hold it on,” Wassermann stated.

“The downside is that there are still situations when producers might want to temporarily remove the guard. So unfortunately, once removed, it becomes a major job to put it back in place.”

It is possible for producers to safely manufacture their own auger guards. In fact, Wassermann says this currently might be the only alternative for some older augers. To help producers with the task, PAMI has developed a set of instructions that can be downloaded from its website at

A Canadian Standards Association (CSA) committee is also looking at national standards for portable grain augers. One of their goals is to review the effectiveness of the auger intake guard. The resulting new standard could stimulate design changes on new augers.

PAMI has developed an auger guard that addresses many of the traditional problems associated with the devices. The “star mesh” design they have come up with is less prone to bridging in trashy crops, and is capable of supporting a 270-pound person.

As well, in order to eliminate the “nuisance” excuse for not putting the guard back into place once it is removed, PAMI has included a quick-move collar that allows the entire guard assembly to slide six feet up the tube without requiring tools. Removal and replacement are 10-second jobs.

Wassermann says the model is not a completely foolproof solution, but it has several advantages over conventional designs.

Unfortunately, the guard is so new that nobody is manufacturing it at this point. As a result, producers aren’t able to purchase it yet. “We are currently working with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association to look at ways to make it available to producers across Canada,” he said.

But given the potential dangers and injury statistics associated with this essential piece of farm equipment, Wassermann is able to offer one important bit of advice to producers. “Find the best working solution to ensure your auger intake is guarded.”

For more information, contact:

Jim Wassermann, Vice President of Saskatchewan Operations

Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute

Phone: 1-800-567-7264, ext. 223

Cypress Hills workshop highlights native prairie appreciation week

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

June 17 to 23 marks Saskatchewan’s ninth annual Native Prairie Appreciation Week – and also means that another interactive field trip will be organized to showcase the pristine beauty of one of the province’s natural hot spots.

The Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan (PCAP) is one of the organizations involved in planning events around this special week. Manager Karyn Scalise says that PCAP and its partners co-ordinate a workshop and field tour every year as part of their efforts.

“It’s held in a different place each year,” Scalise said. “Part of our goal is to familiarize participants with different wonderful places in Saskatchewan, and to give a snapshot of what that area is like.”

Past field trips have been held in the Big Muddy Badlands, the Great Sand Hills, the Moose Mountain area, Grasslands National Park and the Manitou Sand Hills.

This year, organizers decided to centre their workshop and tour at the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. “It’s the place where we held our very first Native Prairie Appreciation Week back in 1999,” Scalise noted. “For the past three years, it’s also been the site that our participants said in their evaluations that they most wanted to return to.”

The field trip will take place June 20 and 21. It will include a combination of in-class discussions and tours to local ranches and to sites within the park.

“We spend a little bit of time in a chair hearing presentations and a lot of time out in the field experiencing it for yourself – plus good food and lots of it,” Scalise said.

The event kicks off with a workshop covering a variety of topics, such as area plants and birds, heritage ranching and ranching for biodiversity.

Participants will get to put some of their newfound skills into practice, with a native plant identification team challenge and an optional bird hike planned as part of the two-day event.

Discussion will also focus on how to do health assessments on forest and riparian areas (areas near water). “This is a methodology being developed by many different groups in Saskatchewan,” Scalise said. “It’s a series of small tests that you can perform in an area to get an indication of whether your rangeland is healthy, healthy with a few problems that need to be identified, or unhealthy.”

The ranch tours will definitely be among the highlights of this year’s field trip, Scalise says, because they plan on visiting the ranches of two environmental stewardship award winners. Here, participants will see a stock dog demonstration and an example of how to use sheep to control certain weeds.

To provide a unique Saskatchewan experience, a barbeque banquet will be held during the first evening at the Cypress Hills Vineyards. “Whoever thought we’d be wine-tasting in Saskatchewan?” Scalise said with a chuckle.

The event holds a little bit of something for anyone who enjoys the prairies, learning about nature, or experiencing the great outdoors. “That’s the really great thing about this event. It attracts a diverse crowd. It’s everyone from ranchers to birders and other naturalists, to plant and wildlife specialists who work for government or non-government organizations, to average people who simply enjoy learning about nature and the environment around them,” she stated.

“It provides a terrific forum for all of these people with different interests to come together and celebrate the special diversity that native prairie grasslands hold.”

More details and registration information on the Cypress Hills field trip can be obtained on the PCAP website at or by calling (306) 352-0472.

Participation will be limited to 150 people, so anyone interested in attending is encouraged to register early. The pre-registration deadline is June 8. Fees are $75 for producers and students, and $105 for non-producers.

Those attending are expected to make their own arrangements for lodging and transportation to the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. From there, bus coaches will be arranged for all tours.

For more information, contact:
Karyn Scalise, Manager
Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan
Phone: (306) 352-0472

Connecting urban and rural: FACS launches billboard campaign

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

If you happen to be driving down the highway and see your neighbour’s smiling face on a billboard, it’s not a mirage – it’s the latest campaign from the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan (FACS).

Executive Director Adele Buettner says FACS restarted its popular billboard campaign after a five-year hiatus because it is an effective way to spread an important message about agricultural producers in the province.

“The message we are conveying through these billboards is that our producers are responsible, that they care about their livestock,” she said. “It’s a very positive and a very useful message. We’re all about being proactive.”

FACS ran billboards every year from 1996 to 2001 before setting the initiative aside for a few years to focus on other projects that required its full attention. However, Buettner says the timing is right to once again let people know about the positive things going on in agriculture.

“With so few people having direct ties to the family farm, we feel it’s important to showcase what modern producers look like, to remind people who no longer have that direct link themselves,” she said.

“So this year, we’re going to feature young, responsible, active Saskatchewan producers who are involved in modern agriculture. It’s the first time we’ve used pictures of actual producers in our billboards, rather than artwork.”

The FACS campaign includes six different billboard designs, posted in 16 locations across rural and urban Saskatchewan. Buettner says that’s a change from past campaigns, which were focused entirely in Regina and Saskatoon.

The campaign is running throughout the month of May, perhaps stretching into June.

Sponsors for the 2007 billboards are Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, the Saskatchewan Egg Producers, the North American Equine Ranching Information Council and the Saskatchewan Chicken Industry Development Fund.

“Our past billboard campaigns were very successful because it was a unique message,” Buettner said. “This year is the first time for our livestock industry in the province to collectively have a number of different commodities represented in the billboards. It’s not just a beef campaign or a poultry campaign. It’s a livestock campaign that brings all these different sectors together and presents them to the public. I think that’s a really great message.”

The billboards appearing throughout Saskatchewan can also be viewed on the council’s website at

FACS is a membership-based, non-profit organization that represents the livestock industry in advancing responsible animal welfare, care and handling practices in agriculture. FACS endeavours to raise producer awareness of the economic and ethical benefits of animal welfare, and to help consumers achieve a greater understanding of animal care issues.

For more information, contact:
Adele Buettner, Executive Director
Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 249-3227

New paint job part of maintenance for grain car fleet

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The recently announced repainting program for grain hopper cars owned by the Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation (SGCC) is one part of a multi-phase refurbishment plan aimed at keeping the cars operational for the balance of their useful life span, about another 24 years.

The SGCC was set up in the early 1980s after a shortage of grain cars ended up costing Canada some international sales. At that time 1,000 new grain hopper cars were built by the Government of Saskatchewan. The federal government and Government of Alberta also contributed new cars to the fleet.

According to SGCC Vice President of Operations Kelly Moskowy, the refurbishment program came about after sample inspections of the fleet by AllTranstek, a railway consulting company from Chicago.

“They inspected about 12 per cent of our fleet,” Moskowy said. “One of the recommendations that came out is that our cars need to be repainted because of corrosion.”

The first phase of refurbishment actually began last year when metal fatigue cracks in the cars were repaired.

“That upgraded our cars from a 260,000-pound gross rail load to 286,000 pounds, allowing us to load an additional 1,000 tonnes of grain on an average 100-car train,” he noted.

The repainting program will comprise about 100 grain hopper cars per year, which Moskowy says is roughly the maximum that can be done here.

“Since these cars are owned by the taxpayers of Saskatchewan, we want to paint them in Saskatchewan,” he said. “There are only two painting companies that do rail cars in the province, and between the two of them, that’s all they can handle given their other commitments.”

The main contractors are GE in Regina and Arco Graphics in Saskatoon. It will take approximately eight or nine years to repaint all the cars in the fleet.

The final phase of fleet refurbishment will take place between now and 2014, when all cars must have automatic slack adjusters installed on their braking systems to comply with new North American standards for rolling stock.

When the SGCC cars are used to move grain to the ports of Churchill, Thunder Bay, Vancouver or Prince Rupert, there is no lease charge included in the freight fees. As a result, it is estimated the fleet has saved producers $50 to $60 million in freight charges since 1981.

The new look for the cars is a background of what is called “Roughrider green,” Saskatchewan’s official flower, the prairie lily, a yellow stroke emblematic of wheat or canola fields, and the word “Saskatchewan.”

Moskowy notes that the new design “is a great way to promote our province across Canada and into the United States.”

He says the new colour scheme is actually about $1,500 per car cheaper to produce than the original paint job.

For more information contact:
Kelly Moskowy, Vice President of Operations
Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation
Phone: (306) 787-0551

Native Nova Scotian continuing research on the Prairies

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Although he lived in Nova Scotia his whole life, Dr. Michael Nickerson had no qualms about moving to Saskatchewan when opportunity knocked.

When a position became available in the Department of Applied Microbiology and Food Science at the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Nickerson jumped at the chance to continue his research here in Saskatchewan.

He applied to serve as the Saskatchewan Research Chair in Protein Quality and Utilization under the Strategic Research Program (SRP), an initiative funded and administered by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food. After being accepted, he packed his bags and headed to the Prairies.

Dr. Nickerson’s educational background began with a Bachelor’s degree in marine biology, concentrating in aquaculture. When he considered attending a graduate program, he came across the Food Science Department at Dalhousie University. It was there that he decided to continue his studies, obtaining both his Master’s degree and his Ph.D.

“I started graduate school and, at first ,was interested in the value-added aspects of aquaculture for food. However, I soon realized that I was really interested in food chemistry, so I switched fields completely and adjusted my research direction accordingly,” he said. His graduate research focused primarily on both polysaccharides and proteins, looking at how they behave and interact as ingredients in food gels.

Most of Dr. Nickerson’s post-doctoral studies have been spent researching ingredient delivery systems developed from plant-based compounds. These systems allow us to deliver a specific ingredient to a specific part of the body (i.e. releasing beneficial bacteria in the small intestine, where it is needed, instead of in the stomach).

Dr. Nickerson is currently administering two main research programs. First, he is looking at the value-added applications of plant protein for food, feed and bio-materials, specifically developing microcapsule delivery systems. These capsules are micron-sized packages made from plant protein specifically for the delivery of bioactive compounds such as flax oil. This will allow food manufacturers to use a stable form of flax oil in a host of recipes and food products.

Secondly, he is also working to deliver prebiotics and probiotic bacteria as an ingredient for food and feed.

Dr. Nickerson says there is a tremendous push to avoid using animal-based proteins, such as gelatin, in the functional food market. That’s where his research comes into play. “The market is encouraging the use of plant proteins as an alternative source for these delivery systems,” he stated.

Funding for Dr. Nickerson’s research began about six months ago. By September, six or seven graduate students will be working hard in the lab, bringing this technology to the marketplace.

While his work contains a highly technical and scientific element, Dr. Nickerson says it also holds a great deal of relevance for the average producer.

“It’s estimated that the functional food market in the global economy will be an industry worth about US$500 billion per year by 2010, three per cent of which is Canadian. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada anticipates producers could potentially realize between $300 million and $1 billion by growing the raw ingredients used to support this industry,” he stated.

According to Dr. Nickerson, the current plant protein industry in Saskatchewan is primarily focused on feed; however, his research intends to broaden its use by entering the functional food market.

“I’m taking the protein already extracted from the crop, and then finding value-added applications for those proteins based on their functional properties. The benefit to producers is the opening of new markets, increased product demand, increased prices and price stability,” he said.

“As in so many aspects of the Saskatchewan agricultural industry, supporting and investing in value-added opportunities is highly beneficial [to the Saskatchewan economy].”

For more information, contact:
Dr. Michael Nickerson
SAF Research Chair for Protein Quality and Utilization
Department of Applied Microbiology and Food Science
University of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 966-5030

Beef Development Centre Field Day always a popular draw

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The annual summer field day put on by the Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC) is coming up on June 23 at the centre’s Termuende Research Farm near Lanigan.

The field day offers a mixture of guest speakers, presentations, displays and tours of current beef and forage research projects and farm facilities.

Paul Jefferson, the Vice President of Operations with the WBDC, says the event is just the latest in a long line of outreach activities the centre has organized to bring people into its facility and tell them about the exciting research work going on there.

“I think the WBDC has had a field day for as long as it’s been around, and we’ve been around for 10 years now,” Jefferson said.

He indicated the centre is taking a different approach this year by moving the event from mid-week to a Saturday. “This will allow people – particularly some of the younger producers – who maybe work off the farm or have other commitments during the week to attend,” he stated.

“We’re trying to give as many people as possible an opportunity to hear about the research and the demonstrations going on here.”

A lot of information and activity is packed into the day, but Jefferson says the intent is to provide producers and others in the beef industry with an idea of the research that is currently taking place, as well as some of the interesting findings coming to light that might be useful in their operations.

“Our keynote speaker will be Dr. John MacKinnon, a professor of animal science at the University of Saskatchewan. He’s going to talk about the increasing supply of dry distillers grains from the emerging ethanol industry in Western Canada, and how we might be able to use it as a feed resource for the beef industry,” Jefferson stated.

Currently, dry distillers grains are used primarily in the dairy sector. WBDC is initiating a project using it as a feed supplement for beef cattle, particularly in conjunction with lower quality forages, to see how the protein benefits can be captured and how the animals respond.

Other initiatives that will be discussed include a time of calving study, where part of the WBDC’s herd was shifted to a June calving date from the traditional March/April timeframe; research on low-cost winter feeding systems; a collaborative pilot project with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration using a biological digester to remove sulfate from well water; research on using forages in backgrounding and feeding beef cattle; and an analysis of statistics that show a declining yield on Saskatchewan hay fields over the past 25 to 30 years.

“These are all very practical issues facing beef producers and the industry as a whole, so we expect the field day will once again be a very popular draw,” Jefferson said.

But he notes that the duration of the field day isn’t spent in a chair. “Part of the attraction of this event is that we take people on buses out to some of the field sites so they can see the research activities actually going on in real time,” Jefferson stated. “They’ll be able to hear from the researchers involved and dialogue with them right on the tour.”

Lunch is provided during the field day, and the event wraps up with an optional barbeque steak supper. There is a small charge for both of these meals.

Jefferson says that anyone involved or interested in the beef industry will be able to find some benefit in the WBDC field day. “If you’re working in the cow-calf sector, if you’re in the feeding or backgrounding aspect of it, if you’re in the beef industry at all – you will definitely hear some interesting and useful information during the day.”

Registration for the event starts at 9:30 a.m. on June 23, and the program itself begins at 10:00 a.m.

For more information on the WBDC field day, visit the centre’s website at, or contact Brenda Freistadt at (306) 682-3139, extension 2.

For more information, contact:
Paul Jefferson, Vice President of Operations
Western Beef Development Centre
Phone: (306) 682-3139, ext. 272

Rising temperatures put stored canola at risk

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Spring is finally here. But as we are enjoying the beautiful weather, the rising temperatures could be proving detrimental to producers with stored canola.

As temperatures start to climb, spoilage and damage of stored canola can also increase, resulting in lost efforts and revenue.

"We have had a fair amount of damaged seed coming in through the course of this winter to both elevators and crushers. That is in part a reflection of what happened last fall, as well as older seed that producers continued to put into the system," stated David Vanthuyne, an agronomist with the Canola Council of Canada.

"There was a report of a bin, approximately 10,000 bushels in size, that came in with over 80 per cent damage. That bin was essentially worth nothing," Vanthuyne said.

Some producers turned their canola or aerated it in November or December to get the core temperature down to zero. With temperatures back on the rise, the Canola Council advises that it is now important to bring that core temperature back up to 10 degrees Celsius.

According to Vanthuyne, "This will ensure that, over the summer months, the temperature in the core and the outside of the bin is closer together. That way, producers can avoid that variation of temperature within the bin which increases the risk of spoilage."

Some producers may have had an area of canola within their bin that was just on the verge of being too warm going into storage, but held stable. Vanthuyne says that, as the temperature on the outside of the bin increases, hot air travels up the sides of the bin and down through the core. Those areas might now be prone to increasing temperatures that can cause spoilage, such as mould, to continue.

"The process of conditioning is important, since it allows producers to get some air movement into their canola bins through simply turning their canola or aerating, whatever the case may be. That equalizes the temperature and prevents spoilage," he said. "Conditioning is just a natural process of canola."

Coming into the spring, Vanthuyne points out there is no definite timeline of how long it will take for damage to begin occurring. But producers should be cautious of the ways in which damage can potentially occur and the risks associated with it.

"Throughout the month of May, we are advising growers to turn on their fans for a few days to try to equalize the temperatures within the bins."

Vanthuyne says the best way to measure the current temperature of stored canola is to pull out part of the load and take a sample. If they have temperature sensors within the bins, he suggests the canola will be stable for the summer when it starts to get up above 10 or 15 degrees Celsius.

"Last year, there was not a huge problem in terms of moisture. Canola was dry, but growers often think that dry is safe, which is false. Temperature is just as crucial as moisture."

Vanthuyne says it is important that producers do some of the preparation for canola storage at the beginning of the winter, and then turn that process around coming to the summer months. "With proper storage conditions, canola will be stable and can be stored for up to two or three years."

The Canola Council is making available a Canola Storage Time Chart, which outlines in more detail the risks associated with the rising temperatures and moisture levels pertaining to unstable canola. The chart will be contained in the Canola Growers Manual, which will be posted on the council's website at in the near future.

For more information, contact:

David Vanthuyne, Agronomist
Canola Council of Canada
Phone: (306) 782-7799

Canola watch provides timely information to growers

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The latest Crop Report from Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food estimates that acreage seeded to canola in the province will increase by six per cent this year over 2006.

With canola production expected to rise, a tool that can provide weekly updates and timely information on crop issues could be a big help to producers, researchers and other stakeholders associated with the industry.

The Canola Agronomy Network is once again distributing its “Canola Watch” reports for the 2007 growing season. Reports will begin in early May.

The electronic updates are e-mailed at no charge to anyone interested in tracking the progress of the prairie canola crop. Recipients simply need to sign up for the service.

David Vanthuyne, the Canola Council of Canada’s agronomist for eastern Saskatchewan, says the service has been very popular since its inception. “Our weekly reports over the past four seasons have been extremely successful in relaying key agronomic issues to all segments of the canola industry,” he stated.

The Canola Watch reports provide details of what is happening out in the field, and also relay information to identify and deal with issues as they arise, such as the bertha army worm infestations that occurred during July and August in 2006.

“It’s related to everything from insect outbreaks to problems occurring with stand establishment – anything related to canola agronomics will get brought forward. Then we, in turn, either offer solutions or identify sources where growers can go for more information,” Vanthuyne explained.

Vanthuyne says this proactive approach will continue to help many growers and industry agronomists stay on top of canola crop management. “The whole idea behind Canola Watch was to gather information from a wide range of sources related to canola agronomics, and bring it to growers as quickly as we possibly could.”

The Canola Agronomy Network includes more than 20 agronomists and prairie extension specialists, plus growers and industry retailers, who take part in weekly conference calls from late April to early September. Based on those discussions, they prepare the weekly Canola Watch updates.

The reports are then e-mailed to a growing list of over 1,000 industry professionals and producers each week.

“Our number one focus is to provide canola growers and the people who advise them with in-season, just-in-time information,” said John Mayko, chair of the Network and Senior Agronomist for the Canola Council of Canada.

“We are very pleased with the continued response and enthusiasm of the people who have come on board.”

Producers and other canola industry stakeholders wishing to add their names to the Canola Watch distribution list can sign up on the Canola Council’s website at, send an e-mail to, or call the agency’s head office at (204) 982-2100.

The weekly reports are also available online at

For more information, contact:
David Vanthuyne, Agronomist
Canola Council of Canada
Phone: (306) 782-7799

John Mayko, Chair
Canola Advisory Network
Phone: (780) 764-2593

Organic exporters get a boost

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatchewan’s organic sector is getting a boost with the expansion of a successful financing program for exporters.

Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) is providing $1 million in targeted support for companies exporting organic or natural branded agricultural products through the nextrade™ program.

The nextrade™ finance initiative is administered by STEP – the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership. The program provides customized financing solutions for small and medium-sized exporters in the province. Basically, it gives companies the ability to grow larger by providing flexible financing to cover the costs of doing business abroad, such as the input costs required to fill a large order.

The program has been a huge success since its inception two years ago, generating an estimated $18 million impact on the Saskatchewan economy.

The new investment from SAF will enable nextradeTM to focus on one of its biggest clients.

“The funding will allow STEP to further meet the demands of our rapidly growing organic sector, which has become a dominant area of past nextrade™ finance lending,” said STEP CEO Dale Botting.

“By creating this separate fund balance dedicated to the sale of organics and natural products, the injection will also create more room in the balance of the nextrade™ finance fund to serve the increased demand from all other sectors.”

Agricultural commodities and agri-value sectors account for over half of the value of all transactions under the initiative. The organic sector accounts for 90 per cent of the program’s transactions in the agricultural commodity sector.

Saskatchewan is Canada’s leading exporter of organic products. The province has the largest acreage of certified organic farmland in Canada (more than 700,000 acres), as well as the largest number of certified organic producers (more than 1,200).

SAF Minister Mark Wartman says the funding will meet an important market demand.

“We wanted to ensure that STEP has the resources it needs to continue to meet the demands of our growing organic sector, both now and into the future,” said Wartman.

Botting used the announcement as an opportunity to applaud the government’s response to that need.

“This announcement is a testament to our excellent public-private partnership between STEP and the Saskatchewan Government,” Botting said.

For more information, contact:
Glen Millard, Executive Director of Export Services
Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership
Phone: (306) 529-7252

Workshop helps those with a flair for innovating and inventing

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Biotechnology is a field on the cutting edge, with research and development continually leading to new products, new innovations and new applications.

Because of the many discoveries that originate in the biotech industry, the management and protection of intellectual property, or IP, is an important consideration. Otherwise, months and years of hard work could be scooped up and taken to market by someone who had little or nothing to do with the actual find.

This challenge that constantly faces innovators is the reason Ag-West Bio Inc. organized the Intellectual Property Management Workshop, taking place May 14 in Saskatoon.

“The intent of the workshop is to provide practical strategies for knowledge-based companies in protecting and extracting value from their intellectual property, be it patents, trademarks, trade secrets, market knowledge or internal processes,” said Jazmin Bolanos, Project Co-ordinator with Ag-West Bio.

Bolanos says the workshop is relevant to a wide range of stakeholders, from financial professionals such as senior executives and venture capital managers, to entrepreneurs and business people actively involved in the commercialization of new technology, to the researchers and inventors responsible for the discoveries.

With considerable innovation currently taking place in the agricultural industry, Bolanos suggested the seminar may be of particular interest to this sector. “The workshop will provide practical intellectual property strategies for value-added agriculture businesses, with specific examples from actual Saskatchewan agri-businesses,” she stated.

Some of the brightest innovations in agriculture come right from the hands that work the soil. As a result, even the average producer with a penchant for inventing new devices to make life easier on the farm or the field might find a lot of benefit from attending the session.

The workshop will be conducted by Dan Polonenko, a Patent Agent with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, considered to be one of Canada’s leading law firms in this area.

Polonenko has 20 years of experience in the Canadian biotech industry, including more than seven at the corporate executive level. In addition to authoring a wide array of scientific papers and co-inventing four issued patent families, he has provided extensive intellectual property expertise and knowledge to a variety of organizations.

Among the important questions that will be examined in the workshop are: What is the role, value and usefulness of IP? How does it give an organization a competitive advantage? How should IP be licensed?

Registration for the Intellectual Property Management Workshop is $70 for Ag-West Bio members and $75 for non-members. Registration forms and additional information on the full-day session can be obtained online at, or by calling (306) 975-1939.

For more information, contact:
Jazmin Bolanos, Project Co-ordinator
Ag-West Bio Inc.
Phone: (306) 668-2659

Midge-resistant varieties begin the trek to market

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

It’s taken 15 years so far – and the wait isn’t over – but four wheat varieties with resistance to wheat midge have now been recommended for registration.

Developed by wheat breeders from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Swift Current and Winnipeg, three of the varieties are in the Canadian Western Red Spring wheat class, and one is in the Canada Western Extra Strong wheat class.

The research was supported by the Western Grains Research Foundation in Saskatoon. Lanette Kuchenski, Executive Director of the Foundation, says it will be a while before the new varieties become available.

“What happens now is the line is licensed to a seed distributor,” said Kuckenski. “They will begin increasing the seed, and it will take two to four years to increase it to the point where it can be made available for general use.”

The midge-resistant trait was found in older American soft red winter wheat varieties. It has taken this long to move the trait into spring wheat varieties that also have the superior yield and other traits sought by Western Canadian farmers.

The resistance is the result of the induction of two naturally occurring compounds in the wheat kernels, ferulic acid and p-cumaric acid. With these compounds present, wheat midge larvae are not able to develop when feeding on the immature kernels.

Kuchenski says that one of the challenges is to intentionally keep the new varieties from being 100 per cent midge resistant.

“What we’re trying to do is ensure that this one gene is somewhat protected from the wheat midge gaining resistance to it,” she said. “So we’re actually going to have to work with the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) to ensure that we can put in between five to 10 per cent of non-resistant variety.”

The objective of maintaining some non-midge resistant plants within the varieties is to extend useful life of the resistant gene.

“What that’s going to do is allow the insect to survive in relatively small numbers and have a very minor impact on yields and grades,” said Kuchenski. In this way, there will be less pressure on the wheat midge population to develop tolerance to the resistant wheat varieties.

By holding back reproduction of the midge that feed on resistant plants, the impact of the new varieties should last another 10 to 20 years before the midge develops its own adaptation and learns to prosper on the resistant wheat.

Kuchenski says it is important to protect this technological advance because of the substantial investment required to develop the resistant varieties.

“It’s extremely costly to breed for this resistance, because of the length of time and the amount of resources you put in before you see any type of light at the end of the tunnel,” she stated. “What we want to do is try to protect the gene a little bit longer than we have in the past, which will give us the time to look for other alternative resistant genes.”

The Western Grains Research Foundation uses a wheat check-off to fund the research, as well as government support for the projects.

According to Kuchenski, the midge resistant varieties are important for producers, not only because they will mitigate losses, but also because management of wheat midge infestations can be difficult.

“The only defence that producers have is pesticide application, which is costly,” she said. “It’s also really difficult to know the best time to spray for midge, and the expert resources who can help tend to be in demand all at the same time of the growing season.”

Wheat midge damage resulted in yield losses and downgrading of wheat crops, largely in the east central and northeastern parts of the province in 2006. If conditions are favourable in 2007, wheat midge are likely to be even more widespread, so producers will be waiting anxiously for these new seed varieties to become available in the future.

For more information, contact:

Lanette Kuchenski, Executive Director
Western Grains Research Foundation
Phone: (306) 975-0060

Strategies to deal with bloat in cattle grazing alfalfa

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Grazing cattle on alfalfa has proven advantages. The crop grows well without the need for nitrogen fertilizer, keeping operating costs low. It also provides the kind of high-quality feed that reduces production costs per animal. Additionally, it has environmental benefits in terms of soil protection and lessening the generation of methane in a cow’s digestion process.

Alfalfa is often combined with grass when it is incorporated into a pasture stand. However, a concern that can make producers think twice about including it in their forage mix is the risk of bloat.

But Lorne Klein, a Forage Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), says there are some general guidelines that can help cattle farmers deal with that risk.

“One strategy to reduce the threat of bloat is to include non-bloating legumes in the seed mix, such as sainfoin or cicer milkvetch, along with the alfalfa and grass,” he said.

Other seeding techniques that will mitigate bloat risk include using the bloat-reduced alfalfa variety (AC Grazeland), selecting grass species that re-grow quickly after grazing, using an alfalfa species that re-grows slowly after grazing, and seeding the mix together in the same seed row rather than separate rows.

“You can also manage bloat risk by monitoring the state of plant growth and moving the herd accordingly,” Klein noted. “The greatest risk of bloat occurs during the alfalfa’s rapid vegetative growth before flowering occurs.”

Other risk factors to watch for include frost damage in spring and fall, and the presence of morning dew, both of which tend to increase the likelihood of bloat occurring. Klein says it is also important that livestock grazing alfalfa have a good water supply, as well as salt and mineral ration.

There are bloat control products available on the market that will similarly reduce its occurrence. They include Rumensin CRC, a controlled release capsule administered orally before turning the cattle onto pasture, and Bloat Guard, which is very effective when fed daily.

There are other products under development or in use outside of Canada, but they have yet to be approved for use here.

Klein notes that livestock selection may be an additional factor in decreasing bloat on an alfalfa/grass forage mix.

“Cattle’s tendency to bloat is believed by some to be inherited,” he said. “That suggests keeping replacements from known low-bloat cows. There is also some belief that livestock can learn how to graze alfalfa more slowly.”

Klein stresses that every strategy has its limitations, and there is no absolute guarantee that producers grazing on alfalfa will not witness some bloat in their herds. However, these practices have shown results in reducing that risk.

More information on forage and grazing, including suggested approaches to prevent bloat in cattle, can be obtained on the SAF website at or by calling the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

For more information, contact:
Lorne Klein, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 848-2382

New herd to advance research in beef industry

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The federal and Saskatchewan governments are providing $1.1 million to replace the research herd and upgrade research equipment at the Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC) near Lanigan.

WBDC Vice President of Operations Paul Jefferson says the current herd being used for cow-calf research is a commercial, mixed breed herd with a varied background. This can sometimes diminish the certainty of the results drawn from studies done on the cattle, particularly in some of the newer research fields that are becoming increasingly popular with scientific and technological advances.

“As we’ve been discussing more collaborative efforts with producers and our colleagues in the research community, it was identified that a herd with known genetic background would be useful for the type of work that’s going forward into the future, where molecular genetics would be applied to understanding the genotypes of the animals and how this affects their performance and other aspects of beef production,” Jefferson said.

As a result, a funding proposal was submitted to purchase a new purebred herd to be housed at the WBDC. The majority of the $1.1 million will be used to obtain approximately 300 new cows.

“These will be two- and three-year-old cows of known genetic background from a purebred source,” explained Jefferson. “Our intent is to buy 100 cows per year over a three-year period.”

He says this approach will enable the WBDC to wind up its existing research studies already underway using the current herd before they are phased out and replaced with the new animals.

The balance of the funding will go towards facility and equipment improvements necessary to conduct beef research.

Having a herd with a known background and known genetics is a terrific boost to the WBDC’s efforts, Jefferson noted. It will enable researchers to study the effects of various treatments on cattle, and determine with greater certainty that their observations are a result of the treatment rather than some factor in the animal’s genetic history of which they were not aware.

“While it’s difficult to ever draw an absolute, 100-per-cent conclusion, we will be able to pinpoint with greater accuracy what’s causing the difference in the reaction of an animal to the treatment, and make our statements accordingly,” he stated.

With 21,000 producers in the province’s cow-calf industry, Jefferson says the funding is not only good news for cattle research in Saskatchewan, but also for individual farmers.

“So, much of the work we do has a direct, practical application on the farm or ranch. One of the projects we’ve been undertaking looks at low-cost winter feeding. We’ve been able to show that you can reduce the cost of over-wintering a beef cow herd by up to 45 per cent. That’s a significant cost reduction to the commercial cow-calf producer,” he noted.

“So I think the information that will come from this research will continue to have that kind of impact – reducing production and operating costs to the average producer, and improving competitiveness.”

For more information, contact:
Paul Jefferson, Vice President of Operations
Western Beef Development Centre
Phone: (306) 682-3139, ext. 272

Timing is important in vaccinating against B.V.D.

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

With over 1.3 million calves born in Saskatchewan each year, producers need to be conscious of vaccinating their herds against bovine viral diarrhoea, or BVD.

The virus, which can manifest in various clinical syndromes, can result in serious losses to producers with infected herds.

“It can cause some major problems: either abortions or calf mortality or infertility,” said Dr. John Campbell, a professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. “A number of different scenarios can happen from it, so it’s not something you want to get in your herd.”

With calving season nearly complete, Dr. Campbell advises that now is the time to plan for BVD vaccination.

“We need to protect the cow for next year’s pregnancy in order to protect the foetus she’ll be carrying. So, we vaccinate the cow to ensure she’s safeguarded, and at the same time we protect the foetus that she has next year,” he said.

Dr. Campbell says that the prime time for vaccination is three to four weeks prior to breeding, before cows go to pasture, unless the producer is calving on pasture, in which case the timing is a bit later.

“The first choice you have to make is between a killed or modified-live vaccine,” he stated. “In most cases, the modified-live vaccine provides much better protection, and usually has label claims for protecting the foetus. We would recommend the modified-live vaccine in just about every situation. There are a variety of companies that all make very good vaccines.”

Dr. Campbell says he is aware that some producers have difficulty getting vaccinations done when calves are young and cows must be separated from them.

“Some will say I’ll just give them a killed vaccine in the fall, because I’m handling the cows then and that’s pregnancy-checking time,” he noted. “The trouble with that approach is the killed vaccine is being relied on to maintain its effect from fall until the next breeding season, and it is not nearly as effective as a live vaccine.”

Dr. Campbell notes that there are now some vaccine companies with label claims that suggest a live vaccine can be used on pregnant cows very late in gestation. He warns that this approach is only effective if the cow has been previously vaccinated with the same vaccine. If not, she may abort.

When considering different approaches to vaccination for BVD, Dr. Campbell advises producers to consult with their local veterinarians to discuss their specific herd management practices and to ensure the most effective method is used.

He also stresses that vaccination is important, even if a herd is already infected with BVD.

“If there’s a cow walking around unvaccinated in the pasture in early pregnancy and she gets infected, she may not get very sick, but the virus infects her foetus,” Dr. Campbell said. “If that happens at a certain time of gestation, it can cause abortions or congenital abnormalities, or can cause the new calf to become persistently infected. Those calves are often the source of a BVD outbreak.”

Dr. Campbell advises that if you have BVD in your herd, you must vaccinate to make sure you don’t get a broader outbreak the following year. He says the producer must try to find the persistently infected calves and get them out of the herd. Veterinarians have a relatively simple test to identify the BVD carriers.

Additional information on BVD is available on the Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food website at

For more information, contact:
Dr. John Campbell, Professor
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
Phone: (306) 966-7158

FCC AgriSpirit Fund accepting applications

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is once again providing $500,000 through its AgriSpirit Fund to support capital projects in rural communities across the country.

The fund will be accepting applications for 2007 between May 1 and June 15. To be eligible, an organization must be set up for charitable purposes, be an agricultural society or be partnered with a municipal government that agrees to handle the financial management of the project.

The AgriSpirit initiative is one of the ways FCC works to enhance rural Canada and make life better for people in rural communities.

Grants of between $5,000 and $25,000 are available for community improvement projects involving construction, renovation and/or the purchase of necessary equipment. Examples include community centres, recreation centres, sports facilities, playgrounds, care homes, food banks and emergency service units.

To ensure it maintains its rural focus, FCC stipulates that the fund is only available to communities under 100,000 in population.

Clem Samson, the corporation’s Vice-President of Prairie Operations, said, “The commitment rural Canadian residents demonstrate to building their own communities is overwhelming. We received hundreds of applications this year requesting support for a wide range of projects. FCC is proud to help enhance rural Canada.”

Out of 719 applications received during FCC’s last call for applications, 52 projects from across Canada received funding. Twelve of the successful applicants are from right here in Saskatchewan, assisting all manner of community initiatives from fire departments to health centres to pools and rinks.

There is really no community too small to receive support. Saskatchewan communities that got help in the most recent round of funding are Hazlet, Eastend, Swift Current, Paradise Hill, Birch Hills, Osler, Estevan, Radville, Wood Mountain, Rouleau, Stockholm and St. Brieux.

“Since launching AgriSpirit in 2004, FCC has supported 130 projects with $1.3 million in funding,” said the corporation’s Senior Vice-President Kellie Garrett.

All applications are to be submitted online through the program’s website,, which also includes details about the fund’s eligibility criteria, application process, success stories and answers to some of the more common questions.

Headquartered in Regina, FCC is Canada’s largest provider of business and financial services to farms and agri-businesses.

For more information on the corporation and its operations, visit

For more information, contact:
Tim Kydd, Director of Corporate Communications
Farm Credit Canada
Phone: (306) 780-3486

Agriculture projects dominate innovation award nominees

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Three agriculture-based research projects are among the four finalists for the annual Award of Innovation sponsored by Innovation Place and the Industry Liaison Office of the University of Saskatchewan.

The winning project receives a $5,000 cash prize and recognition at both Innovation Place and a gala dinner called “Celebrate Success,” put on by the Saskatoon and District Chamber of Commerce and the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan.

“The technology developed by this year’s nominees has great potential to improve our lives through improvements in human health, food production and environmentally friendly energy,” said Doug Gill, Managing Director of the Industry Liaison Office. “We will also benefit from the promise of increased investment and more high-quality jobs in our province.”

The Award of Innovation is intended to honour U of S researchers who have brought new and commercially viable technology to the Industry Liaison Office for development into marketable products.

This year’s finalists offer an impressive mix.

Plant sciences professor Lawrence Gusta, along with his colleagues Albert Robertson and Guohai Wu, has discovered the Rob-5 gene in plants. This gene improves environmental stress tolerance, increases plant vigour and seed yield, and shortens the time required for plants to mature. It has particular value in regions with a shorter growing season, like Saskatchewan.

The U of S has filed an international patent application for the Rob-5 gene and signed an exclusive agreement to license BASF to commercialize it.

In the Department of Applied Microbiology and Food Science, researchers Martin Reaney, SAF Chair in Microbiology and Food Science, and Dushmmanthi Jayasinghe developed a chemical process that has the potential to improve profitability in biofuel generation. The process allows for the production of biodiesel, de-salted glycerol and lithium grease from oilseeds that are not suitable for edible oil products, such as frost-damaged canola.

This innovation would enable producers to make biodiesel and two other high-value products from the same feedstock. The patent on the process is pending.

Biology professor Vipen Sawhney is nominated for his work on a line of tomatoes that are particularly suited to hybrid seed production. The so-called “photoperiod-sensitive-male-sterile tomatoes” reduce the cost of hybrid seed production by eliminating the necessity for hand removal of the male part of tomato flowers, which is highly labour intensive.

The tomato line has already been licensed to a commercial seed producer in Italy.

The fourth nominee comes from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Immunologists John Gordon and Fang Li have developed a human anti-inflammatory treatment that uses the protein

G31P to target inflammation associated with neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.

Innovation Place Director of Marketing Jackie Presnell said in a news release, “Many of the enterprises at Innovation Place are built on ideas that began at the university, and many of the highly qualified people that work here are U of S grads.”

The winner of the Innovation Award will be announced at the “Celebrate Success” dinner on May 15 in Saskatoon.

For more information, contact:
Doug Gill, Managing Director
Industry Liaison Officer
Phone: (306)966-7335

Winning with Nitrogen fertilizer

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Many factors can affect the profitability of your crop – including fertilizer prices. The question each year is: will the money you spend on fertilizer pay off in the bin?

The Canola Council of Canada is weighing in on the issue with some advice about nitrogen rates.

With the cost of urea fertilizer rising – including some recent price reports of over $600 per tonne – canola growers who didn’t purchase fertilizer in the fall or winter when prices were lower, might be tempted to cut back on nitrogen this season. But John Mayko, the council’s senior agronomist, says growers who cut nitrogen application rates too greatly may end up cutting profits come harvest time.

Mayko points out that favourable soil moisture prospects for spring, plus higher than average canola prices, mean growers will need to use generous rates of nitrogen to achieve optimum net returns.

And he argues that, with today’s higher yielding hybrids, growers must be sure to provide enough nitrogen to maximize the yield potential of hybrid genetics.

Research conducted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Westco Fertilizer indicates improved nitrogen response curves for hybrid varieties compared to open pollinated varieties.

This research shows that, for a given rate of nitrogen, hybrids typically yield better than open pollinated varieties. And at moderate nitrogen rates, the yield response curves for hybrids are steeper than open pollinated varieties. Findings also indicate that yield declines can be more pronounced on hybrids than open pollinated types if nitrogen rates are cut back.

Mayko advises growers to get a soil test this year to find out how much nitrogen and other macronutrients will be available to canola over the growing season.

“Only then can you make the right decision on how much to apply,” said Mayko.

“Even if you pay 60 cents a pound for nitrogen, when canola is eight dollars a bushel, for every 10 pound-per-acre reduction in nitrogen rates, you can afford to lose only three-quarters of a bushel before it starts costing you money,” he explained.

Other than water, nitrogen is the nutrient that most commonly affects canola production. Canola responds well to applied nitrogen fertilizer on most soils, so maximizing the economic efficiency of your fertilizer dollars is important.

There are resources on the Internet to help canola growers take the guesswork out of determining nitrogen rates. For more information on recommended nitrogen rates for canola, producers can visit the following websites:;; and

For more information, contact:
John Mayko, Senior Agronomist
Canola Council of Canada
Phone: (780) 764-2593

Producing biodiesel as a community venture

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Producing biodiesel as a community venture is a new idea that can be used to offset rising fuel costs to farmers, maximize the value of their canola and increase economic growth.

Now there is a training course available that can help producers and entrepreneurs interested in pursuing the idea.

“Biodiesel is an interesting opportunity, because, unlike other ventures, it is possible for communities to produce it themselves,” said Dr. Rex Newkirk, the Director of Feed at the Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI).

“Building a one- or two- or five-million-litre-per-year plant is a starting place for a continuous flow system. For around $1 million, a community can build a plant and get into the industry. It presents some opportunity for rural Saskatchewan that potentially doesn’t exist elsewhere.”

That opportunity includes the prospect of new markets for locally grown canola, lower fuel costs and local jobs.

“I think one of the advantages of producing biodiesel and developing a small system is that it generates a lot of knowledge in the area, as well as some experience for communities that might want to venture into the industry bit by bit,” Newkirk stated.

CIGI has recently launched a training course that is designed to help producers from the ground up, so that they can maximize the value of their canola and grow a product that is suitable for the expanding biodiesel market.

The main objective of the course is to educate farmers and entrepreneurs who are interested in producing biodiesel for community use or for sale as a community venture.

Through a combination of hands-on demonstrations and lectures, the course highlights the advantages of producing biodiesel for on-farm use to offset rising fuel costs. While targeted at producers, others with an interest in biodiesel production and market opportunities will also find the course beneficial.

Each participant will receive a copy of the textbook Biodiesel Basics and Beyond: a Comprehensive Guide to Production and Use for the Home and Farm by William H. Kemp, courtesy of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS).

“Producers may try to build their own systems, but, like everything else, it’s a learning process and they will make mistakes,” Newkirk noted. “The primary benefit of taking this course is that producers will get all of the information from the outset, and will hopefully be able to avoid some of the pitfalls that can otherwise occur.”

Newkirk says that people considering establishing a biodiesel production plant need to be careful to get complete information, even if they are just looking at setting up a smaller-scale version to supply their own farms. He worries that some of the information available on the Internet glosses over important areas like safety and product quality.

“If producers are doing the research themselves, and they are just looking to websites for information, they will realize that some sources try to sell a good story instead of worrying about the safety angle of it. I think safety is pretty high on the [list of priorities]. You certainly don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”

The CIGI course is a three-day workshop that covers all aspects of the production process, including equipment operation, chemistry, feed stock sources, safety and marketing.

CIGI recently held two biodiesel courses in Saskatchewan, and Newkirk says they will definitely be back if there is enough interest in the province. The course fee is $495, but is eligible for reimbursement through the Canadian Agricultural Skill Service (CASS) program.

More information on the biodiesel production course can be found on the CIGI website at, or by calling CIGI Program Co-ordinator Shannon Taylor at (204) 983-6006.

CIGI is a non-profit market development organization dedicated to promoting Canada’s field crops in domestic and international markets through educational programming and technical activities. Core funding for CIGI is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Wheat Board. Additional funds and support are provided by other sectors of the agriculture industry.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Rex Newkirk, Director of Feed
Canadian International Grains Institute
Phone: (204) 983-2031
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