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Agriculture

Experience Alberta Agriculture with Open Farm Days 2020

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Open Farm Days returns to Alberta this Saturday and Sunday for its 8thannual provincial agriculture event. Hosted by the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies in partnership with the province and Travel Alberta, Alberta Open Farm Days is an invitation from farmers, ranchers and brewers across the province for locals to come experience a day in agriculture. 

Alberta is home to 31.3% of the total farmland across Canada, and the Alberta agriculture industry employs more than 50,000 people throughout the province. On August 15 & 16, Albertans will have the opportunity to meet those responsible for putting food on their table, while exploring Alberta’s agricultural roots and how they inform daily life across the province and the country. 

Visitors can explore everything from produce, meat and dairy production, to the machinery and technology behind planting and harvesting crops, to what goes into their favorite local beers. Open Farm Days gives locals the chance to learn about and experience first-hand the processes that provide them with the products they rely on.  

Every year, thousands of people province-wide venture outside of city limits to take part in Open Farm days. This year, 75 farms from Grand Prairie to Lethbridge will be participating, offering activities, demonstrations, tours and hands-on experiences for all ages. “It’s a great opportunity for people who are not familiar with farming to connect the dots between local agriculture and their products,” says Nicola Doherty, Marketing Coordinator for the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies, “it really fosters an appreciation for all the products grown and produced here in Alberta.” 

Along with promoting agricultural education and awareness, Open Farm Days also increases support for Farm to Table and Support Local initiatives by allowing people the opportunity to experience local products straight from the farm. “People are often shocked by the amount of work that goes into these products,” says Doherty, “for farmers, this is their every day – but for non-farm folk, they are in awe.” 

In order to operate safely within provincial guidelines, Open Farm Days will look a little different this year.  To remain in compliance with COVID-19 regulations and ensure proper social distancing, Alberta Open Farm Days has transitioned to scheduled visit times for this year’s event. Learn how to schedule your visit here.

This weekend, take the opportunity to escape the city and do something different – spend the day on a farm! Visitors are encouraged to bring cash, a cooler and dress for the weather. 

For more information on Alberta Farm Days 2020, visit https://albertafarmdays.ca.

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Agriculture

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

It’s no secret that agriculture has contributed to climate change through various means. For example, you may know that livestock generates greenhouse gas emissions due to how farms process it. That said, it’s now clear that farmers have found sustainable ways to offset those contributions. In Canada, it’s all about energy use.

Here’s how Canadian farmers have become more efficient as they raise crops and livestock, setting a standard the world should follow.

Energy Demand and Consumption Have Fluctuated

The demand for energy has increased across the agricultural sector as a whole. However, it’s key to note that farmers have begun to use less energy despite that fact. That points to more efficient practices. The farmers who complete their work productively save time, money and energy. As a result, Canadian workers have reduced their energy consumption per dollar by 17%. That’s thanks to sustainability.

The most common energy sources include fuel, gas and electricity. It’s how farmers use those resources that counts. Combined with technology choices and new practices, it’s clear that efficiency is more achievable than ever.

What Contributes to This Phenomenon?

It’s crucial for people in agriculture to explore eco-friendly alternatives. The grasslands that many western Canadian farmers cultivate contains excess carbon, so you can imagine what the country as a whole holds underneath its surface. Farmers have now adopted new methods to adjust how they harvest their crops. These systems are better for production, as well as soil and seed health overall.

The agriculture industry has gone through many changes, too. There are fewer farms — but those that still operate have employed agricultural technology to be as efficient as possible. These tools include different equipment that cuts down on time to increase proficiency. Plus, it’s now more common to use solar power as an alternative to traditional energy solutions.

Why Accuracy and Precision Matters

It’s a lot easier to be energy efficient when you don’t waste your resources. The means farmers practiced before they used specific innovations often created a time deficit. If you have a smaller machine, you likely need to do twice as much work. However, when you have access to equipment that fits your field, you don’t have to be as wasteful. The accuracy and precision created by technology make this a reality.

Soil Conservation Is Led by Ranchers

Many farmers have looked to ranchers for help. It’s a native part of ranching to preserve topsoil and other elements that are inherently sustainable. As a result, it seems like ranchers have been leading the charge against climate change for decades. The tactics they use to avoid tilling soil, for example, help preserve the amount of carbon that lies underneath the Earth’s surface.

The “no-till” practice is efficient in its own right. Rather than till your soil to plant a new crop, you simply leave behind what’s already there. This method is much better for soil nutrition, and it can keep carbon exposure at bay. As a result, you have much fewer carbon emissions. In general, the idea of soil conservation isn’t a new one, but old tricks can still work alongside modern technology.

The Future of Agriculture in Canada Looks Bright

If farmers continue on this path, it’ll be clear that climate solutions are at the forefront of their minds. These efforts create more benefits for them as they save time and money. Plus, there’s always the responsibility of maintaining the planet’s health. After all, without a strong ecosystem, agriculture would suffer. Through means that are more accurate and conservative, Canadian farmers have been able to become more efficient. Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

 

 

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Agriculture

Cranberries: the bitter berry that offers a sweet taste of success

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Cranberries: the bitter berry that offers a sweet taste of success

Cranberries have been a staple at family gatherings ever since Indigenous people introduced the bitter berry to European colonists in the 15th century. Now they warm the hearts of millions of Canadians, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Quebec’s cool climate and short growing season allow organic cranberries to thrive in the region.

Cranberries are traditionally sweetened and cooked or dried to reduce some of their tartness so they won’t leave a bitter taste in your mouth. For many Quebec producers, the bitter berry offers a sweet taste of success.

North American cranberry harvesting began in the early 18th century and has developed over the years to the point where Quebec cultivated acreage now includes more than 10,145 acres, of which 3,944 acres are organic. With one-third of Quebec’s production being organic, the province is now the global leader in organic cranberry production. The province scores second for non-organic production after Wisconsin, United States.

The cranberry industry has faced several challenges in the last decade. The most significant challenge has been oversupply leading to price pressures for growers. Despite profitability challenges, Quebec cultivated acres climbed 79 per cent between 2009 and 2019, reaching 65 per cent of the total Canadian production. In 2019, British Columbia accounted for 29 per cent of the Canadian market and Ontario and the Atlantic provinces round out the cultivated acres in Canada.

 

Cranberry cultivated acres in Quebec and British Columbia

Source: Statistics Canada

The productive bogs in B.C. are challenged by the mild winters, which makes weed control a constant battle. However, when all conditions are favourable, B.C. produces a high-quality berry.

Cranberries can be eaten in many forms: fresh, dry, in sauce, jam, juice or in capsules. The demand for organic dried cranberries is strong. A consensus among producers is the growth prospects are good and acres are expected to increase year over year, but at a slower pace than in the last decade.

Vincent Godin, cranberry producer in Quebec, co-owner of Emblem Cranberry and president of the Quebec Cranberry Growers Association, said he expects the 2020 crop to be a bit lower than in the past two years in terms of volume, but it’s normal as cranberry plants produce more berries in the second year of a two-year production cycle.

The stock is low too in the U.S. and in Canada so it should be good on the price producers will get this year,” he said. “With the climate change in the U.S., Quebec becomes the ideal region for the production of cranberries. The future is bright for our sector here.

To produce cranberries, it takes sand, water, a lot of patience, deep pockets and a strong business plan,” said Pierre-Étienne Parent, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) senior relationship manager who specializes in cranberry operations financing. “It may take five years for a new cranberry field to be productive. The key to success resides in the soil preparation and smart management of the critical harvest period. This is a large-scale and unique production that we should be very proud in Canada.

In France, doctors have started prescribing cranberry capsules combined with reduced doses of antibiotics to fight various infections, said Godin. Who knows, cranberries may soon be part of the Canadian medical repertoire and not just Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Why eat cranberries?

  • They are an excellent source of vitamin C and support good bone health. In fact, a daily consumption of 115 ml of fresh cranberries satisfies the daily need of vitamin C for an adult.
  • This fruit is entirely void of sodium and contains very little sugar or protein.
  • The anti-adhesive properties of cranberries have positive effects on urinary tract, ulcers, gums and dental plaque.
  • They have amazing infection-fighting properties, especially for fighting urinary tract infections in women.
  • A regular intake of cranberry products may reduce the risk of recurring infections by up to 40 per cent and, in turn, reduce the need for antibiotic treatment.

This story is reproduced with permission from FCC.

About FCC

FCC is Canada’s leading agriculture and food lender, with a healthy loan portfolio of more than $38 billion. Our employees are dedicated to the future of Canadian agriculture and food. We provide flexible, competitively priced financing, management software, information and knowledge specifically designed for the agriculture and food industries. As a self-sustaining Crown corporation, we provide an appropriate return to our shareholder, and reinvest our profits back into the industries and communities we serve. For more information, visit fcc.ca.

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