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Archive for the ‘Production’ Category

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is rolling out a total of 21 new soil health publications. These publications provide best management practices to help you preserve and conserve soil while improving soil health and crop production. Check out these five new titles on our Soil Health in Ontario web page:

  • Adding Organic Amendments
  • Erosion Control Structures
  • Cropland Retirement
  • Soil Health in Ontario
  • Field Windbreaks

You know that high quality, healthy, productive soil is the foundation of a strong, sustainable agri-food system. These publications, part of our Best Management Practices series, can help you plan and implement practices to improve soil health and increase yields. Unfortunately, the health of Ontario’s soils is on the decline. While many farmers practice good land management practices, there is much more that can be done to improve soil health and protect soil for long-term productivity.

The five titles above are just the beginning. Check our web page regularly for future publications, which will include:

  • Cover Crops and Manure
  • No-Till for Soil Health
  • Perennial Systems
  • Subsurface Drainage
  • Soil Erosion by Water
  • Plus many more!

Our soil health publications were developed to support the upcoming Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. We’re working in partnership with stakeholders and experts to develop the Strategy with the goal to sustain Ontario’s strong agricultural production while protecting the environment and adapting to a changing climate.

All of the titles can be ordered through ServiceOntario once published. You can find the ordering information on the Soil Health in Ontario web page.

Do you have soil health questions? Contact our Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

 

ontario.ca/c6lr

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Ontario is helping corn and soybean farmers comply with recent rules protecting insect pollinators by continuing to provide mandatory training for free until April 30, 2017.

Farmers need the training if they wish to purchase and use neonicotinoid-treated corn and/or soybean seeds.

The half-day course is available in English or French, online or in class in towns across Ontario and at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus. To register, call 1-866-225-9020, or go online at www.IPMcertified.ca

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Team members vs. employees

While many people classify their staff as ‘employees’, it may be beneficial to adjust this mindset and start hiring team members. Having teams and team members will lead to an open and honest work environment, while having employees can lower morale and lead to a high turnover. Having employees can limit the ability to have an enjoyable environment where people are excited to go every day and give 100 per cent.

Is there really a difference? See if you recognize any of these traits in your staff members:

Employees:

  • Have a ‘get it done tomorrow’ attitude, and will treat urgent issues as if they will always be there.
  • Love making excuses or blaming others.
  • Are internally focused- the effort they put into tasks will depend on how the outcome can benefit them.
  • Need a checklist, no more, and are comfortable working towards this checklist. There is rarely any excitement from the employee on the task.
  • Are dependable to do the same tasks and are easily replaceable.

Team members:

  • Will have a ‘we’ mentality.
  • Are focused on finding solutions.
  • Focus on a shared goal among the team.
  • Will be excited and willing to learn and develop their skillset within the organization.
  • Willing to align their goals with the organization’s goals.
  • Are integral to your team- without them your business would not run as smoothly.
  • Work together to improve your business. They believe that everyone succeeds together.

By hiring team members instead of employees you create a culture that is enjoyable for everyone, more accountable, and more productive. To create this attitude begin with an exercise where everyone refers to each other as team mates and team members, and see how the workplace changes. However, this isn’t enough- for your staff to really feel like team members, your will have to treat them as such. Teams, unlike employees, don’t need managers, but leaders, who work with the team to complete the job.

Hire team members who have a shared passion and vision of your business. This will benefit your business in the long run by creating a happier work environment, where team members don’t dread coming to work, which will ultimately create a lower turnover rate among staff. A lower turnover rate means less time spent training new employees and less inexperienced employees, leading to increases in productivity.

Methods to create a team:

  • More recognition and reward for good/extra work.
  • Listen to everyone’s ideas.
  • Trust your team and give them more responsibility/flexibility.
  • Create common goals and show the benefits of teamwork.
  • Create a task which requires teamwork to accomplish.
  • Let everyone have some fun (team bonding activities).

Resources:

http://reliablewaterservices.com/2016/01/employees-vs-team-members-theres-a-difference/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erik-harbison/team-members-vs-employees-whats-the-difference_b_6926436.html

 

 

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Windbreaks can increase crop yields up to 15 per cent, more than making up for the amount of land they use. How? Windbreaks improve a field’s microclimate by reducing wind speeds, increasing temperatures and reducing the amount of moisture loss.

Have you considered planting a windbreak? Windbreaks can also:

  • reduce soil erosion
  • decrease odour and spray drift
  • offer alternative income options
  • save you up to 30 per cent in heating and energy costs
  • shelter livestock from the wind and sun

windbreaks

Graph: Each bar represents yield average, as studied by the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus. Yields increased on the downwind side of the windbreak over distances of up to 12 times the height of the windbreak.  Crop yield increases vary by crop type. Taken from Establishing Tree Cover.

 What are the costs associated with planting windbreaks?

There are costs when planting a windbreak, such as site preparation, purchasing the trees and planting. Some conservation authorities in Ontario have cost-share programs that can help you with these costs. Contact your local conservation authority to see how they can help you plan and plant a windbreak.

What type of windbreak should you plant?

The type of windbreak you plant and how you plant it depends on the purpose for the windbreak.

  • One to three rows of trees are most often planted to protect field crops from the wind and to reduce soil erosion. Multiple row windbreaks often include at least one row of conifers.
  • Think about planting at least one row of hardwood trees for future alternative income sources, such as wood for fence posts, fuel and lumber.
  • Plant a shelterbelt (more than three rows of trees) around your home and farm buildings to save on energy costs.
  • Plant a conifer windbreak to provide livestock with wind and sun protection.
  • Windbreaks deflect odours upward if properly situated to the barn.
  • The taller the windbreak, the greater the area it protects. Consider the maximum height of the tree species you choose and determine if it will provide you with the protection you need.
  • Keep in mind the crops that you plan to plant beside the windbreak, and the winter hardiness and typical lifespan of the selected tree species.
  • Some trees may be better suited for areas with tile drains than others, an important, and potentially money-saving, consideration.

The type of soil of your land and the region of the province you’re in will also affect the type of trees you can plant. Trees can thrive and provide maximum protection when they’re matched with the right soils. Visit the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s Tree Atlas to determine the best trees for your situation.

Need help?

For help with planning and planting a windbreak, contact your local conservation authority. They may be able to visit your planned windbreak site and help you with your planting plan, site preparation, choices of tree species, and appropriate spacing and planting, as well as windbreak maintenance.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has many resources to help you with windbreak planning. Visit our website to watch four windbreak videos on planning, planting, maintenance and farmer windbreak success stories. Our free Best Management Practices book, “Establishing Tree Cover,” provides a step-by-step guide for planning and planting a windbreak and includes maintenance tips. Contact OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca for more information.

 

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Online and In-Class course offered for FREE until August 31, 2016.

 Starting on August 31, 2016, successful completion of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Course for Corn and Soybeans will be required in order to purchase or plant neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed. Following successful completion of the course, farmers will receive a certificate number. Farmers will need to submit their certificate number along with their Pest Assessment Reports (Inspection of Soil or Inspection of a Crop) to a sales representative, vendor or custom seed treater to purchase neonicotinoid-treated seeds.

Farmers that choose to use untreated seed (e.g. non-neonicotinoid treated seed) or fungicide only treated seed on their operations are not required to become certified. However, the training is available to all growers who are interested in learning more about IPM.

IPM training is designed to be flexible, accessible and convenient and will be delivered free of charge until August 31, 2016.

Farmers are able to take IPM training in a classroom at various locations or online through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. Certification is valid for five years after the date of completion (i.e. farmers will only need to take the course once every five years).

The online course requires a commitment of four hours over two days. High speed internet, competence with a computer and being a self-directed learner are requirements for success.

The half-day classroom course is offered in a traditional classroom setting with an instructor. The classroom course is offered in various locations across Ontario. Instructors will present course material following the manual using PowerPoint, videos, handouts and will answer your questions to aid in your understanding of the topics.

Register today for the online course or find a course near you at: www.ipmcertified.ca

To learn more about the neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed regulation, visit: www.ontario.ca/neonics

 

 

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The Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management estimates that barn fires cost Ontario farmers more than $25 million per year (2012-2014 average)

Do you know what to do in the event of a farm emergency? Do you know what to do if you have deadstock to manage?

Barn fires, natural disasters, equipment failures and diseases are devastating events for farmers, their families and workers, and the neighbouring community. Planning ahead to reduce risks, and preventing accidents with a safe operation will help to protect employees, family members and animals.

Emergency events can cause substantial loss to a farm operation and create unique challenges for farmers, including disposing of large volumes of deadstock. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has a regulation that gives you options for deadstock management. These options help to protect water quality, reduce environmental impacts and minimize biosecurity hazards, such as scavenging.

Collection of deadstock by a licensed collector is recognized as the most effective and sustainable disposal method.

In emergency situations, you can apply to OMAFRA for an Emergency Authorization for the storage, disposal or transportation of deadstock. These authorizations can be used when emergency conditions exist that make it difficult for you to dispose of deadstock according to the regulation.

OMAFRA works with the province’s farmers, commodity groups, insurance companies, municipalities and trucking companies to ensure that deadstock is disposed of as soon as possible. In granting an exemption, OMAFRA considers the various factors of the situation, such as:

  • the urgency of the situation
  • the number of animals to be disposed
  • biosecurity risks
  • time of year
  • the condition of the deadstock
  • site conditions, including proximity to tile drains, location of surface water and wells, and depth to groundwater

Planning ahead can help alleviate some of the stress during an emergency. Our web page found at ontario.ca/farmsafety has useful resources for farm owners, including information on preventative maintenance for farm buildings and our book, “Reducing the Risk of Fire on Your Farm.” We encourage you to develop a contingency plan for emergency situations. Visit ontario.ca/deadstock for information on contingency deadstock planning and the regulation.

For help with managing deadstock in an emergency situation, you can contact an OMAFRA environmental specialist or engineer in your region, or the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

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Did you know that windbreaks:

  • increase crop yield, improve soil moisture distribution over fields and reduce soil loss?
  • provide shade and shelter for livestock?
  • minimize spray drift and odours?
  • decrease the amount of snow drift onto driveways and roads?
  • enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat
  • can generate alternative income?
windbreak by a soybean field

Plant a Windbreak

Windbreaks have many benefits for farmers and rural landowners, and more than make up for the loss of land they use. Fall is the perfect time to start planning for a spring planting. Here are some things you need to do to get started:

Do a site assessment where the windbreak will be planted.

Decide on the tree species you would like to plant based on why you’re planting a windbreak and your site’s characteristics.

Develop a planting plan.

Confirm the number of trees you’ll need and place your tree order. You can order trees through nurseries and some conservation authorities.

Prepare the site by marking out in-row and between-row tree spacing, tilling, mulching, mowing and/or band or spot spraying, and placing black plastic mulch over the area to control weeds.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has many resources to help you with windbreak planning. Visit our website to watch our four windbreak videos on planning, planting, maintenance and windbreak successes. Our free Best Management Practices book, “Establishing Tree Cover,” provides a step-by-step guide for planning and planting a windbreak.

For more information about windbreaks and for help with planning a windbreak, contact your local conservation authority.

For more information about OMAFRA’s resources, contact OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

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