Ag research gets shared with local farmers

Sam Odrowski

Agricultural research is essential for any farmer who’s trying to make the most from their fields.

Learning about what crops can be grown locally and what varieties flourish best under the northwestern climate can help to make agricultural operations more effective.

Over 50 producers, farmers, and interested members of the agricultural community visited the Emo Agricultural Research Station (EARS) last Thursday to learn from the experts about the best types of crops that can be grown locally.

“I more or less really appreciate when they’re able to come out and see what we’re doing at EARS,” explained crop technician Kim Jo Bliss.

“We’re only as good as the information that gets out to those producers.”

Bliss was a little concerned about how many people would be able to attend the open house initially due to the number of people haying or on holidays, but was thrilled with the turnout.

She said prior to the open house a crop and soil tour was held, where attendees travelled to farms around the district to learn about different agricultural operations.

“We had a good tour, we had good participation. We had some really great out-of-town guests, so I think it was very successful,” Bliss lauded.

“What I was most really quite proud of is that we visited a lot of younger farmers.”

“I think that’s really a great sign for the district and for agriculture because we need these young guys to continue on,” she added.

For those who took the tour, the Brielmann farm was quite the spectacle because of the thousands of acres of wheat, soybean, barely and canola are being grown there.

Meanwhile, the University of Guelph funds the research being conducted at EARS and one of the school’s vice-presidents, Dr. Malcom Campbell, said he was very impressed by the crop and soil tour as well as the open house.

“We started with a great soil session in the morning and then moved all the way through a variety of different crops and different scales of crops, which I thought was really interesting,” he remarked.

“There are some farmers growing on a couple hundred acres and then another farmer is growing on . . . many thousand acres, so looking at how they’re each managing their individual challenges and varying between different crop types.”

Part of EARS that Campbell found unique was the location of the station.

“There’s a high degree of relevance here to a wide variety of different jurisdictions . . . from northwestern Ontario to the north midwest United States to the southeast of Manitoba,” he noted.

The quality and diversity of research conducted at EARS is similar to the 14 other research stations spread across southern Ontario but the weather here poses distinct challenges for the district’s farmers, according to Campbell

“There’s the micro climate issue, there’s the soil quality issue and we did some really nice soil work today, taking a look at what the various challenges that our farmers here have with the soil that’s present,” he explained.

Campbell also lauded the research station’s attention to detail and replication for its crop trials and related research.

“I’m really impressed with the quality of the work and the diversity of the work that’s being done here,” Campbell lauded.

“You can see, as we saw this evening, a variety of different crops, all really addressing issues that are germane to local farmers.”

The forage crop trials were also highlighted by Campbell, who found them to be quite relevant not only to soil health but also beef producers who want to best feed their livestock.

Prior to the tour at the EARS open house, he thanked the staff at the research station and University of Guelph for their dedication to enhancing outcomes for farmers across Ontario.

“Realizing the ambition that we have at the University of Guelph to live by our motto which is to improve life is what I think is being done here at EARS,” Campbell lauded.

“It’s a beautiful example of us taking knowledge, moving it beyond the hallowed halls of academia, making it resident in a way that truly does make a difference to the productivity of agricultural systems and the agri-food system here in the province.”

Campbell said agriculture is the second most important industry Canada, producing roughly $40 billion a year, with $13 billion in exports, making it a major player for the federal economy.

Although Campbell’s visit to EARS was his first, he said he plans on returning in the future.