[Sust-mar] PEI ADAPT Agri-Newsletter

IBS ibs_pei at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 13 08:09:48 EDT 2008

ADAPT Council Agri-Newsletter

Vol. VII; No. 6 June 11, 2008
In This Issue:
Unique Summer Job Experience/Opportunity
Cultivating a Skilled Sustainable Agricultural Workforce on PEI
The Open Plant Breeding Foundation Seeks Volunteers
Farm Groups Welcome 'Made in Canada' Plan
International Agricultural Assessment: We Need a Paradigm Shift
Professor Calls for new National Food Policy that gives Priority to Local 
Making the Most of Farm Waste
Whole Canola as an Energy Source

 Unique Summer Job Experience/Opportunity 
For the first time, farms rom the Maritimes are taking part in an 
apprenticeship program offered through Stewards of Irreplaceable Land (SOIL)– a 
national program based in British Columbia that links farmers willing to offer 
apprenticeship training with those looking to the learn sustainable farming 
Beth McMahon has known about the program for some time, and decided it was 
time to make the program truly national by involving the Atlantic region. The 
executive director of the Atlantic Canada Organic Regional Network (ACORN) said 
there has been talk for some time about establishing apprenticeship 
opportunities and "it only made sense to become part of the SOIL program since 
it is already well established."
While the number of farms n is declining nationally, McMahon said the organic 
sector continues to enjoy steady growth. She said people from the Atlantic area 
have taken part in the SOIL program in the past, but they had no choice but to 
go to other parts of the country.
"Now in addition to offering people from this area a chance to apprentice 
close to home, we also hope we will be able to attract people from other parts 
of the country."
The Atlantic effort is being co-ordinated by ACORN and funded in part by the 
P.E.I. ADAPT Council, Agri-Futures Nova Scotia and Agriculture and Agri-Food 
Canada. McMahon said there has been considerable interest in the program, adding 
"I’m not really surprised because there was a good deal of positive feedback 
even before the program was officially announced."
"This is the type of work where you'll learn something new everyday, use your 
brain and build muscle, plus eat great food," she said.
The apprentices receive room and board and usually a small stipend. 
Participants must be at least 18 and must sign on for an eight week stay. 
However, she said the program does offer a great deal of flexibility. If there 
are a couple of participating farms in close proximity, often the apprentice 
will split the positing. As well, she said some farms will accept couples or 
"No experience is necessary and you don’t necessarily have to come from a 
farm background," she said.
McMahon said over 20 maritime farms are taking part. While the majority of 
the farms are certified organic, she said producers who farm in a sustainable 
manner are welcome to take part. She added the participanting farms offer a 
wealth of diversity– "there are farms with livestock, CSA's, market gardens– 
some are near cities, others on the ocean
Anyone looking for additional information should visit the SOIL website 
 Cultivating a Skilled Sustainable Agricultural Workforce on PEI 
The PEI Agriculture Sector Council is offering an opportunity to agricultural 
employers in assisting them in finding qualified employees.
For more information and to talk to one of the ASC Agricultural Employment 
Officers, contact
Tamara McKeough, Administrative Assistant
Farm Centre, Suite 201, 420 University Avenue Charlottetown PE C1A 1Z5
Phone: (902) 892-1091; Fax: (902) 892-1891
E-mail: tymckeough at peiagsc.ca; Web site: www.peiagsc.ca 
The Open Plant Breeding Foundation Seeks Volunteers 
The Open Plant Breeding Foundation is a resource hub for organic growers who 
have an interest in plant breeding. Within Canada it is looking for volunteers 
to participate (basically receive seeds to plant out and help create varieties 
that are more disease/pest resistant). OPBF ultimately plans to provide 
commercially-viable crop varieties to the general public in order to produce 
pesticide-free crops and reduce the global dependence on crop protection 
chemicals. www.opbf.org 
Farm Groups Welcome 'Made 
in Canada' Plan
A proposed change in federal rules to clarify what a "made in Canada" label 
means on agricultural products is a step in the right direction, say two major 
farm groups on P.E.I. Under the proposed change, announced by Prime Minister 
Stephen Harper, the designation — either "made in Canada" or "product of Canada" 
— would only apply to food grown or produced in Canada. Currently, anything can 
bear that label as long as 51 per cent of the cost of creating it is spent in 
Canada. The government plans to consult with key stakeholders over the proposed 
rule change.
CBC http://www.cbc.ca/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2008/05/22/canada-label.html 
International Agricultural Assessment: We Need a Paradigm Shift 
By Ben Block
A commission of international agriculture experts reccently unveiled a series 
of reports on calling for an end to "business-as-usual" farming practices to 
avoid widespread environmental degradation and increasing food scarcity.
The group of more than 400 experts, known as the International Assessment of 
Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), 
concluded through its global and regional studies that governments and 
industries need to discontinue environmentally damaging farming methods. Farmers 
should have greater access to agricultural technology and science, especially in 
the developing world, to ensure productivity increases without further 
environmental degradation, the reports say.
The commission's conclusions come during one of the most severe food crises 
since the productivity boom of the Green Revolution. 
The reports are the largest international collaboration to date to advocate 
more sustainable farming practices such as crop diversification, use of organic 
fertilizers, and the adoption of
labeling and certification schemes. More controversially, the commission 
suggests policy options that include "ending subsidies that encourage 
unsustainable practices." The reports also stress the ineffectiveness of 
genetically modified crops in aiding food productivity in some developing 
Global society must undertake a "paradigm shift" in agriculture, the authors 
said at a press briefing. And without more sustainable practices, the problems 
will only worsen. 
Because many farmers lack knowledge about sustainable practices, governments 
should increase their financial support for research and programs that encourage 
less-damaging techniques, the reports say.
"We have to think more about linking researchers and stakeholders in new and 
innovative ways.... We have to make sure our agriculture production systems have 
ecological benefits," said Mary Hendrickson, director of University of 
Missouri's agriculture extension networking
project and another co-author. 
The reports are the result of a three-year, $12 million effort by the World 
Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Launched in 2002 
at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, 
the IAASTD, led by former
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chair Robert Watson, coordinated 
the more than 400 experts from the world's universities, think tanks, 
governments, and industries.
Ben Block is a staff writer at the Worldwatch Institute who covers everything 
environmental for Eye on Earth. He can be reached at bblock at worldwatch.org
 Professor Calls for new National Food Policy that gives Priority to Local 
by Thomas Axworthy; TheStar.com; Apr 27, 2008
Industrial agriculture, the current structure of the North American food 
system, is based on low prices to farmers, high usage of chemicals and copious 
amounts of oil. These factors must be altered if Canada is to have plentiful, 
safe and nutritious food in the future.
With oil now costing $120 (U.S.) a barrel, we are entering an era of peak oil 
prices. Gas is at record of levels and many forecast it will reach $1.40 by the 
summer. This surge in the cost of fossil fuels will have profound impacts in a 
host of areas, not least in the way we organize our food supply.
Strawberries in December will soon become a luxury few can afford. It takes 
35 gallons of oil, or the equivalent of a barrel, to raise a steer to go to 
market. Twenty per cent of American petroleum is consumed in the producing and 
moving of food.
Michael Pollan, an award-winning journalist for The New York Times, writes 
that America's "food chain is powered by fossil fuel."
Ingeborg Boyens' book, Another Season's Promise, makes a similar point about 
Canadian farming: "The amount of energy required to produce a calorie of food is 
constantly increasing. At issue is not just the food required to do all the 
mechanical work on the farm: energy is also needed to manufacture fertilizer and 
chemicals at the front end of the process and to transport and refrigerate food 
in the final stages of its delivery to the consumer."
Peak oil is already turning Canadians away from giant SUVs and towards 
compact cars. We need a similar turn away from factory farms and towards local 
food producers.
Wendell Berry is a farmer and writer who has authored more than 40 books 
imploring North America to re-establish a balance between ecology and 
He begins with the sober reflection that the "qualities that make humans the 
most astonishing of all the families of creatures – our intelligence, our 
ambition, and our power – have made us also by far the destructive of all 
creatures ... " Agriculture's mission is to "maintain its people in health, and 
this applies equally to the people who eat and to the people who produce the 
Canada's current system of agriculture is far from healthy. But not so long 
ago farming was at least in harmony with nature. Farms used to waste nothing. My 
grandfather and uncle farmed grain in Saskatchewan but their farm, like their 
neighbours', was mixed with lots of animals to graze, provide manure and 
ultimately food. The sun provided energy to the crops, the animals fed on the 
grass (what we now call free range) and their waste, in turn, provided nutrients 
to plow back into the soil.
We have not had a national policy to help the family farm since Eugene Whelan 
was minister of agriculture in the 1970s. Ever since, we have had a policy of 
industrial farming, consolidation, agribusiness and globalization. But this 
policy rests on the fatal flaw of cheap energy. That era is over. We must return 
to a policy of local food through the family farm.
The recent 2006 Statistics Canada Census on Agriculture paints an unhappy 
picture of the stress that affects farm families. Canadians pay 12 per cent of 
their national income on food, only half the percentage their parents paid in 
the 1950s. As food prices have gone up, farmers have not benefited. The census 
reveals that inflation has gone up 8.6 per cent for farming inputs (machinery, 
chemicals, etc.) compared to only 1.7 per cent for products sold. In 2006, 37 
per cent of the farmers in the census had receipts under $25,000. Not 
surprisingly, 71 per cent of these farmers did not make enough to cover 
With farmers squeezed by low prices and high costs, half of the farm families 
had one or both partners working off the farm to make ends meet, though farming 
is more than a full-time job. As a result, farmers are leaving their profession 
in droves: in 1991 there were 390,000 Canadians in farming but by 2006 there 
were only 327,000. In 1991, there were 78,000 young farmers taking over from 
their parents, in 2006 only 30,000. If the trend continues, who will be left to 
grow the food?
We need a national food policy that relies on the family farm to produce 
local supplies.
School boards should purchase food for their lunch programs from local 
farmers, just as St. Lawrence College in Kingston is doing. Queen's University 
should follow this example.
Agriculture Canada should encourage farmers' markets. Where possible, 
individual consumers should buy direct from the farmer. Regulations should be 
eased to accommodate the 100-mile diet.
Most of all we need an alliance between the city and the farm. Earth Day was 
celebrated last week with marches and park cleanups. A month earlier, Earth Hour 
saw hundreds of thousands of Torontonians turning off the lights. These are 
welcome symbols but we need daily action.
One way is to follow Wendell Berry's advice and "eat responsibly." When we 
purchase food we should ask: "Where does it come from? How was it made? What 
chemicals were used? Methods of slaughter?"
Denmark is experimenting with a barcode that can tell consumers about the 
history of the produce as well as the price. We need the same here.
Industrial agriculture has brought us mad-cow disease, soil erosion, 
pollution by toxic chemicals, depletion of aquifers, animal abuse, and 
long-distance transportation of food stuffs. This model must be transformed into 
sustainable agriculture.
The local food movement is a start. Every day could be Earth Day if we 
started to eat responsibly. Thomas S. Axworthy is chair for the Study of Democracy at Queen's 
Making the Most of Farm Waste 
At least 10 livestock farms across Canada are turning animal wastes into 
energy gains. Jody Barclay, Manager, Biochemical Conversion in the Industrial 
Innovation Group at CANMET Energy Technology Centre – Ottawa (CETC-Ottawa), 
explains that while the concept of producing biogas for heat and electricity 
from farm waste is hardly new, it is becoming increasingly attractive, given 
rising fossil fuel prices and more-stringent nutrient management requirements. 
The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has added another incentive for biogas 
producers: standard-offer contracts that enable them to sell generated power to 
the grid at a premium ($0.11 per kilowatt hour [kWh] plus $0.035 during peak 
For more information see: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/se/etb/cetc/ 
Whole Canola as an Energy Source 
John Rowsell1, John Kobler1, Hugh Earl2, 
Irene Coyle3, Ben Hawkins4
1New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station, University of Guelph, 2Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, 3Natural 
Resources Canada, CANMET Energy Technology Centre, Ottawa, 4Ontario 
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Brighton.
The combined effects of heat and drought had a negative impact on the quality 
of Ontario’s canola crop in 2005. Samples contained higher quantities of heat 
damaged seeds than the crushers were willing to accept. The infrastructure was 
not in place to take most of Ontario’s canola production from 2005 (about 
50,000Mt) to produce biodiesel or other industrial products. Even if that 
infrastructure was in place, the fate of the meal left over after oil extraction 
would have to be determined.
We wondered if canola seeds could be used directly as an energy source. Using 
the whole seed would sidestep the need for infrastructure to produce biodiesel 
that we did not have, and finding a use for the meal that the marketplace may 
not want. 
We discovered that the energy content of whole canola seed ranged between 
27.6 and 29.2 MJ/kg (megajoules per kilogram) on a dry weight basis. By way of 
comparison, a value 18 MJ/kg is often stated as the energy content of dry wood; 
16 and18 MJ/kg for dry corn and wheat respectively; 37 and 41 MJ/l for #2 light fuel oil and #6 heavy fuel oil (Bunker C) 
respectively; 37 MJ/m3 for natural gas and 3.6MJ/kWh (kilowatt hour) 
for electricity. 
Green and brown seed content are factors which can downgrade canola. Green 
seed results from immature seeds being harvested. Brown seeds are seeds that 
were aborted by the plant under stress. This was the problem with Ontario’s 2005 
canola crop. These downgrading factors did not influence the energy content of 
the canola samples we evaluated. 
Moisture is also a consideration of energy output. There were no surprises in 
that the calorific output of combustion decreased linearly with the increase in 
moisture at close to a 1:1 ratio. This means that users of whole canola as an 
energy source need only to reduce the expected energy output according to the 
moisture: 10% moisture means 10% less energy as compared to bone-dry seed.
The oil contained in the seed is a significant contributor to the total 
energy content. We found that the energy content of the seed increased between 
0.13-0.22MJ/kg for each percentage increase in oil content. Although this 
relationship is statistically significant, it is not practically important 
because differences in oil content that are normally encountered, and the 
resulting variation in the energy content, are not large. Seed size also did not 
affect the energy content of whole canola seed.
Whole canola was ashed in a muffle furnace at 500°C 
and the ash analyzed for 11 heavy metals, nutrient content, electrical 
conductivity (salts) and pH. The ash would be suitable for raising soil pH (ash 
pH 9.9) and contains enough potassium and phosphorus to be considered as a 
source of these nutrients. Levels of metals were well within guidelines for use 
on agricultural land. 
Five tonnes of canola were shipped to the CANMET Energy Technology Centre, 
Natural Resources Canada, for evaluation in a 1MW (megawatt) industrial grate 
furnace. The seed was #2 canola (not off grade) and evaluated to contain 
28.43MJ/kg (dry weight). An auger was used to feed the canola into the furnace. 
The temperature in the furnace averaged over 950°C, 
which was achieved quickly and had little variation. Without any emission 
control devices, the stack emissions were within MOE guidelines with the 
exception of particulate matter, which were marginally over the guideline. 
Technology to remove particulates from the stack emissions is readily 
This project allows a cost comparison between various energy sources to be 
made. The following table helps to put some of these values into 
Energy source Example Price $/MJ Canola1 price (delivered) per tonne to have  equivalent cost per megajoule (MJ) 
#2 Heating Oil2  $0.8732/l $0.0236 $600 
Corn1 $300/tonne  $0.0206 $525 
Electricity3 $0.119/kWh $0.0331 $841 
Natural Gas4 $0.39/m3 $0.0105 $268 
1 10% moisture- Corn 14.5MJ/kg, Canola 25.5MJ/kg
2 price delivered, less GST
3 price per kWh above 750kWh base, includes delivery, regulatory and 
debt retirement charges, less GST 
4 price includes transportation, storage and delivery, less GST
When the price of canola falls below the price in the 4th column 
of this table, it is a less expensive source of energy relative to the example 
prices given. It is unlikely that #2 canola at current prices would be used as 
an energy source to compete with #2 heating oil or natural gas; however, off 
grade canola is deeply discounted and may be an attractive source of energy. The 
moving grate furnace technology used in the CANMET facility is readily available 
and is adaptable to a variety of feedstocks. 
We conclude that off grade whole canola seed is energy dense and easily 
utilized as an economically viable energy source.

Phil Ferraro and Nancy Willis
Institute for Bioregional Studies Ltd.
114 Upper Prince Street, Charlottetown 
Prince Edward Island Canada  C1A 4S3
"Restoring Community, Protecting the Land and Informing the Earth’s Stewards"

Sent from Yahoo! Mail.
A Smarter Email http://uk.docs.yahoo.com/nowyoucan.html

More information about the sust-mar mailing list