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Welcome to Caring for the Land - a blog about the Canadian farmers who spend every day growing crops and caring for animals. They're world leaders in the production of safe, high quality and low-cost food. And they do so in a way that protects the environment.

In fact, Canadian farmers lead the world in environmental initiatives. We're proud of how they care for the land - and want to tell you why. Our future depends on our ability to take good care of our land and water. It's a job that everyone who lives and works in agriculture takes seriously.

Through this blog, we'll explore many of the things being done on Canadian farms to help the environment.

Does it have to be today?

Why farmers spread manure when they do By: Patricia Grotenhuis, sixth generation farmer This summer, one of our neighbours asked us a favour, and we just couldn’t grant it. One Saturday morning at approximately 9:30 a.m., we heard a knock at the door. Our neighbour had a request – could we please not spread manure that day, since he was having a family reunion and was afraid the smell would be too strong. We were left in an awkward position. The request seems simple enough to grant. There are always jobs to do on the farm, so simply switching a day of spreading manure for a day of doing other jobs is surely easy, right? Wrong. (more...)

Innovative school programs bring food and farming to Toronto students

By Lilian Schaer Toronto’s South Riverdale neighbourhood – also known as Leslieville/Riverside – isn’t one usually associated with farming and food production. However, Eastdale Collegiate, a small, inner city high school near Broadview and Gerrard, is changing that. An innovative approach combining a culinary program with a rooftop garden is teaching students where their food comes from, building life skills, and instilling healthy eating habits. (more...)

August Faces of Farming

By Kelly Daynard There was never any doubt in John Kapteyn’s mind that he wanted to become a farmer. Growing up, he spent his free time helping his parents on their family farm in Simcoe County. When asked why he wanted to farm, he answered, “I love to farm because it is very rewarding to raise birds or plant a crop and see them through all of the stages to egg production or crop harvest.” (more...)

Changing the way we approach cover crops

By Micah Shearer-Kudel Mapleton, Ontario – Sam Bradshaw, Environmental Specialist with Ontario Pork is working with Jake Kraayenbrink, an Arthur area farmer to determine if planting cover crop seeds into growing corn and wheat will improve the establishment of cover crops and protect soil from erosion and nutrient loss during winter months. Greg Stewart, OMAFRA Corn Specialist and Anne Verhallen, OMAFRA Soil Specialist are also involved in the new project. Ontario’s late fall leaves little or no growing season to establish a cover crop post-harvest. The objective of the Ontario Pork project is to explore cover crop planting techniques into growing crops before they are harvested, so the cover crop is firmly established before winter. This project is one of 28 Water Adaptation Management and Quality Initiative (WAMQI) projects improving water use of agricultural water resources and to improve management of nutrients. The project consists of planting cover crops seeds (clover, alfalfa, rye) into growing crops (wheat and corn). The project compares three different seeding patterns using a small air-seeder mounted on a modified manure applicator. Seed is planted as manure is being applied and is broadcast, ahead of a manure tanker, behind it, or directly into the manure application trench. The project will determine the success of these methods in establishing a cover crop. It is expected that by combining cover crop planting with nutrient application to the host crop, that cover crop adoption may become more widespread in corn production as a practical strategy to control erosion and build soil structure. Cover crops protect soil from winter erosion by wind and water and reduce the potential for runoff of nutrients such as phosphorous. Erosion and nutrient runoff cost farmers money, and farmers are continually working to reduce the potential for these issues to occur. “We are trying to establish three crops in wheat and four in corn‎ - clover, crimson, red clover, alfalfa, plus rye in corn. We believe planting them with manure will help get them established,” explains Sam Bradshaw. Sam adds, “Cover crops historically have been difficult to establish. We are trying to get them started earlier in the season by planting them in living crops along with manure.” More cover crops on the soil surface will reduce the potential for runoff events to carry nutrients from the field and for the soil to be eroded by water and wind. The appro ...

Environmental focus key to Beverly Greenhouses

Biological pest controls and heat produced from waste wood chips By Melanie Epp From the outside, Beverly Greenhouses appears to be a modest operation. It’s not, though. With over 20 acres of greenhouses onsite, it is one of Ontario’s larger greenhouse cucumber operations. Third generation farmers and brothers Dale and Jan VanderHouts’ Dundas-based business is unique for a couple of reasons. First of all, they use tenable practices, like biological pest control and heat production using chips made from wasted wood. Secondly, they use what macroeconomists call a vertical integration strategy, which means they strive to control all levels of the supply chain, from growing to packing. (more...)