Drinkable Water – from Livestock Manure

An article entitled “Drinkable Water – From Livestock Manure” received a great deal of interest when it was published in the Globe & Mail on June 26.  The story features a project that is one of four semi-finalists in the Globe’s  Small Business Challenge Contest.

The article starts off: “General audiences might cringe watching a video that shows Ross Thurston, president of Calgary-based Livestock Water Recycling Inc., drinking water produced from treated hog manure.

But livestock farmers will probably say, “Genius.”

Mr. Thurston’s company builds and installs systems that treat hog and cow manure, separating solids and phosphorus, extracting and concentrating ammonium and, finally, discharging water that’s clean enough to drink.”

You can read the whole article at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/the-challenge/drinkable-water-from-livestock-manure/article12810772/#dashboard/follows/

Micah Shearer-Kudel, Environmental Coordinator for Farm & Food Care Ontario, is working on many water quality initiatives funded through the Water Resource Adaptation Management Initiative (WRAMI). He submitted the following letter to the editor to the Globe and Mail:

The editor:

Drinkable water from livestock manure seems like a bad sci-fi movie theme, but is really a practical example of how today’s farmers are innovative environmentalists.  For example, Ontario farmers have invested $220 million dollars in environmental improvements on their farms in the past six years through Environmental Farm Plan projects. 

Saving soil, planting trees or funding plant research doesn’t usually make the news, but they are all excellent examples of commitments made by farmers that help people, animals and the planet. 

 

It is Earth Day every day on Ontario's farms

by Kim Waalderbos

Share some Earth Day Love!  Here are ten things that Ontario farmers doing on their farms today and every day to improve the environment around them:

  1. Preserving Soil – Our very existence on this planet is dependent on a few inches of topsoil.  Over 2/3 of farmers use conservation tilling practices to help preserve that precious resource.
  2.  Reducing Greenhouse Gases – The carbon sequestered (saved in the soil) due to conservation tillage in Ontario equals 600 kilotonnes/year. That’s equivalent to taking 125,000 cars off the road each year. 
  3.  Environmental Farm Plans – Over 70% of Ontario farmers have taken a course, evaluated their farms’ environmental footprint and made improvements.
  4. Earth to Satellite – Our grandfathers couldn’t have dreamed that GPS satellites could map a field to show exactly what fertilizer or chemicals are needed in precise and reduced amounts, or sometimes none at all. Continue reading

How we make Earth Day every day on our farms

4-H leader Jeanine Moyer asked her 4-H members this summer, how their families make every day Earth Day on their farm. All are members of the Eramosa 4-H Beef Club in Ontario. Here are the responses she received from these young environmentalists:

How we make Earth Day every day on our farms:

Members of the Eramosa 4-H beef club

Luke, age 14

We make every day Earth Day on our family farm by registering for an Environmental Farm Plan and by recycling all materials that are recyclable. There are just a few examples of ways we make our farm environmentally friendly.

Edward, age 19

A lot of our feed supplies come in plastic or cardboard containers and we recycle these each day.

Valerie, age 18

We make our own feed for our 4-H calves every two weeks. To transport the feed from the mixer to our barn we put it into 40 kg feed bags. Since we don’t buy a lot of feed in 40 kg bags we reuse these bags for as long as possible, year after year. Not only do we use these bags for feed, but we also use them to collect garbage in the barn. Reusing these bags is something that we do on our farm to make everyday Earth Day. Continue reading

When environmentalism and science face off

By Lisa McLean, Agricultural writer

Destruction of GMO crops (also called genetically modified organisms) is a common form of protest, particularly in the EU where public acceptance of biotechnology is low. Activists dress in their best white garb and face masks to make the most of a photo opportunity while they wade into fields and haul out healthy plants by their roots. Continue reading

Meet Mr. May in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

 
by Patricia Grotenhuis

The world of horse racing beckoned for a 10-year period for Darryl Drain, but eventually he found his way back to the family egg farm. Drain’s role as an Ontario egg farmer and an advocate for the egg industry has earned him a spot as the face of May in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation. His page was sponsored by Egg Farmers of Ontario.

He had always planned on eventually taking over the farm, but the road between when he left his father’s farm and on-farm store and when he returned to it was a long one.  Drain studied at the University of Guelph for a diploma in agricultural business, and then took a step towards training racehorses. Continue reading

I Occupy Our Food Supply everyday

Guest blog: I farm with my father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. Scott Farms grow corn, soybeans, popcorn, and wheat. I graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Soil and Crop Management in 2003.

Today is the day.  The Occupy movement is going to occupy the food supply.  According to the occupiers and Farm Aid president Willie Nelson large corporations have too much control over our food.  I won’t deny that there has been a lot of consolidation in the food and seed markets over the years, but that seems pretty common and big does not equal bad as some occupiers would have you think. Continue reading

The Myth of Meatless Mondays – Alleviating the consumer's conscience without affecting climate change

The following is reprinted with permission from the Animal Agriculture Alliance in the United States (www.animalalliance.org). For its full collection of Meatless Monday resources, visit  http://animalagalliance.org/current/home.cfm?Section=Meatless_Monday&Category=Current_Issues.

The Myth of Meatless Mondays – Alleviating the Consumer’s Conscience Without Affecting Climate Change
Judith L. Capper, PhD, Washington State University

In July, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report claiming that everybody should eat less meatand dairy products in order to mitigate climate change. It was an interesting report, not least because it recommended that if consumers were going to eat meat, they should choose “meat, eggs and dairy products that are certified organic, humane and/or grass-fed as they are generally the least environmentally damaging”. Working within the sustainability arena, I firmly believe that any production system has a role within agriculture provided that it is environmentally conscientious, economically viable and socially acceptable. However, the EWG’s promotion of organic or grass-fed systems as having a low environmental impact is ironic given that such systems actually have a greater carbon footprint per unit of meat or milk produced compared to their conventional counterparts. Continue reading

Ontario veal farm digester turns manure into power for neighbouring homes

On Wednesday June 29, 2011, Delft Blue Veal Farms (division of Grober Inc.) proudly hosted the event, Harvesting Clean Energy on Ontario Farms

Delft Blue's digester

. Continue reading

Food prices are up – but what's to blame?

by Patricia Grotenhuis, lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Food prices are drawing a lot of media attention lately. It seems everything is increasing in price, both at grocery stores and at restaurants. Many different factors have been blamed for these price increases, but regardless of the reason, the outcome is the same. In some cases, food prices rise at the store without any increase for the farmer.

A Manitoba study showed the cost of a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four rose by $6.01 from 2008 to 2009, but farmers received $0.86 less. In 2009, beef farmers received $2.05 for the 600 grams of sirloin tip beef that cost you $9.15 in the store. In 2008, by comparison, the farmer also received $2.05 for the same cut of beef, but you only paid $4.61. Continue reading

Studying is regular routine for farmers

by Patricia Grotenhuis, lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

There is a lot of studying which goes into farming. 

Many farmers today have a college diploma or university degree.  Some even have graduate degrees.  Even after school, though, farmers have to constantly update their knowledge to stay on top of the latest research findings and newest technology. Continue reading