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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.

Manure application – new technology from the old world

by Matt McIntosh, Farm & Food Care Manure plays a vital role in maintaining soil health, but getting the right amount of manure to the right places at the right times can be challenging, time consuming and expensive. Growers in parts of Europe have been under intense pressure to develop equipment that strikes the right balance between environmentally responsible placement and maintaining application rates that allow the farmer to get the manure onto their fields economically. (more...)

Ontario’s locally grown citrus

By Lilian Schaer Teeswater ON - You could be in a citrus grove as you stroll amongst swaying branches chock full of brightly coloured orange fruit – but you know you can’t be since you’re in Ontario, a province not known for its citrus-growing climate. What you’re seeing is sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L), a unique and hard-to-find superfruit billed as “Ontario’s 100 mile citrus crop”. (more...)

New irrigation system protects local watershed, reduces water and fertilizer use

By: Lilian Schaer for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association A new automated irrigation system is yielding some big savings for an Elgin County nursery – and paying off with environmental benefits too. Since the system became fully functional this spring, Canadale Nurseries’ water consumption has dropped by 40 per cent, their fertilizer use is down 25 per cent, and they’re using less electricity because their water pumps don’t have to run as many hours each day. “We are surrounded by residential areas and we wanted to minimize our environmental footprint and maximize irrigation efficiency,” explains nursery manager Robb Parmeter. “We want the water that crosses our property to be the same quality or better when it leaves our property.” Canadale Nurseries Ltd. is a family-owned business on 110 acres in St. Thomas. They grow and supply a wide variety of plants including ornamental trees, flowering shrubs, evergreens, and perennials to retail customers, independent retail garden centers, and wholesale nurseries across southwestern Ontario. To improve watering efficiency, they needed to increase their system’s capacity and capability. At the same time, says Robb, they also wanted to reduce production costs, improve the health of their irrigation pond, and better manage their nutrients so they could contribute to the protection of the local Kettle Creek watershed and the surrounding environment. The solution was the installation of a new automated pumping system that can be controlled electronically – and even remotely via smartphone. That means if it rains during non-work hours, for example, the irrigation system can be turned off without staff having to go to the nursery. Canadale now has the ability to direct its irrigation to a single zone or multiple zones in the nursery depending on the requirements of each crop. This flexibility in watering, something that wasn’t possible with the previous system, has greatly increased water conservation and efficient water use. The system can track the amount of rain, sunshine, and outside temperature and adjust irrigation levels accordingly. It is now also possible to water using a method called pulse or cyclical irrigation. “We have more capacity now so we’re watering faster. The leaf wetness period is shorter, so there is less risk for fungal disease, which equates to a reduction in fungicide use” explains Robb. “And because we now have the ability t ...

On-farm environmental improvements yield decades of benefit for watershed

By Lilian Schaer It’s hard to imagine a prettier spot in Ontario than Bob McKessock’s farm. Nestled in the picturesque rolling hills of northern Grey County between Chatsworth and Owen Sound, the 100 acre farm where he raises beef cattle has been in his family for over 100 years. (more...)

A neonic ban not supported by science, and would make things worse

By Terry Daynard Some environmental groups have called, in an October 9 Guelph Mercury column, for a ban on use of neonicotinoid insecticides. They support this with dubious information and claims. This column provides an alternative perspective. Neonic insecticides do kill insects, including bees if not used carefully. In some situations, with certain dust-emitting corn planters, there can be deaths at seeding time in spring. Farmers, seed and equipment suppliers, and governments have moved quickly to reduce this risk. Preliminary statistics from Health Canada indicate springtime bee deaths were down significantly in 2014. (more...)