Ag station planning annual open house

Staff

District residents are invited to come out and see what’s growing at the Emo Agricultural Research Station during its annual open house slated for Wednesday, July 28 at 7 p.m.
“We welcome everyone to come out,” research station technician Kim Jo Bliss said about the annual event, when the station opens its doors for tours and highlights of what the staff has been working on for this season.
While last year’s newest project was growing vegetables, one of the new things this year at the research station is the Miscanthus.
“It’s a biomass grass,” explained Bliss, pointing to the biomass boilers of AbitibiBowater and Ontario Power Generation as the idea behind the researching of this grass.
Also known as “Elephant Grass,” Miscanthus grows “really, really tall,” noted Bliss, likening it to switchgrass or reed canary grass.
“The biggest thing is we have to find out if it’s going to be suitable for our climate,” she remarked.
“We planted a few plants last year and they seemed to survive the winter, but they didn’t all survive the winter.”
But weather delays meant they only started planting the Miscanthus on June 30, Bliss noted.
“We just started drilling these Miscanthus plants into the ground—they’re plugs,” she explained. “They’re almost like a tree, but they’re a grass.
“So [we] drill holes into the ground and then we drop the little plugs in.”
Bliss also said they’re doing some work with charcoal, comparing what they’re working on to the wood ash that farmers were applying on their land.
“[There are] two trials involving this charcoal, which they’ve had to have special ordered in,” she noted.
Carrots and lettuce are back for a second year as the ag station continues with veggie trials.
Meanwhile, Bliss said the forages are always a big draw for the public.
“Things will look different this year just because of cutting schedules,” she added.
“Hopefully, it will be drier by then and we can tour our plots,” Bliss said, adding the rainy weather during June has caused delays.
“We’re extremely behind,” she stressed. “By now we’d have the first cut of all the hay crops in, and then usually by our open house we’d have a nice bunch of second crop to look at.
“But we don’t even have our first cut done right now.
“So we’ve got a pile of work to do between now and then, even just getting the place cleaned up. It’s pretty messy around here,” she laughed.
“But you can’t do much when it’s wet,” she reasoned.