Thursday, September 30, 2021

USDA reports on ASF vaccine

A new vaccine is proving to be a promising candidate for protecting swine from African Swine Fever, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s  Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

ARS scientists have developed a vaccine that can be commercially produced “while still maintaining its vaccine efficacy against the Asian ASF virus strains when tested in both European and Asian swine breeds,” the agency said Thursday.

About one-third of swine were immune two weeks after receiving the vaccine and there was full protection after four weeks.

“We are excited that our team’s research has resulted in promising vaccine candidates that are able to prevent and protect different swine breeds against the current ASF virus,” ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young said in a statement. 

“Vaccine candidates could play an important role in controlling the ongoing outbreak threatening global swine health.”

The U.S. and Canada heightened biosecurity after ASF broke out on the Dominican Republic and Haiti.




Elite Farm Service guilty of abusing chickens

A chicken-catching company in Chilliwack, B.C., has pleaded guilty to two charges of abusing chickens it was hired to catch for Sofina Foods based in Markham, Ont.

Dwayne Paul Dueck, who owns Elite Farm Services, also pleaded guilty to the two charges.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency laid 38 charges against the company after Mercy for Animals released a video in 2017 showing mistreatment and then the CFIA investigated.

Following the video’s release, Elite fired six employees in connection with the alleged abuse. 

The court case continues Oct. 14.

Goddard highlights agriculture’s role in health

Agriculture policy makers should be taking health into account when they are formulating policies, just as they are now forced to account for environmental impacts, said Dr. Ellen Goddard, one of four Distinguished Fellows recently appointed by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) to delve into sustainability.

Goddard, who researched and taught at the University of Guelph until she moved to Alberta in the 1990s, said she will be pushing her three peers to consider One Health.

She provided an example of how health was not considered when federal policy makers decided to allow farming of deer and elk.

The result has been outbreaks of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) which some fear could hop over to human to cause Kreutzfeld-Jakob disease (KJD).

Chronic Wasting Disease involves malformation of prions in the brain and is thus similar to Bovine Spongiform 
Encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow’s disease) and KJD.

Not only has CWD entered Canadian agriculture, but also it threatens to spread to cattle and other species.

Goddard noted that Denmark found the CWD prions in forages, so banned the import of forages from countries experiencing CWD.

By comparison, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is narrowly focused on CWD in farmed elk and deer and does not monitor for its spread to wildlife and the broader risks that infected wildlife pose to animal and human health. 

Further, wildlife freely pass across the border with the United States where there is known to be CWD in wild deer and elk.

Goddard said this is but one small, but specific, example of how health ought to be a consideration in agriculture policy.

She said the landmark study, Canadian Agriculture in the Seventies, made no mention of the environment, yet that became an important component of agriculture policy in the 1990s. Health still gets no mention.

“We don’t mention the world health at all,” she said.

She said farmers are doing all they can to implement sustainable production practices, but what’s needed is a broader and integrated approach.

She has a major concern about antibiotic resistant bacteria multiplying from farms.

“It’s not a gradual thing. One day it (an antibiotic) works, the next it doesn’t.”

She said Europe is far ahead of Canada on this issue.

Here the main responses have been to remove growth promotion from the labels for antibiotics (although that seems to have made little difference in farming practices) and requiring a veterinary prescription for almost all antibiotics.

“We need some serious research into alternatives,” she said. 

It’s most likely government-funded research that will be needed, not patent-protected pharmaceutical-industry programs that dominate the North American response to the challenge of livestock and poultry bacterial diseases and infections, she indicated indirectly in an extended telephone interview.

She believes anti-microbial resistance “is bigger than climate change” in terms of sustainability of Canadian agriculture.

She also noted that in the Netherlands, health officials consider farmers to be such a high risk of carrying anti-microbial-resistant organisms that they are isolated for testing before being admitted to hospitals.

Goddard participated in the formation of the Canadian Roundtable on Beef and said one of the lessons she learned is how insular agriculture societies can be.

For example, Australia decided it liked what the Canadians did on beef, but wouldn’t call it a roundtable, but a square table.

“We should all learn from each other,” Goddard said.

And so, for example, a challenge in health ought to be a consideration for farm policy.

Turkey in short supply in U.S.

Turkey is in short supply for this Thanksgiving and Christmas season in the United States, but the situation seems under control in Canada.

Total turkey production in the U.S. will be down by four per cent this year from last and light-weight birds will be down by six per cent.

The lighter weights are more popular now with COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of people who can meet for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Freezer inventories are down by 20 per cent in the U.S. and by 41 per cent for breast meat.

Canada had high inventories heading into COVID-19, so the national supply management agency reduced allocations for production by seven per cent.

When COVID-19 hit and shut down restaurant and cafeteria demand, the agency cut production by another seven per cent.

But then things began to pick up and Turkey Farmers of Canada backtracked.

Agency chairman Darren Ference of Alberta said in a telephone interview that when Easter demand picked up and some restaurant business returned, the agency backtracked on the first seven per cent cut, then when Sept. 1 inventories of frozen turkey proved favorable, the second seven per cent was restored.

All of those birds should be ready for market for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ference said.

Thanksgiving normally accounts for 36 per cent of annual whole-bird sales and Christmas for 41 per cent, he said.

“Hopefully we got the right numbers,” Ference said.

Both farmers and processing company officials are directors of the national agency and involved in setting production targets.

But processors have appealed the most recent seven per cent restoration and there will be a hearing of the national tribunal if no agreement is reached before then.

Another $2 billion USDA subsidy

 The United States Department of Agriculture got another $2 billion from President Joe Biden’s administration this week.

In a speech at Colorado State University’s Salazar Center’s Virtual International Symposium of Conservation Impact, United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced $500 million for both African swine fever (ASF) prevention and relief from agricultural market disruption.

Another $1.5 billion will go to the Commodity Credit Corporation to help Haiti and the Dominican Republic deal with the economic troubles posed by the pandemic and climate change. 

“With this action, we intend to do everything we can to protect our trade, our economy, our pork industry and the jobs connected to it,” said Vilsack. 

“We’ll use these resources to support a robust expansion and coordination or monitoring, surveillance, prevention, quarantining and other activities to help eliminate risk while also shoring-up our efforts here in the US to prevent the disease from getting to the mainland.”

Secretary Vilsack says the goal is to keep producers on the farm rather than having to sell out. 

“We’ll also tap the CCC to work with our traditional disaster programs to help farmers repair storm damage, reduce the high cost of feed, and pay down the high cost of transportation many livestock producers are now incurring to haul feed and water to their operations.

“American producers are frustrated by the fact that empty container ships are leaving our ports while agricultural products sit on the dock, waiting to leave our shores,” said Vilsack. 

“While many school districts across the U.S. are now being told that shortages exist in the food normally ordered for school meals.”


Canada predicted to produce less beef and pork

Canada will produce one per cent less beef and about two per cent less pork next year, predicts the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

It said drought will reduce the Canadian cattle herd by two per cent and that carcass weights will be lower than the heavy animals backed up by the impact of COVID-19 on meat-packing plants this year and last.

Domestic beef consumption is expected to weaken in the next year, however, strong global demand will support the industry’s export business, the GAIN report said.

Sow numbers will begin to increase next year and Canada will have more finishing capacity, the report said, and fewer market hogs will be shipped to the U.S. because the Olymel strike in Quebec is over.

Still, pork production is expected to decline by two per cent as pandemic backlogs are reduced and carcass weights drop.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Morningside invests another $100 million in Semios

Morningside Group of Boston has added another $100 million to its investments in Semios, a Vancouver-based company that helps farmers reduce pesticides and commercial fertilizers, better manage water and organize farm data. 

“Semios is on a mission to simplify the grower’s experience, leveraging big data analytics and machine learning to help them mitigate crop risk so they can focus on growing more food, more sustainably,” said chief executive officer Dr. Michael Gilbert.

“We have seen firsthand the challenges our customers are facing in the field – from severe drought and devastating fires, to frost, reduced profitability and an increasing regulatory burden. 

“But, in the face of these challenges, farmers are adapting to meet the nutritional needs of our growing population with new technologies. Our recent acquisitions are aimed at bringing the tools farmers need to manage their crops under one roof.  This latest round of funding will help us continue to support the agricultural industry as it faces some of its toughest challenges yet.” 


To-date, Semios has raised more than $225 million in external capital. Last year Semios announced $100 million in funding, also led by Morningside Group, that bolstered the company’s balance sheet for the acquisitions of AltracCentricity and Agworld in 2021. 

The integration of third-party agricultural solutions into its crop management platform is helping growers get the most accurate view of their crop’s development as it happens, all in one place, leading to improved decision making and ultimately better crop outcomes amidst a more volatile climate and challenging growing conditions. 

Funding applications open today

Starting today, applications will be accepted under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to support projects that will help the food and beverage manufacturing industry improve labour and production efficiency and reducing waste. 

Funding is available to agri-food businesses that are ready to implement advanced manufacturing technology such as automating production or reducing waste.

“This funding to improve productivity and efficiency is an important step to ensuring food and beverage processors have the supports they need to stay competitive as they navigate the pandemic and grow for the future,” said Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 

The federal government pays more than half of the funding.

Ardent buying gluten-free miller

Ardent Mills said it plans to buy the assets of Firebird Artisan Mills, which processes pulses and specialty grains at Harvey, North Dakota, about 240 km south of Brandon, Man.

Ardent and Firebird — the latter today owned by Kansas City-based holding company Agspring — are “continuing with due diligence” and expect to close a deal by the end of this year. No financial terms were revealed.

Firebird produces more than 30 gluten-free flours and also kosher and organic flours.

Denver-based Ardent has three locations in Ontario..

Ellen Sinclair heads Rural Ontario Institute

Ellen Sinclair is executive director of the Rural Institute of Ontario effective Sept. 13, taking over from Norman Ragetlie who recently retired.

Sinclair has worked in northern Ontario as well as the southwest region of the province.

Board chair Suzanne Trivers said Sinclair “brings impressive work and life experiences that will ensure a smooth transition of leadership and the continuation of what ROI does best, developing and facilitating collaboration between leaders who are invested in rural and northern Ontario issues.”

Sinclair has worked in both Northern and Southwestern Ontario.

Scottlyn faces 20 COVID-19-related charges

Scottlyn SweetPac Growers Inc. and owner Scott Biddle face 20 charges following Ontario's Ministry of Labour investigation into its handling of an outbreak of COVID-19 that infected 199 of its employees, including one who died. 

Juan Lopez Chaparro, a 55-year-old father of four, died.

Biddle has not commented so far, but the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and Chapparo’s widow, Agustina Galindo Segundo, issued a statement.

"Migrant workers deserve more attention, to not be forgotten, to work in decent conditions and know they will be reunited with their families," she said.

Gabriel Flores, one of the initial workers who became ill, alleged workers were subjected to labour exploitation, substandard housing and were denied testing despite being sick.

"These charges are not enough. There needs to be systemic changes to the laws to make sure workers can safely defend themselves against bad employers," said Flores in response to the charges.

"That change begins with permanent status on arrival for all so that migrants can access the same rights, protections and essential services as anyone else," Flores said.

The 20 labour ministry charges include:

- Failing to isolate COVID-19 symptomatic workers from other workers;

- Lack of masks, face coverings or barriers in areas where workers could not maintain a physical distance of at least two metres;

- Providing workers with information, instruction or supervision on maintaining physical distance, or the use of PPE;

- Reasonable precaution of cleaning or disinfecting high-touch surfaces, equipment or tools to protect workers from transmission.

Early in the outbreak, a Flores colleague reached out to an off-farm contact to have an ambulance sent for a worker who was so ill he could not get out of bed. As a result, the paramedics sent five workers to the hospital, and the farm initiated testing at the end of May 2020.

Flores spoke to the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star while in quarantine. He was fired a few days after speaking to the media. 

In November 2020, the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled in favour of Flores after the Mexican whistleblower challenged Scottlyn's move to fire him and attempt to deport him. 

The ruling ordered the company to pay Flores $20,000 in lost wages and $5,000 in damages. 

"The power imbalance between the employer and Mr. Flores, as a migrant worker who does not speak English and relies on the employer for wages, shelter and transportation, should have been more carefully managed," said the labour board ruling. "Since a reprisal can strike a far deeper wound than might otherwise occur in the traditional employment relationship." 

The board ruling added that it was reasonable for Flores to refuse to return to work, especially as there was no evidence that the employer had taken any steps to improve the working or living condition or address the issues raised.

"After more than 190 workers had been infected (including Mr. Flores) and one co-worker who succumbed to the virus," said the ruling. "Mr. Flores could not reasonably be expected to return to the workplace and continue living in the bunkhouse without assurances that sufficient health measures had been taken to specifically address the risks of COVID-19."

"In the last government, Prime Minister Trudeau promised to 'do better by migrant workers," said Karen Cocq, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. 

"It is time for this new government to act, once and for all, and do the only thing that will prevent these tragedies – and that is ensure full and permanent immigration status for all immediately."





De-regulation in works for dairy processors

 The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has opened a public comment period until Nov. 11 on a long list of regulations for dairy processing companies it intends to drop.

It’s part of Premier Doug Ford’s promise of an Open For Business review of all regulations.

The commission estimates that eliminating all of the regulations on its list would save the processing sector about $147,000 per year. Big whoop!

The proposals include eliminating fees for licences and certificates for plants, for non-shopkeeper distributors, for bulk tank graders, for dairy plant milk and cream graders and for apprentices.

Other proposals would:

Eliminate the need to pasteurize ice-cream mixes made from pre-pasteurized ingredients would be eliminated, provided that the end-product meets established microbiological food safety standards.

Allow the use of electronic records related to goat milk and removing the requirement to use ink or indelible lead for goat milk records. 

Remove prescriptive space requirements for butter and raw milk storage while maintaining food safety standards. 

Eliminate the requirement for a permit to make small alterations to a dairy processing plant that do not impact food safety.

Transition towards an outcome-based requirement when it comes to the location of wash basins for washing hands in processing plants.

Remove references to farm-separated cream and cream testers as there is no longer a farm-separated cream industry in Ontario. 

Update a reference to the grades, standards, grade names, grade marks, packing, marking and labelling requirements and specifications of containers for dairy products as found in the new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and the Canadian Grade Compendium.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Durham College touts urban agriculture

Durham College in Oshawa envisions urban agriculture as a partial solution to a long list of challenges facing Canadian agriculture.

Its list includes the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council prediction that 123,000 agricultural jobs will go unfilled by 2029, concerns about food access issues and the Dieticians of Canada finding that one in eight Canadian households does not have enough money to buy safe, nutritious food.

“To combat these challenges, while championing excellence and innovation in urban farming, Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce the official launch of The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture, Durham College said.

The Barrett Family Foundation gave $5 million for the centre which envisions becoming an internationally recognized hub of excellence in urban agriculture practices, research, education and training.

“The Barrett Centre is an amplification and expansion of all the expertise we’ve gained bringing the field-to-fork philosophy to life each and every day in our food, farming and horticulture programs,” said college president Don Lovisa.

“The knowledge and experience gained from turning unused fields into a vibrant crop-bearing farm serves as a solid foundation for what The Barrett Centre will accomplish, and we are looking forward to continuing to lead the way together, with The Barrett Foundation, our students, faculty and the community.”

The main project will be building an urban farm at the campus in Whitby. 

Other goals are to:

-      Become a source for information, support and coaching for traditionally underserved and marginalized communities when it comes to urban agriculture initiatives including food security. 

  • Create a comprehensive and connected array of educational programs and materials in urban agriculture to meet growing employment needs.
  • Create dozens of new opportunities in the years ahead for students to gain experience working on urban farms and in roles supporting the operations.
  • Become home to a team of highly-respected experts working to establish it as an internationally-recognized hub of knowledge around sustainable urban agriculture. 

Farmland prices defy drought, COVID-19

Farmland prices are holding up, said G.P Gervais, chief economist for Farm Credit Canada.

“While the drought across most of Western Canada and the pandemic have captured most of the headlines, strong commodity prices and low interest rates have been quietly supporting a vibrant farmland market for the first six months of 2021,” he said.

“Higher-than-normal prices for wheat, canola and corn have improved the profitability of many operations in the second half of 2020 and early 2021, putting them in a better position to invest in farmland as the opportunities arise,” he said.

Ontario prices are up by more than 11 per cent over the last six months and by more than 15 per cent over the year from June 30 to July 1, 2021, probably because only a small percentage of Ontario farmers experienced drought stress.

The national average increase was 3.7 to 3.8 per cent over those same time periods.

Livestock farmers did not fare nearly as well as cash croppers.

Gervais is advising farmers to become cautious about buying land now because interest rates seem poised to increase.

ASF at large Russian operation

 Russia has reported an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) at a site of the country’s largest pork producer Miratorg.

The site is in the Belgorod region of central Russia.

The privately-owned company did not comment but government officials said they are keeping close watch on the situation.



Farms are polluting Lake Erie

It used to be sewage treatment plants, but now its farms that are the main contributors to phosphorous pollution and algae blooms in Lake Erie, according to an eight-year study by faculty and students at the University of Waterloo.

They also found that management practices need to be tailored to local conditions because a solution that works in one area doesn’t in another.

The university’s Londesborough site sits on clay loam, Ilderton on silt loam and Essex on clay. 

At Ilderton, the topography “kind of forces the water into the tile” instead of overland, with Londesborough with more slope and tending more to surface runoff. 

Both northern sites can usually count on several weeks of snow cover to protect the ground from severe freezing. The Essex site typically loses its snow and leaves the soil susceptible to late-winter hard frosts.

These factors play into the Essex site losing phosphorus consistently year-round, with a higher percentage through the tile.

Londesborough and Ilderton, meanwhile, tend to lose the most through surface runoff during heavy weather events in the spring and fall.

Thus one best management practice (BMP) might work in one location but be less effective in another, they said. 

Student James Cober found that “Cover crops are a net benefit for this landscape,” said Dr. Merrin Macrae of the University of Waterloo’s Department of Geography and Environmental Management  who headed the study.

Also important is recognizing diversity within the Lake Erie watershed, which Grand River headwaters near Dundalk to the flatlands of Essex and Kent Counties and the hills of southwestern Ohio. 

Some Ohio evidence shows increased phosphorus runoff is an unintended consequence of no-till cropping but Macrae believes differences in hydrology and the on-farm method for applying nutrients are contributing factors.

The Ontario site is less hilly and the farmer applies nutrients in bands, something Macrae advises since it removes nutrients from the natural flow path of runoff water. 

She agreed leaving a broadcasted layer of manure on untilled land on the university’s Essex site could cause phosphorus runoff but that’s not a suggested BMP. 

“If you are going to broadcast manure, if you can incorporate it gently, it is a good idea,” she said.

At other locations, “a return to tillage might actually increase runoff so we’re not always comparing apples to apples.”

Retail milk prices differ across Canada

The average price of milk increased 3.6 per cent since March, 2020, in 18 of 20 markets surveyed by Field Agent Canada.

The lowest retail milk prices are in Costco’s Ontario stores at $4.65 for four litres. That’s also Costco’s price in Manitoba and British Columbia. The most expensive was $7.13 in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Price changes ranged from 10.6 per cent increase in Halifax to 0.6 per cent in Laval, Quebec. Prices dropped in Victoria, B.C., by The most expensive milk was $7.13 in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Field Agent general manager Gerry Doucette said differences in regional prices are generally caused by the supply management system which controls milk production through provincial quotas.

“In Quebec there are higher prices in general versus Ontario — that’s more of a supply management piece,” he told Canadian Grocer magazine.

“In Atlantic Canada it’s really about inefficiencies. Because milk doesn’t flow freely across borders in Canada you don’t have efficiencies of shipping milk from Ontario to the Maritimes and doing it at a much lower price.”

Doucette said the price reflects the cost of milk delivered to the store.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Ontario expands farmer mental health awareness program


The Ontario government is committing more than $385,000 to expand “In the Know”, a mental health literacy program tailored to support the well-being of the farming community. 

The investment will expand the service from 16 Canadian Mental Health Associations, but the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs news release did not say how many more.

There are 30 facilitators working in the 15 associations.

Farmers work hard to feed the province and support the economy.

 However, stigma around mental health and lack of services in rural Ontario are big contributing factors as to why many people in the farming community dealing with a mental illness choose not to seek help.


“I know first-hand how stressful owning and running a farm can be, and this has been a particularly difficult year and a half for farmers. In addition to normal stressors — including the changing weather, commodity prices, pests and diseases — farmers have had to deal with the added complexities of COVID-19,” said Ontario Agriculture Minister.

The In the Know program is a mental health literacy program tailored to the needs of the agricultural community.

Four researchers chosen for sustainability study

The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) named four agri-food experts as Distinguished Fellows.

Dr. Susan Wood-Bohm, Dr. Ellen Goddard, Ted Bilyea, and Nicolas Mesly will contribute to a thriving and sustainable agri-food system through policy research in the critical areas of environmental sustainability, innovation and animal health, trade, and water. 

“CAPI is pleased to bring together such a rich and diverse group of leaders,” said managing director Tyler McCann.

“As part of CAPI’s mandate to develop policy solutions, collaborate more and enhance dialogue, these distinguished fellows will use their expertise to develop solutions that turn the challenges the agri-food system faces today and tomorrow into opportunities.” 

They will be leading projects over the next year, building on CAPI’s interdisciplinary approach, leveraging data and insights from across the agri-food system, and translating it into actionable next steps. 

They will also act as ambassadors encouraging deeper, bolder policy thinking about critical issues affecting Canada’s agri-food system. 

Policy research is essential to a better agri-food system, but it can’t drive our agri-food system forward if it sits on a shelf,” said McCann.

“Our Distinguished Fellows will play a pivotal role in sharing their results across the agri-food system and beyond. 

“It is only when we share our knowledge of the challenges of today and tomorrow, and our research-based solutions, that can we hope to achieve our shared vision of a thriving and sustainable agri-food system,” he said. 

On September 29 at 11:30 Eastern time, they will share their views on the critical actions and decisions needed in the first 100 days by the next federal government if Canada is to have a thriving and sustainable agri-food system 

In May CAPI convened leaders from across the country in government, industry, academia and non-government organizations (NGOs) for its Big Solutions Forum.

They talked about how to Create Prosperity from Chaos in light of the pandemic, climate change, trade disruptions, food security concerns and the future sustainability and prosperity of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food system. 

CAPI’s Distinguished Fellows will build on the outcomes of the forum, which concluded that the Canadian agri-food system has great potential, but the sector needs aspirational leadership, strategic thinking, a systems approach, and greater public-private partnerships if it is to advance sustainable intensification, adopt a One Health approach, promote rules-based trade, and increase value-added agriculture. 

Fertilizer industry alarmed by proposed curbs


The fertilizer industry is alarmed by proposals to reduce global warming by cutting back on commercial fertilizers.

Fertilizer Canada, the lobbying group that speaks for the commercial fertilizer industry, objects to the federal government’s proposal to cut commercial fertilizer applications by 30 per cent.

It said in a news release today that it was not consulted and that the government is ignoring its progress by introducing its 4R Nutrient Stewardship program.

"No one is more impacted by climate change than farmers," said Karen Proud, president and chief executive officer for Fertilizer Canada.

The fertilizer companies developed the 4R approach over 15 years with help scientists, farm organizations and provincial governments to reduce agriculture's environmental impact without compromising farmers' competitiveness, she said.

"When the federal government announced a 30 per cent emission reduction target for on-farm fertilizer use it did so without consulting the provinces, the agricultural sector, or any key stakeholders - on the feasibility of such a target,” she said.

Canola meal reduces methane, boosts milk production

 Chaouki Benchaar, a federal government researcher at Sherbrooke, Que., has determined that feeding cattle more canola meal reduces methane and increases milk production.

Some nitrogen normally excreted in urine was diverted to milk production and feces.

His Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research paper has just been published in the Journal of Dairy Science.

The researchers found that methane, expressed on dry matter intake basis, as a percentage of gross energy intake, or grams per pound of energy corrected milk declined as the amount of canola meal in the diet increased. This energy was captured in greater milk production, rather than lost to the atmosphere.

The researchers also found that more of the dietary nitrogen from canola meal was converted to milk protein, and less was lost in the urine with each incremental increase in dietary canola meal. Urine nitrogen contributes to atmospheric ammonia and nitrous oxide.

“It is really interesting that canola meal reduces methane emissions, shifts nitrogen excretion from urine to feces (i.e. less potential N emissions) and improves performance at the same time,” said Benchaar. “Thus, canola meal improves the environmental footprint of milk production.”

The diets contained 52 per cent forage and 48 per cent concentrate on dry matter basis. The diets were balanced to provide 16 per cent crude protein, with all the supplemental protein in the control diet provided by soybean meal. 

The test diets contained (on dry matter basis), eight, 16 or 24 per cent canola meal. 

Dry matter intake and energy corrected milk increased as canola meal in the diet increased, with no effect on feed efficiency (energy corrected milk/dry matter intake).

“To the best of my knowledge, the 24 per cent inclusion of canola meal is the highest ever tested in a controlled study,” Benchaar said. 

“The all-canola meal diet resulted in five pounds more energy corrected milk than the all-soybean meal diet.”