Does it have to be today?

Why farmers spread manure when they do

By: Patricia Grotenhuis, sixth generation farmer

Spreading liquid manure on a field in the spring.

This summer, one of our neighbours asked us a favour, and we just couldn’t grant it.

One Saturday morning at approximately 9:30 a.m., we heard a knock at the door. Our neighbour had a request – could we please not spread manure that day, since he was having a family reunion and was afraid the smell would be too strong. We were left in an awkward position. The request seems simple enough to grant. There are always jobs to do on the farm, so simply switching a day of spreading manure for a day of doing other jobs is surely easy, right? Wrong. Continue reading

Happy Earth Day!

Our farmers are working hard year-round to protect the environment for future generations.  Here is an infographic showing just some of the ways they do this. Continue reading

Good ideas have roots – talking about ethanol

Reprinted from The Real Dirt on Farming

Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from plants. Ethanol made an early debut as a renewable fuel back when Henry Ford designed the Model T. But gasoline outpaced it because it was easier to use in engines and the supply was cheap and plentiful. Today, ethanol is fast gaining on its old rival, as consumers want cleaner fuels for the environment and human health. Continue reading

Cattails may be a solution to greenhouse gas emissions

by Kelly Daynard
In Manitoba, cattails may provide a unique solution to displacing fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This past September, members of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation toured the Netley-Libau Nutrient-Bioenergy project north of Winnipeg. The project is documenting the ability of cattails to capture and store nutrients coming into the Lake Winnipeg Basin. The cattails are then harvested and turned into biomass for bioenergy.

Harvesting cattails

Dr. Hank Vennema, of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, explained that Lake Winnipeg is the tenth largest fresh water lake in the world. The last 60 years have resulted in a significant degradation to the Netley-Libau marsh area caused by drainage, dredging, flooding and other changes.

This has resulted in a significant loss of wetland habitat. The marsh, which is 250 square kilometers in size, is one of the largest freshwater coastal wetlands in North America. Continue reading

Changing tillage methods can help the environment

Stubble from corn stalks

by Patricia Grotenhuis

Farming practices have changed a lot over the years. Lately, some of the changes being brought into place are helping improve the environment. Some changes have been made as a response to shifts in the climate, while others have been made following the development of new equipment or the publication of new research. Continue reading

What about Greenhouse Gas?

By Patricia Grotenhuis

Climate change – the term is widespread, and commonly used. It’s also common for people to talk about causes of climate change and contributors to greenhouse gases. Farms do contribute to greenhouse gas, but at the same time, they also reduce greenhouse gases. The following excerpt is from “The Real Dirt on Farming II”.

“What about greenhouse gas?

I’ve heard farming contributes to greenhouse gas. What are farmers doing about that? Yes, agriculture is part of the problem. But we are also an important part of the solution.
Scientists estimate agriculture produces 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, coming largely from livestock, accounts for one-third of agriculture’s emissions and nitrous oxide, which accounts for most of the rest, comes from farm soils, especially those that have used manures and fertilizers. Continue reading

Farming and greenhouse gases

by Patricia Grotenhuis
Climate change – the term is widespread, and commonly used. It’s also common for people to talk about causes of climate change and contributors to greenhouse gases. Farms do contribute to greenhouse gas, but at the same time, they also reduce greenhouse gases. Continue reading

The foundation of farming

Soil is the beginning of life on a farm. Without healthy soil, we can’t grow a productive crop and without crops, we can’t feed livestock.

Planting corn into a field using minimal tillage

Farmers used to work their soil every spring and fall in order to control weeds and prepare the fields for planting crops. This was called “tilling” the land. Now many farmers are tilling less, or not at all, in an effort to reduce soil erosion and soil compaction, preserve organic matter and promote the growth of earth worms and other soil-dwelling creatures. As referred to by farmers, “no tilling” also means farmers use less fuel, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading