Summer green head lettuce variety trial 2021 Research Project Seed Production, Selection & Breeding
Description

The growers’ objective was to document the best green head lettuce for summer production across different farms throughout southern Ontario during the 2021 season.

In a Nutshell

  • Nevada was the top variety with respect to vigor, flavour, longest harvest, disease hardiness, and germination in this trial.
  • Muir was a runner-up to Nevada, but did have some germination issues and did not size up as well.
  • Concept and Encino were the growers’ least favorite varieties this year.
  • Overall, these results are consistent with the 2020 lettuce variety trial.

Publish Date
April 1, 2021
Farmer(s)
Angie Koch, Ann Slater, Hilary Moore, Martina Schaefer, Roger Thiessen and Romina Bortoluzzi, Roger Rivest, and Sarah Judd
Brocoli sans labour avec tissu couvre-sol dans le nord de l’Ontario 2021 Research Project Soil Health
Description

Suite à leur essai de brocoli sans labour en 2020 avec des cultures de couverture, Ryan et Isabelle ont testé du brocoli sans labour avec du tissu couvre-sol en 2021.

En Bref

  • Le brocoli cultivé en utilisant le traitement sans labour du tissu couvre-sol avait un rendement inférieur et nécessitait plus de maind’œuvre.
  • Malgré la faible performance du brocoli sans labour utilisant des paillis, Ryan et Isabelle croient toujours que le brocoli d’automne dans le nord-est de l’Ontario peut être cultivé avec succès dans un système sans labour, et essaieront probablement le brocoli sans labour sans système de paillis (culture de couverture ou tissu) en 2022.

Read report in english

Publish Date
April 1, 2021
Farmer(s)
Ryan Spence and Isabelle Spence-Legault
No-till broccoli with landscape fabric in northern Ontario 2021 Research Project Soil Health
Description

As a continuation of their no-till broccoli trial in 2020 using cover crops, Ryan and Isabelle tested no-till broccoli using landscape fabric in 2021.

In a Nutshell

  • Broccoli grown using the no-till treatment of landscape fabric had lower yield and required more labour.
  • Despite poor performance of no-till broccoli using mulches, Ryan and Isabelle still believe that fall broccoli in northeastern Ontario can be grown successfully in a no- till system, and will likely try no-till broccoli without a mulch system (cover crop or fabric) in 2022.

Lire le rapport en français

Publish Date
April 1, 2021
Farmer(s)
Ryan Spence and Isabelle Spence-Legault
Essai de variétés d’épinards pour la production de semences dans le nord-ouest de l’Ontario 2021, 2020 Research Project Seed Production, Selection & Breeding
Description

Les producteurs du nord-ouest de l’Ontario voulaient identifier les variétés d’épinards qui conviennent le mieux à la production de semences dans leur région.

En Bref

  • Matador et Popeye figuraient parmi les variétés préférées des producteurs, se classant en tête dans la plupart des catégories.
  • Giant Winter était la variété la moins appréciée des producteurs et était classée en dernière position dans presque toutes les catégories.
  • Les épinards plantés plus tard à l’automne (ensemencés sur sol gelé) n’ont pas survécu donc n’ont pas pu produire des graines au sein de cet essai.
  • D’après des données non répétées, les plantations du début de l’automne ont hiverné avec succès et montrent une tendance à une production de graines plus élevée.

Read report in english

Publish Date
April 1, 2021
Farmer(s)
Evalisa McIllfaterick and Janna van Blyderveen & Jordan Lees
Oat variety trial 2021 Research Project Seed Production, Selection & Breeding
Description
Norm compared three varieties of oats under similar management strategies to see which variety worked best for his farm operation in eastern Ontario.

In a Nutshell

  • Orford yielded the highest among the three varieties in the trial.
  • Bullet had the highest test weight among the three varieties, although its yield was the most variable.
  • The addition of N in a side-by- side unreplicated trial showed a promising return on investment among all three varieties but more work and replication is needed to verify and reinforce these findings.

 

NB: This report was updated January 2023.

Publish Date
April 1, 2021
Farmer(s)
Norm Lamothe
Management sensitivity, repeatability, and consistency of interpretation of soil health indicators on organic farms in southwestern Ontario 2019 Manuscripts Soil Health
Description
Abstract
Assessment tools are needed to evaluate the effect of farming practices on soil health, as there is increasing interest from growers to improve the health of their soils. However, there is limited information on the efficacy of different soil health indicators on commercial farms and perhaps less so on organic farms. To assess efficacy, three organic growers in cooperation with the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario’s Farmer-Led Research Program tested management sensitivity, measurement repeatability, and consistency of interpretation of different soil health indicators. On each farm, we compared permanganate-oxidizable carbon (active carbon), organic matter, wet aggregate stability, phospholipid fatty acid analysis, Haney soil health test, and Haney nutrient test on one field of grower-perceived high productivity, one field of grower-perceived low productivity, and one reference site (undisturbed, permanent cover). Our results were consistent with previous research that showed grower perception of productivity and soil health associated with management-sensitive soil health indicators. Of the indicators tested, active carbon was the only indicator that was sensitive, repeatable, and consistent across the three farms, and soil organic matter was highly repeatable and consistent to detect differences greater than 0.5% organic matter. This study highlights differences among soil health indicators on commercial farms, and it concludes that active carbon and organic matter were the most useful soil health indicators for these organic farms. Participating growers intend to use results to benchmark current soil status and to help guide land management decisions towards improved soil health.

 

Keywords

  • soil health, active carbon, organic matter, farmer-led research, organic farming

Publish Date
February 5, 2020
Farmer(s)
Paul DeJong, Ken Laing, Tony McQuail
Do soil covers differ in their efficacy for production of organic greens? 2019 Research Project Weed Control
Description

As a follow-up to Brent and Gillian’s tarp trial last year, these growers evaluated the difference among tarp, landscape fabric and clear plastic for greens production.

Key Findings

  • Occultation worked consistently for weed and residue management. Between tarp and landscape fabric, landscape fabric is much easier to manage.
  • Clear plastic was not effective during shoulder seasons, when temperatures aren’t warm enough.
  • The soil covers did not affect crop yield differently.
  • Soil moisture retention was better with occultation, and soil moisture was highest under landscape fabric.
  • Depending on farm and time of year, soil temperature peaked under all covers and uncovered soil, suggesting that occultation does not increase soil temperatures to a point that negatively affects soil biology.

Publish Date
February 5, 2020
Farmer(s)
Matt Jones, Chris Bocz, Jon Gagnon, Brent Preston and Gillian Flies
Does rock mineralizer increase yield of heritage wheat? 2019 Research Project Soil Health
Description

Basalt rock dust is a remineralizer that is used in other parts of the world but there is limited information on its effectiveness to supply crops with nutrients in neutral and alkaline soils. To test the efficacy of basalt as a mineralizer for grain, Shelley and Tony grew Heritage Amber Spring Wheat in replicated plots with and without basalt amendments.

Key Findings

  • Basalt rock dust had no detectable effect on Heritage Amber Spring Wheat yield, and benefits may take years to detect.
  • There were also no other observable differences in growth, seed quality or disease resistance between treatment and control.
  • It was a bad year for wheat production but, overall, Heritage Amber Spring Wheat – a landrace variety – performed well against lodging and Fusarium.

Publish Date
February 4, 2020
Farmer(s)
Shelley Spruit
What are the best fall lettuce varieties for southern Ontario? 2019 Research Project Seed Production, Selection & Breeding
Description

The fall slot for lettuce is challenging because lettuce has to handle both the heat and dryness of summer and the cold and wet of fall. To compare different varieties for fall growing, these farmers – in consultation with Johnny’s, High Mowing and Fedco seed companies – selected 11 lettuce varieties of interest. Each grower chose a subset and everyone committed to planting two replicates of each variety in their last two plantings of lettuce.

Key Findings

  • Magenta, a red/green batavian, and Ruby Star, a red leaf, were the top performers with respect to overall vigor, flavour and germination.
  • Adriana was the growers’ least favourite.

Publish Date
February 4, 2020
Farmer(s)
Angie Koch, Joanna Kowalczyk, Lise-Anne Léveillé, David Mazur-Goulet, Hilary Moore, Leslie Moskovits, Harold Saunders and Ann Slater
Does comfrey promote growth and fruit production of saskatoon berry and black currant? 2019, 2018, 2017 Research Project Cover Crops
Description

Perennial cover crops have many ecological benefits. However, they may compete with the crop or not provide sufficient weed control.

Key Findings

  • After 3 years at Pat’s and 2 years at Ivan’s, comfrey had no effect on fruit production or saskatoon and currant health.
  • Comfrey was a vigorous living mulch without causing detectable negative affects on fruit production.

This trial was multi-year. Earlier reports and protocols can be found using the links below.

Earlier reports

2018 | 2017

Earlier protocols

2018 | 2017

Publish Date
February 4, 2020
Farmer(s)
Pat Kozowyk, Ivan Chan, and Arthur Churchyard
Is no-till planting spring cereal grain into winter-killed cover crops worth it? 2019, 2018 Research Project Cover Crops
Description

Spring cereals are integral to diverse rotations; however, it is often hard to get them planted early enough. One strategy to get into the field early is to no-till plant into cover crop residue, which provides soil cover in the winter and generally helps improve soil health. To investigate this approach, Ken no-till planted oats and barley into replicated plots of four different cover crops and plots that received fall tillage. 

Key Findings

  • Grain yield and relative net return were highest when no-till planted into daikon radish.
  • Weed control was best with daikon radish and the fall tillage control.
  • There was no soil erosion in the cover crop plots, and moderate rill erosion in the fall tillage plots.

Publish Date
January 7, 2020
Farmer(s)
Ken Laing
Do grafted tomatoes pay off in high tunnels in Ontario? 2019 Research Project Seed Production, Selection & Breeding
Description

Grafting is a proven way to incorporate disease resistance into tomato transplants. However adoption of this practice to high tunnel production is relatively new, so these four growers were curious about the economic viability of grafting tomatoes for production in high tunnels in southern Ontario.

Key Findings

  • Grafted tomatoes had greater total marketable yield regardless of scion variety.
  • Grafted tomatoes had greater overall plant health.
  • Grafted tomatoes had higher net returns on average but the degree of economic benefit varied by farm.
  • Yield advantage for grafting likely depends on scion variety and scion and rootstock compatibility.

Publish Date
January 7, 2020
Farmer(s)
Eric Barnhorst, Jenny Cook, Sarah Judd and Nathan Klassen
Toward community food security through transdisciplinary action research 2019 Manuscripts Community
Description
Abstract

To solve the world’s most complex problems, research is increasingly moving toward more transdisciplinary endeavors. While a lot of important work has explored the characteristics, challenges, opportunities, and operationalization of transdisciplinary research, much less is known about the circumstances that either facilitate or hinder the research process, particularly from the perspectives of graduate students who often participate in them. In this paper, we aim to address this gap by contributing our own experiences as a team of four graduate students and one community partner that collaborated on a food security project. To support our collaboration, we develop and apply an analytical framework that integrates transdisciplinarity and action research. Through principles of reflexivity, participation and partnership, methods and process, and integration, we find that the framework facilitated the development of shared purposes, mutual responsibility, and meaningful relationships, resulting in the cocreation of a guidebook for farmer-led research. Our main concern with the framework is not achieving the full integration of our disciplines and practices. Transdisciplinarity together with action research holds significant promise in a food security context, but only in the “right” circumstances, where considerable time is spent building relationships, opening communicative space, and reflecting on the work with collaborators.

Keywords

  • Community engaged scholarship, graduate student, evaluation, transdisciplinary, action research, food security

Publish Date
November 22, 2019
Farmer(s)
Agroecology in Canada: Towards an Integration of Agroecological Practice, Movement, and Science 2018 Manuscripts Community
Description
Abstract

This article surveys the current state of agroecology in Canada, giving particular attention to agroecological practices, the related social movements, and the achievements of agroecological science. In each of these realms, we find that agroecology emerges as a response to the various social and ecological problems associated with the prevailing industrial model of agricultural production that has long been promoted in the country under settler colonialism. Although the prevalence and prominence of agroecology is growing in Canada, its presence is still small and the support for its development is limited. We provide recommendations to achieve a more meaningful integration of agroecology in Canadian food policy and practice.

Keywords

  • agricultural policy; agroecology; Canada; food movements; on-farm practices

Publish Date
September 15, 2018
Farmer(s)
Pasture-raised chicken breed comparison 2016 Research Project Livestock Breed Selection
Description

Jason Hayes raised groups of Nova Free Ranger and White Rock chickens on pasture and measured feed intake, carcass yield, taste and nutritional quality.

Key Findings

  • From one successful replicate, the Nova Free Ranger group had a lower (better) average feed conversion ratio and greater return to labour ($5.30/kg vs. $5.05/kg).
  • Blind taste tests suggest the taste and texture of Nova Free Ranger meat is preferred by culinary professionals but that the average non-chef customer may prefer the smoother texture of White Rock meat.
  • Average OMEGA 6:3 ratio of one White Rock and one Nova Free Ranger was 9.5:1, higher (worse) than previously published results from pasture-raised chickens but lower (better) than previously published results from non-pasture-raised chickens. Vitamin content was higher than all previously published results.
  • Delayed arrival of Nova Free Ranger chicks allowed analysis of only one replicate in 2016, so additional replicates are needed to draw conclusions​.
  • Evaluating the nutritional quality and profitability of alternative breeds on pasture helps producers choose breeds that are better suited to integrated, pasture-based farming.

Publish Date
February 6, 2018
Farmer(s)
Jason Hayes
Does biochar improve tree growth in a newly established apple orchard? 2018 Research Project Soil Health
Description

Val and Brent were curious to know if biochar will help regenerate soil in their young apple orchard and help to set in motion biological activity and nutrient retention. Researchers have documented benefits from biochar in arid and tropical soils, which vary by soil fertility status and biochar quality. Much less is known about biochar’s effect in temperate regions, but there is anecdotal support for biochar use from some farmers in Ontario.

Key Findings

  • In the first year of application, Val and Brent detected no effect of the biochar amendment on soil microbial activity, as a proxy for soil health.
  • They also detected no changes in tree health in the first year of application.
  • Val and Brent will continue to monitor soil and tree health in future years.

Publish Date
February 6, 2018
Farmer(s)
Val Steinmann and Brent Klassen
What is the best variety of sweet pea to grow in southern Ontario? 2018 Research Project Seed Production, Selection & Breeding
Description

Much of the flower seed being produced and used by cut flower growers across Canada is grown internationally in the Netherlands, Israel, and various South American and African countries. This means that varieties are not adapted to the Canadian climate and flower growers can’t support local seed houses. Jessica wanted to assess different varieties from local seed houses to find the best one for her farm, and she enlisted the help of other flower growers.

Key Findings

  • There was not a detectable difference in plant quality among blush or white varieties.
  • While there was not enough data to analyze statistically, Jessica recorded differences in bloom period and vase life. In doing so, she gained insight into the importance of these factors – especially in hot southern Ontario – for future variety trials of Sweet Peas.

Publish Date
February 6, 2018
Farmer(s)
Jessica Gale
Putting soil health first 2016 Research Manuals & Guides Soil Health
Description
The Environment Commissioner of Ontario’s report on soil health.

Publish Date
February 6, 2018
Farmer(s)
Systems research for agriculture 2016 Research Manuals & Guides
Description
Web link to free PDF download of SARE’s Systems Research for Agriculture e-book. This handbook is essential reading for research coordinators and all other team members as they navigate the complexities of multifaceted systems projects.

Publish Date
February 6, 2018
Farmer(s)
Is Fusarium infection in garlic reduced with a copper spray or biostimulant? 2018 Research Project Disease & Pest Control
Description

Felicia grows nematode-free garlic, which she sells as clean seed. She’d like to prevent loss to Fusarium and tested a copper spray and biostimulant spray as potential ways to control the fungus.

Key Findings

  • The dry conditions and good seed garlic led to low Fusarium pressure this year.
  • Felicia found no difference in the proportion of garlic with visual signs of infection by weight of good garlic when she compared plots treated with copper spray, RhizoVital® spray and no spray.

Publish Date
February 6, 2018
Farmer(s)
Felicia Syer Nicol