cover crop photo

Farm Show demo digs deep on value of soil health

Roots, worm casts and different cover blends show amazing effects Source: Country Guide, written by Ralph Pearce. Soil health has been a buzz phrase that’s gone from a whisper three to five years ago to a chorus that’s spreading across the agrifood industry. That goes to show the swinging of the pendulum away from plowing […]

Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC)

Jobs survey finds growing demand for agriculture graduates

Ontario Agriculture College boosts spots in its agriculture programs by 30 per cent

Written by John Greig, Field Editor, Country Guide

The University of Guelph continues to increase enrollment in its agriculture programs, but graduates will continue to find four jobs available for each of them.

The Ontario Agriculture College (OAC), at the university has boosted spots in its agriculture programs by 30 per cent since 2012 and by 50 per cent in its Bachelor of Science in Agriculture program.

University of Guelph

University of Guelph

However, in the five years since the university last did a similar survey, respondents in agriculture and food processing say they have even more trouble filling jobs in the sector than they did five years ago – 67 per cent of agriculture companies and 51 per cent of food companies report difficulties in recruiting qualified workers. That compares to 40 per cent of agriculture and 28 per cent of food companies reporting similar challenges in 2012. Read more

Optimum date to seed winter wheat across Ontario map

OMAFRA Field Crop Report – September 14, 2017

Best management practices for late planted winter wheat

Source: OMAFRA Field Crop Team

With many soybean fields across the countryside just starting to change colour, harvest is not likely to begin anytime soon.  A cool, wet spring delayed soybean planting in much of the province and cooler temperatures in August and September have pushed harvest back this fall compared to the last two years.  As a result, growers are wondering whether or not they will be able to get winter wheat planted at an optimum time.

With winter wheat having huge benefits to a cropping system (an additional 10 bu/ac to the following corn crop and an additional 5 bu/ac to the following soybean crop) growers are encouraged to keep winter wheat in the rotation this fall if possible.  Delayed planting can result in lower yields so being diligent this fall with our best management practices for establishing the winter wheat crop will be very important to reduce the risk of significant yield loss. Read more

Winter wheat field

Soil fertility benefits of wheat in rotation

Before long, the 2018 winter wheat crop will be seeded across the province (Figure 1). Long-term research at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus shows that winter wheat in rotation provides an additional 10 bushels per acre to corn and 5 bushels to soybeans. At current crop prices, that means an extra 107 dollars per acre over a rotation.

Winter wheat field

Figure 1: Winter wheat field in Perth County, April 2017.

What other benefits does wheat provide? And how might having wheat in rotation be positive from a soil fertility perspective? Read more

Photo of Bob McIntosh

Researchers defining phosphorus movement in Ontario soils

4R strategy plays a key role in reducing phosphorous runoff

Three short huts with solar panels on them sprout in Bob McIntosh’s wheat field near St. Marys, Ontario.

Photo of Bob McIntosh

Bob McIntosh has been using no-till planting on his farm in Ontario for 27 years. Photo: John Greig

Inside the huts are monitoring equipment that goes right to the tiles that systemically move water from his farm. His farm is one of six across Ontario with the monitoring equipment that allows University of Waterloo researchers to study how water, and especially the phosphorus in it, flows off of farms.

“We’re trying to capture the natural variability in the Ontario landscape,” says Dr. Janina Plach, who is doing post-doctoral research at the University of Waterloo.

Read more

Bean Leaf Beetle

The season is not over yet for late season pests like bean leaf beetle, soybean aphids and others

Despite it being the middle of August, some pests are not showing signs of wrapping this season up. Bean leaf beetle are a particular concern in food grade IP and seed soybeans and edible beans across Ontario. As are pod piercing pests like stink bugs and tarnished plant bugs. Soybean aphids are also increasing in numbers, particularly in fields in Eastern Ontario. So scouting is not over yet, I am afraid. Read more

Western Bean Cutworm Identification photo

I.D. worms in silks and ears

This year’s Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) flight in northern Indiana counties has been quite impressive. Though it is not over, by looking at the moth captures the past couple weeks we are past peak flight. Most eggs have been laid by this point, and there were many.

We are aware that many fields have been scouted, found over the 5% threshold, and subsequently treated with insecticide. In the next weeks, folks will be out to determine the extent of damaged ears, if any, are present in fields.

The distinguishing characteristics between mature western bean cutworm and corn earworm (CEW) larvae are found below. It is a little trickier to determine species when the larvae are small, i.e., early instars. Read more

Thompsons Soil Sampling photo

Understanding in-field variability: soil sampling

Written by Alex Richardson, Agricultural Consultant, Thompsons – Blenheim.


Wheat harvest is complete and yields have given us great insight about our fields once again.

Variability was evident, and the results remind us it’s time to soil sample.

Soil sampling after wheat harvest is a great option to allow for the right conditions, and the time to do the sampling properly. It gives us the ability to plan using these results–not only for the remaining growing year, but for next year as well.

Results gathered now can be reviewed and used to apply some fall fertilizer or make spring plans for fertility management. Knowing what nutrients are already in the field is the best way to start that process.

Thompsons offers 3 main soil sampling packages, with options to suit any grower and any field.

Intensive Zone Sampling
Using data from numerous sources, grower expertise, and your local Thompsons Agricultural consultant, management zones will be mapped and generated throughout the field.  Soil samples will be taken across these zones to best represent the field following the topography, yield, or problem areas depicted in the zones.

Site-specific Sampling
Choose from a 1 acre, 2.5 acre or 5 acre sample area.  Your field will be overlaid with a grid, followed by samples taken in each grid from an area that best represents the lay of the land within that grid space.

Precision-Lite Sampling
Generate larger zones across the field to sample. Zones range from 10 acres to 25 acres in size, again based on numerous sources and grower expertise.  Monitor and map the variability in your field!

Talk to your local Thompsons Agricultural Consultant today about any of these sampling packages and customized options. We can build a soil sampling plan to suit your individual farm and management situation.

We all know our fields are variable and need to continue managing the variability on our farms!

All soil sampling options include a complete mapbook of your field and soil analysis, with lab results attached.

Once the results have come from the lab, the value of soil sampling begins as fertility management progresses. With the help of your local Thompsons Agricultural Consultant, your field’s fertility can be reviewed and a plan put in place to build and maintain your soil health.

150 years of Canadian agriculture

The 2016 Census of Agriculture marks the 22nd census since Confederation in 1867. Just as Canada as a country has evolved over the past 150 years, so too has the agriculture sector. Agriculture has used innovation to push the bounds of production, transforming farming from the small scale to a highly mechanized and advanced industry.

While there are fewer agricultural operations in Canada than there were in 1871, the average farm size has risen consistently—from 98 acres in 1871 to 820 acres in 2016. Canada reported 14 times as much wheat acreage in 2016 than was reported on the first Census of Agriculture in 1871. There were also 10 times as many pigs and 5 times as many head of cattle as reported in 1871. Read more

Horizontal motion portrait of a man in gray sport jacket and safety helmet and goggles driving mud-covered yellow ATV 4x4 quad bike with dirt spinning of the wheels photo

Use safety practices to avoid ATV rollovers

All terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be not only useful on the farm, they can add an element of fun to work. Whether using ATVs recreationally or as the best way to get to remote back fields, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association’s “Appealing to Adults” Canadian Ag Safety Week campaign urges farmers to protect themselves against rollovers.

Rollovers happen alarmingly fast. That’s why it’s important for everyone to take rollover prevention seriously, each and every time they plan a ride.

Always remember to wear an ATV helmet, gloves, long sleeves, pants, and boots, even when only travelling a short distance. Inappropriate gear, such as loose clothing, can get caught on controls and doesn’t provide protection. Read more