AIC Notes Top          Issue 2012-05    February 2, 2012 
In This Issue
Canadian Journal of Plant Science
Ag Budget to Also See Cuts: Ritz
Canada Ethanol Policy Hurts Livestock Farmers: Report
Public Needs Farm Education, Says Federation
Nuffield Canada Announces 2012 Scholars
New Prairie Oilseed May Help Airlines
Excerpts from First Book to Challenge Statistics for Agricultural Sciences
Consumer-Assisted Plants, Produce
Global Warming's Impact Underestimated
UN Panel Stresses Urgency in Agricultural Development
Brazil Market Enjoys Record Agricultural Production
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food
Coming Events

Canadian Journal of Plant Science 


The Canadian Journal of Plant Science, Volume 92, Number 1 is how available online.


Sample Abstract


Review: Aphid parasitoids in biological control

Guy Boivin, Thierry Hance, Jacques Brodeur


Aphids are important pests of most cultivated crops worldwide. Among the natural enemies that regulate their populations, aphid parasitoids are commonly used in biological control programs in greenhouses and field situations. They belong to the Hymenoptera (Braconidae and Aphelinidae), and a few species are Diptera (Cecidomyiidae). Aphid parasitoids are themselves exposed to a variety of natural enemies including predators, fungi and hyperparasitoids. The most important impediment to the use of aphid parasitoids as biological control agents remains the production cost to mass-rear parasitoids. Rearing either aphids or directly aphid parasitoids in artificial media could be a solution to produce large quantities of aphid parasitoids at low cost, but such an approach still faces numerous challenges related to the nutritional and physiological requirements of developing aphid parasitoids.


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Ag Budget to Also See Cuts: Ritz  


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will not be immune to the federal government's plans to cut spending.

With the new session of parliament kicking off yesterday, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says much of the focus over the coming months will be on reducing spending in the new budget.

"We've been searching for five to 10 percent, just like every other department in Ottawa," says Ritz. "I think it's a good's a good idea to always make sure your programs are effective, efficient and make the best use of taxpayers' dollars."

He says research will be a priority for the government, although it also will feel the impact of budget belt-tightening.

"Dollars are always scarce when it comes to investments such as that, but what we want to make sure is that those dollars are focused, that we get the most bang for our buck," says Ritz. "We think we have a good model to move forward on. There's always a need for more research. We'll do everything we can to make sure the right projects are funded with the right dollars."

He says work continues on developing the new Growing Forward 2 agricultural policy framework to replace the current framework which expires in March 2013. The minister is not commenting on how the new programs will be affected by the budget cuts.

"We're in a fortunate situation where we've had a couple years back-to-back where the industry has done reasonably well....but I can assure farmers that the programs they need will still be there for them," he says.

While the last session of parliament shone a spotlight on agriculture with the debate surrounding the legislation ending the Canadian Wheat Board's single desk, Ritz says he can't confirm whether there will be any legislation directly related to agriculture brought forward in the new session.

"Of course when it's regulatory those changes can be made in consultation with industry and the gazetting process. Having said that, there are changes that we'll need to follow up on. We assured Canadians with the rail review if legislation and regulation were required, we would put forward that piece. We're in the middle of those consultations right now," says Ritz.

He says he's also looking forward to passing the legislation ending the long-gun registry.

"As we focus on the economy, the NDP are focused on the long-gun registry and anti-trade, and the Liberals are focused on legalizing marijuana and criminalizing wheat," says Ritz.


Kelvin Heppner,, January 31, 2012


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Canada Ethanol Policy Hurts Livestock Farmers: Report 

Ethanol production has boosted the prices of grains that Canadian farmers buy to raise cattle and pigs, and Ottawa should curb or eliminate its support for the industry, an agriculture research organization said on Tuesday.


But a leading biofuels group said the report wildly overstated ethanol's impact on grain prices.


The report conducted by the George Morris Centre and paid for by livestock and meat groups said while many factors influence grain and livestock prices, Canadian ethanol production has boosted feed grains by C$15 to C$20 per ton in eastern Canada and C$5 to C$10 per ton in western Canada.


The result is added costs to livestock farmers amounting to C$130 million ($129.6 million) per year, the report said.


"Everybody says, 'Oh Canada doesn't set the global prices for grain, we're a small player'," said Kevin Grier, senior analyst at the George Morris Centre, based in Guelph, Ontario.


"The whole focus is to try and show that ... ethanol does have an impact. Canada's policies do matter (to grain prices)."


The George Morris Centre has previously published reports on ethanol's impact, but this is the first to quantify its effect on livestock farmers, Grier said.


Ethanol makes up a small portion of demand for corn and wheat and the report overstates its impact on prices, countered Tim Haig, interim president and chairman of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association.


"Does it have zero impact? That would be naive. But it's minimal," Haig said. "We believe this (impact) is wildly overstated."


The Canadian and provincial governments spend about C$250 million annually, according to the centre, to subsidize ethanol production by companies such as Husky and Suncor, with the aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions from conventional fuels.


Ottawa requires the gasoline pool to contain an average of 5 percent ethanol.


The report can be read here.


Rod Nickel, Reuters, January 31, 2012


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Public Needs Farm Education, Says Federation 


The Federation of Agriculture told farmers at its annual meeting that it's up to them to educate the public on locally-grown food that ends up on the dinner table.


"Today, 94 per cent of Canadians say they know little or nothing about where their food comes from," said Crystal MacKay, who heads a farm advocacy group called Farm & Food Care Ontario. "And an important note, as of 2006, there is no difference in knowledge between rural and urban."


Fewer than three per cent of Canadians work on farms. Island pork producer Scott Dingwell said he's noticed that the public knows less about where their food comes from than they may have years ago.


"We as producers can no longer assume an understanding of what we're doing. We do, as we move forward, have to develop advocacy and education and be aware that people want to know and they care, but we can no longer assume that the information is there," said Dingwell.


MacKay said education programs, like P.E.I.'s Open Farm days, support farmers and promote animal welfare.


She said the public is hungrier than ever for information on how their food is produced and it's up to Island farmers to tell them.


"Just because people live next door to a farm doesn't mean people understand what's happening behind the barn door."


"I think farmers are recognizing they need to communicate and give their side of the story. It's important to protect both your freedom to operate and to operate in the open world of communications we have," said MacKay. "If your customer has a question about farming, who better to answer it than the farmer themselves?"


"Doesn't matter what sector you're talking about, the economy at the farm level is stronger than it's been for some time," said Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. "Canada is uniquely positioned I think as one of the countries that is going to be able to supply that demand."


The president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture said animal welfare and economic prosperity are linked.


"I think it brings into discussion the whole idea of sustainability. We have to be sustainable environmentally, economically, and from an animal health side as well. So I think all of these are coming together," said Bonnett., January 27, 2012


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Nuffield Canada Announces 2012 Scholars  


The Canadian Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust has announced their 2012 recipients - Ryan Bonnett from Alberta, Crosby Devitt from Ontario and Brenda Schoepp from Alberta.

Ryan Bonnett from Airdrie, Alberta is a Marketing Advisor for Farmlink Marketing Solutions. Ryan is interested in looking at grain marketing and production risk management strategies around the world, something very timely with the dissolution of the national single desk wheat marketing board. Ryan will look at how grain farmers in other countries market their grain. He hopes his findings can be used to develop new marketing and management practices for Western Canadian grain growers.


Crosby Devitt, from Guelph, Ontario, Canada, will be investigating grain research partnerships involving farmers and the structure of farm organizations. He will examine ways that private and public entities form partnerships with farmers to better meet the growing demand for increased grain productivity.  Crosby works for the Grain Farmers of Ontario, managing the Research and Market Development Departments.


Brenda Schoepp owns and publishes BEEFLINK TM, a national newsletter on the strategies of beef and beef cattle marketing and has co-authored beef cattle marketing and feedlot production publications in Western Canada. Brenda is known as an industry mentor for youth and new entrants to agriculture and coaches corporate executives in production agriculture, research and agribusiness. Brenda will study the needs and successes of women in agriculture and agribusiness and use this information towards the implementation of a Canadian mentorship model for women in agriculture.


Nuffield scholarships of $15,000 each are awarded to men and women who are judged to have the greatest potential to create value for themselves, their industries and their communities through the doors which will be opened and the opportunities provided. Scholars are able to access the best production, management and marketing systems in every corner of the world. In addition to embracing the 'world's best' in agriculture, scholars gain life-long friends around the world, and a deep understanding, and global perspective of the politics, cultures and challenges of world agriculture.


Nuffield Press Release, January 25, 2012


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New Prairie Oilseed May Help Airlines 

The aviation industry wants to reduce its carbon footprint and a new oilseed grown on the Prairies may be part of the answer.


Brassica carinata is an industrial oilseed crop, also known as Ethiopian mustard. Carinata has high levels of erucic acid and a high oil content, making it ideal for many industrial uses like biodiesel or as a renewable fuel source for jets. Agrisoma Biosciences, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Mustard 21 are working together to commercialize the crop.


"The biojet industry is really looking for non-food oils sources, like carinata," says Patrick Crampton, vice-president of business and product development for Agrisoma. "The International Air Transport Association has stated a goal for the whole global industry of carbon neutral growth past 2020. By 2050, they want to be back to the carbon emissions that the industry had in 2005, despite 45 years of growth in air traffic."


The certification group for the airline industry is ASTM International. It has certified and approved biojet fuel for up to a 50 per cent blend rate. Crampton says there has been more than 900,000 gallons of biojet fuel produced from various feedstock sources. This includes camelina, jatropha and some food oils. The American military has tested biojet fuel on its Navy and Air Force planes. Several major airlines are also doing multiple commercial test flights.


Last year, 50 acres of carinata was grown at three locations in a pilot project in Saskatchewan. The seed was crushed in the fall and the oil shipped to Honeywell UOP for processing into biojet fuel. It will be used in the first jet test flights this year.


Agrisoma was talking to farmers about 2012 contracts at a producers` meeting earlier this month. The goal is to have 5,000 to 10,000 acres of production. Each producer will only grow one quarter section so the acreage can be spread over a larger area. The payment will be $12.50 per bushel on farm with a new crop incentive of $40 per acre. The company plans to have between 30 and 50 grower contracts finalized by March.


Carinata needs heat to mature and does not do well in cool, wet weather. The semi-arid crop tolerates heat and drought better than canola, making it a good match for southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. It has been in the Agriculture Canada breeding program for a number of years and researchers have made progress in reducing time to maturity.


"Ag Canada has done a lot of work over the last fifteen years taking the days to maturity from 21 days over an Argentine canola down to five to seven days longer than a mid-season Argentine canola," Crampton says.


Another advantage over canola is that it can be straight combined, saving the producer time and money.


"The work that we have done shows it is probably the most shatterproof brassica species out there. It has a little bit fleshier pod and it stands up very well," Crampton says.


Neil Billinger, FCC Express, January 27, 2012


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Excerpts from First Book to Challenge Statistics for Agricultural Sciences 


Analysis of Generalized Linear Mixed Models in the Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences is a new world-wide release at an important time of change in the research community. It demonstrates, through examples, the design and analysis of mixed models for non-normally distributed data and challenges traditional statistical methodology. It is written by a team of authors who are part of a multi-state project to educate scientists in the agricultural and natural resources sciences about modern statistical methodology. One of its lead writers, Edward E. Gbur says, "There's a gap between statistical theory and practice and the statistical methodologies currently being used within the agricultural and natural resources communities. There needs to be a change in the standard statistical operating procedure from the last decade."


Excerpts below from Analysis of Generalized Linear Mixed Models in the Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences by Edward E. Gbur, Walter W. Stroup, Kevin S. McCarter, Susan Durham, Linda J. Young, Mary Christman, Mark West and Matthew Kramer as published by the American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America and Crop Science Society of America. It is available now at


Traditional statistical methods have been developed primarily for normally distributed data. Generalized linear mixed models extend normal theory linear mixed models to include a broad class of distributions, including those commonly used for counts, proportions, and skewed distributions. With the advent of software for implementing generalized linear mixed models, we have found researchers increasingly interested in using these models, but it is easier said than done. Our goal is to help those who have worked with linear mixed models to begin moving toward generalized linear mixed models. The benefits and challenges are discussed from a practitioner's viewpoint. Although some readers will feel confident in fitting these models after having worked through the examples, most will probably use this book to become aware of the potential these models promise and then work with a professional statistician for full implementation, at least for their first few applications.


Efficiency is a particularly important issue now when public research universities and other research entities in the agricultural sciences face ongoing fiscal constraints, tight resources, and shrinking budgets that are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. If generalized linear mixed model based methods can achieve higher quality information with the same amount of data or information of equal quality with less data as the examples demonstrate, then they can and should be used.


As research grows in complexity and the penalty becomes increasingly severe for the kinds of inaccuracy demonstrated in the examples, what passed for standard methodology a decade or two ago will become increasingly unacceptable.


American Society of Agronomy Press Release, January 31, 2012


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Consumer-Assisted Plants, Produce 


A University of Florida professor collaborates across academic disciplines to measure consumer preferences to different flowers, fruits and vegetables with the goal of developing plants designed for the consumers' pleasure.

David Clark, professor of floriculture biotechnology, explained this concept - called consumer-assisted selection - to attendees at the American Seed Trade Association's 51st Vegetable & Flower Seed Conference in Tampa, Fla.

"Many times corporations start with research and development and usually don't put the consumer first," Clark says. "We are putting the consumer first and engaging the complete value chain."

Consumer-assisted selection is making products that people want before they know they want them, Clark explains. It's exactly what Apple did with the iPhone, he notes.

Diversity is characteristic of the flower, fruit and vegetable industries.

"Consumers have lots of options available," he says. "Imagine walking into these sections of a store. There is sight, smell and feeling - all of which go into the biosenses."

In describing the consumer, he said 70 - 75 percent of flowers are bought by women and that women influence 50 percent of the purchasing decisions for a household.

"More than half of the fruits and vegetables are bought by women," Clark says. "If you Google search for images of people buying produce, all the images show women."

The disconnect, he says, is that the majority of plants are developed and grown by men.

"Google search plant breeder and almost all the images depict men," Clark says. "There is a big problem here.

"Men have one switch - on and off, while women have multiple switches, dials and levers. Men are very simple and women are very complex."


Most new crops are commercially developed for their yield characteristics and timing of harvest. These characteristics are easy to measure and easy to predict, but these are not the same characteristics that consumers use to make their purchasing decisions, he says.

Clark asks, "How do we as plant breeders (men) find out what consumers (women) really want?"

This is what Campbell's cross-disciplinary team of researchers is trying to figure out. His team is comprised of specialists in consumer science, plant science, and psychophysics.

Psychophysics quantifies the relationship between physical stimuli and the sensations and perceptions they effect (behavior and emotions).

"It is very hard to measure emotion," Clark says. "It's even harder to measure how much more people will pay if stimulated. For example what's the value of flavor, color, fragrance? We measure how the eyes, ears and nose respond because they all go to the brain - where ideas are created."

Clark's team uses students, the next generation of consumers and breeders, knowing that the end product will take a while to accomplish. They are also testing external consumers, which includes market segment analysis, purchasing behavior and mind genome.

We know that physical stimuli in plants are controlled by genetic traits that are measured empirically, Clark says. His team measures human emotion and the value of novelty using facial recognition software to assess subjects' physiological responses to visual stimuli.

A florist was asked to create three flower arrangements: normal, something a little more novel and one that was really novel - all at a $35 price point.

"We put these arrangements in front of people and guys don't get it," Clark says. "They flatline. When you give women boring things, they are not interested either. We found that women like novel, but not something a 'little novel.' When presented with a 'little novel,' they revert back to traditional."

Is this an enticing clue, he asks.

"Preliminary work shows that different areas of the brain are stimulated when subjects are presented with an image of flowers versus green plants. The ventral striatum has been associated with pleasant rewards, while the amygdala is involved in detecting salient stimuli from the environment."

Clark says there will be gender differences. One of the survey questions asked participants their favorite color.

"Men responded with primary colors as their favorite - red, blue and yellow," he says. "Women responded to blends - purple, pink and orange."

Regardless of what the research shows, this research means that down the road consumers should have flowers, fruits and vegetables tailored to their likes.


American Seed Trade Association in AgProfessional, January 30, 2012  


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Global Warming's Impact Underestimated 

A Stanford University researcher says the world's crop models may have underestimated the impact of global warming on global wheat yields, according to an article from UPI.


Researcher David Lobell pointed to an area of India known for its wheat production. Lobell found that winter wheat in India is turning brown earlier in the spring, prior to harvest. Higher average temperatures are having a significant effect, with temperatures higher than 93.2 degrees F having the most impact.


Lobell's research highlights the need for more research into how hot spells impact wheat yields around the globe. As global temperatures are expected to rise, more, longer periods of heat could reduce global wheat yields.


Read more here.


Colleen Scherer, Managing Editor, Ag Professional, January 31, 2012


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UN Panel Stresses Urgency in Agricultural Development 

Without immediate action and a global shift in priorities, the world will not be able to feed its growing population in the coming decades, according to a new report from a United Nations panel. The UN Secretary General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability released its report, titled "Resilient people, resilient planet," this week.


The report's authors note that the world's population is likely to grow to nearly 9 billion by 2040 from 7 billion now. Also, the number of middle-class consumers will increase by 3 billion over the next 20 years, creating rapid growth in global food demand. By 2030 the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water, according to the report.


The panel writes its long-term vision "is to eradi­cate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other plan­etary boundaries."


The authors note that an earlier report, 25 years ago, argued that sustainable devel­opment could be achieved by an integrated policy framework embracing three pillars of sustainable development -- economic growth, social equality and environmental sustainability. "The Brundtland report was right then, and it remains right today," the panel says. "The problem is that, 25 years later, sustainable development remains a generally agreed concept, rather than a day-to-day, on-the-ground, practical reality. The Panel has asked itself why this is the case, and what can now be done to change that."


Noting that sustainable development is not a destination, but a dynamic process toward recognizing, understanding and acting on interconnections, particularly those between the economy, society and the natural environment, the panel maintains the world is not yet on this path. "Progress has been made," they write, "but it has been neither fast nor deep enough, and the need for further-reaching action is growing ever more urgent."


The panel offers a list of 56 specific recommendations under three broad categories.


1. Empowering people to make sustainable choices 

2. Moving toward a sustainable economy

3. Strengthening institutional governance


Priority areas for action include:

- Improve coherence at the sub-national, national and international levels.

- Create a set of sustainable development goals.

- Establish a periodic global sustainable development outlook report that brings together information and assessments currently dispersed across institutions and anal­yses them in an integrated way.

- Make a new commitment to revitalize and reform the international institutional frame­work, including considering the creation of a global sustainable development council.


The report is available online from the United Nations.


John Maday, Managing Editor, Drovers CattleNetwork, in, February 1, 2012


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Brazil Market Enjoys Record Agricultural Production 

Brazil exports are anticipated to rise to more than $80 billion in 2011, a 32% increase from a previous record $62 billion in 2010, according to a recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS).


The forecast means exports from the South American nation will have increased by more than 400% in just a decade, helped by biotech seed and gains in planted area and yields. Over that same period, the US, Canada, the European Union and Australia all lost market share compared with a record gain by Brazil.


The Brazilian government projects crop area to expand from 62 million hectares in 2010/11 to 68 million hectares by 2020/21, with the highest growth in area for soybean and sugarcane, according to the FAS. Private sector estimates of potential available land for production range from 70 million to 100 million hectares.


Exports have rapidly risen due to significant yield growth, new area under cultivation and increased demand.


Biotech seed adoption is a huge factor as well, accounting for 83% of the planted area, according to the report. Biotech corn was introduced five years ago, and now covers 65% of total area.


Yields have risen due to greater input usage, and fertilizer use is expected to reach record levels this year.


Forecasts indicate Brazil will outpace US production of many key commodities by 2020/21 including cotton, soybean, corn and wheat because of burgeoning yield gains.


The EU, China, Russia and the United States are the country's largest product importers, accounting for about 83% of all exports, according to the FAS.


Brazil's shipments made up 15.1% of China's imports in 2010 versus 5.8% 10 years ago. Soybean and soybean oil make up 83% of China's imports from Brazil.


The USDA FAS still cites challenges for Brazil in the short and long term. A strong domestic currency, poor agricultural transport logistics, environmental laws, laws governing foreign investment in land, and soaring domestic consumption are all obstacles to the country's growth. However, the agency said Brazil still have significant opportunities for both area and yield expansion.


Stefanie A. Toth,, January 30, 2012


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Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food


The Committee resumed meetings this week. On February 1 they heard witnesses on 

Growing Forward 2 (Marketing and Trade) from Agri-Food Export Group Quebec - Canada, Canada Pork International, Canadian Agri-Marketing Association and Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.



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Coming Events


Conference Board of Canada Canadian Food Summit, Toronto, February 7-8, 2012 


Canadian Organic Science Conference, Winnipeg, Manitoba, February 21-23, 2012 


6th Annual Growing the Margins: Rural Green Energy Conference and Exhibition and 4th Annual Canadian Farm and Food Biogas Conference and Exhibition, London, Ontario, March 5-7, 2012


Canadian Society of Soil Science and Association Québécoise de Spécialistes en Sciences du Sol Joint Conference, Lac Beauport, Quebec, June 3-7, 2012


Joint Annual Meeting of ADSA - AMPA - ASAS - Canadian Society of Animal Science - WSASAS, Phoenix, Arizona, July 15-19, 2012


Joint Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Agronomy, Certified Crop Advisors and Canadian Society for Horticultural Science, Saskatoon, July 16-19, 2012

5th World Congress of Agronomists and Agrologists, Quebec City, September 17-21, 2012 


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Frances Rodenburg, Editor