Trees near farmland pay environmental dividends

Shelterbelts and hedgerows reduce emissions of greenhouse gas by an average of 89 per cent

Trees near farmland pay environmental dividendsBoth dead and alive, trees are an essential ally for farmers in helping the environment, a new University of Alberta study shows. Preserving and planting shelterbelts and hedgerows – and keeping the deadwood they contain – next to cropland helps store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “Retaining those live and dead trees, and planting…

Ottawa should stop stoking food insecurity

Ottawa's taxes and regulations are driving up costs for farmers and the families that buy the food they produce

Ottawa should stop stoking food insecurityBy Robin Speer and Gunter Jochum Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reassuring a hungry world he personally will “drive action on food security” while Canadian farmers will put food on their tables. But back home, his government makes pronouncements that are the policy equivalent of deflating the tires on tractors across Canada. The federal government’s…

A Farmers’ Convoy could prove fatal for Trudeau

If 200,000 truckers scared him into introducing the Emergencies Act, what will he do when 650,000 angry farmers descend on Ottawa?

A Farmers’ Convoy could prove fatal for TrudeauAre Manitobans tired of suffering from high food prices at the grocery store? Well, the Trudeau government believes it is your God-given right to suffer even more as it imposes ever more onerous climate policies on farmers. The Trudeau government announced at a recent meeting with other levels of government that it has plans to…

Our agri-food world is about to get a whole lot smaller

Exporting actual food products may no longer be the best option moving forward

Our agri-food world is about to get a whole lot smallerIt’s tomato season, and Canadians love their tomatoes. It is by far the most popular vegetable at the grocery store. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the average Canadian consumes at least six to seven kilos of tomatoes per year. More than 12 kilos per capita of fresh and processed tomatoes are made available to…

What’s really behind higher milk prices

The Canadian Dairy Commission is morally and ethically compromised. It needs to distance itself from the dairy sector immediately

What’s really behind higher milk pricesEvery year, the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC), a branch of the federal government, hires external consultants to assess the cost of producing milk on the farm. The CDC has never released any data about costing and has recommended farm milk price increases most years, eventually impacting retail prices and Canadian families. Since February, dairy product…

U of A teams up with venture capital firm to advance agricultural innovation

Partnership with SVG Ventures|THRIVE will help researchers and startups move new technologies

U of A teams up with venture capital firm to advance agricultural innovationThe University of Alberta is partnering with a leading Silicon Valley firm to support innovation growth in Alberta’s agriculture and food sectors. An agreement with SVG Ventures|THRIVE, a venture capital firm investing in agricultural technology startups and supporting corporations with open innovation, powers the U of A to accelerate its development and adoption of technology-driven solutions…

Lime shows promise for controlling clubroot in canola crops

Spot-treating soil with lime could give farmers another option to stem the costly disease and improve soil health

Lime shows promise for controlling clubroot in canola cropsLime is showing promise as an additional way to help manage clubroot, a deadly disease in canola crops, University of Alberta research shows. Spot-treating soil with the mineral reduced the overall occurrence and severity of the disease by 35 to 91 per cent, growth experiments showed. The finding, published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology,…

How to tackle climate change and boost our agri-food sector

There’s a way to reduce fertilizer use and make all agricultural production much more environmentally friendly: controlled environment agriculture

How to tackle climate change and boost our agri-food sectorWhen we look at climate change, the future for many seems to hold only short-term despair and long-term disaster. Will humans be able to survive, let alone prosper? Before we let today’s doomsters depress us, let’s look at an earlier apocalyptic forecast. Around the turn of the 19th century, Thomas Malthus predicted the end of…

Farming is losing to misguided urban politics

Interest groups are weaponizing science to support a narrative that fits their biased view of what farmers should and shouldn’t do

Farming is losing to misguided urban politicsMost Canadians have never been on a farm, let alone lived on one, which makes more than 98 per cent of our population agriculturally illiterate. For many Canadians, crop production is an unknown concept. Because of this, it’s relatively easy to use fear to influence public opinion on any food-related issue involving agriculture. Activists know…

A looming chickpea shortage is on the way

Chickpeas are nutritional powerhouses for consumers who don’t necessarily opt for animal proteins

A looming chickpea shortage is on the waySince the start of the pandemic, we have heard about shortages countless times. Most sections of the grocery store have been hit by tightening supplies for one reason or another. But the latest headlines we are seeing are about chickpeas. Many analysts are expecting chickpea inventories to drop significantly in months to come. For westerners,…

Plant diversity promotes healthier land: study

Increases phosphorus needed for plant growth and reproduction

Plant diversity promotes healthier land: studyA new study is the first to show on a global scale that conserving plant diversity boosts a nutrient crucial for healthy land, including productive croplands. An analysis of 180 studies done worldwide on farm fields, grasslands, forests and pot-grown experiments showed that overall, mixtures of diverse plant species increased the availability of phosphorus in…

Animal welfare laws need to be strengthened in Canada

Gaps in regulations and enforcement leave companion animals, livestock vulnerable to abuse

Animal welfare laws need to be strengthened in CanadaWhen it comes to laws protecting pets and livestock, Canada receives a failing grade. In 2020, an international organization called World Animal Protection gave the country a D, placing it among a group that includes Tanzania, Peru and the United States. The reason for that dismal ranking comes down to the “split jurisdiction” of Canadian federalism, according…

When is the right time to mow hay fields to protect birds?

Knowing birds' behaviour and nesting habits allows nesting and mowing to coexist

When is the right time to mow hay fields to protect birds?Every year about his time I feel sadness for the many birds and small mammals killed by haying. I know there are many and varied reasons why fields are cut, and I respect that, so please don’t think I am criticizing farmers. Mowing hay fields is a necessary and important part of agriculture. We forget…

New soil database will help Alberta farmers plot out sustainable practices

Digging into decades’ worth of data to gauge soil health across the province

New soil database will help Alberta farmers plot out sustainable practicesA new project is, for the first time, harnessing information from thousands of soil samples into one big database to get an idea of how healthy the province’s agricultural soils are. The two-year initiative brings together decades of data collection on soil samples from 44 benchmark sites across the province so that they can be…

New strains of wheat sought with built-in resistance to wheat midge

There’s currently only one genetic defence to protect from wheat midge – but researchers want to change that

New strains of wheat sought with built-in resistance to wheat midge Agricultural scientists in Western Canada are teaming up to give wheat a boost of built-in resistance to a destructive pest. “Wheat midge is the number one insect pest threatening wheat crops across Western Canada,” says James Harynuk, a professor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science. Harynuk notes that wheat midge can cause about $60…

Extremist views make for bad food policies

Unfortunately, the extremists are taking over

Extremist views make for bad food policiesNot a day goes by without seeing a group, or even a government, changing rules for farmers. In the name of the planet, animal welfare and our health, rules are changing despite our farmers’ knowledge and experience. It’s an interesting phenomenon, and it’s happening around the world. Farmers have long been regarded as the best…

New research will map out how much carbon prairie soil is storing

Findings could help beef producers manage grasslands for economic and environmental benefits

New research will map out how much carbon prairie soil is storingA sweeping project co-led by University of Alberta researchers will provide the most comprehensive mapping ever of how much carbon is being stored in perennial grasslands across Saskatchewan. The resulting data from the $3.2-million initiative will help cattle farmers there – and eventually all across Canada’s prairies – manage their land to keep as much…

Canadians desperately need help to combat food inflation

Unfortunately, the Trudeau government is the consumer’s worst enemy right now

Canadians desperately need help to combat food inflationIt wasn’t a good week if you’re a consumer on a tight budget – and that means most of us. Consumers are under attack. We’ve just learned that Canada’s food inflation rate was at a record 9.7 per cent in May. Everyone is noticing higher food prices and no section of the grocery store is…

What the heck are jumping worms?

Though we think they’re helpful, all worms upset the balance, making soil quality poorer

What the heck are jumping worms?Worms are meant to crawl and slither … aren’t they? Then how come some are jumping? We’re all familiar with earthworms, which can be quite large but essentially always look alike. They’re pinkish and look sort of like small snakes. Gardeners among us will also recognize wrigglers, which are small, bright pink worms that favour…

$1.25-million project tackles clubroot resistance in canola

Researchers and agriculture company battle the crop-damaging disease and train new scientists

$1.25-million project tackles clubroot resistance in canolaA $1.25-million research project is tackling clubroot resistance in canola to help battle new strains of the crop-damaging pathogen. Funded by agriculture company BASF, University of Alberta plant scientists Stephen Strelkov and Sheau-Fang Hwang will work to identify new sources of pathogen resistance that can be bred into canola seeds. New strains of clubroot, a soil-borne disease that attacks the…

How to win the war against global famine

Stop feeding people food to cars and animals

How to win the war against global famineAs if plagues and wars aren’t enough, the media is scaring us about oncoming food shortages. We’re already seeing rising prices in restaurants and grocery stores, and we’re being warned about actual famines in other countries. There are three main causes. One is the damage to the supply chain movements caused by the pandemic. Hopefully,…

The perfect playbook for a global food security crisis

Climate change, a pandemic, war and nationalistic hoarding are all contributing factors

The perfect playbook for a global food security crisisEvents unfolding around the world are creating the perfect playbook for a global food security crisis: climate change, a pandemic, war and nationalistic hoarding are all factors. Climate has been affecting agriculture for a very long time. And the unpredictable nature of severe weather patterns is making the lives of our farmers more difficult. Growing…

Don’t blame climate change for the world’s food shortage

More to do with strangulation of the world’s fuel supply

Don’t blame climate change for the world’s food shortageThere are a million funny things to talk about, a million laughs to be had, a lot of phenomenal progress being made on numerous fronts, things that do make our lives better and better. But it’s kind of hard to smell the roses when it’s like Voldemort is expected by dinner time. There’s the war…

Plant diversity minimally affected by intensive cattle grazing: study

The large-scale study adds to the understanding of how different grazing practices affect the land

Plant diversity minimally affected by intensive cattle grazing: studyThe way ranchers graze their cattle doesn’t make much difference in plant diversity on the land, according to a U of A study. That’s important because plant diversity is a useful metric to gauge the resilience of a landscape, including rangeland used by cattle producers, says Jessica Grenke, first author of the study. Researchers compared adaptive…

It’s time for Canada’s protectionist barriers to fall

Supply management pushed up to 190,000 Canadians into poverty

It’s time for Canada’s protectionist barriers to fallBy Krystle Wittevrongel and Gabriel Giguère New Zealand had never launched a dispute under a free trade agreement until two weeks ago, on May 12, when it launched a trade dispute against Canada under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),  accusing our government of breaking its promises on dairy imports. This was also the first dispute launched…

Uptick in avian flu cases poses little threat to humans

Risk of transmission to people and pets is very low unless you're regularly in contact with birds

Uptick in avian flu cases poses little threat to humansIf the recent increase in avian influenza cases has you concerned, you likely have nothing to worry about and don’t need to take any added measures, according to a University of Alberta expert on influenza in birds. As with human flu, there are a variety of strains of avian flu, explains Katharine Magor, a professor…

Wheat makes the world go round

Wheat is one of the world’s staple crops. And Ukraine and Russia are critical exporters

Wheat makes the world go roundFor American academic Scott Reynolds Nelson, the timing was fortuitous. His Oceans of Grain came to market coincident with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And as Nelson’s thesis revolves around the critical role wheat has played in history, the invasion’s implications for supply disruption add to the book’s topicality. For sure, Nelson may egg the pudding.…

Canada has its own baby formula problem

Its largest baby formula plant ships all its products to China

Canada has its own baby formula problemParents of toddlers are concerned about baby formula shortages due to a combination of factors. A major recall in the United States affecting the top manufacturer of baby formula, coupled with supply chain challenges, has made things difficult for parents. In the U.S., some parents are driving hours just to get the right product for…

Newborn dairy calves fed probiotic healthier in crucial first weeks

Supplements containing beneficial gut bacteria from healthy cows could be a boon for dairy producers

Newborn dairy calves fed probiotic healthier in crucial first weeksA probiotic developed at the University of Alberta shows promise in improving the health of dairy calves in the essential first weeks of life. Normally, the young animals’ undeveloped immune systems leave them susceptible to common ailments like diarrhea, which can stunt growth or even result in death. When fed a cocktail of four strains…

Perennial rye crop shows potential for greener agriculture

Experimental crop absorbed CO2 equivalent to a vehicle burning 35,000 litres of gasoline

Perennial rye crop shows potential for greener agricultureAnnual crops are the farmer’s bread and butter, the crops they rely on most, but at least one type of perennial grain is proving much more beneficial to the environment. A crop of perennial rye absorbed a substantial amount of carbon dioxide, or CO2, a University of Alberta study showed, while an annual crop had no…
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