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Tractor Tweets

April 23, 2014

Farmers are becoming very technologically-savvy both in and out of the field. New technology is a huge asset for farmers, allowing them to access important information easily and quickly.

Smartphones and tablets are a common sight on the farm. There are a large number of apps that can help farmers monitor crop progress, check out problems, and get up-to-date information quickly.

Some of the apps that farmers use include crop scouting apps for help with identifying and treating pests, disease and other crop health problems. Apps can track yields, crop data, provide information on scientific publications, news, markets, crop protection products, estimate how much product is needed for field applications, keep track of data, estimate freight cost, and much more.

On the machinery side, there are several apps that can help with not only working with the machinery in the field but also in the shop. Case IH has an app that helps find parts for equipment, John Deere has an app to track tractors during work and even remotely access the computers on board, with many other machinery companies with apps to make their customers lives easier. Many of these apps include up to the minute weather forecasts, as weather is a very important part of a crop farmer’s job.

Farmers are also very active on social media. During the summer months when farmers are busy in the field, they can often be found using Twitter to keep up with other friends in the province and across the country. To follow the progress of farmers this spring and summer, search the hashtags #plant14 #fromthefield and #tractortweets. Other good hashtags to use during the whole year are #ontag and #agchat to keep up with what is going on in the word of agriculture.

While you might think farmers aren’t ‘with the times’ when it comes to technology, think again!

2014 Grain Farmers of Ontario March Classic

April 1, 2014

The 2014 Grain Farmers of Ontario March Classic took place last week and was a huge success. Not only were there 60 exhibitors at the trade show but the event also welcomed over 850 people- a record attendance!

A big draw for many people was this year’s speaker lineup. Headlining the event was Colonel Chris Hadfield. Hadfield, who recently returned from the International Space Station where he was Commander, was the first speaker of the day. He shared several photos he took of the planet while in space, and talked about how truly fragile the world seems from that perspective. He also talked about how much he owes Canada for helping his dreams of traveling to space come true, with the underlying message of any dream can be achieved. Hadfield also has his own special connection with grain farming in Ontario; his father was a grain farmer and attended the March Classic with him.

Following Colonel Hadfield was Cal Whewell, who talked about what the future might hold for prices of grain in the next year. This helps farmers decide when to sell crops and what to expect for prices. Michelle Painchaud spoke after lunch about farm business vision. Since many farms are family-run, it is especially important to involve both young and old farmers in decision. Although many people don’t always think of the farm as a business, like a business it is important to have reliable workers and good communication lines to ensure success.

The last speaker of the afternoon was Mark Lynas. Lynas is an environmentalist and author, who now promotes the use of genetic modification as a tool to save the environment. He is a former anti-GMO advocate, and changed his mind after reading scientific papers and research on the subject. His talk was very interesting and raised excellent points.

After the banquet, Canadian Gold Medal Olympian Jon Montgomery discussed his own journey to the top of the podium and what his experience representing Canada on a global scale taught him. A trained auctioneer, Montgomery also auctioned off the beer mug he so famously drank from after his gold-medal win. All the proceeds from the sale were donated to 4-H.

This year’s March Classic was a success. Stay tuned to find out what speakers and other surprises we line up for next year!


A Million Uses for Soybeans

February 12, 2014

In the last post we talked about where some of the soybeans grown in Ontario go. Some of the biggest markets for Canadian soybeans are Japan, but they also get shipped to Europe and many other places to be made into hundreds of different products.

Whole soybeans can be soaked and made into soy milk, tofu, tempeh, miso, and many meat substitutes.

Soybeans contain high amounts of oil. This oil can be extracted by crushing the soybean, leaving behind a high-protein soybean meal. Both these products can be made into many other things.

Soybean oil can be used in many edible products, like salad dressing, mayonnaise, soya lecithin (an ingredient in chocolate), cooking oil, cookies, crackers, potato chips, non-dairy creamers, and margarine.

Some of the non-edible uses for soybean oil include biodiesel, ink, plastic, crayons, candles, car parts, and cleaners.

Soybean meal is a common animal feed due to its high protein content. It is often fed to cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, and fish.

Next time you’re in the grocery store, read the ingredients on the label of your favourite foods. How many of them use soybeans?

Canadian Soybeans In Japan

February 6, 2014

A Canadian Soybean Delegation has recently returned home from a week-long trip to Japan. People working in the soybean industry visited Osaka and Tokyo from January 18th to 25th and focused on building Canada’s relationship with Japan.

Japan is Canada’s largest market for food grade soybeans and is the third largest market in the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of soybeans worth millions of dollars are exported to Japan. Ontario is the largest producer and exporter of food-grade soybeans to Japan. Developing further opportunities in this important market is important for the continued growth of Canada’s soybean industry.

The delegation went to Japan to meet with industry associations, government officials and private corporations to promote Canadian soybeans for food use, to gather information about what Japanese markets want,  and discover new market opportunities.

The program included two large industry seminars in both Tokyo and Osaka. Over 180 researchers, whole sellers, and soy food manufacturers from the Japanese soy industry attended. This year’s seminars were called “Canadian Soybeans: A Success Story” and highlighted Canada’s high quality, safe soybeans.

The delegation also visited several soy food manufacturing companies. Here, the delegation toured facilities and gained a better understanding of the dynamic soy food industry in Japan.

Nicole Mackellar is a Market Development Coordinator at Grain Farmers of Ontario and was a part of the delegation. She said initiatives like this outgoing program increase markets for Canadian soybeans.

“The program allows the Canadian delegation to interact first hand with Japanese soyfood manufactures, distributors and researchers,” says Mackellar. “The knowledge obtained is used to better understand the quality characteristics needed in our soybean varieties to meet their needs.”





It’s the International Year of the Family Farm!

January 21, 2014

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has named this year the Year of the Family Farm.

 If you picture a farm, you probably will think of a family farm! This is because of the image that is associated with the term. The family farm is one of the most common farms in the world. Everywhere families work hard to provide food and fuel for the entire world.

Naming this year the International Year of the Family recognizes the importance of these types of farms to solving world hunger and poverty, providing safe, healthy food for the world, protecting the environment, and improving the lives of everyone involved. The 2014 International Year of the Family Farm will focus on increasing awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by these kinds of farms.

Family farming includes all family-based agricultural activities with the family as the people working on the farm. Usually, this also includes children in the family. Almost 114,000 farms  are family-run, out of the 229,000 farms in Canada. That’s almost 50%!



New meetings for a New Year

January 6, 2014

Happy New Year from Grain Farmers of Ontario and all of our farmer-members! The beginning of the New Year means a lot of farmers will be attending meetings for different groups and committees to prepare for this growing season. Even though it seems like it is far away, there is much to prepare for planting for 2014.

Grain Farmers of Ontario is beginning to hold district meetings to come together and discuss any concerns and what they would like to bring forward to the annual meetings. District Voting Delegates, Alternates, and District Directors are also elected during this meeting.

There are 150 delegates spread over the 15 districts. The number of delegates per district depends on how much corn, soy and wheat that district produces, with a minimum number of 8 delegates per district. From those delegates, a director is elected to represent his or her district. There are 15 directors for the 15 districts and one Chair of the board.

All corn, soybean and wheat producers are welcome to attend. The district meetings are a chance for producers to raise any concerns they have, mention what they would like to be addressed, and voice their opinion.

A district meeting is held in each of the 15 districts throughout January. The next major meeting of the year is the March Classic held in March. Delegates, directors, and farmer-members are invited to attend the event, with delegates and directors staying for a second day for the Semi-Annual Meeting. Watch for more on the March Classic coming soon!

The meetings that our delegates, directors and farmer-members attend allow them to make decisions that will impact grain farmers down the road, so participating is crucial. Whether it is deciding where money is spent or bringing up issues that have been a problem in the past year, or even electing a new Director, these meetings are very important for Grain Farmers of Ontario to operate. 

Winter still means work for farmers

December 13, 2013

Even though there is snow on the ground and not many machines out the field, that doesn’t mean farmers aren’t working hard.

Some farmers might still be harvesting corn. If you see dry, brown stalks still in the field, you might think they are dead and not useful anymore. This isn’t true at all! The farmer can purposefully leave them in the field for longer than usual for a few reasons. The corn might not be dry enough, and leaving it to dry in the field is much cheaper than paying for the corn to be dried. Corn should have a moisture content of about 16%. Sometimes fields can be too wet to harvest and farmers must wait for them to dry before harvesting. Since farmers can work hundreds of acres and can’t harvest all the fields at once, some are left later than others.

Corn still in the field in late November

Corn still in the field in late November

Right after soybeans are harvested some farmers plant wheat in their fields. Although it might seem like an odd time to plant, winter wheat actually hibernates over the winter and continues its growth in the spring. It is ready for harvest in the early summer. This is a good reason to stay out of farmer’s fields in the winter. Even though they are covered in snow, they could still be working to feed the world!

Farmers also maintain all their equipment over the winter. Tractors, combines and harvesters all work hard over the year and to keep them in top working condition for next year, they must be tuned up and repaired. Winter is the perfect time to do this, and since farmers can have lots of machinery it can take quite a while.

Winter is a great time for farmers to catch up on everything that got pushed aside during the very busy summer, and prepare for next year to start all over again.