Showcasing the success of Partnership programs and research

Two farmers in an empty field pushing equipment for tilling the soil, with an icon banner at the bottom that says Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance Research 2020-21 Agri-Food Yearbook

Farmer-led research programs highlight on-farm innovation

Field trials on the farm follow applied research projects once they leave the lab bench. Field trials are a great way to gather on-farm perspectives, and the province-wide network of research centres owned by the Government of Ontario through its agency, the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario, is home to many innovative field studies.

A complementary approach is for producers to take the lead in developing research questions and conducting projects on their own farms, working in cooperation with a support organization.

A map of northern Ontario with coloured dots and a legend representing the data set, with an icon banner at the bottom that says Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance Research 2020-21 Agri-Food Yearbook

Digital mapping offers a sharp view of Ontario soil

Soil mapping provides farmers and policy makers with detailed information on the condition and characteristics of land. Traditional soil mapping, in which a surveyor collects soil samples and maps their locations, was an important first step toward better soil conservation and environmental sustainability. However, it doesn’t provide the kind of broad picture now possible through digital soil mapping based on greater computational power and availability of environmental data.

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Ontario invests in agri-food research to strengthen sector

The Ontario government is investing $7 million into agri-food research projects that will support greater environmentally friendly agricultural practices, protect livestock health and welfare, and stimulate economic growth within the agri-food sector and Ontario’s rural communities.

Through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance Ontario is supporting advanced agri-food research in collaboration with the University of Guelph on projects that include:

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Sampling wild bee pollinators in commercial fruit crops

Apple crops rely on pollinators to reproduce, so growers often spend thousands of dollars every year to house and manage honeybee colonies. However, previous studies have shown that, when diverse and abundant, wild bees can provide significant pollination services in orchards. Depending on the apple variety, growers may be able to use fewer hives or none at all.

Student Matt Stewart standing in field looking out at it with a banner at the bottom of the photo that says Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance Research 2020-21 Yearbook

A long-term look at cover crops

From mid-summer until the following spring, some Ontario fields lie fallow while others are covered with crops designed to rejuvenate the soil. University of Guelph researchers are investigating various combinations of cover crops to see which ones offer the best environmental and economic improvements. This long-term study is being conducted at the Ontario Crops Research Centre sites in both Elora and Ridgetown, coordinated by plant agriculture professors Dr. Manish Raizada and Dr. Dave Hooker, respectively.

Dr. Todd Duffield and team researching ways to help producers manage metabolic changes in their dairy herds in work funded in part by the Alliance

Duffield and researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) are studying metabolic disease in dairy cattle to explore potential solutions for farmers across the country. Duffield’s research is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs through the Ontario Innovation Agri-Food Alliance with in-kind support from Elanco and Lactanet. Read the story on the OVC website >

Mental health and well-being research in agriculture and veterinary medicine

Leading research at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) is contributing greatly to current understandings of mental health and well-being in the veterinary profession, and the agricultural community.

Evidence shows veterinarians, student veterinarians and farmers to be at increased risk for psychological distress and mental illness.

Sara Stricker in the field with the onions

Ontario onion attacker is in the weeds

A stubborn new fungus is attacking Ontario onions. Luckily, it does not cause food-borne illness, but it could make your onions smaller and more likely to sprout in storage, leading to potential lost revenues for growers and lower-quality onions for consumers.

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