Monday, October 1

Canada Day in London a success despite security threat

(article publiƩ initialement dans TOURISME)

It was the sort of circumstance that brings out the best in Londoners. A car bomb is located near Trafalgar Square, and all of a sudden, the organizers of Canada Day in London on the early morning of June 29 are asking themselves if it wouldn’t be wiser to cancel the celebrations, recalls managing director of the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) office in theUK, Maggie Davison.

“We weren’t sure whether Canada Day was going forward or not, but decided we weren’t going to let mere terrorists put the day off," remembers Davison. "The emergency services were amazing; police activity was cranked up and we were a 'go'.”

With the unforeseen four hour delay on the setup, the CTC and all its collaborators got to work. “They had shut off all the electricity in the Square at four o'clock in the morning. We had planned an overnight build, and there was no light or power to finish the staging and rigging, but we pushed to get ready for noon.

“It was an amazing day. Even if many people stayed away from central London because of the bomb scare, the Greater London Authority estimated the attendance was better than last year. I would estimate that about 40,000 people attended the event. Everybody was very watchful. Going ahead was a huge decision to have to make: ‘There is a bomb on the corner – do you really continue with the celebration?’”

It was evidently the right decision to make and it certainly gave participating Brits, wanderers and international visitors who happened to be on Trafalgar Square that day a taste of everything Canadian, notes Davison: “We had everything from bison burgers to our own beer. We had a shinny hockey tournament featuring a team whose members hail from a Dene Nation which claims to have played the first game of hockey in Canada’s history, and we had an amazing concert in the evening. The Square was absolutely rocking with all new and emerging talent from Canada, like the Sam Roberts Band.”

Davison feels Canada Day in London succeeded in putting a younger image on Canada for UK citizens to discover. “One that is more progressive, more innovative, fun and exciting,” she says. “We received great media coverage, considering that the news of the day was the terrorist threat.”

Not only was Canada’s honour as an event host safe in the end – it could also be said that Canada helped keep heads cool on what might have been a very tumultuous day, had events unfolded otherwise. Canada Day in London turned out to be a more significant statement of “hip”, it seems, just by embracing the wildly unexpected.

Saskatchewan Summit fosters industry-wide collaboration

(Originally published in TOURISM)

About 400 tourism industry stakeholders met September 24 and 25, 2007, in Regina for the first-ever Saskatchewan Summit on Tourism, organized by Tourism Saskatchewan at the request of Provincial Premier Lorne Calvert. Calvert and Tourism Saskatchewan president and CEO Lynda Haverstock were co-hosts of the event, with Senator Larry Campbell, a former Mayor of Vancouver, serving as master of ceremonies. The keynote address was delivered by Saskatchewan-born Pamela Wallin, senior advisor on Canada-US relations to the president of the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas in New York.

Haverstock feels the initiative was long overdue. "The number one reason for this summit was to bring people together in a way that would lead to the tourism industry being perceived as significant in Saskatchewan, not just by the players who are well aware of its significance, but also by government officials, industry leaders and stakeholders in the room. We want the public to know how meaningful our contribution is to the overall economy of the province."

Brad Lawrence, general manager of Government House, a Regina heritage attraction, certainly felt the summit hit the mark: "Anytime you can get the operators and the decision-makers in the same room, it is a huge benefit."

Private sector tourism operators like Janis Cousyn, owner and operator of Calories Bakery and Restaurant and Souleio Foods Incorporated in Saskatoon, was equally satisfied. "It was very worthwhile. It brought enough people together to have an influence through creating awareness of tourism as an industry which creates jobs and has a value-added impact on our province."

"That recognition has been lacking in the past," notes Cousyn. "This summit has helped create some credibility for us as a tourism industry and it might bring some positive change and some additional funding for our industry so we can start to move forward."

Larry Hiles, president and CEO of the Regina Regional Economic Development Authority, believes the opportunity for dialogue far outweighs any differences people may have: "It is really important to start speaking with a unified voice about who we are, what we want to be and then to develop a plan to get there."

Jim Kilkenny, general manager of the Delta Regina, looks forward to some measurable achievements stemming from this tourism summit, and he hopes these will occur within a very short period of time. "Many of the topics and issues raised here are not insurmountable," he says. "Saskatchewan is leading the nation in economic growth, and we can expect that to continue."

Kilkenny acknowledges his province is faced with issues just like the rest of the country, such as coming to terms with labour shortages and the strength of the Canadian dollar. "But the economic engine of the country is slowly moving west," emphasizes Kilkenny, "and now, perhaps, we are starting to see what some of the other parts of the country have enjoyed - in some cases for many years."

Enrolment on the rise for U of S College of Agriculture

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan is reporting higher first-year enrolment heading into the new school year.

The college has enrolled 134 first-year students, who have already begun attending classes this semester, compared to the 105 first-year students enrolled last year.

This semester marks the first full year for the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, formerly known as the College of Agriculture.

Graham Scoles, interim dean of the department, believes that several factors have contributed to the rise.

"I would like to think the higher first-year enrolment is due in part to the college's new name," he stated. "However, the greater explanation may be that the college has also been participating in active recruitment initiatives in recent years."

Scoles says the college decided to change its name to reflect how it has evolved and expanded over the course of time. "To many people, the word ‘agriculture' denotes only the production side of the equation. Over its many years, this college has diversified to include new levels of expertise and new faculty members," he noted.

"So we had considerable discussions in terms of what name might better represent what we are and what we expect to become. ‘Agriculture and Bioresources' was the one that struck us."

Up to this point, the school has been a single-degree college, offering only a bachelor's degree in science and agriculture. However, with its new name comes a new degree program that is already underway this semester - the Bachelor of Agribusiness.

Scoles says that several other new programs are also in the works. The college intends to introduce a bachelor's degree in renewable resource management next year, and the plans don't end there.

"We are trying to diversify our offerings, and we expect that, by adding new programs, we will attract students to the college who would have otherwise not been attracted before," Scoles stated. "So we're working on others, but are interested in seeing the impact of these new programs first. We don't want to over-extend ourselves."

The college's ambitious recruitment is also believed to have had a positive impact on the increasing student numbers.

"Active recruitment activities are something the college had never tried before. They simply relied on students to come to the college on their own," Scoles said.

"Now, the college has a community liaison officer who is responsible for visiting various high schools and tradeshows to talk about the new vision for the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. We believe these activities have made the positive impact on our first-year enrolment numbers."

The new vision Scoles refers to includes a modern emphasis on the bioresource value chain.

"The bioresource value chain begins with the environment in which we produce the plants and animals that we use in agriculture systems," he explained. "The other end of the chain, in terms of adding value to those products, is to drive economic activity and to essentially bring wealth to the province, its producers and its entrepreneurs."

Potential students can find out more about the college and its registration requirements at http://www.ag.usask.ca/, and by watching for the college's presence at various tradeshows around the province.

For more information, contact:
Graham Scoles, Interim Dean, College of Agriculture and Bioresources
University of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 966-4050
E-mail: graham.scoles@usask.ca

A new opportunity to dispose of old pesticides

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The chance has come again for agricultural producers to properly dispose of their obsolete pesticides free of charge through the Saskatchewan Obsolete Pesticide Collection Campaign, which will be underway across the province from October 23 to 25.

"The Obsolete Pesticide Collection Campaign gives farmers the opportunity to safely dispose of de-registered, outdated, unwanted or otherwise obsolete agricultural pesticides during a three-day province-wide blitz," said Wayne Gosselin, an Environmental Policy Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF).

Pesticide products that will be accepted under the campaign include agricultural herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and rodenticides.

It is also important to note the products that will not be accepted through the initiative: empty pesticide containers, spray tank rinsate, adjuvants, treated seed, home/garden pesticides, paints, thinners, waste oils or any other household hazardous waste.

Products destined for disposal will be accepted at designated ag-retail collection locations throughout Saskatchewan. "There will be 46 collection sites set up around the province, with the idea being that most agricultural areas of the province will be within 50 kilometres or so of a drop-off site," Gosselin said.

Producers can find the nearest collection depot by phoning their agricultural retailer or the SAF Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377, or by visiting the campaign website at www.agr.gov.sk.ca/pesticidecollection and checking out the associated map.

The collected pesticides will be safely packaged before being transported to a special waste treatment facility approved by Saskatchewan Environment for disposal in an environmentally responsible manner.

Disposal is free for agricultural and commercial-based operations. This includes farmers from all sectors of the industry. It also includes landscape companies, private forestry nurseries, golf courses, turf operations and commercial exterminators.

CropLife Canada is the industry umbrella group that represents the manufacturers and distributors of crop protection products. Under its mandate of "working responsibly to protect people and the environment," the organization is cost-sharing the initiative with the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan (formerly the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development Inc.), which is contributing through the federal Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) program.

"We are pleased to be part of a program that provides farmers with a safe, effective and cost-free way to properly dispose of unwanted products," CropLife Canada Manager of Stewardship Development Russel Hurst said.

"This program is a great example of how government, grower organizations and industry can work co-operatively towards a better environment."

The campaign is a one-time opportunity with no legal implications or cost to producers. Those dropping off products are not required to identify themselves. All pesticides will be accepted, including those without valid Canadian Pest Control Act numbers. For safety reasons, however, all containers must be labelled.

"Please make sure containers are leak-free and a pesticide name is written on every container," Hurst said. "If you no longer know what the pesticide is, label the container ‘pesticide unknown.'"

More information on the Saskatchewan Obsolete Pesticide Collection Campaign, including a list of collection locations and details on how to safely transport your pesticides, can be obtained from your farm supply dealer, by calling 1-416-622-9771, or by visiting http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/pesticidecollection.

For more information, contact:
Wayne Gosselin, Environmental Policy Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-6586

Deal with weeds in the fall for a fresher spring

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

If Mother Nature has been good to you and your crops are largely in the bin, October is a good month to think about fall weed control.

Clark Brenzil, provincial specialist in weed control with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), says there should still be some time for control measures before the snow flies.

"The challenge that arises with producers harvesting larger acreages in fall is that, unless the weather co-operates, they may not get done until very close to freeze-up," he stated. "At that point, it may be too late for some perennial weeds. But this year we saw many crops come off in mid-summer, which may present some opportunities for fall weed control."

Brenzil says that, for some weeds like Canada thistle, which are fairly hearty in the face of cold weather, there may still be good opportunities if the plants are in good condition and there haven't been many hard frosts yet. "We should still have some reasonably warm temperatures, and there's still a chance for herbicide to be absorbed by the plant and moved to the roots and developing buds underground. But for other perennial weeds, like dandelion, herbicide applications generally need to occur before October to be successful."

According to Brenzil, much of a producer's approach to fall weed control depends on the types of weeds being targeted. "If you're looking at a perennial that is more sensitive to frost, control needs to take place earlier in the fall, either with a pre-harvest herbicide application, or after harvest before there has been too much frost damage," he said.

"For winter annual weeds, later is better since they only begin to germinate in mid-September, and control needs to take place as late in the fall as possible to control them effectively."

The advantages of fall weed control are obvious when spring comes and your fields are already well prepared for the season. "Research is showing that the earlier perennial and winter annual weeds are controlled, the greater the yield benefit to the following crop," Brenzil said.

"If the weeds are left there until just before seeding, they use moisture and nutrient resources that could otherwise be used by the crop in that critical early development stage. If you can't get it done this fall, plan to control winter annuals and dandelion as soon as possible next spring."

Brenzil says that post-harvest perennial weed control may be an option for many producers this year on fields where harvest took place earlier in the summer. "Perennial weeds that were cut off during harvest will have had the four to six weeks they need for adequate top re-growth in order to provide a good target for the herbicide spray."

According to Brenzil, a common mistake producers should avoid is trying to use the same herbicide rate they would with a pre-harvest treatment.

"Because the mature standing weeds were cut off with the crop, the leaf surface area of the weed that is able to intercept herbicide droplets has been reduced significantly," Brenzil stated. "Since there are a lower number of droplets for each plant, the concentration of herbicide in the spray solution must be increased by increasing the application rate in order to get the same amount of active ingredient into each plant. The rate needs to be right the first time because the first effect of glyphosate is to stop nutrient (and herbicide) movement in the plant, making additional herbicide applications ineffective."

Brenzil estimates there are at least 12 glyphosate formulations available now from six different manufacturers, plus glyphosate mixes with other herbicides. No matter which brand you choose, though, there are important things to remember when spraying the chemical.

"Glyphosate-based herbicides can be negatively affected by cold conditions. The ideal time to spray is when several days are expected to be bright and sunny, with temperatures in the 15 to 20 degree (Celsius) range and overnight lows no less than five degrees (Celsius). If glyphosate is sprayed under cool, cloudy conditions, there is a high risk of it getting trapped in the leaves and being unable to translocate to the roots," he noted.

"Die-back of perennial plants treated with glyphosate in the fall is not necessarily a good predictor of control come next spring. If glyphosate is sprayed on a day when sugars are being rapidly moved to the roots, the plant may not show signs of death this fall, but will not emerge next spring either, and that is the goal of the exercise."

Because of the cooler temperatures in mid- to late October, glyphosate may not be the most appropriate herbicide for winter annual control in late fall, and should be saved for next spring. Winter annual weeds such as stinkweed, flixweed, whitlow-grass, pygmyweed and shepherd's purse can be effectively controlled just before freeze-up using a light rate of 2,4-D (0.2 to 0.28 millilitres per acre of 600 grams-per-litre formulation).

Other problem winter annual weeds, like narrow-leaved hawk's-beard, should be left alone until being treated with glyphosate early in the spring. Not only is 2,4-D ineffective on hawk's-beard, but it injures the plant enough that it makes the glyphosate applied the next spring ineffective, as well.

More information and advice on fall weed control can be found on the SAF website at http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/, or by calling the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

For more information, contact:
Clark Brenzil, Provincial Specialist, Weed Control
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-4673
E-mail: cbrenzil@agr.gov.sk.ca

Fall planning for spring forage seeding

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Producers know that farming is a matter of not only focusing on what needs to be done today, but also of planning ahead for the future.

In light of this, Todd Jorgenson with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) says there are a number of factors producers looking at seeding perennial forage stands next spring can consider this fall, prior to purchasing seed or making final decisions.

"They should identify what forage species are best adapted to their soil type, moisture conditions and overall climate. They should factor in how the forage stand will be utilized, be it for grazing or hay, and the type of animals that will feed on it. And they need to consider how the stand will fit into their overall range or forage management plan," Jorgenson said.

Different forage species are adapted to different growing conditions. Jorgenson says these adaptations are well documented, and should be reviewed prior to purchasing seed.

"Some species, such as timothy, are poorly adapted to dry conditions and prefer poorly drained, highly fertile soils," he noted. "Others, such as crested wheatgrass, are poorly adapted to flooding and will do well under lower fertility. Meadow bromegrass, on the other hand, is a species more broadly adapted to moderate flooding and drought, and with a moderate to high fertility requirement."

It is not uncommon for forage seed mixtures to contain all three of the species (timothy, crested wheatgrass and meadow bromegrass) or more, as well as one or more legumes. However, if these forage mixtures are for grazing, livestock given the opportunity will select their preferred species and under-graze the others.

"If your field is variable, containing larger areas of different soil types, it is better to divide up these areas and seed to a best adapted single- or two-species mix," Jorgenson said. "Fields that are highly variable with many small acreages of different soils may not be practical to divide, and seeding a diverse forage mix would be a good choice in these conditions."

According to Jorgenson, care should still be taken in selecting a mix that will be adapted to a producer's local conditions. "Planning done over the fall and winter months, prior to seeding, can prevent purchasing poorly adapted forage species or mixtures, and result in a more productive, long-lived stand," he stated.

This includes having a clear idea of how the producer intends to graze the new forage stand. Complex pasture mixtures may not only contain poorly adapted, short-lived species, but they are also difficult to manage.

Different species have different growth patterns and rates of regrowth. Jorgenson says the best way to manage for these growth and regrowth characteristics is to seed them alone or with an adapted legume. "This will eliminate livestock selective grazing, and also enable producers to monitor grass growth in paddocks much more easily to take advantage of the growth cycle of the forage," he stated.

"Planning now for spring seeding is time well spent."

More information and advice on planning for spring forage seeding can be found on the SAF website at http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/, or by calling the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377. SAF forage development specialists are also available through the SAF regional offices to help develop or review seed mixtures and grazing management plans, as well as to help with Environmental Farm Planning (EFP).

For more information, contact:
Todd Jorgenson, Forage Development Specialist, Ecological Services
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 786-5859
E-mail: tjorgenson@agr.gov.sk.ca

Connection with producers behind new flax website

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A completely revamped website for the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission is just part of efforts to improve services for producers. The commission's executive director, Linda Braun, says they are already receiving positive feedback on the changes.

"The previous version was very time-consuming for farmers to access, so we decided to revamp the site to make it much easier for them," Braun said. "Our website is a great way to get information to farmers relatively quickly."

According to the commission, there are over 15,000 flax producers in Saskatchewan, and the province produces four times more flax than its nearest provincial rival in Canada. The commission invests in research, communication, and market facilitation with the objective of further developing the industry.

"A producer recently told me that Saskatchewan is the heart and soul of flax production in this country," Braun said.

Prominent on the new website is information on the Flax Development Commission's Agri-Environmental Group Plan.

"Complete plant utilization is important," Braun noted. "Flax is a great crop for the bio-economy. We're looking at both the seed and the straw, animal and human markets, and industrial fibre markets."

One of the important developments on which the commission is working with producers is to find markets for the fibre from Saskatchewan flax straw.

"Flax producers have always been good stewards of the land and have taken a leadership role, but sometimes with the amount of fibre there was no alternative but to burn," Braun said. "So we've been talking about chopping and spreading, and sharing information on stripper-header technology. We've also been working on developing the fibre industry from the field through to the consumer."

Braun says the development of new markets for flax fibre is bringing many players to the table.

"We've been working on the national scene with organizations like Flax Canada 2015, the National Bio-Fibres Advisory Board, and the new network of about 100 people within the Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program," she noted.

Early in 2008 the commission will be putting together two important events for flax producers. The first will be Flax Day on January 7, during the Crop Production Week. The program will include "everything from what the breeders are doing to what the market is going to look like," Braun stated.

In addition, the commission is organizing a two-day workshop in February on the topic of effective flax straw management. "We'll be bringing in farmers and researchers to discuss all the alternatives and the development of new beneficial management practices for flax straw," she said.

Braun advised producers to watch the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission website, at http://www.saskflax.com/, for more details on these events, as well as on the upcoming board election.

For more information, contact:
Linda Braun, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission
Phone: (306) 664-1901
E-mail: saskflax@saskflax.com

Beekeepers association continues to buzz

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Saskatchewan Beekeepers Association (SBA) has been around for 85 years, but this energetic organization does not intended to slow down anytime soon. In fact, it is buzzing with continued progress and the opportunity to further its research.

Recently, the SBA was given a $366,729 grant under the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food in Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) program to continue its important work for another three years. The grant is targeted at the organization's ongoing project breed productive, gentle honeybee lines with improved tolerance to mites and brood diseases.

The SBA's continued research will help to establish breeding methods to develop bees with genetic resistance to parasitic mites, eliminating or reducing the need for chemicals. This practice protects the environment from harmful organophosphates, the consumer from food safety or quality concerns, and the beekeeper from bee colony losses.

"This research is essential, due to the fact that two mites, the tracheal mite and the varroa mite, have made their way to Canada, and have become devastating over the last 10 years," said John Gruszka, Provincial Apiculturist for Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food. "These mites have caused the honey production industry in Western Canada to re-think and change how it operates."

Gruszka says that, beginning in the early 1940s, Western Canadian beekeeping developed as what is known as a package bee industry. "We used to be able to purchase two pounds of bees and a new queen from the southern states. They would be trucked up here in April, installed in the colonies, and produce a honey crop. Then the bees would be destroyed and the same process would be repeated the following year," he stated.

"Since the advent of these mites and the concerns over how devastating they are going to be, along with rapid increase in the price of the honey, there has been a movement to learn how to keep bees in our climate. It was re-thinking an old technology and applying new methodology."

The SBA was at the forefront of this movement. When the tracheal mite first gained prominence, the organization applied for and received money from Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food's Agriculture Development Fund to test how much of an impact it would have on the industry.

When the varroa mite appeared, the industry approached government to change the regulations on importing honeybees into Canada. This resulted in a certification program that permitted only mite-free honeybees to be imported into the country.

"The SBA has been working on breeding a honeybee stock that is suitable to our climate and that minimizes winter losses, which allows the bees to come through the winter in much stronger colonies, enhancing honey production. They are now showing almost complete resistance to the honeybee tracheal mite and some resistance to the varroa mite," Gruszka said.

"The SBA has been instrumental in getting research done in order to tackle the concerns and threats to the honey production industry, and in working towards a long-term solution that will alleviate some of our current dependence on chemical applications to keep these mites under control."

The SBA has more recently established the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission to administer a producer-based development fund.

The commission collects approximately $38,000 per year from Saskatchewan beekeepers, which is used for the genetic breeding program, as well as for advertising and promotion on the provincial and national scale.

There are roughly 140 commercial beekeeping producers in Saskatchewan (and another 1,000 hobby beekeepers) who provide around 1,000 summer jobs bringing in the honey crop during the extracting season. On a per-colony basis, Saskatchewan is one of the largest honey producers in the world, with a 10-year average of about 200 pounds per colony.

"Saskatchewan produces between 20 and 25 million pounds of honey per year, most of which is exported to other parts of Canada, the United States and the world," said Gruszka.

For more information, contact:
John Gruszka, Provincial Apiculturist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 953-2790

How many bushes per bedroom

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A Saskatchewan company is now offering the first ever Saskatchewan-built grain burning stove for sale to the public and dealers.

Delmer and Janet Hering operate Prairie Fire Grain Energy Inc. from their farm home near Bruno. They have been involved with grain-burning heating systems since 1993, and Delmer says their experience drove the need for this new product.

"We were selling an Ontario-made stove for 14 years, and decided that we could make some improvements on it," Hering stated. "Also, they couldn't keep up with the demand, so we decided it was time to make them here in Saskatchewan."

The Herings teamed up with Mifab Manufacturing of North Battleford, a company primarily known for making and distributing plumbing hardware, to manufacture the new stove, known as the "Prairie Fire Model PFG-060."

Hering says it's the first stove designed to burn grain.

"Most of the stoves are either converted wood pellet stoves or burn corn," he stated. "This is the first certified grain burner. We can also burn bin-run grain, whereas the other one had to have clean grain."

Prairie Fire used the opportunity of starting from the ground up to add improvements to the design, such as a bigger glass door, better air flow and a heavier burning pot. It was also built so that it could be certified for use in mobile homes.

Prairie Fire rates the new grain-burning stove as being capable of heating approximately 2,000 square feet, burning about one bushel of grain per day. According to Hering, the stove pays for itself in energy cost savings.

"It's about four times cheaper than using natural gas, and seven to eight times cheaper than propane, diesel or electric heat," he said. "If you're heating with propane, diesel or electricity, [the Prairie Fire] will pay for itself in probably two years. Compared with natural gas, it might be three to four years."

The grain-burning stove has an operating life expectancy of about 20 years.

While the new stove is designed to burn wheat and rye, Hering says it doesn't need to be fed number one grade.

"The trick is to use poor quality grain," he noted. "If you can find something that's been downgraded, like wheat with fusarium, or grain that's partly heated or mouldy, it will all work."

The stove is designed to be a do-it-yourself installation for most users. It can be situated in any open area, and is vented directly through an outside wall, eliminating the need for an additional chimney. Heat output is controlled by a timed release system that feeds the grain into the firebox from a hopper, and circulated by a variable-speed fan.

"They hold a bushel," Hering stated. "You pour it into the hopper, fill it up, light it, and away you go."

Hering says the primary market for their grain-burning stove is the farm, but they are also selling to owners of cottages and acreages, as well as to a few town-dwellers. Prairie Fire Grain Energy also sells two different sizes of grain-burning boiler systems, which operate outside the home or shop, heating water which is then piped into the buildings to provide heat.

Potential buyers or those interested in becoming dealers can contact the Herings via their website at http://www.grainburningstoves.ca/, or give them a call at (306) 369-2825.

For more information, contact:
Delmer Hering, Owner
Prairie Fire Grain Energy Inc.
Phone: (306) 369-2825
E-mail: prairiefire@sasktel.net
Website: http://www.grainburningstoves.ca/

New beginnings for Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Many new beginnings are on the horizon for a well-known agriculture and rural development organization - starting with a new name.

The Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan (ACS) is the new title of the former Saskatchewan Council for Community Development, or SCCD.

"During our comprehensive strategic planning process this past February, the board felt that we have evolved into an organization with more of an agricultural focus, and they thought that a name change was very critical in terms of being looked at as an agricultural organization," said ACS Executive Director Laurie Dmytryshyn.

"Our new name, therefore, reflects the primary activities of our organization and our membership base."

The majority of ACS members are provincial agricultural, agri-food and community development organizations.

"Membership is constantly growing. We currently have 39 members, a number that has doubled over the past year," Dmytryshyn said. In order to become a member, an interested party must be a provincial organization in the agriculture, agri-food or community development sectors.

During its strategic planning process, the board also developed a new vision and mission for the organization, along with some strategies to guide ACS into the future.

"The ACS vision and mission is to provide leadership and programming to advance the agriculture and agri-food sectors, contributing to a healthy Saskatchewan community," Dmytryshyn stated.

ACS will expand the programming it already delivers to advance Saskatchewan's agriculture and agri-food industry. Through programs like the federally funded Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) program, ACS has been able to fund projects that will advance the industry within Saskatchewan, providing many new and innovative opportunities in both domestic and global markets for the province's primary and value-added products. The next application deadline for ACAAFS funding requests of more than $10,000 is November 16, 2007.

The Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI) is another federally funded program that has been very successful. Eleven projects from across Saskatchewan have received funding to develop business plans and feasibility studies for ethanol and biodiesel production facilities with significant producer involvement. To date, ACS has committed over $11.57 million in funding to 170 projects through BOPI and the ACAAFS program.

ACS is also continuing to deliver two well-received initiatives, the Saskatchewan Agri-Food Value Chain Initiative and the Centre for Agribusiness Training and Education (CATE). The Value Chain Initiative will continue with workshops across Saskatchewan this fall, showing producers, processors and marketers how they can forge alliances that will allow them to benefit from each other and to better respond to market demands. The CATE program will continue to provide a link to educational institutions, workshops and courses for those seeking education and training opportunities in the agriculture and agri-business fields. The CATE website can be accessed at www.agtraining.ca.

ACS has also recently elected a new chair, Murray Purcell, who represents the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) at ACS.

"Murray brings his extensive producer expertise to the organization, and we're confident his leadership skills will provide us with the momentum we need to build a strong, proactive and effective industry council in Saskatchewan," Dmytryshyn said.

Purcell takes over from Garth Patterson of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, who decided to step down from the chair position. "As chair, Garth's input, leadership and guidance were invaluable during this past transition year. We are pleased that he will be staying on as a director for ACS," Dmytryshyn added.

For more information, contact:
Laurie Dmytryshyn, Executive Director
Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 975-6849

Protecting cattle against nitrate poisoning

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

There are all sorts of potential dangers from which cattle producers need to protect their herds. The hardest to defend against are those threats which can't be seen, like nitrate poisoning.

All plants contain some nitrate, but excessively high amounts are likely to occur in forage grown under stress conditions such as drought, frost, hail, low temperatures, herbicide applications or diseases.

Saskatchewan can experience all of these circumstances over the course of a regular growing season. Therefore, it's important for producers to be aware of the symptoms, preventative measures and treatments for nitrate poisoning in cattle.

The Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan (FACS) has devoted one of its many "Cattle FACS" fact sheets to the subject to give producers more knowledge in this area.

"The information we provide through these fact sheets has been developed by committees of cattle care experts with specific knowledge in each of the topic areas covered," said FACS Executive Director Adele Buettner. "Our organization offered to co-ordinate the effort, produce the material and make it as widely available to producers as possible."

The fact sheet explains that, when growing conditions are favourable, plants take up nitrogen largely in the form of nitrate. The nitrate is rapidly converted to ammonia, which is incorporated into plant protein. Unfavourable growing conditions can interfere with nitrate use and cause it to accumulate in the plant. If the stress is removed and the plants recover, excess nitrate stored in the plant is usually metabolized over several days.

Under normal conditions, cattle convert the nitrate in the forage they eat to nitrite, which is then converted to ammonia and used by rumen microbes to make protein. Feed experts suggest that problems arise when nitrate converts to nitrite faster than nitrite converts to ammonia. When this occurs, nitrite accumulates and is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it binds with haemoglobin, thus reducing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

"In worst-case scenarios, animals can die by suffocation," Buettner said.

The amount of nitrate in plant tissue can be affected by other factors, such as the stage of growth. Nitrate concentrations in forage are usually higher in young plants and decrease as the plant matures. However, plants grown in soil with excessive nitrates, or those grown under stress might still have a higher content at maturity.

The parts of the plant closest to the ground also have the highest nitrate levels. Leaves contain fewer nitrates than stalks, and the seed (grain) and flower usually contain little or no nitrate.

Similarly, since nitrates in the soil are the source of nitrate in plants, a positive relationship exists between the two. However, the effect of nitrogen fertilization appears to be less significant in causing high nitrate content in forages than most other factors.

"Animal nutritionists say that some common cattle feed like alfalfa, vetch, trefoil, peas and clover generally do not accumulate nitrates," Buettner said. "However, they recommend that producers feed test their legumes to be sure they are not storing excess nitrates in the plant material."

According to the fact sheet, producers can still safely use feed that has higher-than-normal nitrate levels, provided they carefully manage their rations. Forage with high nitrate content can be diluted with grain or other forage low in nitrates. Feeding grain in combination with high-nitrate forage can help reduce the effect of the nitrate content because the energy from the grain helps complete the conversion of nitrate into bacterial protein in the rumen.

Frequent consumption of small amounts of high-nitrate feed can likewise increase the total amount of nitrate that can be tolerated by livestock, since it helps cattle to adjust to high-nitrate feeds. "Experts advise to feed long-stemmed forages, such as oats or barley hay, that contain high amounts of nitrate in limited amounts several times daily rather than feeding large amounts once or twice daily," Buettner said.

Under the right conditions, pastures can also accumulate nitrates. Risk can be reduced by providing supplemental feed that contains little or no nitrate, and grazing suspected pastures for limited periods each day for the first week to help cattle adapt. If possible, producers should not graze a suspected pasture until one week after a killing frost.

Should a producer's efforts to prevent nitrate poisoning fail, the fact sheet also offers some treatment instructions. "When the condition is first suspected, call a veterinarian immediately to confirm the tentative diagnosis and administer treatment," Buettner stated. "Handle the affected cattle as little and as quietly as possible to minimize their oxygen needs. Finally, remove the contaminated feed and replace it with a high-energy alternative, such as barley."

The Cattle FACS fact sheet on nitrate poisoning can be obtained from the organization's website at http://www.facs.sk.ca/ or by calling (306) 249-3227.

For more information, contact:
Adele Buettner, Executive Director
Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan Inc.
Phone: (306) 249-3227
E-mail: facs@sasktel.net

Expansion takes biodiesel producer to the next level

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

With a $2.5 million expansion nearing completion, Milligan Bio-Tech is taking another giant step in its remarkable growth.

The Foam Lake company is currently the only processor in North America making biodiesel from 100 per cent canola oil.

"Biodiesel can be made from any animal fat or vegetable oil, including rendered grease, yellow grease and waste restaurant grease, or traditional oilseed crops like canola, flax and sunflower," said Milligan Bio-Tech Executive Manager Zenneth Faye. "We use canola as our feedstock, and have developed exclusive processing technology to produce a very high quality biodiesel."

Faye says processors traditionally use a solvent extraction process that is very expensive for small-scale operations to implement. Working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Milligan Bio-Tech developed technology for extracting oil out of oilseeds based on a "cold crushing" method.

"What this does is enable the efficient extraction of oil from oilseeds, particularly canola, which our company uses to produce biodiesel and other related co-products like diesel fuel conditioner, penetrating oil and road dust suppressant," he stated.

Milligan Bio-Tech currently uses canola that is not suitable for food use, such as crop that may have been contaminated, distressed, heat-damaged, frozen or improperly stored. "It gives Saskatchewan producers another opportunity for a product that can't fit into the food market," Faye noted.

On top of the environmental advantage typically found with biofuels, the company's biodiesel has also demonstrated proven performance benefits. It has a higher oxygen content than regular diesel fuel, resulting in it burning cleaner and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Studies, such as the Saskatoon BioBus Project, have also shown it to increase lubricity, reduce engine wear and improve fuel economy in diesel motors.

Buyers seem to agree on the product's high quality. Faye says the company's sales have nearly doubled every year since production began in 2001. Milligan Bio-Tech's expansion is aimed at increasing production to meet this growing demand, as well as enhancing the scope of the current operation.

While the Foam Lake facility houses its cold crushing technology, the oil extracted through the process is presently transported to the Bio Processing Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where it is refined into biodiesel, and where the technology the company developed with AAFC is studied and fine-tuned.

The company now believes this technology has been perfected to the point that it is ready to bring it home.

"With this expansion, we're bringing that technology back to our location," Faye said. "We've just put up a stand-alone building to produce biodiesel here in Foam Lake rather than transporting the extracted oil to Saskatoon and bringing back the fuel."

The expansion will also include a quality control lab and new research and development facilities.

Once the construction is complete, Milligan Bio-Tech will have an overall production capacity of 15 million litres per year. The company's workforce will also grow by an estimated nine jobs, bringing the total employed at the plant to around 25.

As a company committed to Saskatchewan, Faye says working to revitalize the rural economy is important to Milligan Bio-Tech. "For a community like Foam Lake that has about 1,350 people, an extra 25 jobs is a substantial boost to the economy," he noted. "There are also a lot of businesses in the area that benefit from serving our needs on an ongoing basis, from meals and trucking to welding, plumbing and so forth."

Faye says Milligan Bio-Tech owes much of its success to Saskatchewan producers, who have always stood faithfully by the company. "We're very grateful for the support we've received from producers in this province. They've given us nothing but encouragement throughout these many years of developing a technology and trying to get our feet on the ground as a small company venturing into business markets and commercialization," he stated.

"It's their support that has really enabled us to get to this stage."

For more information, contact:
Zenneth Faye, Executive Manager
Milligan Bio-Tech
Phone: (306) 272-6284

With a $2.5 million expansion nearing completion, Milligan Bio-Tech is taking another giant step in its remarkable growth.

The Foam Lake company is currently the only processor in North America making biodiesel from 100 per cent canola oil.

"Biodiesel can be made from any animal fat or vegetable oil, including rendered grease, yellow grease and waste restaurant grease, or traditional oilseed crops like canola, flax and sunflower," said Milligan Bio-Tech Executive Manager Zenneth Faye. "We use canola as our feedstock, and have developed exclusive processing technology to produce a very high quality biodiesel."

Faye says processors traditionally use a solvent extraction process that is very expensive for small-scale operations to implement. Working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Milligan Bio-Tech developed technology for extracting oil out of oilseeds based on a "cold crushing" method.

"What this does is enable the efficient extraction of oil from oilseeds, particularly canola, which our company uses to produce biodiesel and other related co-products like diesel fuel conditioner, penetrating oil and road dust suppressant," he stated.

Milligan Bio-Tech currently uses canola that is not suitable for food use, such as crop that may have been contaminated, distressed, heat-damaged, frozen or improperly stored. "It gives Saskatchewan producers another opportunity for a product that can't fit into the food market," Faye noted.

On top of the environmental advantage typically found with biofuels, the company's biodiesel has also demonstrated proven performance benefits. It has a higher oxygen content than regular diesel fuel, resulting in it burning cleaner and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Studies, such as the Saskatoon BioBus Project, have also shown it to increase lubricity, reduce engine wear and improve fuel economy in diesel motors.

Buyers seem to agree on the product's high quality. Faye says the company's sales have nearly doubled every year since production began in 2001. Milligan Bio-Tech's expansion is aimed at increasing production to meet this growing demand, as well as enhancing the scope of the current operation.

While the Foam Lake facility houses its cold crushing technology, the oil extracted through the process is presently transported to the Bio Processing Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where it is refined into biodiesel, and where the technology the company developed with AAFC is studied and fine-tuned.

The company now believes this technology has been perfected to the point that it is ready to bring it home.

"With this expansion, we're bringing that technology back to our location," Faye said. "We've just put up a stand-alone building to produce biodiesel here in Foam Lake rather than transporting the extracted oil to Saskatoon and bringing back the fuel."

The expansion will also include a quality control lab and new research and development facilities.

Once the construction is complete, Milligan Bio-Tech will have an overall production capacity of 15 million litres per year. The company's workforce will also grow by an estimated nine jobs, bringing the total employed at the plant to around 25.

As a company committed to Saskatchewan, Faye says working to revitalize the rural economy is important to Milligan Bio-Tech. "For a community like Foam Lake that has about 1,350 people, an extra 25 jobs is a substantial boost to the economy," he noted. "There are also a lot of businesses in the area that benefit from serving our needs on an ongoing basis, from meals and trucking to welding, plumbing and so forth."

Faye says Milligan Bio-Tech owes much of its success to Saskatchewan producers, who have always stood faithfully by the company. "We're very grateful for the support we've received from producers in this province. They've given us nothing but encouragement throughout these many years of developing a technology and trying to get our feet on the ground as a small company venturing into business markets and commercialization," he stated.

"It's their support that has really enabled us to get to this stage."

For more information, contact:
Zenneth Faye, Executive Manager
Milligan Bio-Tech
Phone: (306) 272-6284

With a $2.5 million expansion nearing completion, Milligan Bio-Tech is taking another giant step in its remarkable growth.

The Foam Lake company is currently the only processor in North America making biodiesel from 100 per cent canola oil.

"Biodiesel can be made from any animal fat or vegetable oil, including rendered grease, yellow grease and waste restaurant grease, or traditional oilseed crops like canola, flax and sunflower," said Milligan Bio-Tech Executive Manager Zenneth Faye. "We use canola as our feedstock, and have developed exclusive processing technology to produce a very high quality biodiesel."

Faye says processors traditionally use a solvent extraction process that is very expensive for small-scale operations to implement. Working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Milligan Bio-Tech developed technology for extracting oil out of oilseeds based on a "cold crushing" method.

"What this does is enable the efficient extraction of oil from oilseeds, particularly canola, which our company uses to produce biodiesel and other related co-products like diesel fuel conditioner, penetrating oil and road dust suppressant," he stated.

Milligan Bio-Tech currently uses canola that is not suitable for food use, such as crop that may have been contaminated, distressed, heat-damaged, frozen or improperly stored. "It gives Saskatchewan producers another opportunity for a product that can't fit into the food market," Faye noted.

On top of the environmental advantage typically found with biofuels, the company's biodiesel has also demonstrated proven performance benefits. It has a higher oxygen content than regular diesel fuel, resulting in it burning cleaner and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Studies, such as the Saskatoon BioBus Project, have also shown it to increase lubricity, reduce engine wear and improve fuel economy in diesel motors.

Buyers seem to agree on the product's high quality. Faye says the company's sales have nearly doubled every year since production began in 2001. Milligan Bio-Tech's expansion is aimed at increasing production to meet this growing demand, as well as enhancing the scope of the current operation.

While the Foam Lake facility houses its cold crushing technology, the oil extracted through the process is presently transported to the Bio Processing Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where it is refined into biodiesel, and where the technology the company developed with AAFC is studied and fine-tuned.

The company now believes this technology has been perfected to the point that it is ready to bring it home.

"With this expansion, we're bringing that technology back to our location," Faye said. "We've just put up a stand-alone building to produce biodiesel here in Foam Lake rather than transporting the extracted oil to Saskatoon and bringing back the fuel."

The expansion will also include a quality control lab and new research and development facilities.

Once the construction is complete, Milligan Bio-Tech will have an overall production capacity of 15 million litres per year. The company's workforce will also grow by an estimated nine jobs, bringing the total employed at the plant to around 25.

As a company committed to Saskatchewan, Faye says working to revitalize the rural economy is important to Milligan Bio-Tech. "For a community like Foam Lake that has about 1,350 people, an extra 25 jobs is a substantial boost to the economy," he noted. "There are also a lot of businesses in the area that benefit from serving our needs on an ongoing basis, from meals and trucking to welding, plumbing and so forth."

Faye says Milligan Bio-Tech owes much of its success to Saskatchewan producers, who have always stood faithfully by the company. "We're very grateful for the support we've received from producers in this province. They've given us nothing but encouragement throughout these many years of developing a technology and trying to get our feet on the ground as a small company venturing into business markets and commercialization," he stated.

"It's their support that has really enabled us to get to this stage."

For more information, contact:
Zenneth Faye, Executive Manager
Milligan Bio-Tech
Phone: (306) 272-6284

With a $2.5 million expansion nearing completion, Milligan Bio-Tech is taking another giant step in its remarkable growth.

The Foam Lake company is currently the only processor in North America making biodiesel from 100 per cent canola oil.

"Biodiesel can be made from any animal fat or vegetable oil, including rendered grease, yellow grease and waste restaurant grease, or traditional oilseed crops like canola, flax and sunflower," said Milligan Bio-Tech Executive Manager Zenneth Faye. "We use canola as our feedstock, and have developed exclusive processing technology to produce a very high quality biodiesel."

Faye says processors traditionally use a solvent extraction process that is very expensive for small-scale operations to implement. Working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Milligan Bio-Tech developed technology for extracting oil out of oilseeds based on a "cold crushing" method.

"What this does is enable the efficient extraction of oil from oilseeds, particularly canola, which our company uses to produce biodiesel and other related co-products like diesel fuel conditioner, penetrating oil and road dust suppressant," he stated.

Milligan Bio-Tech currently uses canola that is not suitable for food use, such as crop that may have been contaminated, distressed, heat-damaged, frozen or improperly stored. "It gives Saskatchewan producers another opportunity for a product that can't fit into the food market," Faye noted.

On top of the environmental advantage typically found with biofuels, the company's biodiesel has also demonstrated proven performance benefits. It has a higher oxygen content than regular diesel fuel, resulting in it burning cleaner and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Studies, such as the Saskatoon BioBus Project, have also shown it to increase lubricity, reduce engine wear and improve fuel economy in diesel motors.

Buyers seem to agree on the product's high quality. Faye says the company's sales have nearly doubled every year since production began in 2001. Milligan Bio-Tech's expansion is aimed at increasing production to meet this growing demand, as well as enhancing the scope of the current operation.

While the Foam Lake facility houses its cold crushing technology, the oil extracted through the process is presently transported to the Bio Processing Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where it is refined into biodiesel, and where the technology the company developed with AAFC is studied and fine-tuned.

The company now believes this technology has been perfected to the point that it is ready to bring it home.

"With this expansion, we're bringing that technology back to our location," Faye said. "We've just put up a stand-alone building to produce biodiesel here in Foam Lake rather than transporting the extracted oil to Saskatoon and bringing back the fuel."

The expansion will also include a quality control lab and new research and development facilities.

Once the construction is complete, Milligan Bio-Tech will have an overall production capacity of 15 million litres per year. The company's workforce will also grow by an estimated nine jobs, bringing the total employed at the plant to around 25.

As a company committed to Saskatchewan, Faye says working to revitalize the rural economy is important to Milligan Bio-Tech. "For a community like Foam Lake that has about 1,350 people, an extra 25 jobs is a substantial boost to the economy," he noted. "There are also a lot of businesses in the area that benefit from serving our needs on an ongoing basis, from meals and trucking to welding, plumbing and so forth."

Faye says Milligan Bio-Tech owes much of its success to Saskatchewan producers, who have always stood faithfully by the company. "We're very grateful for the support we've received from producers in this province. They've given us nothing but encouragement throughout these many years of developing a technology and trying to get our feet on the ground as a small company venturing into business markets and commercialization," he stated.

"It's their support that has really enabled us to get to this stage."

For more information, contact:
Zenneth Faye, Executive Manager
Milligan Bio-Tech
Phone: (306) 272-6284

Online listing for custom farm services as well as feed

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

It remains one of the most popular and well-used services Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) offers. But for producers in dire need of extra feed or extra help on the farm, it's often more than just a convenience - it can be a real lifesaver.

The Feed Grain and Forage Listing Service acts as a free "online bulletin board" connecting producers and others in the agricultural industry looking to buy and sell feed and forage resources, as well as custom farm services.

The listing has traditionally been a hot spot for those offering or seeking feed grain, baled forage and pasture space. But Al Foster, a Forage Development Specialist with SAF, stresses that many producers are also looking for custom farm help throughout the year. He says providers can easily pick up a lot of business by spending a few short minutes posting their availability.

"The listing service enables providers to post custom combining, cutting and baling, grain drying, seeding, silage making, spraying and trucking services," Foster stated.

"Throughout the year, the Agriculture Knowledge Centre and the regional offices of Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food get calls from producers and land owners looking for these services. In the spring and summer, calls for custom seeding, forage harvesting and silage making are common. At this time of year, custom bale and cattle hauling become more popular."

Foster wants to get the word out to custom farm operators who aren't using the listing service that they might be missing out on some excellent business opportunities.

"I really want to emphasize that the listing service is about more than feed," he said. "It provides producers and custom operators an opportunity to advertise those services to farmers in their areas and across the province."

To advertise a product or service or to browse the listings available, Internet users can visit the SAF website at http://www.agr.gov.sk.ca/, click on the "Programs and Services" link and access the "Feed Grain and Forage Listing Service."

Farmers who do not have Internet access can call SAF's Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 to have items posted for sale on their behalf or to have a copy of the listing sent to them.

Foster says it's important for service providers to remember that their information is available beyond just the electronic posting when they advertise through the listing service. He points out that staff at the Agriculture Knowledge Centre and the SAF regional offices regularly receive calls from producers asking if they know of anyone providing a certain custom farm service in their area.

"When providers' names are listed on our website, we've got quick and easy access to it, and we're able to pass along their contact information to the callers," Foster noted.

"Producers who provide these services change from time to time, as new people enter the operation and others retire, so it's difficult for SAF staff to keep an updated list of people providing these services. Using the Feed Grain and Forage Listing Service is the quickest and surest way to keep us aware of the services provided through your custom farm business."

For more information, contact:
Al Foster, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 878-8890
E-mail: afoster@agr.gov.sk.ca

Time running out to get low cost business advice

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

This winter could be your last chance to take advantage of a federal program providing low-cost business consulting services to agricultural producers.

The Specialized Business Planning Services offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) are funded until March 31, 2008, under the previous Agriculture Policy Framework.

Regional Manager Chris Ruschkowski says that means producers shouldn't delay getting started in the Farm Business Assessment Program.

"It offers five days worth of consulting from a financial agri-business consultant," Ruschkowski said. "What they do is look at two years of previous financial records to give you a pattern of where your business is at, and then they do a scenario going forward of a change or a ‘what-if.'"

According to Ruschkowski, the farmer can easily receive $2,500 worth of consulting services for the small fee of $100.

"Why wouldn't any producer go into this program?" he asked. "At worst, they are getting information that somebody else has reviewed, and they can bounce ideas off that person. Even if the feedback is that they're going in the right direction, they've at least got that peace of mind, and it's only cost them $100."

Along with benchmarking their operations, the business assessment helps producers plan ahead.

"For example, if you wanted to purchase or sell land, purchase cattle, or make other arrangements that might change your operation, this looks at what impact such a move would make," Ruschkowski said.

Once an application for the assessment is filed, the producer will work with one of AAFC's qualified consultants on the details.

"You need to spend the time getting your financial records together to meet with the consultant, because they need to discuss the options with you and determine your goals," Ruschkowski stated. "It may take several hours, but it's something you would want to do anyway. It's often something people plan to do, but never get around to doing it."

The Farm Business Assessment is an important first step to taking advantage of other funding offered by the department in areas such as marketing, human resource and succession plans. The subsidies available can add up to thousands of dollars to pay for the services of experts in agri-business and general business planning.

"It could be of use to virtually anybody," Ruschkowski said. "Farmers are sometimes hesitant to ask for help or to lean on someone for advice. But it's really no different than a CEO of a company asking for advice from their financial officer or accountant."

The information and application forms for the Farm Business Assessment Program are available on the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada website at http://www.agr.gc.ca/, under the "Programs and Services" link.

Ruschkowski urges farmers to apply soon.

"You have to get the application done by March 31, 2008," he noted. "Usually, it's in the winter months when you want to do that kind of work, so right after harvest is a good time to start the process."

For more information, contact:
Chris Ruschkowski, Regional Manager
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Phone: (306) 780-7324
E-mail: ruschkowskic@agr.gc.ca

A few things to consider when fall grazing

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

With fall on the way, producers are looking for options to stretch their grazing season as late as possible. In most situations, it is cheaper to keep the cows grazing out on the land rather than keeping them locked in the corrals and hauling feed to them. As a producer, it is important to "let the cows work for you," and it will also save you some cash.

Trevor Lennox, a Forage Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), says two options available to many producers are to either graze crop aftermath, such as stubble or chaff, or to use stockpiled perennial forages.

"It's important to understand the quality of the forage the animals are using in order to provide any required supplements," he stated. "Once forages lose their green colour in the fall, protein is usually lacking in the diet. When this occurs, providing the cattle with a protein supplement will improve their ability to utilize low-quality forages."

Lennox adds there can be additional benefits to supplements, such as using it to lure cattle into areas they might normally avoid. Distance or rough terrain in large or rugged pastures may discourage cattle from grazing certain areas as desired. A Montana study found that strategic placement of low-moisture blocks (two to four per cent moisture) caused cattle to be more willing to travel long distances or climb slopes to consume the supplement.

"Low moisture blocks can attract cows to graze difficult terrain that typically would not be used," Lennox said. "An ATV and trailer can be used to allow accurate placement of blocks in rugged terrain."

For producers who are currently grazing perennial forages, it is important to leave some residue on the surface rather than graze the crop to the ground. "Plant residue plays an important role in nutrient cycling and moisture retention, so maintaining some cover is very beneficial for production in the following year," Lennox noted.

"Many of the tame forages function best when 20 to 30 per cent of the year's growth is left as litter on the soil surface, while native forages function best when 40 to 50 per cent of the crop is left behind in any given year."

With low soil moisture in certain parts of the prairies, Lennox says some of the tame pastures did not regenerate well after being grazed earlier in the season. This has resulted in some producers running short of pasture due to poor re-growth in their forage crops.

"Rather than leaving the cattle in a pasture too long and allowing over-grazing to occur, a producer is usually better off to pull the animals off a little earlier instead of ‘grazing a pasture into the ground' and sacrificing next year's production," he stated.

Producers should also be aware that perennial forages initiate a lot of their buds for next year's growth in the fall, and heavy grazing after this time can injure some of these buds. "When these growing buds are injured, yield may be compromised," Lennox said.

More information and tips for fall grazing of cattle can be found on the SAF website at http://www.agr.gov.sk.ca/, or by calling the SAF Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

For more information, contact:
Trevor Lennox, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 778-8294
E-mail: tlennox@agr.gov.sk.ca

Pulse crop harvest and storage in 2007

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Very high temperatures this past summer have resulted in the rapid advancement of most pulse crops across the Prairies.

Ray McVicar, the Provincial Special Crop Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), says most pulse crops advanced rapidly throughout the Prairies due to the heat. "Harvest came on very quickly this year, which provides both benefits and drawbacks," he noted.

"Warm weather and, in some cases, no rainfall results in an early harvest, which reduces the risk of early frost problems; however, along with early maturity also comes lower yields and smaller seed size."

McVicar says that swathing green lentil at very high temperatures can sometimes lead to unexpected oxidation of the seed. "Seeds in the top of the swath can become discoloured quickly in temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius. Then, when the swath is run through the combine, the discoloured seeds are mixed throughout the sample."

Green peas can bleach if rain showers are followed by bright sunshine. "This year, there were numerous reports of yellow pea seed staying green at harvest as they reached maturity, due to the very high temperatures," he added.

McVicar says producers generally want to get some of their pulse crops off early in order to take advantage of possible marketing opportunities and to save storage space for later harvested crops. However, harvesting in late July and early August often means the crops are put into storage at high temperatures.

"We commonly think of increased storage problems due to high moisture, but pulses stored at high temperature can also be at risk," he stated.

McVicar says there were reports in 2006 of green lentils oxidizing within a few days in the bin when stored above 30 degrees Celsius. He advises growers to use aeration to cool the crop as soon as possible.

Due to their large size, stored chickpeas and peas need time for the moisture to equalize throughout the seed. Chickpeas harvested at high temperatures will most likely sweat in the bin. This occurs as the moisture migrates within the bin.

For prolonged safe storage, McVicar suggests that pulse crops should be cooled to less than 15 degrees Celsius and dried to less than 14 per cent moisture. Seed that is cooled to 10 degrees Celsius will store well for long periods.

The Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Pulse Production Manual offers a good guideline for the safe storage of peas at various temperatures and moisture content levels. It can be obtained online at www.saskpulse.com/media/pdfs/ppm-field-pea.pdf.

Especially helpful is the handy table found in the manual that takes a lot of the guesswork out of a producer's pea storage options. "For example, at 14 per cent moisture and 10 degrees Celsius, peas can be safely stored for approximately 95 weeks. If the temperature of the same grain was 25 degrees Celsius, the safe storage limit drops to 16 weeks," McVicar said.

"Most other pulse crops will be similar in nature. However, red lentils are considered to be dry at 13 per cent moisture content to match the needs of the splitting industry."

The hot weather earlier this summer means that many pulse crops were harvested dry, but controlling the temperature of the grain once in storage is an important step that producers can't overlook.

For more information, contact:
Ray McVicar, Provincial Special Crops Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-4665