Ontario-wide Farm Invention Challenge

Specialty crop growers may be interested in entering Farm & Food Care’s Farm Invention Challenge.

The competition has two main categories with a total of $9 000 in cash prizes.

Competition information as outlined on the Farm & Food Care Ontario website (as of 30 Sept 2014):

A. Animal Care
Large farm gadgets and gizmos – Whether it`s welding up a new attachment for your skid steer or designing a whole new feeding system, share with us your large scale farm innovations.
Small farm gadgets and gizmos – Have you ever fixed something with a rubber band or used a cotter pin in an unusual way? We want to hear about the simple fixes that have revolutionized animal care on your farm.
Farm hacks – Tell us how you have made simple changes around your barn to save time and headaches on your farm.

B. Water Efficiency & Quality
Water quality and nutrient management – What changes to equipment or practices have led to improved water quality and less nutrient runoff from farm lands? Share your ideas that help Ontario farmers better manage nutrients and minimize off-site impacts on surface and ground water quality.
Water use efficiency – Have you built a custom control system or use a different moisture sensor system to minimize overuse of water? Enter your equipment ideas or conservation practices that are working to improve the use of water around your farm.
Community/other – Tell us about your community organized or farm group projects that have helped to protect and/or improve water resources in your area.

$1,000 first prize in each category
$500 second prize in each category

All entries must be original by the participant.
The competition is open to all residents of Ontario.

For more information please visit the Farm & Food Care Ontario website at: http://www.farmfoodcare.org

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Hop Sample Request for University of Guelph Research Project

Growing_Hops_Ontario_Logo_5 with shadingThe hop research trials being conducted by the University of Guelph (U of G) through the OMAFRA New Directions research program include funding to collect hop samples from farm sites across the province in order to develop Ontario baseline data of hop profiles (i.e. brewing values and essential oils) by cultivar.

The U of G research team is requesting any interested Ontario hop growers to submit samples this fall for testing.  Please note:

  • A total of 100 samples will be collected in 2014 on a first come, first served basis. Growers can submit up to a maximum of 10 samples per farm (sample submission via post or courier is paid for by the grower).
  • Minimum individual sample size for submission is 15 g (~1/2 oz.).
  • There is no cost for testing.
  • Growers will receive an individual report for the samples they submit. Due to the nature of the project, hop analysis and data compilation will be completed throughout the winter months and therefore growers should not expect a quick turnaround for their individual report.
  • The public research report will not identify growers directly but rather group analytical results in general categories for confidentiality.
  • A call for samples will also take place in the 2015 growing season in order to obtain a minimum of 2 years of data.

If you are interested in submitting samples for testing, please email Cathy Bakker (U of G) cbakker@uoguelph.ca or Evan Elford (OMAFRA) evan.elford@ontario.ca for further instructions.

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Tax Credit for Farmers Who Donate Food

Ontario has a new Food Donation Tax Credit for Farmers who donate agricultural products to eligible community food programs, including food banks.

The tax credit, the only one of its kind in Canada, will give farmers a tax credit valued at 25 per cent of the fair market value of the agricultural products they donate.  Community food programs, like the Student Nutrition Program, may also benefit by receiving donations of more fresh local food for distribution to children and youth in schools across Ontario.

The tax credit and Local Food Act, 2013 are part of Ontario’s broader local food strategy to promote the good things that are grown and harvested across the province.

In order to get the credit:

  • You are an Ontario resident at the end of the year
  • You (or your spouse or common-law partner) carry on the business of farming in Ontario
  • You have donated agricultural products to an eligible community food program in Ontario on or after January 1, 2014
  • Corporations that carry on the business of farming in Ontario may also claim the credit on their 2014 corporation income tax return.

An eligible community food program that is:

  • Engaged in the distribution of food to the public without charge in Ontario (including as a food bank), and does so either to help relieve poverty or through a student nutrition program
  • Registered as a charity under the Income Tax Act (Canada).

What types of agricultural products are eligible?

Fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs or dairy products, fish, grains, pulses, herbs, honey, maple syrup, mushrooms, nuts, or anything else that is grown, raised or harvested on a farm and that may, in Ontario, legally be sold, distributed or offered for sale at a place other than the premises of its producer as food are all eligible. (Processed products, including pickles, preserves and sausages are not eligible).

How is the credit calculated?

It is calculated as twenty-five (25) per cent of the fair market value of the qualifying donations. Individuals can only claim donations for which they are also claiming an Ontario charitable donation tax credit. If the farmer is a corporation, the donation must also be claimed as a deduction for charitable donations.

Who can issue tax receipts to farmers?

Registered charities that distribute food to the public without charge in Ontario can issue receipts to farmers, just as they may issue receipts for any donations that they receive.  Receipts issued for donations of goods (rather than cash donations) should record the good or goods that were donated. Farmers should keep these receipts to ensure they have the required records to claim this credit.

How do I get the credit?

You can claim the credit on your personal income tax and benefit return or on your corporation income tax return. If you file your return electronically, you need to keep all your receipts and documents for six years. If you file a paper return, attach all official receipts for your qualifying donations to your paper return.

How do charities assess the fair market value for the food they are receiving?

Eligible community food programs should use the fair market value of the goods donated. The fair market value is usually the highest dollar value you can get for those goods in an open and unrestricted wholesale or retail market, as applicable, between a willing buyer and a willing seller who are acting independently of each other. The value should be based on the quantity and quality of the goods.

Canada Revenue Agency provides general guidelines on determining fair market value: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/prtng/rcpts/dtrmnfmv-eng.html.

Generally, if the fair market value of the property is less than $1,000, a member of the registered charity, or another individual, with sufficient knowledge of the property may determine its value. The person who determines the fair market value of the item should be competent and qualified to evaluate the particular property being donated.  For more details about the tax credit visit: http://www.Ontario.ca/FoodDonation

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Autumn Activities in the Hop Yard

P1100410As hop growers across the province finish harvest and post-harvest activities, autumn presents the time for a few final management practices in the hop yard before the onset of winter.  Here are a few activities to consider for your ‘to-do’ list this fall:

  • Dead bines and remaining debris which have dried down through the autumn should be cut at the soil level and removed  from the yard.
  • Apply and incorporate compost or composted manure to the hills.  If using a mechanical process to incorporate the amendments, set implements to direct the soil mixture towards the hop crowns.  Note: Raw manure (untreated animal excrement with or
    without bedding) is best applied in spring to established plants when the crop begins to grow in order to maximize the use of nutrients and minimize environmental impact.  For more information on nutrient values of manure and compost please visit the OMAFRA website at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub811/9manure.htm
  • Complete an inventory of diseased and less vigorous plants (marked during the growing season) and submit orders for replacement plant material through the winter.  These crowns can be removed in either the fall or early spring.
  • Flush and drain irrigation lines to remove sediment and to prevent breakage of lines/emitters during the winter.
  • Once plants are completely dormant, mulch (e.g. straw) can be applied to the rows if desired.  Mulch can help moderate winter temperatures, minimize desiccation of crowns, prevent frost heaving of crowns during winter thaws or in the early spring and, as it breaks down, can provide valuable organic matter to the soil.  Mulch can also provide some measure of weed prevention during the growing season by acting as a barrier –  but watch out, if the straw is not completely clean of seed, volunteer wheat or oats may become a nuisance in the following growing season.
  • Inspect trellis and anchors for loose or missing parts and perform any required maintenance in the fall or early spring.

When all is said and done, the autumn activities should prepare you to hit the ground running when those hop shoots start emerging next year – yup, spring is just around the corner!


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Ginseng Research Update: Effects of Mulch Type on Ginseng Yield

In 2011, we established a research plot in a commercial ginseng field near Turkey Point to test different straw mulch treatments (Figure 1). The treatments included straw of rye, oat and wheat. For all of these treatments, any grains contained in the straw were allowed to grow for the fall of 2011. Those that survived the winter (rye and wheat) were killed off in April 2012 with a glyphosate application. Not much wheat sprouted in some of the wheat straw treatments. In an additional treatment with wheat straw, glyphosate was applied shortly after the wheat sprouted in the fall of 2011 to prevent growth. The straw was applied by hand to approximate the depth of straw used in the commercial field. Oat straw formed a denser mat than wheat or rye straw at the same depth and as a result it was more difficult for seeds to emerge through the straw layer the following year. Fewer differences were observed between the rye and wheat straw treatments. In fall 2013, all of the plots were topped up with wheat straw.

Sep 24 Figure 1
Figure 1. Straw mulch trial in April of 2012. Bare plots are oat straw or wheat straw with glyphosate applied in the fall of 2011. Plots containing plants are wheat and rye straw treatments.
Continue reading

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Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition – Filling Up Fast, Sept 24, 2014

BeerLogo_2015_NODATEA reminder that registration is open for the 3rd Annual Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition (GOHCBC).  Almost half of the allocated positions have been spoken for so get your Grower/Brewer team together and visit the competition website to access the registration form and competition rules.  A maximum of 10 teams will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.  The competition will be held on February 18, 2015 at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention (OFVC) in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

This year’s style is Robust Porter!


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Lavender Research Report Now Available Online

The report on the progress of lavender research trials up to spring 2014 is now available on the Ontario Lavender Association website at www.ontariolavenderassociation.org. The research was a collaborative effort between the Ontario Lavender Association, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the University of Guelph and nine participating lavender farms. The report includes results of cultivar trials conducted at six sites across southern Ontario in which 27 cultivars are being evaluated for winter survival, flower and oil yield and quality, and flower characteristics. Results include the winter survival ratings conducted after the harsh winter of 2013/2014.

The report also includes results on two years of winter row cover trials (thin and thick white row vs straw vs uncovered), a trial on white and black plastic mulches for weed control, and an oil distillation trial examining the changes in yield and quality of essential oil through the distillation run. Highlights of the research results will be presented on this blog over the next few months.

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