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Gary Sliworsky - Agricultural Report

Tips for avoiding nitrate poisoning

Under normal circumstances, plants take up nitrogen in the form of nitrate; it is converted to ammonia, which is incorporated into plant protein.

Cattle convert the nitrate from plants to nitrite, which, in turn, is converted to ammonia and used by microbes in the rumen to make protein.

However, with fall comes frost—and with frost comes disrupted plant growth that can lead to nitrate accumulation in the plant and potential toxic effects to livestock.

If not managed correctly, nitrate poisoning can be fatal.

Tips to avoid nitrate poisoning

Under normal circumstances, plants take up nitrogen in the form of nitrate; it is converted to ammonia, which is incorporated into plant protein.

Cattle convert the nitrate from plants to nitrite, which, in turn, is converted to ammonia and used by microbes in the rumen to make protein.

However, with fall comes frost—and with frost comes disrupted plant growth that can lead to nitrate accumulation in the plant and potential toxic effects to livestock.

If not managed correctly, nitrate poisoning can be fatal.

Be safe around grain augers

Grain augers are a significant cause of farm injuries, with many caused by workers being drawn into the auger.

Several farming-related critical and fatal injuries have been reported to the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

On farms, the hazards associated with the use of augers can be minimized by the use of a guard around the inlet end of the auger.

Should a guard be impractical, then other reasonable precautions must be taken to ensure workers do not come in contact with moving parts.

Guards that are supplied with the auger often are removed because:

Livestock strategy aims to mitigate border closures

It’s a farmer’s nightmare: finding a case of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in their herd.

Beef farmers today still recall how long it took for the sector to recover when BSE hit in 2003—and how difficult it was to make decisions during the evolving and complex crisis.

Canada has one of the safest food systems in the world. Although the chances of a border closure happening in any given year are low, livestock farmers know the impact of an FMD case could be far worse than what they experienced with BSE.

Swath grazing touted

By Gary Sliworsky Ag and rural rep, Emo

During the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis of 2003, farmers embraced swath grazing—and it likely saved some of them from bankruptcy because it dramatically reduced winter feeding costs.

Today, about 22 percent of Prairie cattle producers use swath grazing for winter feeding.

A recent study commissioned by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) confirmed this feeding system continues to deliver significant benefits to producers.

Tips for new farmers

There are many things you need to think about when starting a farm.

Some of these things are: what do you want to produce, where are you going to produce it, how are you going to gain the skills to do so, and how are you going to finance this initiative?

Very few people who are starting a farm from scratch have the disposable income to get an operation up and running, and keep it going all on their own. So where do you find financing?

Aside from friends and family, the obvious choice would be your financial institution.

Guard against excessive nitrates

Nitrate is the form of nitrogen that plant roots take up from the soil.

It is transported to the leaves, where it eventually is converted into protein.

When plants are stressed or injured, this process is interrupted and excess nitrates accumulate. Drought, hot dry winds, hail, or frost can result in high nitrate levels.

Even cool, cloudy weather can cause the problem.

Large applications of nitrogen fertilizer or manure increase soil nitrate, and thus the nitrate available to the plant.

Tips on lowering predation losses

By Gary Sliworsky Ag and rural rep

The following is the first of a two-part article on lowering predation losses by Barry Potter, OMAFRA:

Livestock predation costs. Predation costs the farmer time, money, and emotional stress when production animals are destroyed.

Predation also costs the government time, money, and emotional stress as public servants and municipal evaluators investigate livestock kills and compensate producers for their losses.

Tips on lowering predation losses

The following is the first of a two-part article on lowering predation losses by Barry Potter, OMAFRA:

Livestock predation costs. Predation costs the farmer time, money, and emotional stress when production animals are destroyed.

Predation also costs the government time, money, and emotional stress as public servants and municipal evaluators investigate livestock kills and compensate producers for their losses.

New grasslands program offered

By Gary Sliworsky Ag and rural rep

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada, is pleased to announce the availability of the new Grassland Stewardship Program—the first program offered in Ontario under the Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands initiative.

This unique funding program is now accepting applications, with intake scheduled to close Aug. 15.