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Full project descriptions will be available for research that has been ongoing or initiated since January 1, 2015. Research projects for which funding has ended prior to this date can still be found in the database, but with limited details.

For more information on any Grain Farmers of Ontario research project, contact Natalie DiMeo.

Project StartProject EndProject TitlePrincipal InvestigatorMeta
2012-042015-05Virulence of Phytophthora sojae and soybean resistance to phytophthora root rot (PRR) in OntarioAllen XuePhytophthora root rot (PRR), caused by the fungus Phytophthora sojae, is a destructive disease of soybean in Ontario. Although the improvement of PRR resistance has been one of the major priorities of soybean breeding in Ontario, the disease has become widely spread and increased in severity in central and eastern Ontario and western Quebec where most of the short-season soybean (2200-2800 HU) is grown. Several resistance genes that are commonly used in soybean breeding in Ontario are RPS1a, Rps1c, and Rps1k, which provide resistance to Race 1, the predominant P. sojae race in Ontario from 1965-1973. There has been no survey for P. sojae races in Ontario since 1990. The resistance breeding cannot be successful without knowing the pathogen race structure and population dynamic of the major races of P. sojae in the regions and effective sources of resistance to these new races. Our preliminary research demonstrates that the racial profile of the P. sojae in Ontario has changed since the last survey in the 1980s and new and more virulent races might have developed in response to the release of resistant cultivars, thus shortening the effective life-span of these cultivars. In addition, these new races of P. sojae can have virulence against resistance genes that are not currently present in soybean cultivars or breeding lines, rendering these genes ineffective even before use in a breeding program. This project will continue a race survey initiated in 2011 to determine the predominant races of P. sojae in Ontario; to conduct greenhouse and field experiments to evaluate up to 100 soybean cultivars and germplasm released in Canada for their reactions to major P. sojae races and for partial resistance (multi-gene resistance) and tolerance under field epidemical conditions; and to conduct a crossing program between PRR resistant lines and high-yielding but susceptible cultivars in Ontario and to use marker assisted selection (MAS) techniques for introduction of new resistance genes and for gene pyramiding in future Canadian soybean cultivars.
2014-042017-10The interaction between soybean seed isoflavones and soybean cyst nematode resistanceMilad EskandariSoybean is the largest crop grown in Ontario, with more than 2.9 million acres being seeded in 2015. Currently, up to 70 percent of Ontario soybeans are exported abroad, and Asia is the largest export region with more than 40% of total exports in 2015. Identity-Preserved (IP) soybeans are a growing market for Ontario farmers. Currently, about 75% of Canada soybeans exports to Asia are classified as IP soybeans. Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the most damaging pest of soybean in Ontario as it is the main cause of seed yield and quality losses. SCN accounts for annual yield losses worth of up to $30 million in Ontario. It means that new soybean cultivars in Ontario, especially in its southwestern area, would need to be SCN resistant to minimize SCN’s impact on seed yield and quality, and also to be used as part of an integrated pest management approach to manage and control SCN populations in the fields. This project aims to develop new superior Identity-Preserved (IP) food quality soybeans. To maintain profitability of Ontario IP soybean production and export markets, it will be necessary to develop new value-added cultivars beyond traditional characteristics that meet the specific needs and quality traits of different end-users, particularly in Asia. Soybean-derived food products with high isoflavones have received increasing attention these days due to their nutritional and therapeutic properties. SCN is the most damaging pest of soybean in Ontario, which indicates new soybean cultivars in Ontario would need to be SCN-resistant. The outcome of this project, while providing the knowledge that is important for the breeding program to facilitate the development of new superior value-added soybean cultivars adapted to Ontario, is expected to have significant impact on the Ontario soybean growers’ production and the IP export industry through the commercial release of new high yielding and protein soybeans with elevated isoflavone concentration and SCN resistance.
2015-092019-10Soyagen: Improving yield and disease resistance in short-season soybeanFrançois BelzileSoybean is a rapidly growing crop that offers many potential benefits to Canadian growers. It is a multipurpose crop whose seeds are an extremely valuable source of both protein and oil. From an environmental point of view, it is also highly attractive, as it does not need any chemical fertilizer to provide it with nitrogen. There are three important challenges for developing high yielding soybean varieties that are well-suited to Canadian conditions: short growing season, varieties resistant to pests and diseases, and farmer adoption. Genomics offers essential new tools to aid in these important challenges. The spectacular progress in sequencing technologies has made it possible to characterize the genetic makeup of crops. By probing deep into the genetic code of soybeans, it is possible to identify DNA markers that control key aspects of plant growth, such as the time needed to reach maturity and resistance to diseases and pests. Once we have identified such DNA markers, breeders will be able to use them to develop improved varieties more rapidly and easily. Economic and social research will complement the genomics research by focusing on institutions and policies that will maximize the growth potential of the soybean industry. We have assembled an exceptional team of research scientists to take on this task and have gained wide support from grower groups and key players in the seed industry.
2015-112018-03Development of postharvest UV treatment to reduce fungal toxins in stored wheat and cornTatiana KoutchmaAlthough the levels may vary greatly, mycotoxin accumulations in wheat and corn occur every year in Ontario and across Canada, which not only cause significant economic loss due to drop in market values but also may give rise to food safety risks. Certain strategies have been used at harvest to reduce mycotoxin accumulation in grain, such as adjusting combine to minimize number of infected kernels harvested, and setting equipment to keep tip kernels on the cob. Mycotoxin accumulation in grains is still a great challenge to grain producers and more effective post-harvest treatments are needed to reduce fungal toxin accumulation in stored grains. Short-wavelength ultraviolet (UV-C) irradiation is widely applied in the food industry and for water treatment. Several reports have indicated that UV irradiation could kill or supress microorganisms adhering to grain and reduce the levels of certain Fusarium toxins; however, previous studies have not been conducted on naturally contaminated grain. The project aims to develop a concept grain UV irradiation system that could later be commercially manufactured to achieve a 90% reduction of microorganisms and mycotoxins and used by Canadian grain farmers to treat wheat and corn kernels before storage. Methodologies will be developed to optimize exposure of kernels to UV irradiation using bench top UV-C chamber. A range of UV-C irradiance will be tested for the experiments by adjusting the distance between grain surface and UV source and by changing the number of UV sources. The experimental variables will include: UV irradiance levels, time exposure, strains of fungi, type of mycotoxins, and concentration of fungi and mycotoxins (high vs low). After the UV dose is established, the effect on the physical parameters of wheat and corn will be measured, including moisture content, pH, protein and water activity.
2011-072018-09OMAFRA Extension SupportHorst BohnerAgricultural extension (technology transfer) is a key component to ensure the ongoing competitiveness and sustainability of the Ontario grain sector. Agricultural Extension has a strong history in Ontario dating back to the establishment of the Ontario School of Agriculture at Guelph in 1874. Agricultural Extension is a general term referring to the education of farmers and agronomists with respect to the application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices. The first Agricultural Representatives were hired by the Department of Agriculture in 1906. Since then there has been a strong collaborative extension effort in Ontario. Today, the rapid development of new technologies drives the need for continued extension in the province. Extension is an area which is often difficult to support financially from either direct OMAFRA or external funding sources. This project is dedicated to improvements in Agricultural Extension and is focussed on three main areas: Improved Information Gathering, Enhanced Extension Efforts, and Breaking Issue Support. Initiatives supported with the Enhanced Extension Efforts include: Phosphorus and potassium management, double cropping soybeans, foliar fungicide timing, soybean row width strategies, etc.
2014-062017-05Contribution of cover crops in cropping systems in relation to crop yield; the nitrogen dynamic in the soil and their impacts on the soil qualityAnne VanasseCover cropping systems is a best management practice that capture and recycle excess nutrients in the soil profile while minimizing soil erosion. There has been a renewed interest in this cropping practice in the last few decades. Interseeded or seeded after a main crop, cover crops (CC) improves fertility and soil quality with a considerable potential to maintain or enhance crop yields by the nitrogen contribution derived from these green manures once returned to the soil, or by the improved soil structure. The potential benefits of CC to crop productivity are determined by the CC type (legumes, non-legumes, and mixtures), the CC biomass production, and the timing and methods of CC termination. Further, synchrony between crop nitrogen (N) demand and CC mineralization is critical in this process for which environmental and management-related factors act as important modulators. Consequently, the performance of CC depends on site-specific factors, making it difficult to identify best management practices. This project aims to document the impacts of CC on subsequent cash crop yields, the soil quality and the soil nitrate retention. It also aims to establish precisions about the N contribution from CC to adjust the nitrogen fertilizer of the different crops in the fertilization plan. In this study, we performed a meta-analysis of data from 110 field experiments (peer-reviewed or unpublished literature) to provide a comprehensive and quantitative approach of CC influence to cash crop systems. We quantified (1) the effect of CC on cash crop yield, (2) the N contribution of CC to cash crop growth (compared to bare fallow), and (3) the variation of these impacts across a wide range of systems. Data were included if they met the following criteria: (1) CC were grown (intercropping, successive or full season systems) with a subsequent cash crop (corn, soybean, cereals); (2) a control treatment without CC was present; (3) the treatments were replicated; (4) the study has been conducted under humid temperate climate; and (5) cash crop yield, CC biomass and N concentrations in plant tissues were reported, which allowed us to estimate the relative contribution of CC to subsequent cash crop yields in terms of yield ratio (Yield with CC \Control Yield without CC). Nitrogen contribution of CC will be discussed comparing the aboveground N yield of the CC, the apparent recovery of CC N, and the fertilizer replacement value. The modulation of CC benefits on cash crop yields, soil quality and soil nitrate retention, by other factors (i.e., CC types, soil properties, management practices and environmental conditions) will be described.
2015-092017-08Assessing soil organic matter quality as an attribute of soil health in long-term tillage and crop rotation experimentsAmanda DiochonThere is a large knowledge gap on the quantifiable effects of agricultural management practices on soil health. One key attribute of soil health is soil organic matter and its measurement is included in many of the commercially available soil health tests, such as the Cornell Soil Health Test. Though measurement of soil organic matter is straightforward, it can be difficult to assess its status and response to management practices because the change in soil organic matter that occurs in response to management practices is small relative to the large background pool in the soil. Since soil organic matter is positively related to resilience, management practices that promote the accumulation of organic matter should also be resilient to external environmental pressures like extreme moisture conditions. Detecting change in soil organic matter in response to management may be enhanced by measuring attributes such as microbial biomass carbon, mineralizable carbon, and light fraction carbon that are highly responsive to changes in the inputs or outputs of organic matter. The goal of the project is to examine the response of seven attributes of soil organic matter to tillage and crop rotation (corn, soybean and wheat) practices at four long term agricultural experiments in Ontario (Ridgetown, Elora, Ottawa and Delhi). Soils from these sites are being used to develop an improved soil health scoring framework for Ontario by evaluating commercially available soil health tests. The results will also help to identify best management practices for growers of corn, soybean and/or wheat in Ontario. The findings from this project will contribute to a larger project that is developing an improved monitoring system for soil health in Ontario and to the establishment of sustainable management practices (no till or conventional; crop rotations) that enhance grower revenues and improve environmental quality.
2015-042016-03Mapping cover crop planting windows in OntarioRishi BurlakotiGrain farmers are growing cover crops for various reasons including suppression of weeds, insects, and disease; recovery of nutrients or as livestock feed/forage. Perhaps the largest reason for growing cover crops is for soil health. Specific soil health goals include reducing compaction, minimizing wind and water erosion, increasing soil organic matter, and feeding soil microbes and fauna. Other than species selection, the amount of plant biomass produced and the stage of development are important for achieving desired goals of cover cropping. Because climate and location are important, there is a need to provide location specific recommendations on planting windows that will lead to successful cover crop biomass production. Recently, models of cover crop planting windows for northeastern United States were developed. The map was for buckwheat based on growing degree days (GDD) and cover crop growth with various planting dates. Using similar theoretical concept, we propose to develop GDD-based models to identify cover crop planting windows suitable for southern Ontario (i.e. crop production region). This will identify the fit of various cover crop(s) in the typical fallow period (i.e. third week of July to first frost), which will be a benefit for grain farmers, as well as those interested in cover crops for livestock feed, soil quality, or for other purposes.Therefore, identifying planting date range and optimum window period of all these groups of cover crops proposed in our study will be very useful for Ontario grain growers. The cover crop planting advisory maps were developed using cover crop biomass data from the multi-year field trials from University of Guelph, Ridgetown campus. The thresholds for advisory maps were also compared with the advisory maps developed using thresholds from scientific literature. Inputs from University of Guelph and OMAFRA cover crop specialists were included to refine the advisory maps. The advisory maps will provide guidelines to growers when is the optimum and latest time to plant cover crops in Ontario. Planting cover crops during the appropriate time in the fall will allow enough time for the cover crops to become established and grow before killing frost (-4°C) occurs. The planting advisory maps were developed and deployed for five short-season cover crops, buckwheat, mustard, radish, oats, and forage peas as well as two winter annual cover crops, cereal rye and hairy vetch. The cover crops represent four broad groups of cover crops, grasses, broadleaves, Brassicas, and legumes. The planting advisory maps are available to Ontario growers online.
2014-042017-10An energy based indicator of plant healthClarence Swanton & Roydon FraserCrop surface temperature is extremely important when it comes to crop health because of the amount of exergy received by the plant from the sun. “Exergy” is a term used in thermodynamics to label the maximum work that a system can perform on moving from a given state (i.e., crop is stressed) to a state of equilibrium (i.e., crop is healthy) within its environmental surroundings. Applying this thermodynamic theory, it is hypothesized that healthier plants should have a lower surface temperature during the day in order to gain access to more exergy from the sun. This research is focussed on developing new technology that is capable of detecting physiological stress in crop plants caused by a nitrogen deficiency or by weed competition. Using existing technologies, it is possible to detect differences in leaf surface temperatures based on high and low rates of applied nitrogen. A new algorithm was developed that significantly improved rapid detection of leaf temperature differences. Further refinement of this technology will enable better detection of leaf surface temperature differences in response to nutrient deficiencies or stress caused by weed competition. The results to date indicate clearly the potential to apply the concept of exergy to precision applications of nitrogen and herbicides.
2015-042016-12Assessment of Ontario's Capacity to use Precision Agri-food TechnologiesTyler WhaleThe agri-food industry is under intense pressure to grow more, manage risk and lower costs. As a result, there is a relentless search for operational efficiencies that can be gained through application of precision agri-food technologies (PATs). PATs can take many forms but broadly speaking they are technologies that utilize data to inform decisions in ways previously not possible. They result from unprecedented convergence between agricultural and food sciences, including genomics, on the one hand, and information technology, on the other hand. As a result of the rapid reduction in the cost of sensors, agriculture and food is now able to collect unprecedented quantities of data through environmental and phenotypic measurements often made in real-time. Agri-food enterprises and information technology companies will be working together to bring many innovative products and services to the agri-food value chain. Ontario has the potential to be a major player in this global market. To achieve its potential, the Ontario research and agri-food user communities need to be organized and driven to achieve. This application is the first vital step in a multi-year process to bring about systematic organization and collaboration that optimizes the use of resources to enable PATs to flourish in Ontario. This project aims to examine the task of compiling and connecting complex Big Data for the agri-food sector. It has been identified that there is a need to engage competent hardware/software/networking experts to assess and design of a database platform. The platform is a combination of the hard and soft infrastructure that will be needed and its connectivity to the potential users. The long term goal is to develop methods to manage data and support its function as a tool that can enable the users of the information to make better decisions. The optimal long term result would be to enable Ontario researchers, industry and government to have access to precision agri-food technology derived data from which they can create decision support tools that will benefit all parts of the agri-food system – input suppliers, farmers, packers/handlers, distributors/wholesalers, retailers/merchandisers and consumers. The primary benefit is expected to accrue to farmers, that is, the production level of the supply chain.
2016-042018-09OMAFRA Extension SupportJoanna FollingsTechnology is constantly changing in agriculture. Information gathering of current cereals research and extension outside of Ontario is the first step in technology transfer. Some general topics that will be under investigation are Fusarium monitoring; N recommendations for oats and barley; and production of malting barley. The dissemination of these topics will occur at various meetings and conferences throughout the year.
2013-032015-10Evaluation of a new innovative method of increasing soybean yields through inoculating seeds or emergent plants with seed-dwelling cytokinin producing MethylobacteriumNeil EmeryIn legumes and cereals, cytokinins have been shown to play a role in improving yield. It has been recently discovered that certain seed dwelling bacteria, part of a group of symbiotic bacteria beneficial to plants called endophytes, could play a significant role in the production of cytokinins in plants and their seeds. Methylobacterium is an endophyte. Methylobacterium have a rare characteristic of producing plant growth hormones called cytokinins. Cytokinins (CKs) are a vital class of plant growth hormones responsible for regulation of growth and development of reproductive organs through stimulating flowering, fruit set and seed filling. While plants are considered to be self-efficient producers of plant growth hormones, plant endophytes have been show to produce plant growth hormones and influence the hormonal balance of their hosts. To improve crop productivity and soybean yield through the manipulation of plant-associated microorganisms, it was important to identify effective strains of Methylobacterium. A diverse collection of Methylobacterium strains was analysed for CK production and the most active Methylobacteria were used for inoculating soybeans. The performance of the inoculated and control plants (not inoculated with Methylobacteria) was analysed on 3-week old seedlings in the greenhouse trials. The strain that enhanced plant performance most significantly was selected for use in field trials. Different techniques of bacterial treatments were tested to determine the most effective way of bacterial delivery to plants, including seed inoculation, soil application after planting, and spraying at early seed setting stage. To further validate the performance of Methylobacterium, trials included comparisons with commercially available rhizobial bioinoculants. The results pointed to a positive effect of Methylobacterium on soybean growth and the highest number of podded plants was observed for Methylobacterium-inoculated soybeans compared to the untreated controls and soybeans treated with existing commercial inoculants. The final outcomes of the project indicate good potential for the use of selectable, high performance Methylobacterium as a crop bioinoculant to improve yield and reduce fertilizer requirements.
2014-012018-03Chemical genomics to combat Fusarium and mitigate DON production in Fusarium graminearumRajagopal SubramaniamFusarium graminearum is an economically significant pathogen of cereal crops, such as wheat, barley, maize, oats and rye, that causes Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease. FHB is also accompanied by the accumulation of various mycotoxins that represent a serious health issue when present at high concentrations. Although fungicide treatments and improved agronomic practices can help to reduce the Fusarium problem in low to moderate infection years, epidemic prevention requires an integrated management approach. In Canada, there are only few active ingredients registered to suppress F. graminearum as a foliar or seed treatment in cereals. Chemical genetics can be used to develop and deploy new bio-pesticides that are both environmentally friendly and more importantly, specific to the pathogen to be controlled. Chemical genetics is based on the ability of small chemical compounds to bind to biological molecules and alter its function. We developed a high throughput screening strategy and have identified eight families of compounds that mitigated Fusarium growth and interfered with DON production. One compound Antofine, isolated from a plant species Vincetoxicum rossicum, showed in greenhouse studies approximately a 40% reduction in FHB symptoms on wheat heads when sprayed with Antofine prior to Fusarium infection. By using yeast as a model organism, we have also identified six target genes of Antofine in Fusarium. Since these genes are responsible for fungal growth, it will enable us to develop a designer cocktail suitable to combat FHB and other fungal-caused diseases and reduce mycotoxin contamination.
2015-052018-04Determination of a sugarcorn to ethanol and co-products value chainBrandon GilroyedThe current model for sustainable biofuel production is the sugarcane sucrose to ethanol industry in Brazil. Ontario farmers cannot grow sugarcane, but are adept at growing corn. Corn, like sugarcane, is a C4 grass, efficient in utilizing water, nutrients and CO2 to convert solar energy into sugar which is ultimately harvested as grain starch. This project proposes to evaluate the use of a new corn feedstock, termed sugarcorn, in biofuel and co-product applications. Sugarcorn are corn varieties yielding high sucrose concentrations in their stalks. Sugarcorn is being developed at AAFC to have high yields of sucrose in stalk juice. Sugarcorn also produces grain, and one of the objectives is to compare sugar yields when the crop is grown for grain or stalk juice. Stalk juice may offer potential advantages including ease of handling via pumping and reduced energy and enzymatic needs in preparation for fermentation to ethanol. Implementing usage of sugary corn in Ontario requires demonstration of crop and sugar yields, conversion processes and ultimately the yield; and determination of value of the final product and co-products. Sugarcorn is potentially an excellent feedstock for the Ontario ethanol industry. Because sucrose is directly fermentable by yeast, several of the expensive and energy-intensive pre-treatment processes associated with conventional grain ethanol can be eliminated. Four genotypes of sugarcorn grown in Ridgetown and in Ottawa were evaluated for production of sugar, height, total biomass, moisture content, and juice yield. Juice obtained from crushing corn stalks was analyzed for sugar composition and concentration, and then used as the carbon source for ethanol fermentation. Ensiled corn will be analyzed for feed properties and tested as a biogas production substrate. A final economic evaluation of sugarcorn will be conducted to determine the value of ethanol and co-products compared against production costs.
2015-042016-07Utilization of soy processing by-products in foodsAlphonsus Utioh & Lindsey BoydSoybeans are a major crop grown in Canada and are processed into a wide variety of foods such as oil, soy milk, flour, miso and soy sauce. Soybean oil processing produces a large amount of soy press cake as a by-product, which typically is sold as animal feed. Soy press cake is high in nutrients including protein, fibre, residual oil, and micronutrients which have been linked to health benefits. Some health benefits of soybeans include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Fermentation of soybeans has been found to reduce unpleasant flavours like beany and bitter, as well as increase digestibility. The activities and methods used in this project are designed using a systematic approach for developing and commercializing nutritious, tasty food products with potential health benefits. The aim of this research was to modify soy press cake using different pre-treatments, drying, milling and fractionation to create a high protein fraction that has improved physical and sensory attributes. The most desirable fractions obtained were then incorporated into a food application. The pre-treatments applied to the soy press cake included cold and hot water hydration, ethanol extraction, cooking and fermentation and then drum drying the slurry. The drum dried press cake was hammer milled and fractionated using different sieving equipment to try to concentrate the protein based on particle size. Particle size distribution, protein content, proximate composition and bio-active analyses were conducted. The protein content was not increased by any of the pre-treatments, except the ethanol extracted soy press cake due to the reduction in oil content. The protein content was 45% (dry basis) in the cooked and fermented fractions used for product development. The cooked and fermented soy press cake flours/fractions (149 µm) had better solubility and reduced beany and grassy flavours which created greater opportunities for product development. The cooked and fermented soy press cake flours were made into Asian and garlic flavoured soy hummus dip products, respectively. These products were developed as a dip mix single use package in which the consumer would add oil and water to create a hummus-like product. The products had a smooth mouth feel, pleasant flavour and a texture that facilitated a dipping action for crackers or vegetables. A prototype recipe, nutrition facts table, and a consumer recipe for blending the hummus were developed in this project.
2016-012018-12Intensive vs. Regular Management Performance Trials: Fungicide/Variety Interactions in Winter Wheat; Spring Wheat; Barley and OatEllen SparryThe Ontario Cereal Crop Committee (OCCC) conducts variety performance trials to determine the genetic potential and adaptation of cereal varieties in Ontario. Historically, cereal performance trials were conducted without the use of foliar fungicides. In 2015, the OCCC adopted the use of foliar fungicide as a standard practice to emulate farm conditions as many growers routinely use fungicides to achieve higher yields and better quality grains. Nevertheless, there continues to be a need for trials that assess variety performance both with foliar fungicide and without to assist all growers in selecting varieties best suited to their growing conditions and management practices. Plots will be rated for all agronomic and disease parameters normally part of the OCCC Protocol (available at www.gocereals.ca). Results will be reported in the public OCCC Performance Trials Report in a format allowing comparison of relative variety performance under each management system.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 9: "Canadian research consortium for next generation selection in soybean"François BelzileIn plant breeding, one of the key challenges is identifying the best progeny obtained in a cross. At advanced stages, the information derived from extensive field testing is of excellent quality and provides a good basis for selection. However, in earlier generations, breeders need to make decisions based on the appearance of a single plant. This provides for a very limited amount of information on which decisions to keep or discard a line must be based. It is at this step that we hypothesize that technology can provide a means to improve selection in the participating public soybean breeding programs. Recent technological advances in the areas of DNA sequencing and genotyping now make it possible to rapidly and cost-effectively examine tens of thousands of genetic markers in hundreds of individual plants. These technological advances create the opportunity to innovate radically in how marker information can be used in support of breeding efforts, such as genomic selection (GS). The premise behind GS is that, given sufficient marker information and a good model linking genetic information with actual agronomic performance, it is possible to predict the performance of a line simply based on its genetic makeup. We propose to test this hypothesis by carrying out GS in the three public breeding programs in three phases. In phase 1, we will build our model to predict yield based solely on the genetic makeup of an individual soybean line or cultivar using existing/new field trial and marker data from a total of 300-400 lines. In phase 2, we will use powerful genetic analysis tools to characterize the genetic makeup of 1,000 individual progeny plants from crosses. In phase 3, the progeny of selected plants will be tested in field trials to determine their actual performance and examine how the predicted performance based on our GS model compares with the observed performance under field conditions.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 12: "In vitro and genomic selection to increase yield and FHB tolerance in barley for eastern Canada"François BelzileFusarium head blight (FHB) is a devastating disease in barley and wheat, most commonly caused by Fusarium graminearum. This fungus produces a potent mycotoxin (deoxynivalenol or DON) that helps it infect its host. When present in grain, DON is highly toxic to humans and animals. In barley, one of the great impediments to breeding for increased resistance to this disease is the absence of known resistance genes capable of conferring a high degree of resistance or tolerance to the disease. Another challenge in breeding for this trait is that the empirical measurement of tolerance levels (in terms of DON content in grain) is extremely difficult and costly. An additional challenge is the number of individuals/lines is so great that any testing for FHB tolerance in inoculated nurseries can only be done on a limited scale and the results are highly impacted by environmental conditions and only yields a very approximate idea of a plant’s reaction. The purpose of this project is to explore two novel approaches for achieving improved tolerance to FHB in barley. A first strategy continues previous research on whether barley lines with a lower level of DON in infected grain also exhibit a higher tolerance to DON in tissue culture by using in vitro selection where barley microspores (immature pollen), used for producing doubled haploid (DH) lines, are challenged with DON. These barley plants will be planted in field trials to determine if they exhibit less DON upon infection. The second strategy is the use of genomic selection, i.e. the identification of superior progeny on the basis of their genetic makeup, through a statistical model that describes the relationship between the genetic makeup of a plant and its performance in terms of yield and other important agronomic attributes. These barley lines will be tested to compare the predicted performance with the actual performance observed in the field.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 2: "Improved corn genetics for the Canadian corn industry"Lana ReidProduction of corn in heat-limited environments of less than 2800 CHU is rapidly expanding as demand for grain corn increases and as corn is used increasingly for industrial and food purposes. Despite this, some producers can still find it difficult to make a substantial profit, especially in the early maturity zones, due to the lack of suitable early hybrids with acceptable early season cold tolerance and the need to artificially dry the grain after harvest often at considerable expense. In addition in all corn regions, there has been a significant increase in the severity and incidence of leaf diseases and Gibberella ear rot, caused by Fusarium graminearum is still a significant threat to the value chain due to associated mycotoxins. Although yields have increased in many regions, these yield boosts did so during a time when energy inputs were relatively inexpensive, which is something which is rapidly changing as costs continue to increase. This project is predominantly a long term breeding project with the goal of providing new elite inbred lines of corn. These inbreds will be used by the corn seed industry to produce new commercial hybrids or as a source of new genetics in their own breeding program. These inbreds will also be used by public and private researchers to further research discoveries in corn breeding, disease resistance and production. The project also develops new technologies, such as techniques for evaluation disease resistance and the discovery of molecular markers, which will be released to the corn industry for adoption. Emphasis is placed on developing inbreds and technologies for early maturity, cold tolerance, rapid kernel drydown, resistance to leaf, stalk and ear diseases, and development of new types of corn such as sugarcorn for biofuel and industrial uses.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 3; "Develop food quality soybean cultivars and germplasm with improved yield and pest resistance for domestic and export markets"Kangfu Yu & Lorna WoodrowCanada has established a global reputation to produce high quality soybeans for the food grade market. Today food grade soybeans represent 35-40% of total Canadian production and over $500 million in revenue. Exports to key markets in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe continue to grow. Other soybean producing nations, particularly the US, are aggressively seeking to increase market share of food-grade soybean exports to the Pacific Rim. Retention and expansion of Canadian market share in this value-added market will depend on producing and delivering superior food grade soybeans with the yields growers require to remain profitable and with the quality and nutrition processors and consumers desire. The project is focussed on developing high-yielding, pest-resistant, food-type soybean varieties for MG1.8 and later maturing areas in Ontario. Through conventional field selection, application of novel selection technologies, and screening of soybean plants for pest resistance in both field and lab. The essential criteria for food-type soybean are minimum 40% protein, large seed size (minimum 20g/100 seeds), and characteristics suited to the manufacture of soyfood products such as soymilk, tofu and miso. In addition to food-type characteristics, pest resistance is important in the development of food-type soybean varieties. Soybeans have been in continuous production in Southern Ontario for 100 years resulting in significant long-term pest pressure as well as the arrival and establishment of new invasive pests. Critical pests which reduce yield and quality in Southern Ontario are soybean cyst nematode (SCN), soybean aphid (SBA), sudden death syndrome (SDS) and phytophthora root rot (PRR). The project is developing novel SNP molecular markers for resistance to these pests to enhance selection efficiency.
2013-042018-03National Wheat Improvement Program Cluster; Activity 32; "Identification of expression QTLs (eQTLs) for Fusarium Head Blight resistance and susceptibility in wheat"Thérèse Ouellet Even though a majority of wheat breeding programs in Canada have deployed significant efforts towards improving resistance for Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) during the last 20 years, progress has been slow and FHB still remains a priority problem for the industry. The identification of genetic markers associated with resistance to FHB has accelerated the improvement of resistance to FHB by allowing breeding programs for spring and winter wheat to track genetic loci for quantitative traits (QTLs) contributing to that resistance. QTLs for resistance to FHB have been identified so far from field disease rating and deoxynivalenol (DON) accumulation data. However, the known QTLs for resistance to FHB in wheat capture only part of the resistance observed in the field. This project uses a different approach, called differential gene expression, to identify genetic markers associated with expression QTLs (eQTLs) that cannot be detected by conventional marker discovery work using field data. Our group at AAFC-ORDC, Ottawa, has developed a database of global gene expression profiles from FHB-susceptible and -resistant wheat varieties/breeding lines when infected by Fusarium graminearum. Comparative analysis of those expression profiles followed by experimental validation has led to the identification of genes contributing to either susceptibility or resistance to FHB. We propose to complement this work by using a high throughput sequencing technology (RNASeq) for comparative expression profiling on a double haploid population segregating for FHB resistance that is being mapped with the 90K wheat SNP chip in a separate project. This will allow us to validate the correlation to resistance or susceptibility for additional candidate genes and identify if they are associated with new or known QTL or new eQTLs identified from this and the mapping work. Genetic markers associated with QTLs/eQTLs for susceptibility or resistance to FHB will be tested on a panel of 120 spring wheat breeding lines and varieties from 6 Canadian spring wheat breeding programs, to identify material that carry the novel QTLs/eQTLs and provide breeders with additional options in their strategies to improve resistance to FHB.
2013-042018-03National Wheat Improvement Program Cluster; Activity 31; "Enhancing resistance to Fusarium head blight and stem rust in Ontario spring wheat germplasm"George FedakFusarium head blight is a ubiquitous disease of cereals in all temperate grain-growing regions of the world. Fusarium head blight (FHB) is the most serious disease of wheat worldwide. It reduces grain yields plus quality through the deposition of mycotoxins in the grain. Inheritance of resistance is complex and screening for resistance is confounded by environmental factors. Success in breeding for resistance has been slow and incremental, so additional resistance genes were sought in alien species. Five such new genes were bred through conventional breeding methods into wheat. The assignment of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers to the resistance genes will permit the use of marker assisted selection in deploying these genes in breeding programs. This project will develop molecular markers and use them to pyramid the target genes with other known resistance genes to produce germplasm with enhanced levels of FHB resistance for use in variety development. A screening of Ontario spring wheat germplasm with stem rust Ug99 races revealed no resistance at all. Fortunately, a number stem rust resistance (Sr) genes with resistance to Ug99 are available. These are being organized into pyramids of Sr genes combined with genes for leaf rust and Fusarium resistance. Pyramids of several Sr genes will provide for greater durability of the resistance. The first pyramids, consisting of Sr genes, combined with genes for resistance to leaf rust, loose smut and Fusarium have been produced. Many more combinations are in the pipeline. These efforts will produce germplasm with multiple disease resistance genes for wheat breeding programs in Ontario and elsewhere.
2014-032016-12Farm input price comparison between Ontario and nearby US statesKen McEwanCrop producers in Ontario must continually strive to be low cost producers in order to be competitive at the global level. The US is close in proximity and is a strong competitor to Ontario producers for the main field crops of corn, soybeans and wheat. OMAFRA crop budgets indicate that the four crop inputs of fertilizer, pesticides, fuel and seed represented 56% to 68% of total variable costs on crop farms in 2016. Therefore, producers in Ontario want to ensure that the prices they pay for farm inputs such as fertilizers, chemicals, fuel and seed are not priced higher than similar products in the US. Input costs for crop production are extremely volatile and market prices for the crops also vary widely. As a result, producers face a considerable amount of financial risk. Ontario producers often feel that U.S. producers are able to obtain products at lower prices and therefore have a competitive advantage by having a lower cost of production. Having detailed farm input price data will enable all Ontario grain and oilseed producers to make informed management decisions with respect to the purchasing of inputs. This project is to investigate the issue of farm input price differences between Ontario and the US. It is a continuation of previous work that started in 1993 to monitor and track trends in input prices between Ontario and nearby US locations. The information obtained from this project can assist Ontario producers in better understanding their costs relative to a major competitor. It gives them knowledge about where prices tend to be lowest and could enable them to actively seek out these products in order to remain cost competitive. The main objective is to collect and compare farm input prices in Ontario and nearby US states to monitor price changes and determine if differences exist between the two regions.
2013-122017-12Genome composition due to long-term selection by soybean breedersIstvan RajcanThe value of Canadian soybeans is over $1 billion annually. Soybean breeding in Canada began at the University of Guelph in the 1920’s. Since then, soybean production has enjoyed tremendous expansion throughout Canada, initially from mainly Ontario and now well into Quebec and western Canada. The continued improvement of soybean cultivars relies on sufficient genetic variation between parents to produce progeny variable for traits of interest upon which improvement can be made. As phenotypic variation is positively associated with genetic diversity, it is important for a soybean breeding program to maintain a sufficient level of genetic diversity for continued genetic gain resulting in development of commercial cultivars. In addition, developing soybean cultivars for niche markets has been an important objective for Canadian soybean breeders. Therefore, genetic diversity for yield and value-added traits, such as food grade quality or nutraceutical compounds, is essential. Recent advancements in genomic technologies provide unprecedented capabilities in investigating genome changes in soybean, especially for relevant traits. By applying genomic technologies to pedigrees of a breeding program, the specific changes in the soybean genome due to long-term breeder selection can be studied. By genotyping the members of a pedigree, changes in genetic diversity over generations of breeding activity can be characterized. In addition to the overall effects of selection, specific genomic changes known as "signatures of selection" can also be detected. The selection signatures appear to be frequent in genomic regions controlling traits of agronomic importance. An improved understanding of the factors involved in breeding for most important traits in soybean and development of genomics tools that will facilitate it will help to maintain Ontario soybean growers’ competitiveness by further enhancing genetic gains in yield and other important traits.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 5: "Short season soybean improvement"Elroy CoberSoybean is an important crop in Canada and is grown from Alberta to the Maritime Provinces. The short season areas in Canada are the areas of expansion for soybean. While the main crushing market for varieties is well served by private industry, the public sector still has an important role in providing specialty varieties. Since approximately one-third of the crop is exported to value-added international markets, specialty varieties have an important role in the soybean industry. In specialty soybean development, seed composition and end-use functionality are emphasized through traits such as protein level and quality, sugar composition, reduced cadmium content, water absorbing traits, steamed bean texture, and tofu quality, including texture. End-use function traits are critical for premium soyfood markets in Asia which are served by the identity preserved system, since each variety is evaluated for product function. However, diseases still constitute a great constraint to soybean production with the most economically important diseases in eastern Canada being soybean cyst nematode (SCN), white mold, root rots caused by Phytophthora, Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, and Phomopsis seed decay. Losses in yield to either disease can be >30% in an epidemical year. This project will deliver varieties adapted to the short season areas of Canada. While specialty traits and stress tolerance or resistance are important traits, these traits must be combined in a soybean variety package which is agronomically competitive. As a result it is important to yield test across a range of locations in short season areas of Canada to identify high yielding varieties. Protocols will be developed which will allow for efficient screening of end-use or seed composition traits in breeding lines. Protocols will also be developed to screen for root rot tolerance or resistance.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 8: "Very Short Season herbicide tolerant soybean varieties adapted to the Canadian Prairies"Elroy CoberSoybeans are grown from Alberta to the Maritime Provinces. The short season areas in Canada are the areas of expansion for soybean. Important new areas for soybean expansion are north and west in Manitoba, in south-east Saskatchewan, and in southern Alberta. These areas require adaptation to long days, and to stresses of a continental climate. Selection within these environments provides the best opportunity to develop adapted germplasm. Stresses for Western Canada will include low night temperatures during soybean flowering, which causes male sterility. Soybeans are photoperiod sensitive where long days delay flowering and maturity. As a result, individual soybean cultivars are limited to a narrow band of latitude and are not well adapted if they are moved very far north or south from their area of adaptation. A number of genes have been identified which control time to flowering and maturity. It is possible to accumulate early flowering alleles and develop very short season soybean. We believe that it is reasonable to expect that very short season soybean can be developed. This project fills a gap in soybean breeding since no public or private programs are making single plant, and progeny row selections so far north in Canada. This should allow for the development of more adapted very short season soybean varieties. The very early soybean project targets cultivar development for Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These adapted varieties then allow a realistic economic analysis for the role of soybean in cropping systems in Western Canada. Additionally, germplasm that is developed can be used as future parents as the soybean industry expands in the region. Since 90-95% of the Manitoba soybean crop is herbicide tolerant, we believe these production practices will be popular in the expanding soybean region, and that it is necessary to develop herbicide tolerant soybeans for the very short season areas of Western Canada. Experimental populations, lines, and ultimately released herbicide tolerant soybean cultivars targeted to the very short season areas of Canada will be developed. Molecular markers suitable for marker assisted selection targeted to maturity will be identified.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 6: "Breeding soybeans for adaptation to environment and emerging pests and concurrent development of molecular marker selection tools: Development of high yielding early maturity soybeans"Louise O'DonoughueIn many areas of Canada, particularly in Eastern and Northern Québec, Northern Ontario, Manitoba and the Maritimes, the agro-environmental conditions are suitable for soybean production. However, the expansion of the crop to these areas has been hindered by the development of suitable very-early soybean cultivars. The selection for early maturity is currently achieved through phenotypic selection, and this must be done after the plants are mature. Advances in sequencing and genotyping technologies have allowed us to characterize the status of any given line at the known E (Earliness) genes and develop markers for the selection of these genes. Also, it has led to the recent development of a new marker assisted selection strategy, called genomic selection, which uses information from genome-wide marker coverage to tackle complex traits such as yield. Given the negative relationship between yield and maturity, we believe that such a strategy may hold promise for the breeding of vey early maturity soybeans. The project aims at a rapid integration of new selection tools into practical breeding and consequently at more efficient breeding of very-early higher yielding soybean cultivars. The information generated on the status of maturity loci and the molecular marker tools developed through this project will be useful to breeders in all soybean growing regions of Canada. These tools will allow more targeted breeding for any given maturity region of Canada and a more rapid transfer of interesting characters from one maturity group to another. A better understanding of the genetic basis of maturity in soybean and the development of selection tools will also allow the breeders to respond more rapidly and efficiently to emerging issues such as new pests and abiotic stresses in the general context of climate change and help the breeders to produce resistant cultivars adapted to all existing and potential soybean growing regions of Canada.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 7: "Breeding soybeans for adaptation to environment and emerging pests and concurrent development of molecular marker selection tools: Development of soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistant early maturity soybeans"Louise O'DonoughueSoybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the most devastating pathogen of soybean worldwide. SCN is present in most soybean growing areas of Southern Ontario and has also recently been identified in Québec. The only effective method of control for SCN is the use of resistant cultivars combined with non-host crop rotations. Some resistant cultivars have been bred for southern regions of Ontario but very few such cultivars are available for earlier maturity regions. The same resistance source (PI 88788) has been used for over 90% of the resistant cultivars in North America and there has been a breakdown of resistance in several U.S. states and Ontario. There is an urgent need to identify new sources of resistance that will be effective against the SCN populations that are present in Ontario and Québec. The project brings together expertise in nematology and plant breeding The project will ensure that soybean SCN research targets the development of resistant varieties adapted to Canada and that soybean production in Canada remains competitive despite the presence of this very serious pest.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 4: "Genetic improvement of soybeans for yield; disease resistance; and value-added seed components"Istvan RajcanThe world’s demand for soybean continues to increase on an annual basis. Many countries in the world are not self-sufficient in their soybean production and import significant amounts of soybeans to meet the high demand of their increasing populations. Similarly, most European countries import soybean from overseas as conventional, non-GM soybean for food use. Canadian soybeans are highly valued as a result of years of breeding effort, quality assurance and identity preserved production. Due to the narrow genetic base of North American soybean, it is imperative to increase the genetic variation to maintain the benefits from plant breeding enjoyed by the Canadian soybean growers by developing new high yielding soybean cultivars. Over the past 10 years, the University of Guelph’s soybean breeding program has been collaborating with several public institutions in China to identify and use new genes and alleles as sources of genetic variation for developing high yielding, high seed quality and disease resistant cultivars. The University of Guelph’s soybean breeding program is one of the oldest soybean programs in Canada. Guelph is the only public soybean breeding program in Canada that covers the whole range of maturities grown in Canada and Guelph-developed varieties are grown in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and PEI. The main emphasis of the breeding program is to provide high yielding, disease and pest resistant food-grade and oilseed varieties. Guelph has been a world leader in developing fatty acid modifications that provide healthier and more stable oil and bioproduct opportunities for industrial purposes such as automotive industry. Food grade traits have also been a focus of the program with new varieties being developed for the tofu and miso industry. We have been working on nutraceutical traits to improve the quality of Canadian soybeans for traits relating to isoflavone, vitamin E and saponins.
2013-042018-03National Wheat Improvement Program Cluster; Activity 5; "Development of improved spring wheat cultivars with enhanced disease and pest resistance; higher nutritional benefits; and better market appeal and grain quality for eastern and central Canada"Shahrokh KhanizadehWhile most of the Canadian production of hard red and white spring wheat is in the Prairie provinces, the most important domestic market of well over a million tonnes is in eastern Canada. The milling, processing, and baking industry is centered around the Great Lakes and along the St. Lawrence River, and has undergone an unprecedented expansion into value-added processing in recent years to supply the huge market on both sides of the Canada-US border. However, growers in eastern Canada have been able to supply only a fraction of this large market on their doorstep, due to generally low yields, low quality, and especially infection by Fusarium graminearum, the fungus causing Fusarium head blight (FHB). FHB is the most important disease of hard spring wheat because it affects not only grain yield but also grain quality and food safety through mycotoxins that render the grain suitable only for feed, or blending. Resistance to the fungus causing FHB has not been detected in any wheat variety. Levels of the major mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) that results from FHB are a good indicator of the degree of infection and are therefore used as a screening tool for resistance. This challenge presents exciting new opportunities for plant scientists to combine the highest possible levels of resistance with excellent milling and baking quality. This project builds on the results obtained from a previous research project, which indicated an opportunity to create new disease resistant spring wheat varieties in order to increase profitability including value-added products and quality enhancements at the processing level and with lower production costs. The project is composed of three main parts: 1) breeding and selection including the use of markers, evaluation of advanced lines nationally, 2) disease evaluation and 3) grain quality evaluation. The proposed team is a group of well-known researchers, expert in breeding, genetic, use of markers, disease evaluation and quality analysis and effectively complement each other from crossing to variety release.
2013-042018-03National Wheat Improvement Program Cluster; Activity 51; "Breeding Eastern Canadian winter wheat for resistance to biotic and tolerance to abiotic stresses"Lily Tamburic-IlincicWinter wheat is an important crop in Eastern Canada. Increased yield and better quality of wheat can be achieved by the improvement of resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The most important winter wheat disease in Ontario is Fusarium head blight (FHB) caused by a fungus Fusarium graminearum. Good correlation between FHB visual symptoms and deoxynivalenol (DON) is reported in some studies but poor correlation in other studies. Higher correlation is reported between Fusarium damaged kernels (FDK) and DON level. In this project, mapping populations from two crosses between a FHB resistant parent and a FHB susceptible parent were used and they were phenotyped for FHB severity and FGB incidence across different environments. In addition, these mapping populations will be used to identify QTLs for FHB index, FDK level and DON accumulation using high-density SNP arrays. A shift in the presence of two Fusarium graminearum (FG) chemotypes, 15-ADON and 3-ADON, have been reported in North America. We have been monitoring FG populations across Ontario, because the shift may influence current FHB management strategies. Combining resistance to multiple diseases and tolerance to abiotic stresses such as winter hardiness, lodging resistance, the length of the grain-fill period and resistance to pre-harvest sprouting in a single cultivar is difficult. In this project, we evaluated green leaf duration across four environments in a double haploid (DH) soft red winter wheat population using green seeker. In addition to resistance to different stresses, agronomic and quality characteristics need to be incorporated into registered winter wheat in Canada.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 13: "In vitro and in vivo amino acid digestibility of selected soybean; oat; and wheat varieties to identify targets with high protein quality and digestibility for future variety development"Lamia L'HocineProteins are part of a balanced diet to promote health and provide all essential amino acids to achieve desired bodily functions. Protein quality is affected by the presence of anti-nutritional factors such as trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid and tannins. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has recently released a new revised protein quality measure for human health called the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS), which is used to assess the nutritional value of a protein by its contribution to amino acid and nitrogen requirements and the amounts of amino acids absorbed by the body. As plant proteins have lower digestibility than animal proteins, this could dramatically change their protein quality rating. Thus detailed assessment of the impact of varietal differences on protein quality and digestibility of Canadian soybean, oat, and wheat using the revised recommendations is warranted in order to inform future varietal development work. This project will allow high protein quality varieties to be identified for developmental research, with a positive impact on Canadian producers and processors. One of the objectives of this project is to assess the effect of varietal differences of Canadian soybean, oat, and wheat on protein quality and digestibility. Canadian varieties were selected and acquired from breeders. They included cultivars with high and low protein content. A Gene (G) x Environment (E) effect (variety x location) was also considered in the case of oat. In the first stage of this project, the nutritional quality of the selected soybean, oat, and wheat varieties was assessed on the basis of amino acid composition, the digestibility using an in vitro static method, and the calculation of the new DIAAS. In the second stage, selected varieties will be also subjected to in vitro semi dynamic and in vivo protein and an ileal AA digestibility tests. Raw and cooked flours (to simulate processed real-life samples) from the selected varieties will be analysed to assess the impact of processing (thermal treatment) on protein and amino acid digestibility. Their prebiotic and bioactive potential will be also evaluated.
2013-042018-03National Wheat Improvement Program Cluster; Activity 12: "Hard red winter wheat breeding for eastern Canada"Gavin HumphreysWinter wheat forms the basis for significant domestic processing and manufacturing of many value-added products. Most of the food processing capacity for wheat utilization in Canada is in Ontario and Quebec; there are also millers in the Maritimes that have been sourcing Maritime- grown hard wheat for years. Hard red winter wheat is used in a wide variety of bread and noodle products. Because large quantities of the hard red wheat are used in eastern Canadian domestic food industry are sourced from western Canada, the hard red winter wheat class is the winter type with the greatest opportunity for expanded production in Eastern Canada. Areas of eastern Canada with longer, cooler growing seasons such as Atlantic Canada, Quebec and eastern and northern Ontario require varieties of winter wheat with high degree of winter survival. Screening for improved disease resistance/tolerance is an activity that occurs in parallel with end-use quality improvement that ensures successful development of adapted varieties. The ultimate goal of the Activity is the delivery of improved high yielding winter wheat cultivars with superior winter hardiness and bread making characteristics, which will be “pulled” through the market by both producers and the processing industry. The hard red winter wheat class for bread applications has the most promising prospect for expanded production in Eastern Canada and it is also the winter type that is in demand in all three eastern Canadian regions covered by this Activity. While milling wheat will be the primary quality goal, high yielding winter hardy lines will not be discarded as they will fill a niche opportunity in potato rotations (and other cropping systems) providing nutrient management, water quality and soil erosion risk mitigation.
2014-062017-05Aptamer development for mycotoxin detection in grainsRichard Manderville Mycotoxins are a major health threat to humans and animals and cause substantial economic losses. Aptamers are single stranded DNA or RNA that bind targets with high affinity/specificity and are attractive for developing low-cost, robust sensors for mycotoxin detection. Compared to antibody-based technologies for mycotoxin detection, aptamers are much cheaper to manufacture, are more stable, and can be re-used repeatedly. However, antibodies are comprised of proteins, and have twenty amino acid building blocks, which provide great chemical diversity and specificity for its target; while DNA aptamers have only four building blocks called bases, which limits chemical diversity and specificity for its target. The DNA bases also lack diagnostic features that can be used for detection of target binding. Despite these limitations in DNA bases, DNA aptamers have been used commercially to detect mycotoxins, such as ochratoxin A (OTA) and aflatoxin B1. A goal of our research is to generate modified DNA bases that can provide a unique florescent signal when the aptamer binds the mycotoxin. Fluorescent aptamers (aptasensors) have been shown to be effective for rapid testing for mycotoxins and show great promise for use commercially in a variety of detection platforms. The Manderville laboratory has synthesized fluorescent DNA bases that can be readily incorporated into DNA aptamers. These bases can be manipulated to provide a fluorescent signal when the mycotoxin binds to the aptasensor and can be used to determine the binding site of the mycotoxin. The change in florescence intensity of the fluorescent probe within the aptamer can be used to detect the amount of mycotoxin in a given sample. Efforts will focus on optimizing aptasensors that bind to OTA and aflatoxin B1 for detection in the field. The modified DNA bases will then serve as new tools for aptasensor development for a wider range of mycotoxins that contaminate grain products.
2013-052017-03Wheat Breeder - University of GuelphAlireza Navabi The University of Guelph Wheat Breeding Program was established in 2014 through a three-way public-private partnership involving the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) of the University of Guelph, the Grain Farmers of Ontario, and SeCan. The partnership resulted in the establishment of a new research chair position in the Department of Plant Agriculture, titled the “Grain Farmers of Ontario Professorship in Wheat Breeding”. The program has since maintained its focus on three core objectives: 1) developing novel wheat and barley varieties with improved agronomics adapted to southwestern Ontario, 2) understanding the genetics and genomics of important wheat characteristics, and 3) training of highly qualified personnel. Within the first 5 years since the establishment of professorship, the program has targeted the development of a new dynamic OAC breeding gene-pool of wheat, in which recombination of improved agronomic and quality characteristics is enhanced through introduction of new genetic diversity, crossing, and selection, and from which new wheat varieties can be extracted on a regular basis. The program has also initiated a number of genetics and genomics research to better understand the inheritance of adaption-related traits such as response to temperature, photoperiod, diseases, drought and nutrient availability. These studies are also expected to result in developing new plant breeding tools and strategies that can improve the rate of genetic gain in wheat breeding. It is envisioned that the program will also provide a dynamic learning environment for training of highly qualified personnel in different academic levels ranging from under-graduate students to post-doctoral researchers.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 11: "Barley Genetics"Thin Meiw (Alek) ChooBarley is a major crop in Eastern Canada. Barley provides a good source of energy for livestock and raw material for malting industries, while barley straw is in demand by livestock producers for animal bedding. Fusarium head blight (FHB) is the most destructive disease of barley in Eastern Canada. Once infected, the fungi can produce multiple mycotoxins, including deoxynivalenol (DON), which are harmful to human and animal health. Malting and brewing companies refuse to purchase barley contaminated with over 1 ppm of DON. DON contamination occurs frequently in Eastern Canada; therefore, high-yielding and FHB-resistant barley cultivars are urgently needed for Eastern Canada, particularly in six-row barley. Selection for FHB-resistance in an artificially inoculated FHB nursery is expensive and labour intensive. Each sample needs to be ground into flour and the flour to be subjected to an ELISA antibody assay to determine its DON level. The project aims to identify morphological, biochemical, and molecular markers that are associated with resistance to DON accumulation for use in marker-assisted selection for FHB resistance and to develop NIR technique for screening breeding lines for low DON to reduce cost and labour requirements. We plan to develop barley lines based on their content and physiochemical properties of beta-glucans. Since 2013, we have released three six-row covered cultivars (AAC Mirabel, AAC Montrose, and AAC Vitality), one two-row covered cultivar (AAC Purpose), and one two-row hulless cultivar (AAC Starbuck). These new cultivars yielded well in Eastern Canada. AAC Starbuck contained low DON in response to FHB infection. Many breeding lines have been evaluated for resistance to DON accumulation under artificial inoculation conditions at Ottawa and Charlottetown. Some have shown low level of DON and further evaluation is in progress. Barley lines with high levels of beta-glucans (>8%) have also been identified and they are now being tested for field performance across Eastern Canada.
2013-042018-03Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster; Activity 10: "Oat Genetic Improvement"Weikai YanOat is an important crop as human food, animal feed (grown alone or in mixture with barley), and a cover crop after winter wheat harvest in eastern Canada. Oat breeding and related research in eastern Canada is primarily driven by the oat milling industry, which sells oat products as healthy food, which requires the oat products to have 4.0% beta-glucan and 7.5% of fat. Eastern Canada consists of two distinct oat mega-environments or subregions: regions south of Ottawa (the South) and that north of it (the North). The challenges for achieving high yield for the North are dominated by abiotic stresses such as drought, poor soil fertility/soil nutrition profile, etc., while those for the South are dominated by biotic stresses, particularly crown rust. To combine desired levels of grain yield, milling quality, beta-glucan content, and oil content is always the greatest and common challenge for both subregions. This project consists of two main aspects: oat variety development and supportive basic research. Variety development of high-yielding milling oat varieties that meet the quality specifications of the oat millers for eastern Canada includes identifying parents, making crosses between parents with complementary trait profiles, generation advancement, field visual selection, crown rust screening, in-door grain quality and nutritional quality screening, and multi-location tests. Improved variety trial data analysis methods are important by-products of this work. Supporting research includes researches in oat genomics/bioinformatics, crown rust pathology, and agronomic management. Such researches may lead to new knowledge, information, or tools that can be used to solve some problems that conventional breeding cannot and/or to improve oat breeding efficiency immediately or in the near future.
2014-042017-10Rooting traits affecting drought toleranceHugh EarlWhile increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are likely to have a direct positive effect on soybean productivity, other aspects of climate change (increased air temperatures; possible increased frequency of extreme climate events including drought) are expected to be detrimental to yield potential. Even in the absence of climate change effects, year-to-year fluctuations in growing season precipitation are already a major challenge. Recent Grain Farmers of Ontario-funded research has shown that even in unusually wet years, soybean yields in Ontario are reduced by transient soil water deficits, especially during the latter part of the season; in drier years yield losses can exceed 25%. In order to deal proactively with future yield limitations associated with soil water deficits, improving drought tolerance is a major focus of most soybean variety development programs. Such efforts have been hampered by a lack of knowledge about the specific plant traits that would benefit soybean under realistic water stress scenarios (i.e., the timing, intensity and duration of water stress that actually limits yields under Ontario field conditions). In this project we will identify specific plant traits that will protect yield potential of soybean crops that encounter water stress, and screen available Ontario-adapted germplasm for variation in those traits. The phenotyping system we are developing is novel, in that it provides for realistic rooting depths in mineral soil, and emulates soil water profiles that occur in the field – characteristics that are necessary for identifying root function phenotypes, and for creating realistic field-like soil water deficit events. We will provide these phenotyping tools to soybean breeders to be used in genetic selection, gene discovery, and testing of putatively drought tolerant transgenic lines. Improvement of soybean drought tolerance will help mitigate yield losses associated with long-term climate change as well as current year-to-year variation in precipitation.
2014-042017-10Precision agriculture advancement for OntarioMike Duncan; Ian McDonald; Nicole Rabe & Ben RosserGPS-enabled farm technology offers the opportunity to divide a farm field into multiple geographically separate areas, each defined by different management practices. The ultimate value of adopting precision agriculture technologies is producer empowerment. This includes finer control of their business, the ability to spatially control inputs by matching inputs to yield potential across the field. This is done with management zones, and it challenges the current 'blanket application’ of inputs that many farm operations still use. Managing crop inputs site-specifically allows them to be used with optimal efficiency; for instance, it could allow for inputs to be applied in a manner that takes into account landscape limitations, such as topographic location, and soil texture within each field. Precision application of crop inputs is possible at this time; however, the tools to define defendable management zones, and validate decisions are not currently robust. The overall purpose of the project is to validate protocols that define management zones within farm fields, and the prescription maps produced by management zones through on-farm research. The project will include at least 10 farmers and 20 fields that have the appropriate GPS-enabled infrastructure, approximately 3 years of calibrated yield maps and associated data, and will provide it as the base data layers for their fields. Through field assessment, data mining, algorithm development and equipment deployment, this project will test the geospatial management theories developed by the partners involved in the project. The Crop Portal will act as the central data repository and will provide access to both data and developed tools. The Crop Portal also has educational value by providing transparent mathematics as a teaching tool for the Ontario grain farmer audience. The research approach is to use data layers to delineate management zones with the best possible resolution, and these will be compared with base data, management zone theories, and identified trends. The farm consultant partners in the project will work with each producer to provide a data-based perspective of their fields, exploit the characteristics of their fields, and use the data in order to create an acceptable (within the project scope) definition of management zones and protocols for field inputs. Annual observations, rigorous field testing and monitoring will assess the viability and validity of the management zone definitions.
2015-042017-10Reproductive biology and overwintering success of the Western Bean CutwormJeremy McNeilWestern bean cutworm (WBC; Striacosta albicosta) is an important agricultural pest of corn and edible dry beans. Historically the WBC has been limited to the western part of North America. However, in the last decade it has expanded its range and is now found in the Great Lakes region each summer. The sex pheromone had been identified and pheromone traps have been used as a monitoring tool. However, it was noted that trap catch data provide a very poor indicator of subsequent damage in either beans or corn. WBC injury has also been shown to increase incidence of fungal diseases in corn ears. Better management of the pest will not only reduce direct losses due to herbivory but reduce the potential for mycotoxins in the grain, particularly deoxynivalenol (DON). This project investigates the gaps in understanding of reproductive and overwintering biology of WBC that should help explain the increased densities of this insect in Ontario. The objective of this study is twofold. First, to determine if that both male and female moths produce a long distance sex pheromone. We will run traps baited with randomly chosen males and females from a light trap at Bothwell. And sSecond, to examine the overwintering biology/physiology of western bean cutworm prepupae. We established a major field plot with 90 cages (about 1m in depth), some with probes at different depths so that we can monitor seasonal changes in temperature. This information will provide a data base for future models predicting year to year changes in the population density of local populations. The studies on prepupal mortality, together with our earlier results on cold hardiness, will provide a solid basis for the development of a model to predict the effect of abiotic conditions on the overwintering survival for different areas where the WBC is found. This will be an integral to the development of a sound management strategy forof this species, and allow for improved adherence to OMAFRA recommendations regarding action thresholds and use of integrated pest management strategies.
2016-042018-09OMAFRA Extension SupportBen RosserThis project is dedicated to improvements in Agricultural Extension and is focussed on three main areas: Improved Information Gathering, Enhanced Extension Efforts, and Breaking Issue Support. Initiatives that will be supported with the Breaking Issue Support include soil nitrate survey, the vomitoxin survey, etc.
2015-042017-10Nitrogen monitoring for higher yields and greater nitrogen use efficiencyBen RosserNitrogen (N) remains a key input in corn and cereal production but determining the rate required remains an elusive target. Weather is a dominant force impacting nitrogen use efficiency in Ontario agriculture. When weather and nitrate supply from the soil are not factored in to N recommendations the risk goes up considerably that N may be over applied and move in to the environment or it will be under applied and put producer’s economic sustainability at risk. It has become clear as a result of previous research that general recommendations that have no weather or soil N status adjustment are limited in predicting correct N rates beyond “the average”. As farmers move to more in-crop nitrogen fertilization strategies (i.e. side-dressing, high clearance injection tool bars, Y-Drops, etc.) the influence of weather on soil nitrogen status and potential crop demand for nitrogen will become more significant factors in attempting to predict the correct N rate. It is imperative that Ontario has a network of sites that can evaluate how weather data, crop and soil factors and recommendation tools can fit together to improve yields and environmental sustainability. It is increasingly apparent that as weather fluctuations become more severe from season to season, recommendation tools will almost certainly need some real time weather or soil N status data to make accurate recommendations. The project is focused on addressing climate change challenges (precipitation and temperature) and how they impact decisions on nitrogen application rate for high yielding corn, and nitrogen availability throughout the season. The project also addresses the challenge of improving nutrient stewardship in Ontario, applying the right rate of nitrogen at the right time, through development of new tools and recommendations. The project will improve the farmers’ responsiveness to weather events, to reduce environmental risks that can impact the sector or society at large. Yield expectation combined with soil nitrate status work together to produce a much more reliable N recommendation for the side-dress application.
2012-042015-03Red clover non-uniformity: field assessment of drought tolerant red clover, delayed seeding strategies and spatial nitrogen applicationRalph C. MartinThe benefits of uniform stands of red clover in a rotation are well established. Nitrogen fertilizer reductions, crop yield increases of crops immediately following red clover and also subsequent crops in the rotation, soil quality improvements and soil carbon increases have been well documented. There has been resurgence in the use of red clover. Although red clover overseeded to winter wheat has increased, there is an ongoing problem of non-uniformity of red clover stands. When farmers are confronted with non-uniform stands, they may respond by applying nitrogen without any consideration of red clover nitrogen contributions. This is a serious environmental concern, because it results in high nitrogen, high carbon zones in the field where red clover did establish, thus leading to increased risk of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Previous research has identified a number of factors that contribute to non-uniformity and strategies to improve probability of uniformity; however, drought related factors, which cannot be managed, were suggested as primary causes of non-uniformity. This project investigated the role of water stress as a contributing factor to non-uniformity in red clover and evaluated a system to reduce the risk of N2O emissions in corn. Lower than average precipitation in the red clover growing season negatively affects average red clover biomass and stand densities, and it increases the degree of non-uniformity in red clover biomass and stand densities. At locations with the most uniform stands of red clover, variation in red clover biomass was linked more to variation in moisture than to variation in stand densities. We evaluated several machine learning classifiers for generating full-field red clover maps given an aerial mosaic image and sparse ground truth data. The system distinguished between red clover ground cover and ground cover of volunteer winter wheat, oil seed radish and bare soil. The accurate and robust system represents a tool that could be used by commercial producers for variable rate applications of nitrogen to corn following non-uniform stands of red clover to reduce the risk of N2O emissions.
2015-042018-03Usefulness of the Haney soil health test for Ontario grain farmersLaura L. Van EerdHealthy soil is critical to crop productivity, resiliency and ultimately profitability of Ontario’s farmers. There is no recognized soil health test and there is much debate as to the “best” soil health indicator. Dr. Rick Haney at the USDA Agricultural Research Services has developed a new soil health test that is been evaluated for use in the USA. The Haney soil health test evaluates chemical and biological indicators and was developed in Texas under grassland conditions. Although Haney soil health test has been assessed elsewhere in the USA, the interpretation of the results is difficult due to the lack of direct comparisons of cropping systems. That is, you don’t know if the results are different because of crop management or because they sampled different fields to begin with. This test may be attractive to Ontario farmers as it is relatively cheap and commercially available. But the validity and applicability Haney soil health test to detect meaningful differences in soil health in Ontario within diverse cropping systems is not known. This project will evaluate the Haney soil health test, using the two most applicable field crop long-term experiments in Ontario at Ridgetown and Elora. These long-term experiments compare two tillage systems (no-till and strip tillage) to conventional fall moldboard plow tillage and 5 to 8 crop rotations (crops include corn, soybean, winter wheat, alfalfa, red clover, spring cereals). Furthermore, the long-term P and K experiments established in 2008 at Ridgetown, Elora, and Bornholm will be used to evaluate the recommended P fertilizer applications provided by the Haney soil test. Understanding the role of management practices (tillage, crop rotation, cover crops, fertilizers) on soil health and having tools to measure soil health will benefit growers by maintaining crop productivity, improving resiliency and economic viability.
2014-022017-03Long term cover crop research: Maintaining and monitoring soil healthLaura L. Van EerdProductive soil is critical to enhancing the long term profitability of agriculture. Cover crops may play an important role in maintaining soil health, which is critical for crop productivity and profitability. However, typically cover crop research has focused on planting the cover crop in the fall and studying effects in the following growing season. Although this approach is valid for first time cover crop users, to have meaningful effects on soil quality, long-term studies are needed. Moreover, changes to soil quality are often the result of long-term management practices (i.e. it takes a long time to detect meaningful changes in most soil quality parameters). Therefore, to gain a true picture of the impact of cover crops on soil quality, long-term trials are needed. However, permanent, long-term trials comparing various cover crops are quite rare with the exception of two trials at Ridgetown Campus established in 2007 and 2008. These trials are ideal for evaluating best management practices of cover cropping and potential influences on soil health. The overall goal of project is to assess the impact of various cover crops to a no cover crop control in terms of 1) yearly and long-term (5+ year) delta yield and profit margins, 2) nitrogen dynamics, and 3) soil quality. This project will use a novel ‘soil fingerprinting’ framework, recently developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers to monitor changes in soil quality as impacted by cover crops. Another component of the research is to evaluate the ability of cover crops to minimize the potential negative impact of corn stover or wheat straw removal on crop yields and soil productivity. Specific deliverables include providing best management practices for nitrogen management and stover/straw removal. Not only will the proposed research provide a solid understanding of how overall soil health influences soil processes and resiliency, it will assess the impacts (benefits and risks) of long-term cover cropping, which has a benefit to 1) growers by valuing crop yields and profit margins, 2) general public by increasing crop stability and resiliency and 3) environment by minimizing erosion, nutrient loss and carbon sequestration.
2012-032015-02Tolerance of Roundup Ready corn to a tankmix of Roundup plus MCPA for the control of field horsetailPeter SikkemaField horsetail (Equisetum arvense L.) is a competitive weed that is found in various regions of Canada. Field horsetail was historically found in undisturbed areas such as meadows, river banks, fencerows and; however, in recent years has moved into fertile grain fields as it has adapted to current agronomic practices. Field horsetail can grow to a height of 80 cm but is normally around 30 to 40 cm tall. Significant yield losses have been reported in corn with heavy field horsetail stands that can reach densities of 400 shoots per meter. Field horsetail due to its extensive and deep rhizomes cannot be adequately controlled with annual tillage as these practices only cut off the top growth. For each individual grower that has field horsetail in one or more fields, its presence can result in dramatic yield and monetary losses if cost-effective control measures are not identified. Ultim (group 2; nicosulfuron/rimsulfuron), Broadstrike RC (group 2; flumetsulam) and MCPA amine are postemergence (POST) applied registered herbicides in field corn that may have potential to control field horsetail applied alone or in combination. This study investigated increasing doses of MCPA post-emergence at the V2 (4-leaf) and V6 (8-leaf) stages of corn. MCPA amine is a desirable compliment to the current weed management programs in glyphosate-resistant maize. There is little information on the sensitivity of glyphosate-resistant maize to glyphosate plus MCPA amine applied POST at various doses and application timings under Ontario environmental conditions. Determining the appropriate MCPA amine dose and application timing will help maize growers avoid crop injury and associated yield loss and provide an additional option for control of troublesome, glyphosate tolerant weeds such as field horsetail. The results indicate that the tolerance of corn to MCPA is application timing dependent and that corn is far more sensitive to MCPA as application timing is delayed and as the rate of MCPA is increased. MCPA applied postemergence provided 66% control of field horsetail in corn, while Broadstrike applied post-emergence provided 50% control. The application of either of these herbicides alone did not provide acceptable control of field horsetail. In contrast, the tankmix of MCPA plus Broadstrike applied post-emergence provided 83% control of field horsetail in corn.
2015-042017-10Management of glyphosate resistant and new, invading weeds in OntarioPeter SikkemaOne of the greatest challenges facing Ontario farmers is the control of glyphosate resistant (GR) and the control new, invasive weeds for which there is little or no efficacy data for registered herbicides. These new weeds are a result of: a) the widespread adoption of Roundup Ready crops and the associated dramatic increase in the use of glyphosate for weed control, b) the increased adoption of no-till production systems and therefore the increased use of glyphosate as a burndown, b) reduced use of herbicides with an alternate mode-of-action, and d) greater movement of farm machinery and produce which facilitates the rapid movement of weeds. There are five GR weed species in Canada: giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) [Ontario], Canada fleabane (Conyza canadensis) [Ontario], common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) [Ontario], kochia (Kochia scoparia ) [Alberta and Saskatchewan], and waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) [Ontario]. In studies conducted on Ontario farms yield losses in soybean due to Canada fleabane, giant ragweed and common ragweed competition was as high as 99, 96 and 92%, respectively. This research, and the corresponding knowledge transfer, will increase the awareness of glyphosate resistant and invading weeds problem for Ontario farmers. This research program will strive to develop cost effective control strategies for producers who have these weed biotypes on their farms and will help reduce the spread of glyphosate resistant and invading weeds in Ontario. Glyphosate resistant (GR) common ragweed has been confirmed in Essex county. In soybean, the most effective soil applied herbicides are Sencor (87%) and Lorox (85%), and the most effective post-emergence (POST) herbicide is Reflex (75%). GR waterhemp has been confirmed in Essex, Kent and Lambton Counties. Of great concern is that 3-way multiple resistance to Group 2, 5 and 9 has been found on Essex and Lambton counties. In soybean, based on one year’s results, the most effective preemergence (PRE) herbicides are Fierce (97%), Focus (96%) and Authority Supreme (91%). GR giant ragweed has been confirmed in Essex, Kent, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex and Huron counties. In soybean, the best control is provided by a preplant application of Roundup + 2,4-D. In corn, Marksman (88%) were the best herbicide applied POST. In winter wheat GR giant ragweed can be controlled with MCPA (89%), Trophy (92%), 2,4-D (94%) or Estaprop (93%). GR Canada fleabane has been confirmed in 28 counties in Ontario from Essex county in the southwest to Glengarry county on the Quebec border. Of great concern is that in 22 counties there is multiple 2-way resistance to Group 2 and 9. This makes control in soybean very difficult. In corn, GR Canada fleabane can be controlled with a PP application of Banvel, Marksman, Callisto + atrazine or Integrity which all provide greater that 90% control. Banvel, Distinct, Marksman or Pardner + atrazine applied POST provided greater than 90% control in corn. In soybean a three-way mix of Roundup + Eragon + Sencor provides greater than 90% control. The herbicide of choice in winter wheat is Infinity (92% control).
2014-032017-10Weed management issues in corn, soybean and wheat in OntarioPeter SikkemaWeed control is the single most important aspect of pest management in corn. Seventy-one studies conducted in Ontario over a nine year period found a 102 bu/ac or 49% yield loss in corn where no weed management tactics were implemented. Every year there are new issues to address in respect to weed management in corn, soybean and wheat in Ontario. These issues arise as a result of a) changes in nutrient deficiencies due to changes in crop production systems, b) new herbicide resistance traits (e.g. Roundup Ready Xtend, Enlist), c) new tankmixes of herbicides plus fungicides plus micronutrients, and d) new crop production systems including cover crops. Ontario growers and crop consultants are demanding local data to determine the main reasons for the extreme variability in corn responses with the addition of a tankmix of fungicide plus glyphosate. With the recent registration of Roundup Ready Xtend soybean, local data is needed to determine if the addition of Xtendimax to Group 1 herbicides antagonizes volunteer corn control. Winter wheat producers are interested in minimizing the number of trips across the field with their sprayers, especially to reduce tramping; some growers have combined their herbicide, fungicide and foliar fertilizer with mixed results. One aspect of cover crops that needs further research is the effect of residual herbicides in soybean and wheat on the emergence and growth of oilseed radish. This project aims to provide Ontario grain growers with additional information on how to manage their crops that result in excellent weed and disease control, minimal crop injury and allow for the successful establishment of cover crops. In corn there will be experiments conducted to determine on the effect of fungicide plus Roundup, and the tolerance of corn to Group 1 herbicides. Six field studies will be conducted to determine if the addition of Xtendimax (dicamba) in RR2 Xtend soybean antagonizes the control of volunteer corn with Assure or Select. Twelve field experiments will be conducted to determine the effect of herbicide (Buctril M, Refine M, Infinity or Estaprop), fungicide (Quilt, Stratego or Twinline) and/or ammonium thiosulfate applied alone or in combination on winter wheat. Twelve field experiments will be conducted to determine the effect of herbicides in soybean and wheat on cover crop establishment. Two field studies will be conducted to determine the establishment of annual ryegrass in corn.
2012-032015-02Effect of herbicide-fungicide tankmixes on winter wheat injury and yield 2012-2015Peter SikkemaWeed control and disease management are two management considerations in winter wheat production. For weed management, growers often use postemergence (POST) application herbicides for the control of grass and broadleaf weeds in winter wheat. For disease management, growers often use single or multiple POST applications of fungicides such as Twinline, Stratego, Quilt and Acapela. Although application timing of these POST herbicides and fungicides often coincides, currently, no combination of herbicide and fungicide are labelled for use in winter wheat grown in Ontario. Co-application of POST herbicides with fungicides would allow growers to reduce the number of passes through the field, reduce fuel and labor costs, wear and tear on machinery, soil compaction, as well as mechanical damage to the crop. There are no published data on the effect of co-application of Puma Advance, Peak + Pardner and Trophy with Twinline, Stratego, Quilt and Acapela on winter wheat under Ontario environmental conditions. In addition, information on compatibility of these herbicides with fungicides is very important to winter wheat growers as incompatibility in the tank can result in significant crop and equipment damage as well as reduction in weed and disease control. More research is needed to identify herbicides and fungicides tankmixes that provide consistent control of problem weeds and diseases while providing adequate margin of crop safety in winter wheat. The objective of this research was to determine if the addition of Twinline, Stratego, Quilt and Acapela to Puma Advance, Peak + Pardner and Trophy results in an increase injury and a decrease in winter wheat height and yield. Three new herbicides (Refine M, Trophy and Peak + Pardner) were evaluated in combination with four fungicides (Twinline, Stratego, Quilt and Acapela) at six field studies at the Ridgetown Campus of University of Guelph, Ridgetown, Ontario in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (two trials each year). A non-treated control was included for comparison. Estimates of crop injury were evaluated on a scale of 0 to 100% at 1, 2, 4 and 8 weeks after treatment (WAT). At 7 days after treatment, there was minimal visible crop injury of 1.7, 0.25 and 0.5% with Refine M, Trophy and Peak + Pardner, respectively. Similarly, the fungicides, Twinline, Stratego, Quilt and Acapela caused 0.0, 0.3, 0.3 and 0.5% visible crop injury, respectively. The level of wheat injury with the herbicide/fungicide combinations did not increase appreciably. The injury observed decreased was transient with no visible crop injury at 28 and 56 days after application. The herbicide, fungicide and herbicide/fungicide combinations did not have an appreciable effect on winter wheat height, maturity (as indicated by moisture content at harvest) or yield in these studies. Based on these results, herbicides and fungicides at the rates evaluated can be tankmixed if co-application of herbicides and a fungicide is desired. The combination of herbicides and fungicides could provide winter wheat growers with an integrated option that will provide control of weeds and diseases and improve crop production efficiency.
2014-032018-04An early season nitrogen test to help Ontario cereal growers decide whether or not to side-dress with nitrogen fertilizerManish RaizadaNitrogen is one of the most essential nutrients (fertilizer) for crop production. Farmers strive to apply nitrogen in the most efficient way to satisfy cropping needs while being economically efficient. As a result of uncontrollable factors such as weather, nitrogen has the ability to be lost into the environment. Some grain farmers in Ontario apply all of their crops nitrogen upfront in a single pass when the plant is in its early growth stages. In order to improve nutrient use efficiency, farmers are beginning to apply nitrogen in multiple applications throughout the plants growth cycle. However, affordable diagnostic tools are needed to improve farmers’ ability to splitting their nitrogen fertilizer application into multiple applications. This requires an accurate pre-plant equivalent of a soil test, and a nitrogen test for mature plants to help growers add the most economically and environmental sustainable nitrogen rates at each plant stage. Current in season diagnostic tests using direct soil nitrogen testing include SPAD or Greenseeker, which are reported to be ineffective during the early part of the growing season. To assist Ontario corn growers, we are creating an alternative approach to early season nitrogen testing which measures leaf concentrations of the amino acid glutamine, an excellent indicator of plant nitrogen status. We have created a rapid test for leaf glutamine based on a biosensor bacterium called GlnLux. In this test, a grower simply uses a paper punch to remove a small disc from a crop leaf. While the test was previously optimized under controlled greenhouse conditions, this grant is intended for the investigation of its usefulness under field conditions. Two field seasons of sample and data collection have now been completed, with exciting results. Based on our results thus far, we have reason to think that the GlnLux test may be better than some commercial tests at certain points in the growing season with respect to predicting final grain yield as a result of the early season nitrogen status.
2014-052018-04Biological control of fusarium disease in corn and wheat using endophytes as seed treatmentsManish RaizadaFusarium graminearum and its sexual stage, Gibberella zeae, cause tough-to-control diseases in many cereals, including Fusarium head blight (FHB) in wheat and Gibberella ear rot in corn. These costly diseases reduce grain yield, grade and quality, and can produce mycotoxins, such as deoxynivalenol (DON), that limit the grain’s end-use. Recent FHB epidemics caused losses of $200-million to Ontario’s winter wheat farmers, while 23% of corn in Ontario in 2011 had detectable DON levels. Thus far, there has been limited success with crop breeding for resistance, and fungicide sprays have been shown to be only partially effective. Major biotech companies are now investing billions of dollars into biologicals, naturally occurring probiotics from plants that can be coated onto crop seeds, to suppress diseases and pests. The overall objective of the project is to develop effective biological control against either Gibberella ear rot in maize or FHB in wheat. This is to be approached through four application methods based on: bacterial coating seeds, broadcast of bacterial infused alginate beads on young plants, an early spray at time of silking/anthesis or a late spray at time of greatest spore susceptibility with beneficial microbial endophytes isolated from corn and finger millet. This project aims to test the endophytes in greenhouse trials on corn and wheat infected with F. graminearum, then focuses on field trials, and then determines the anti-fungal mode(s) of action including genes/chemicals to facilitate their regulatory approval. The field trials will be comparing moderately susceptible and very susceptible cultivars of corn and wheat. The F. graminearum symptoms on the ears and heads and DON levels in the seeds will be assessed. In addition, different tissues from the treated plants will be sampled to determine which tissues in the plant are being colonized by the endophytes. If successful, the microbe(s) can be coated onto seeds as a biological anti-Fusarium agent to assist Ontario’s corn and wheat growers to produce higher yielding and safer grain.
2012-032016-02Precision agriculture and intensive production systemsTony BalkwillPrecision Agriculture has come to be a very broad word used to describe many technological advances in agriculture. We have seen the adaptation of technology in agriculture grow over the years. As implementation and understanding have developed with farmers other retail industries have directed agronomic practices to target this new skill set. Historically fields were farmed as a whole. We can now target areas within each field to address the specific needs of those regions. We can measure the economics and environmental changes more and more accurately every season. Currently we see the technology being very easy to work with and widely available. However there is a gap in bridging old practices into these new precise systems. Many recommendations don’t take in effect the ability technology has, so the risk to growers is using precision agronomics like variable rate fertilizer and have no way of knowing if the “prescription” for their field is correct. This research project investigated Variably Controlled Agronomic Precision options currently available for variable rate fertilizer prescriptions of Potassium compared to conventional one rate approaches. The project also looked at methods and procedures to utilize yield maps into management decisions. The goal of the study was to learn the outcome, challenges and results of variable rate fertilizer application methods. With the completion of the research project we uncovered some key information needed when building and or using “prescription K applications.” Firstly the recommendations were based off of old “one rate” programs. We see quite quickly that if you’re using just the ppm of a soil test to get recommendations they would not the right rate needed for that area of the farm. We noticed with the prescriptions we were applying way too much to certain soils and not enough to others. Some of the outcomes were very significant in a few areas. Firstly we determined that Variable Rate potash applications need to be based on both cation exchange capacity (CEC) and ppm K test to see both economic and fertility return. Secondly the crop removal variable rate application, which takes no soil test data into account, is specific to not only crops (soybeans, wheat, corn ) but also is specific to varieties and cultivars. That is, certain genetic lines seemed to use more K as luxury consumption, etc. This was an observation and was not tested fully in the trial. Further works need to validate this result. Moving forward with more large scale field sized research will be the foundation to understand the true economics, environmental and sustainability of intensive agriculture. We can’t learn precision agronomics in small plot research systems. They need to capture large scale field variability and equipment utilization. This will be the challenge in our local industry, shifting out of historical research ideas into a new area of study that will have some unknown challenges of its own to work through, but also the uptake and development of newer technologies need to be measured and understood. Technology will be the answer to efficient sustainably farming, but without careful invested research it could quickly develop into a problem.
2014-012017-02Changing agricultural landscapes and groundwater quality in sensitive aquifersJana LevisonIn Ontario, groundwater is the main, and often only, water source for farm use and rural residents. While agricultural activities and climate are changing, it is essential that groundwater quality is continually protected. In Ontario, acreages for corn, soybean and winter wheat are increasing while production of certain livestock (i.e., beef and dairy cattle, pigs) is decreasing. It is more sustainable – that is, less expensive, more socially responsible and better for the environment – to maintain a clean groundwater supply than to treat water once it has been contaminated. With more cash crops requiring nutrient inputs and less manure available, as well as the desire for increased yields, more synthetic nutrients may be applied. Weather patterns with more intense storms could also impact nutrient fate in the environment. A comprehensive understanding of evolving cropping systems of corn-soybean-wheat production and their potential impact on groundwater quality in various geological conditions encountered across Ontario is necessary to ensure sensitive rural water supplies are continually protected for agricultural and potable water uses. The project aims to define and quantify the transport of excess nutrients, specifically nitrate from nitrogen application, related to cash cropping into groundwater to anticipate and reduce any potential impacts on water quality. Advanced computer modelling of groundwater systems, agricultural nutrient management expertise and well water monitoring data will be used together to find critical cases for sensitivity to contamination. Various soils and geological conditions found across Ontario at three study locations will be characterized and used in the models. The results can be applied to nutrient management policies and to help to improve “right time, right place, right rate” application principles for Ontario grain farmers. This research will contribute to knowledge surrounding on-farm initiatives such as nutrient management plans and farm wellhead protection. Groundwater is a resource important for farm viability in Ontario, and results of this research will contribute to groundwater protection initiatives related to changing agriculture.
2015-052020-04Targeting neurodegeneration to maintaining brain health with soybean-derived functional foodsScott RyanConsumer demand for nutritional foods that generate health benefits has driven the food industry to produce a new generation of functional foods. Functional foods are often rich in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which are known to promote the brains anti-oxidant response. Oxidative-stress is major component of pathology in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), raising the question of whether a diet rich in omega-3/6 fatty acids can help maintain brain health in patients suffering from PD. The ability of omega-3/6 fatty acid rich soybean oil to activate the anti-oxidant response and protect from degeneration of brain tissue in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s has never been tested; however, epidemiological data on omega-3/6 fatty acid consumption in Parkinson patient cohorts, does support a protective effect. This project aims to test whether dietary soybean oil, rich in omega-3/6 fatty acids, promotes brain health in PD by assessing its ability to protect from PD pathology by activating the anti-oxidant response. A patient-based model of PD was generated using cutting edge stem cell technology. To build this system, skin cells were taken from a patient with PD and those cells were reprogrammed into stem cells. From there, the stem cells harboring the disease causing mutation were genetically repaired yielding two cell lines, one with PD and one where the disease was effectively “cured.” This system is ideal for comparing and contrasting cellular pathologies associated with disease. Moreover, it is a powerful tool for screening potential therapeutic compounds. To validate the efficacy of soybean-derived omega-3/6 fatty acids as functional foods that promote brain health we will administer the oils/constituents with the highest cellular activities to our PD mice.
2014-042017-03Nitrogen management on wheat: Production, environmental and quality implicationsPeter Johnson & Jayne BockWheat is a major crop in Ontario, with a combined winter and spring acreage of approximately 1 million acres grown annually. Unfortunately, keeping wheat in the Ontario rotation is a constant struggle because wheat yield increases and profitability lag far behind those for corn and soybeans. Wheat is extremely valuable in the rotation under Ontario conditions, adding up to 8 bu/ac of corn yield, and 5 bu/ac of soybean yield (Ontario Rotation Trials). Including wheat in the rotation greatly improves soil health and organic matter, making soils more resilient when climatic extremes are encountered. Finding ways to keep wheat profitable and in the rotation is critical. Recent quality issues have also had acreage impacts. Poor quality in 2011 and 2012 resulted in premiums dropping for HRW, which in turn have resulted in significant drops in the amount grown (7.5% of wheat acreage in 2014 from 21% in 2006). Wheat yields, profitability, and quality must all be addressed in order to maintain wheat acres in the province. The development of a nitrogen calculator for wheat would greatly improve environmental impacts, wheat quality, and grower profitability. This project will evaluate nitrogen (N) response curves for wheat (soft red winter, hard red winter, and hard red spring), with and without fungicides, and assess these management inputs through to the quality of the flour in the milling industry. This data, along with previous nitrogen data from Ontario, will be used to develop an Ontario nitrogen calculator for wheat. In addition, this project will evaluate protected nitrogen sources and Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) technology to determine the impact on yield, protein, maturity, lodging and economics. The samples from these trials will be evaluated for milling and baking quality as field management has a significant impact on wheat flour functionality. Samples will be evaluated for quality parameters that have been identified by industry as problematic in the current wheat supply. Protein quality will be assessed in hard wheat to help the industry better understand implications of field management, and whether accepted standards such as protein quantity are the right measure to use for actual flour functionality and protein quality.
2013-022015-03Using soil mineralizable nitrogen and climate factors to improve fertilizer N recommendations for corn in OntarioMehdi SharifiMatching nitrogen (N) supply to crop N demand is one of the most effective ways of meeting economic and environmental goals in crop production. Research has shown that general N recommendations for corn are not precise and cannot adjust for specific weather conditions. Soil mineralizable nitrogen (N) is the main component of soil N supply in humid temperate region and should be considered in N fertilizer recommendations. The main barrier in the way of making accurate N recommendations is uncertain N mineralization contribution due to temperature and moisture variability and their unpredictability. The project aimed to develop a soil N test that includes the soil N mineralization contribution to plant N requirement and improve N fertilizer recommendations for corn in Ontario. At each site, soil samples were taken in the spring and analyzed for several readily mineralizable N fractions using chemical laboratory methods and correlated to relative yield (RY) and maximum economic rate of N (MERN) measured in the field. In theory, this would allow us to correlate, calibrate and interpret a soil N test. The study was conducted over 2013 and 2014 growing seasons in 19 sites total. The pre-plant N test (PPNT) and water soluble N (WSN) concentration (0-30cm depth) at planting were the best predictors of fertilizer N requirement in 2014. When combining data from the first and second growing seasons, it was found that the PPNT and WSN at planting were successful at predicting fertilizer N rates. The success of both PPNT and WSN only when combining the two years of data supports the inherent variability of soil N as it is dependent on early season climate. When soils were categorized based on soil texture relationships improved. We found that grouping soils based on clay content revealed relationships that may be dependent on soil texture. Furthermore, we found that only coarse textured soils showed promising relationships between laboratory soil N tests and field-based indicators of soil N supply. The medium textured soils had variable and unpredictable responses. Our findings suggest that N fertilizer recommendations for grain corn can be improved; however, further field validations are required.
2016-042019-05Landscape sensitivity to P losses: biogeochemical analysis of agricultural soilsMerrin L. MacraePhosphorus (P) losses from agricultural lands are major environmental, economic and political issues in the lower Great Lakes region because of their impacts on downstream water-quality. Predicting the efficacy of best management practices (BMPs) to minimize P loss (dissolved and particulate) has been challenging due to the fact that BMPs that appear to be effective in one region are not necessarily effective in another. Tile drains in the lower Great Lakes region of the USA exhibit different P loss patterns relative to tile drains in Ontario. For example, most Ohio studies report that most P in tile drainage is lost in a dissolved form, whereas most P is lost as particulate in Ontario. Although some of this variability has been attributed to soil cracking and preferential transport, this does not appear to be the only factor controlling P loss. It is critical that differences in soil P loss/retention potential are assessed before the efficacy of BMPs can be fully evaluated and to explain the clear differences seen between studies in the USA and Ontario. Soil texture and biogeochemical properties are important to soil P sorption capacity and thus storage of soil P within agricultural lands. As such, characterizing linkages between soil properties and P stratification is essential for understanding P movement and fate in agricultural subsoils. This is directly relevant to predicating P availability to crops and risk to downstream aquatic ecosystems, and can be used to build predictive models. This project will provide a spatial assessment of soil P stratification of agricultural lands across the lower Great Lakes region of Southern Ontario and USA, establishing linkages with soil texture and biogeochemical properties to evaluate and explain the differences in reported P losses between these two regions. Soil cores will be collected at 8 sites between Ontario (4 sites) and USA (2 sites in Ohio and 2 sites in Indiana) to establish P stratification of soil test P (STP) concentrations (Olsen, Bray, Mechlich-3) and soil textures (sand, silt and clay). Additional soil biogeochemical analysis on P sorption capacity and retention will also be done on selected subsamples to further evaluate the nature of the P stored within these soils.
2016-042017-03Genotype x Environment interaction for oat grain fillA.R. McElroyOat is recognized as an excellent rotation crop, and a valuable cash crop, particularly in the cooler, northern regions of the province. Approximately 115,000 acres were harvested in Ontario in 2015, about 5% less than spring wheat, and 5% more than barley. There are good feed markets for good quality (high test weight) oat and Quaker Oats Co. in Peterborough provides a good milling market. Low test weight is a major problem that limits oat production. Poor grain fill results in lower yields, limits accessibility to the higher value markets, and reduces the value of the crop. It is well known that most oat contains some unfilled kernels. This phenomenon is generally considered to be a result of plant stress, either disease or environmental, although there are no studies to confirm this. However, research at PhytoGene Resources Inc. revealed that the unfilled kernels are related to developmental problems during panicle formation rather than to stress during grain fill. An initial study in 2014 (OFIP 0039; "Selection for improved oat kernel fill") related the mass of individual kernels with their position in the panicle (node, node-branch, position on the branch, kernel order) in several crosses, grown at a single site in eastern Ontario. Results indicate that the frequency of unfilled kernels is heritable, and given its importance to yield and quality, should be an important selection criterion. The next step – a very important one – is to evaluate the genotype x environment interaction (GxE) of this trait to determine if single-site assessment is adequate, or whether testing in different climatic zones is necessary. The project objective is to generate information that will be essential for oat breeders to select for good grain fill. One hundred breeding lines were grown at three contrasting locations, Cumberland, New Liskeard and Mimosa (near Guelph). A grain fill profile, including the frequency of unfilled kernels, is being generated for duplicate samples of each line.
2014-012016-12Developing novel soybean lines with resistance to viral diseasesAiming WangViral pathogens infect soybean wherever it is grown in the world. Viral diseases have a significant impact on yield, quality and marketability of soybeans. The incidence of a particular viral disease may vary dependent on regions and years. Among known near 70 viral pathogens that can infect soybean, soybean mosaic virus (SMV) is the most prevalent one that impedes soybean production. The virus is seed-borne and infection is transmitted by aphids. The SMV infection results in mosaic mottling, chlorosis and roughness in leaves; mottling of the seed; and severe reductions in plant growth and seed quality. SMV not only causes severe yield losses of infected soybean plants but also increases their susceptibility to other pathogens. Moreover, SMV mottling makes seed unacceptable for many of the food-grade markets. The introduction and establishment of soybean aphids in North America in 2001 greatly increased the impact of SMV. Current genetic resistance was found to be very fragile and it can be easily overcome by SMV isolates. New durable genetic resistance is highly demanded to protect soybean production from possible catastrophic SMV outbreaks. This project will develop novel genetic resistance to SMV. A soybean mutant population consisting of approximately 5,000 lines for screening for novel genetic resistance to SMV will be generated and available for soybean breeders to incorporate into their breeding programs for soybean improvement with desirable traits. Using mechanical inoculation as an infection assay, we will screen over 1,500 mutant lines and identify lines showing hypersensitive response (HR) and resistance to SMV. These lines will be maintained by self-pollination and the resulting progenies will be selected by the infection assay until resistance is stabilized. The resistant lines showing stable resistance will be transferred to soybean breeding programs in Canada and also studied to understand genetics and molecular mechanisms of resistance.
2015-042018-05Interseeding cover crops options for grain corn and their effects on soil health in Southern OntarioDavid Hooker & Mehdi SharifiLong-term crop rotation research in Ontario (University of Guelph) has shown that a corn-soybean rotation has lower productivity compared to more diverse rotations that include wheat, especially during growing seasons with a shortage or excessive rainfall. Lower productivity is associated with poor soil structure and lower soil organic carbon compared to more diverse rotations. The importance of building resilient soils and best cropping practices is evident, but convincing grain farmers to grow perennial crops or incorporate cover crops in crops other than wheat has been a challenge. One promising option for extending corn-based rotations benefits to ensure long-term profitability in cool temperate climate is to introduce interseeding cover crops in corn. Establishing a cover crop into corn has the potential to build resilience in short rotations with improvements in soil health. It is therefore important to investigate interseeding cover crop options, benefits, risks and uncertainties. This project investigates soil and economic impacts of interseeding cover crops into corn harvested for both grain or silage corn. At three locations in Ontario (Ridgetown Campus, Elora Research Station, and Trent University experimental farm in Peterborough), corn intended to be harvested as grain or silage will be interseeded (InterSeeder Technologies Inc. from Penn State) with four cover crop treatments at the V5 developmental stage: 1) planted red clover, 2) planted annual ryegrass, 3) a planted 1:3.3 mixture of red clover and annual ryegrass, and 4) broadcast-only mix of red clover and annual ryegrass. Plots without interseeded cover crops will be included as controls for comparison, bringing the total number of plots at each site to 20. The experiment will be repeated for three seasons from 2015 to 2017, to give a total of 9 site-years. The final outcome of the project would be ranking of the interseeding cover crop treatments in terms of establishment, biomass production, competitiveness with grain corn, and effects on sensitive indicators of soil health and residual soil nitrate at harvest. The soil health and soil nitrate reduction benefits will be linked with long-term environmental sustainability. The risk and cost analysis of the practice in 3 sites over 3 years will provide a great tool for making decision by growers on adoption of the technology.
2016-032019-03Barley enhancement to meet the needs of Ontario industryLewis Lukens & Alireza NavabiBarley (Hordeum vulgare) is an increasingly important crop for Ontario farmers and is currently grown on approximately 115,000 acres in the province. Barley is currently a source of feed and food. Although there is limited production of malt, there is a strong demand from the rapidly growing craft brewing industry. Genetic improvement by introducing novel germplasm and by selecting for important traits within that germplasm will contribute to a high yielding, high quality crop. Genetic improvement of Ontario barley has languished for a number of years. Currently there is little-to-no private barley breeding in Ontario, and the public barley breeding capacity outside of this project is minimal. Without genetic improvement, the quality and productivity of the current crop will likely decrease gradually, although new disease pressures could cause a rapid decline. Improved variety development will enhance barley yields and quality, thereby increasing the value. This project will introduce novel germplasm for barley improvement and evaluate and utilize the latest statistical and information technologies to make selections and to determine the crosses to be performed. A key rationale for this work is to maintain and increase the global competitiveness of Ontario barley growers and processors. We will have a three-pronged approach to barley improvement. First, we will initiate an active barley breeding program using diverse germplasm using barley cultivars developed by breeders in environments with some similarities to release cultivars as an Ontario variety, or use cultivars in crosses to capture positive traits. Second, we will mutagenize an elite barley variety to generate novel genetic variation. Because we will generate valuable traits in an elite cultivar, we can quickly use these traits in a cultivated variety. Finally, we will select for stay-green barley that maintains green leaves long after flowering and after water/heat stress because stay-green has been a critical trait for the improvement of other cereals. Stay-green is highly heritable and stay-green varieties have been induced through mutagenesis with an ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS, a mutagenic chemical) treatment. We note that EMS mutagenizes randomly, thus genotypes will vary for valuable traits in addition to stay-green.
2016-052021-04Environmental and economic value of soil servicesClaudia Wagner-RiddleHealthy soils provide essential ecosystem services (e.g. nutrient recycling, carbon sequestration, climate regulation, and water filtration) that sustain plants, animals, and humans. The growing trend towards simplifying systems in Ontario and the northern corn-belt (i.e., corn-soy rotations) may risk soil health degradation and resiliency against stress; one strategy thought to improve soil health and ecosystem services is to establish a diverse crop rotation which includes cover crops and/or intercrops in the rotation. To ensure uptake of sustainable agricultural practices in Ontario, the economic and environmental benefits and trade-offs of soil ecosystem services under different management and environmental stressors must be elucidated. Diverse rotations with integrated cover/intercrops might lead to competition for water and nutrients between intercrop and the cash crop, which could negatively impact cash crop yields and profitability, and therefore limit the likelihood of farmers adopting the practice. Two important questions must be answered for farmers: i) will diverse cropping systems actually result in productive and profitable cash crops over time? (ii) what are the trade-offs between environmental and economic benefits of implementing a diverse cropping rotation? This project will address these research gaps by measuring (i) crop productivity and profitability (ii) crop nutrient and water supply and use efficiency, and (iii) socio-economic value of a diverse crop rotation vs a conventional rotation over a 5 yr period. It is very challenging to study nutrient leaching and soil water movement in the field under realistic soil moisture regimes. Typical studies employ small-scale lysimeters (e.g., 0.1 m2) which have no control over environmental conditions, often produce experimental artifacts, and do not encompass soil's inherent variability, thereby representing a gap in our understanding of soil water and nutrient movement. We are excited to announce that a new high-tech soil lysimeter system is being installed at Elora, ON, which enables us to study soil processes in 2 m3 undisturbed soil columns under realistic conditions in the field. Our lysimeters enable detailed quantification of soil nutrient and water status as affected by changes in management (i.e., adopting more diverse crop rotations which include cover crops/intercrops) and changes in climate (i.e., occurrence of severe weather events).
2014-042017-10Responsible use of neonicotinoid seed treatments in vacuum planted field cropsArt W. Schaafsma & Jocelyn SmithInsecticide contaminated dust generated from pneumatic (vacuum) planters during spring planting of neonicotinoid-treated corn seed has been identified by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) as the likely cause of several acute honey bee death incidents in Ontario during the spring of 2012 and 2013. In an effort to mitigate these problems a study was initiated in southern Ontario, Canada in April 2013. Our research in 2013 quantified neonicotinoid residues occurring: in dust exhausted from pneumatic planters, in air downwind from the planters, in soil and water taken from the subject fields, in pollen collected by bees, in dead bees from nearby apiaries, and finally from fresh corn pollen and dandelion blooms collected in the subject fields. It is clear that growers need to implement a combination of measures to prevent neonicotinoid contaminated planter dust and soil from leaving the field to reduce exposure of honey bees. This project also seeks to evaluate the economic importance of neonicotinoid seed treatments to grain production in Ontario. The goal of this project is to provide a science-based context from which Ontario grain producers can make informed decisions regarding the responsible use of neonicotinoid seed treatments and reduce the risk of exposure of pollinating insects to these insecticides. Field trials comparing seeds treated with and without neonicotinoids will be coordinated on farms throughout the province of Ontario over four years. These trials will be used to survey for the identification and abundance of key early season pests. Data on soil type, cropping systems, and management practices will be collected from study participants and used to develop a risk prediction model and map tool for growers to utilize when making integrated pest management decisions. The economic value of neonicotinoids will be evaluated based on yield data collected from these trials, compared with insect incidence, distribution and severity data.
2016-062019-03Survey and management of soybean diseasesOwen WallySoybean is one of the most economically important field crop grown in Ontario and continues to see losses caused by persistent and changing diseases. Losses due to disease continue to be one of the major limitations affecting soybean production not only in Ontario but in all of the North American growing regions. Soybean pathogens are continuing to evolve and occupy new niches as the total areas where the plant can be grown continues to increase. Understanding the risk factors in disease establishment that individual producer’s face is of greatest importance to limit reductions in overall yields and quality. These key risk factors involve the pathogen, the plant host, environmental influence and the timing of all these factors. Pathogenic factors that influence formations of disease include; the location of the pathogen, amount of inoculum and the virulence of the pathogen controlled by genetics. Increased knowledge about the location and quantity of the pathogen provides numerous benefits to growers and researchers in allowing more accurate timing of chemical control, planting of resistant soybean varieties, using appropriate crop rotations and it allows breeders to target resistance towards the known genetic variants of the pathogen. With the changes in pathogen genetics and distribution it becomes increasingly more important to continual monitor their levels and range to implement suitable and sustainable control measures. This project will focus on improvement of the overall sustainability of soybean production through increased information of pathogen genetics and distribution by conducting a continuing comprehensive survey for plant diseases in Ontario soybean producing areas. To that end we hope to be able to build capacity for future work by developing a baseline understanding of several pathogens present within the Ontario growing regions by conducting detailed disease surveys in the region. This research will help increase the current understanding for growers, industry stakeholders and fellow researchers on identification and determining incidence levels and damage thresholds within soybean fields.
2016-032019-12Mitigating mycotoxins in the Canadian food value chainArt W. Schaafsma & Victor Limay RiosMycotoxins in whole grains are very difficult to monitor when grain enters the value chain after leaving the farm. Most of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for mycotoxins must be employed during grain production and on-farm storage and the grain industry has struggled with how to sample and detect mycotoxins in a cost effective, efficient and reliable manner after grain leaves the farm. Currently, deoxynivalenol (DON), the most economic important toxin, is managed in small grains using the Fusarium-damaged kernels (FDK) method. The relationship between FDK and DON is inconsistent by year and across grain market classes and tends to work better when handling very large grain lots. There is resistance to sampling grain and testing for DON at elevators because of the cost, logistics and sampling uncertainty. Other mycotoxins such as Ochratoxin A (OTA), present an even greater challenge for grain sampling and testing. This is due to their greater heterogeneous distribution in grain lots and the lower EU regulations. If OTA in whole grain could be monitored during grain transfer by using dust as a surrogate, most of the serious mycotoxins could be detected at the source, making management much simpler further up the chain. Perhaps this could lead to an option for Identity Preserved load certification. This project aims to develop a reliable protocol for testing DON and OTA in during on-farm loading and extending lessons learned up the value-chain to manage contamination. Paired samples will be taken as bins or trucks are loaded, by dipper cup sampling at regular intervals and by a continuous aspiration of the grain stream. The dust proportions removed and remaining will be determined for each grain lot, and these fractions with be tested along with the whole grain for multiple toxins. These grain lots will be sampled and tested at the point of delivery by the normal commercial method employed at each location (FDK or DON test). This project will also develop and disseminate extension material on BMPs to manage OTA in grain handling and storage based on the new knowledge we derived from the recently complete on-farm study. Using 1996, the year in which there was virtually 100% crop failure in the great lakes region for soft winter wheat, and 2013 and 2015 which has had virtually identical growing conditions, determine relative benefits of advances in genetic developments in seed, farming practices including forecasting and fungicide application. By creating awareness with various industry sectors we will solicit self-directed monitoring, sampling and identification of possible control points to avoid OTA formation in the grain handling and storage process.
2012-052015-02Soybean seedling disease managementAlbert Tenuta & Jason BondSoybean is a high value crop in Ontario that is heavily impacted by root and stem rot diseases caused by Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora sojae and by several Pythium species. Seedling diseases rank in the top five disease threats to soybean production in North America and number two after soybean cyst nematode in Ontario. Soybean losses to seedling diseases have increased as a result of lack of resistance genes for Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Fusarium as well as resistance genes are losing their effectiveness against Phytophthora in many parts of Ontario. Moreover, increasing adoption of early planting and no-till farming has also increased soybean losses due to soil-borne diseases. Increasing competition for the soybean crop from industrial and bioenergy uses has put further pressure on soybean production for food and animal feed. Producing high soybean yields begins with establishing an even stand of vigorous plants. Seedling diseases, poor seed quality, and the environment often interact and lead to reduced stand establishment, plant health and vigor, with these factors often interacting to reduce emergence. Unfortunately, there is much we do not know about these factors.This three year project aimed to address these production constraints by identifying the causal agents of seedling disease, developing new tools for rapid diagnosis, developing new protocols for research and for germplasm screening assays, and developing management recommendations and extension materials for producers and the industry. This project is progressing to help better understand the environmental conditions and cropping practices that are responsible for reducing or increasing the pathogens and impact on disease development. The research group has been perfecting techniques to isolate organisms, developing inoculation assays and identifying better inoculum carriers. One of the primary goals was to develop future protocols for soybean germplasm screening. The use of fungicide seed treatments has increased over the past decade in the region and in Ontario it is a necessary production cost not only to maximize early season stand establishment but yield and quality as well. Ontario work conducted through this project was instrumental in getting a new active ingredient (ethoboxam) registered for Canada by Valent Corporation. Research conducted in this project continues to determine how the most common fungicides impact various pathogens. Although baselines fungicide sensitivity studies continue which will allow researchers to determine if seedling pathogens are developing resistance to fungicides over time, early results do show some level of resistance has developed. In fact, this project has found species of Fusarium, Pythium and Rhizoctonia that are not sensitive to major fungicides. This could have a negative impact on our ability to control these pathogens and unfortunately will impact yield as these species become more common. An important aspect of this three year project was to foster communication and cooperation between the various researchers in the 13 participating states and Ontario. Many of these researchers have been working on aspects of this research for several years. This collaboration allows for greater efficiency and communication as well as join in these larger funded projects (USB/NCSRP over $1.5M for 3 years) and the Oomycete-Soybean Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP), a transdisciplinary effort of 28 co-project researchers at 17 US institutions (funding $9,000,000 USD). This project has led to increased communication and coordination among universities and has enabled this team to make significant progress. Development of extension publications continued in project supported by Grain Farmers of Ontario, titled "Soybean Seedling Diseases – Characterization and Education” (April 2015 - March 2018).
2013-022016-03Disease Study Group: Focus on new and emerging soybean diseasesAlbert TenutaDisease severity and prevalence is impacted each year by changes in crop production practices and environmental conditions. There are diseases that are an annual threat, such as sudden death syndrome (SDS) and soybean cyst nematode (SCN), but many other diseases are sporadic, new, or emerging in the North Central Region of the USA and Ontario. These diseases are concerning to farmers due to the lack of Extension information available when outbreaks occur. In a traditional system, research is conducted and Extension materials are developed and disseminated at the end of the project. This creates a "gap" in industry and farmer awareness for emerging diseases, and prevents stakeholders from obtaining the most current information about emerging issues until research projects can be completed. This project aims to develop a North Central Disease Study Group that will bridge the gap between research and Extension for emerging disease threats and provide industry and farmers with the most up-to-date information available about emerging diseases each year. We identified a group of Extension and research personnel to contribute information and technical expertise to Extension material focusing on new as well as emerging disease problems. The first product was on the new virus, Soybean Vein Necrosis Virus (SVNV), which was first observed to be widely distributed across the North Central Region and Ontario in 2012 and 2013. Our collaborative efforts and meetings generated nine publications to date with others in development as well as videos and other media products. All materials are drafted by the Crop Protection Network development team of which Albert Tenuta is the Ontario representative. We have developed the "Crop Protection Network" brand as a means to promote/represent Universities, NCSRP and Grain Farmers of Ontario on Extension material produced from this project. Web presence and optimization of web resources continue to be discussed, and inclusion of these materials on the Crop Protection Network website, NCSRP Plant Health Initiative website and Grain Farmers of Ontario website on the Production Resources page.
2013-042015-12Developing an integrated management and communication plan for sudden death syndromeAlbert TenutaSudden death syndrome (SDS) is caused by Fusarium virguilforme. The disease was first observed in Arkansas in 1971, but it has become widespread in the major soybean producing areas of the United States and was first confirmed in 1999 in Chatham, Ontario. Over the past decade SDS has become more common in the northern soybean production areas of North America and continues to move east in Ontario. SDS, unlike many other diseases, is not found often in poor yielding fields but in the "best" fields with high yield environments, such as good fertility, soil structure, etc. The foundational integrated pest management (IPM) management strategy for SDS is using resistant varieties. However, in years when environmental conditions are favorable for disease development, it is evident that genetic resistance in soybean varieties alone does not provide adequate control or reduce farmer risk sufficiently. Yield losses in Ontario associated with SDS infection can range from minimal (5%) to significant (80%). This collaborative project was established to investigate the influence management options have on SDS development, such as planting date, seed treatments, SDS resistant varieties, environment, SCN infection, etc. Diagnosing SDS can be challenging, because other diseases and disorders cause similar symptoms to SDS. New methods were investigated to detect SDS to better identify and quantify SDS in grower fields and plants. Besides being able to identify SDS rapidly and more accurate, another deliverable from this objective is the availability of an important tool to assess soybean resistance to infection. The results over the three years have showed the yield benefit of incorporating both SDS and SCN resistance in a variety. In the Ontario locations we have consistently seen the yield benefit and would recommend producers in areas with SDS plant a variety with SDS and SCN resistance to maximize yield potential. One lesson learned is that although products registered in the US maybe promoted for control of certain diseases it is important to verify they have true efficacy and are applicable to Ontario. Our research across multiple locations and years indicates that planting soybeans early (late April, early May) in the Midwestern US and Ontario may not always correlate to higher levels of SDS. This may be explained by our results which show that rainfall during the reproductive phase of the crop was critical to SDS foliar symptom development, regardless of soil temperature at planting. Therefore, delayed planting should not be recommended for management of SDS as it not only reduces yield potential but may not reduce SDS risk in years with substantial late season rains. Timely planting of tolerant soybean varieties combined with fluopyram seed treatment is the best management option for producers to reduce SDS risk. As a consequence of these novel results, grower recommendations will need to be updated.
2014-032017-03Management of corn and soybean nematodesAlbert TenutaThe most familiar example of nematodes to most Ontario farmers is the soybean cyst nematode (SCN – Heterodera glycines), which causes the greatest yield loss in soybean of any pathogen. Conversely, in those same fields, is a diversity of other less familiar plant parasitic nematodes that infect roots of corn, soybean, wheat and other crops. In contrast to SCN, these nematodes are native to Ontario and are present in every production field to some extent. Instead of a single species, there are more than a dozen species of nematodes commonly found in fields where corn is grown. Unlike soybeans where many management options are available to the producer, such as resistant varieties and crop rotation, this is not the case in corn. Often misdiagnosed and misunderstood, corn nematodes as stated above have become a growing problem in Ontario and the US corn-belt as a result of changes in production practices. The use of cover crops integrated into traditional corn-soybean production is a sustainable agriculture practice that is also increasing in use throughout Ontario. Cover crop and crop rotation impacts on nematode population densities are largely dependent upon the nematodes that are present and the suitability of the crop plants as their host. This project aims to continue work started in Grain Farmers of Ontario's supported CAAP 0377 project, titled "Evaluation of nematicides for SCN management, corn and soybean nematode management." A corn nematode survey will be conducted to gain a better understanding of the potential for corn yield loss due to nematodes by collecting baseline information on the distribution and population densities of corn-parasitic nematode species throughout the province. This project will also address the effects of rotation and cover crops on overall production with an emphasis on nematode population dynamics. The overall management concept for all deleterious nematodes affecting Ontario field crops is population management; this project will directly identify the effect of cover crops on nematode populations which is a current gap in our knowledge of the production system used by Ontario farmers.
2016-032020-02Disease study group: focus on new and emerging soybean diseasesAlbert Tenuta & Kiersten WiseCanada ranks as one of the major soybean producing countries with a global reputation for quality and high yields. Unfortunately, yields in many of the major soybean countries including Canada (especially Ontario) are reduced each year due to diseases resulting in unnecessary losses to the producer and agriculture sector as a whole. The most recent disease losses for Canada (2006) are 363,000 metric tonnes (13,338,072 bushels) at a potential conservative cost of over $154,855,015 (Cash Price - $11.61 Dec 4, 2015). Changes in crop production and environment impact the disease severity and prevalence each year. There are diseases that are an annual threat, such as sudden death syndrome (SDS) and soybean cyst nematode (SCN) but many other diseases are sporadic, new, or emerging in the North Central Region and Ontario. These diseases are concerning to farmers due to the lack of management information available when outbreaks occur. In a traditional system, research is conducted and Extension materials are developed and disseminated at the end of the project. This creates a "gap" in industry and farmer awareness for emerging diseases, and prevents stakeholders from obtaining the most current information about emerging issues until research projects can be completed. Unfortunately this information may never be extended to the grower or not in a form which is useful. This project builds on a previous Grain Farmers of Ontario and North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) project with the same title aimed specifically at improving disease awareness amongst producers and stakeholders thereby reducing not only risk but most importantly economic losses. This project will provide multiple forms of information about emerging diseases to the agriculture industry and soybean farmers in a timely manner. The project uses print information and electronic information delivery that can be accessed with traditional and newer (smartphone, tablet) technology. These tools can be easily updated and incorporate the latest research findings so that management recommendations are current and relevant to producers. The group will also provide updates on ongoing research in the area of each disease, which can aid in directing and assessing future research needs. The ultimate outcome is that industry personnel and soybean farmers will have an improved awareness of emerging diseases, and understand what Grain Farmers of Ontario/OMAFRA resources are available. This information will prevent soybean yield losses by identifying and managing present and future disease issues.
2016-092017-10Tillage, fertility, & potential phosphorus movementAaron BreimerEutrophication of the Great Lakes by phosphorus must be reduced. Algal blooms in Lake Erie have increased dramatically, and agriculture has been implicated as one of the non-point sources of phosphorus (P). Management techniques need to be developed that will reduce any possible environmental impacts that are related to fertilizer usage, especially in regards to P. These systems need to include productivity as well as environmental impact, as both are key elements in sustainability. Tillage, specifically zone or strip-tillage, and fertility management will be evaluated regarding phosphate movement and crop productivity. The project aims to develop management strategies to mitigate any potential for off-target movement of agricultural phosphorus into the environment. Strategies will be investigated to mitigate off-target movement of agricultural phosphorus, reduce soil erosion potential, yet allow growers to maintain and increase yields. These key elements need to be investigated concurrently to develop best management strategies that can be implemented by Ontario producers. Each site will be divided into three zones of expected yield productivity with randomized treatments being replicated within each zone. Fertility will be variably applied; this will be based on yield potential within each zone. All zones will be monitored individually. This component adds greatly to the knowledge base on interactions of yield with fertility management and potential phosphorus movement. Additionally, it utilizes the latest technology in precision farming, and should allow even further fine-tuning of fertility management for optimum sustainability. Plant tissue samples will be taken to quantify phosphate uptake at key growth stages, with crop residue and grain being tested for total and water extractable phosphate (WEP) in order to measure potential for off-target movement. WEP values in crop residue will give an indication of phosphorus at risk of off-target movement, and evaluations can be made of the impacts of different fertilizer regimes and application strategies on WEP in residues. Yield data and all yield-related parameters will be collected and analyzed. Data will be added to the evaluations of economic and environmental implications of the management techniques evaluated.
2014-042017-03Physiological races of Northern Corn Leaf Blight: Occurance, distribution and management in OntarioAlbert TenutaNorthern corn leaf blight (NCLB) caused by Exserohilum turcicum is the most common and economically important fungal leaf disease of the $2.4 billion Ontario corn crop (in 2012). This disease appeared repeatedly in epidemic form in different parts of the world including Canada causing huge losses until the discovery and incorporation of a single dominant resistance gene (Ht1) in corn cultivars in the 1960s. The resistance conferred by Ht1 did not last long and the disease is on the rise again world-wide because of the emergence of new races of the fungus in the past two decades. The disease was well managed in the past in Canada by planting resistant hybrids, but the disease has now become the most economically important foliar leaf disease in Ontario. The ubiquitous distribution of the disease throughout the province was highlighted in recent surveys where the disease was detected in over 95% of corn fields sampled in 2011 and 85% in 2012. Thirteen physiological races (different strains of the fungus) of NCLB have been identified to date in various parts of the world. However, little information is available on the occurrence and geographical distribution of the races in Ontario. The objective of this project is to study the occurrence and distribution of physiological races of the fungus and workout strategies for managing this economically important disease. In-field management trials will be conducted to determine differences that exist in foliar fungicide efficacy against the various NCLB races identified in Ontario. If so, determine which fungicides control which races, and if these “new” genes provide additional protection for other common corn foliar leaf diseases. In addition, single conidial isolates of NCLB from leaf samples will be collected during surveys of corn fields of Ontario. Inoculations in the greenhouse with the isolates collected from leaf samples from previous surveys to identify races and to study responses of 60 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) experimental hybrids having different resistance genes.
2015-042018-03Soybean seedling diseases – characterization and educationAlbert TenutaSoybean is a high value food and feed crop in the Ontario and the US that is heavily impacted by root and stem rot diseases caused by Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora sojae and by several Pythium species. Soybean is an economic mainstay in Ontario and losses to these diseases have increased as a result of lack of resistance genes for Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Fusarium as well as resistance genes are losing their effectiveness against Phytophthora. Moreover increasing adoption of early planting and no-till farming has also increased soybean losses due to soil-borne diseases. Increasing competition for the soybean crop from industrial and bioenergy uses has put further pressure on soybean production for food and animal feed. Producers will see benefits in the form of management recommendations and coordinated educational efforts as a result of Ontario participation in this regional project. This project will continue and build on work started in the joint US/Ontario project titled, “Soybean seedling disease management” (May 2012 to February 2015) whose purpose as to determine the impact of environmental conditions on the epidemiology of important seedling pathogens such as Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and others and management options to minimize their economic impact to producers and the soybean industry. Unlike the previous project, two separate proposals were submitted to the United Soybean Board and the North Central Soybean Research Program. The NCSRP and USB team will collaborate and work together in a similar manner to the previous 3-year joint, USB-NCSRP project which GFO supported Ontario’s participation. Results from this project will be combined with the Oomycete-Soybean Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) project which included 28 co-project researchers from 17 institutions in the US with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech as the lead institution (Brett Tyler is the lead PI). The CAP project is funded at over $9,000,000 by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA, formerly CSREES), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Project Extension publications continued from "Soybean seedling disease management" (May 2012 to February 2015) as well as new initiatives including seed treatment efficacy table which will be updated annually. Other print and web-based publications will include, but are not limited to, impact of cover crops on seedling diseases, fungicide resistance, and the impact of environment of stand establishment.
2017-042019-03Preliminary Assessment of Barley Varieties and Development of Barley Grain Analyses Related to Malting Quality in OntarioDuane E. FalkThere is a growing interest in malting barley production in Ontario both from craft breweries and farmers. Craft breweries in Ontario are looking for locally grown malt, but many are sourcing their malt from outside of Ontario. Farmers are interested in malting barley production as a high-value alternative to traditional commodity crops in many areas of Ontario. Current barley varieties grown in Ontario do not have the quality required for production of malt for the brewers in Ontario and Eastern Canada The varieties in the Canada Eastern Malting class lists are not well-adapted to Ontario growing conditions, yield less than current barley varieties, and the malting quality is not the same as when grown in their area of adaptation. The two goals of this project are identifying high quality malting barleys best adapted to Ontario and evaluating and modernizing methods to evaluate malting quality on small samples of un-malted barley grain. The specific needs and special situations of craft maltsters and craft brewers will be given special consideration in evaluating the malting barley varieties. The initial agronomic evaluation of malting barleys will be done in un-replicated hill plots and head rows. Non-destructive malting quality analyses will be used to select lines to advance through the project. The second year of agronomic evaluation of malting barleys will be done in replicated trials at several locations in hill plots, head rows or multi-row plots, and these plots will be also evaluated for yield potential. The selected lines will be run through a more extensive series of quality evaluations. In addition to identifying potential malting barley breeding parents, this project will be evaluating and modernizing techniques have been used in the past to evaluate barley for potential malting quality. These older barley grain techniques need to be updated using modern technical advances in smaller scale, higher precision electronic devices and higher throughput, lower cost machines. Initial modifications and optimizations to barley grain tests will be made using a standard array of known malting quality barley samples. After refinement of the protocols, validation will be with a wider array of barley varieties from a more diverse set of environments to identify the most robust suite of grain tests that can be used to efficiently and effectively screen large numbers of small samples for potential malting quality.
2012-012018-02Re-evaluating phosphorus and potassium management for corn, soybeans and wheat in OntarioHorst Bohner & Dave HookerC2012AG11 Current phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) recommendations for Ontario are based on data from the 1960-1970s. Doubling of phosphorus and potassium fertilizer prices over the past 10 years has led some producers to reduce P and K fertilizer application rates. Crop yields during this same time period increased resulting in greater demand for, and removal in grain, of P and K. Currently, corn yields exceeding 200 bu/ac, soybean yields exceeding 50 bu/ac and wheat yields exceeding 100 bu/ac are becoming increasingly common. When these three crops are planted in rotation at yields of 200 bu/ac for corn, 50 bu/ac for soybeans and 100 bu/ac for wheat; the average yearly phosphorus and potassium removal is about 65 lb/ac for both P and K. There is concern that current OMAFRA P and K recommendations do not adequately provide for yields that are much higher than those of 25 years ago. There is very little long term research in Ontario comparing grain yields on soils with lower P and/or K levels (where only maintenance P and K fertilizer rates were applied) against yields on soils where P and K levels were built to relatively high levels. This proposed research will investigate the best P and K fertility approach with today's grain yields: current sufficiency approach versus "build and maintain" approach. The project will establish four long-term field trials to evaluate corn, soybean and wheat response. Yields will be measured where only sufficiency P and K fertilizer rates are applied on low testing soils against where soil-test P and K levels were built to greater than 21 ppm P and 120 ppm K and then maintained. A three-year soybean-winter wheat-corn rotation will be established with each crop present for each year of the trial. The goal is to maintain these trials for at least 10 years.
2013-102015-12Advancing corn in Ontario through hybrid and site specific managementDavid HookerC2013AG19 Innovative practices are needed to meet the global increase in the demand for food, and these must be developed efficiently to keep the Canadian agricultural industry competitive with other nations. Innovation will be accomplished by linking the latest in technology, developing the technology, and understanding the relationships between crop responses and sensor data with practical development and application in the field. Crop management strategies are changing in Ontario with the investigation of crop responses across combinations of input variables. These data have been generated on small plots or averaged across field length strips. Data averaged from small‐plot and field length strips have shown that corn yields are most responsive to specific hybrids, and changes in plant population, the application of a fungicide at VT stage, and nitrogen; however, little is known on the responsiveness of these various management strategies (or combinations thereof) across variable landscapes. Only a few studies have been conducted in Ontario on science‐driven site‐specific experiments in corn; clearly, intensive background measurements are needed to understand crop responses across variable landscapes. This project aimed to characterize crop responses to hybrid, plant population, nitrogen (N) fertilizer, and fungicides depending on the position in the field. Conclusions from 2014 and 2015 still need solidifying: a third year of experimentation will follow under "Advancing corn and wheat in Ontario through site-specific management: the conclusion." Corn response to increasing plant population from 32,000 to 37,000 plants/ac averaged approximately 5 bu/ac (P
2013-102015-12Advancing wheat in Ontario through variety and site specific managementDavid HookerW2013AG05 The development of GPS and variable rate technologies has created an opportunity to manage inputs on a site‐specific basis or small management zones. Each of these zones may be characterized by several variables. In addition, other layers of information within the GIS will be generated by using various sensor technologies during the growing season for identify various management opportunities (e.g., such as more N or a fungicide application). All of these sources of information (layers) will be investigated, prioritized, or weighed for predicting crop responses and optimizing inputs. Previous Strategic Management Adding Revenue Today (SMART) wheat projects have raised the bar of wheat production in Ontario. All of these experiments have been conducted by ignoring spatial variability. The results from those projects exceeded expectations by advancing wheat management. Clearly, many opportunities exist for high level management of agronomic inputs by site-specific field position in Ontario, but scientific research is very scarce in the province. Many growers in Ontario are asking for scientific data to back claims of higher profitability of site-specific management. The project aimed to determine site-specific responses of the most successful management strategies that were included in previous projects. A focus will also include grain yield and protein management in hard red wheat. Conclusions from results still need solidifying: a third year of experimentation will follow under "Advancing corn and wheat in Ontario through site-specific management: the conclusion." We initially proposed 3 field locations per year in 2014 and 2015 for a total of 6-crop years; 4 of these fields would be planted to hard red and 2 fields with soft red wheat. In 2014, treatments were installed on the 3 fields, but one field had excessive winterkill and could not be salvaged. In 2015, experiments were conducted on an additional field to make up for the lost field in 2014. The project was extended in 2016 with 2 more field locations for soft and hard red wheat through the Growing Forward 2 program. Extensive crop sampling was conducted to determine the site-specific responsiveness of grain yield and quality to various crop management strategies. We are investigating whether site-specific crop responses can be predicted from extensive soil characterization and topographical features. The identification of these features would allow future management to adjust inputs for maximum crop response. Using new statistical analytic tools to account for spatial variability, data to date shows that grain yield and quality responses to management depends highly on spatial location in the field. These results show that production and economics can increase through better resource allocation through site-specific management. A reduction of N rates from normal practices in some areas, and increased rates in other areas, equates to improved resource efficiencies and a lower environmental impact.
2016-042018-04Decision support tools for Ontario grain farmersMike CowbroughC2016AG05 Grain Farmers of Ontario in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) recently completed a project titled, 'Plant health resources for Ontario farmers,' that developed 23 resources and decision support tools to assist farmers with the management of insects, diseases and weeds. Due to the popularity of several of these tools, additional financial resources are required to update information so that farmers have access to the most recent best management practises.
2014-022016-01Plant Health Resources for Ontario FarmersMike CowbroughS2014AG04 A review of Ontario public research reports in the area of plant health (e.g. the minimization of crop yield and quality reduction by insects, diseases and weeds) demonstrates that if information is synthesized and placed in the hands of clients, it will lead to business changes that addresses environmental and climate change outcomes, open markets, enhancement of labour productivity and reduction of plant health risks, thereby increasing profitability. Much of this knowledge has recently been developed for use by primary producers but it still needs to be transferred to them. This project aimed to synthesize research in the area of plant health and transfer the information to Ontario producers and Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs). These products will be available in both English and French, in print and an e-book. E-books will be available on Grain Farmers of Ontario production page and will be available for free download. These products will be promoted in articles in traditional print media, social media, and face-to-face grower meetings.
2017-042022-03Long-term cover crop experiment: How much difference do cover crops make?Laura L. Van EerdC2017AG07 Healthy, productive soil is critical to enhancing the long-term profitability of agriculture. Cover crops may play an important role in maintaining soil health and influence on carbon and nitrogen stores. But these soil changes can only be detected over the long-term. Two unique and state-of-the-art long-term cover crop experiments have been run at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, for the past 10 years. Each year in the long-term cover crop experiment, above-ground primary productivity (biomass) and carbon inputs of all plants (cover crops and main crop) have been quantified. The overall goal of project is continue the established long-term cover crop experiments to improve our understanding of the influence of long-term cover cropping on crop yield stability and resiliency by investigating carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling. Trial #1 will be switched from a cover crop planting date trial to a multi-species cover crop trial, in a rotation of soybean, winter wheat followed by cover crops, grain corn, snap beans followed by cover crops and sweet corn followed by cover crops. The multi-species cover crops will be chosen based on type (mixes of grasses, legumes and broadleaves) and their management (i.e. winter kill versus overwinters and requires chemical or mechanical termination) and compared to a no cover crop control. Trial #2 continues to be a cover crop trial using oats, cereal rye, oilseed radish, a mix of oilseed radish and cereal rye, and no cover crop control with the main crops of peas, sweet corn, spring wheat, tomatoes, grain corn, squash, soybeans, and winter wheat, tomatoes, peas. Trial #2 will also be evaluating the impact of removing or retaining crop residues of grain corn and winter wheat. The main crop plots will be evaluated each year for yield, quality, above ground biomass weight, and carbon and nitrogen content. The cover crop plots each year will be evaluated for above ground biomass weight and C and N content in the fall and following spring. Finally, soil mineral N will be quantified by taking soil samples at main crop planting, harvest and in late fall (November).
2017-042018-03Molecular markers to select for oat grain fillA. R. McElroyO2017GE01 Oat is a valuable rotation crop in Ontario and there are good markets for high-quality grain for both feed and milling. However, low yields, compared to some other cereals, and low test weight ('light oats') diminish its popularity. Both problems relate to grain fill. PhytoGene Resources Inc. has determined that the number of kernels per panicle is the major yield determinant, and that the proportion of unfilled kernels - a phenomenon not related to stress during the grain filling period - affects yield, and particularly average seed mass and test weight. Both parameters have been shown to be heritable. Evaluating these traits is laborious and expensive, since individual panicles must be threshed and the seed cleaned prior to counting the filled and unfilled kernels. The use of molecular markers would increase the efficiency of screening for these two traits. An in silico array chip has been developed for oat and contains approximately 6,000 molecular markers called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). This '6K chip' may contain SNPs associated with quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that are related to kernel number per panicle and the percent of unfilled kernels. The project will test whether the '6K Chip' can be used to develop molecular markers to enhance selection for kernel development in oat. Fifty elite oat lines which have been tested with the '6K Chip' will be grown in replicated plots in Cumberland, ON. Panicles with uniform heading date will be tagged in each plot; these will be hand-harvested and evaluated for filled and unfilled kernels, as well as number of kernels per panicle. The remainder of each plot will be bulk harvested with a plot combine to generate yield data. Then statistical analysis will be used to identify associations between the SNPs and the observed traits (kernel number per panicle, plot yield and unfilled kernels).
2017-042020-03Metagenomics of Fusarium Head Blight of wheatDavid Guttman & Gopal SubramaniamW2017ID03 Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a devastating global disease of small grain cereals that has been called "the worst plant disease to hit the US since the rust epidemics in the 1950s". The disease is caused by the fungus Fusarium graminearum, which overwinters in crop debris and infects grain heads under favorable environmental conditions. FHB poses a double threat. First, it can significantly reduce both yield and seed germination by discoloring and shriveling the grain kernels. Second, the pathogen produces mycotoxins that contaminate grains during infection, and which are a very direct health risk to humans and domesticated animals. The severity of FHB infection depends on the cereal variety, amount of fungal inoculum and favorable weather conditions. The most effective control strategies have relied on the use of resistant varieties and fungicides; however, these control measures are not always effective, resulting in massive crop losses or contaminated grain. Consequently, there is very strong interest in the identification and development of novel biocontrol agents that can assist in the fight against this disease. The goal of the project is to understand the contribution of microbial communities to the health of wheat plants. During the study, microbial communities called microbiomes will be assessed to determine how they differ among cultivars with different levels of FHB susceptibility, and determine how the microbiomes respond to F. graminearum infections and the development of FHB disease. This study will provide the first look at the microbiological changes that occur during the FHB development. It will assess the impact of both host (wheat) and pathogen genetic variability on FHB disease development. Understanding the wheat head microbiome and the dynamics of this community during FHB disease development has the potential to reveal new pathogen antagonists or growth promoting microbes, and thereby facilitate the identification of novel biocontrol agents.
2017-042019-04Development of a protocol for farmer participatory validation of a corn nitrogen decision support system (DSS)Bill DeenC2017AG01 Corn is the largest single recipient of nitrogen (N) fertilizers applied to agricultural crops, yet less than half of the N fertilizer applied to corn is recovered in grain. Greater than 50% of fertilizer N remains at risk of exiting the agro-ecosystem before crop uptake. Low fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is an economic inefficiency with profound implications for global N cycling and N pollution. Optimal fertilizer N rates in corn varies across years and across fields, making it difficult to predict the correct rate. The primary reason for this variation in optimum N rates is because soil moisture affects both natural soil N supply and corn N demand. Existing N recommendation systems have had limited success in predicting this variation, because the effect of moisture availability on corn N demand is often ignored. The effect moisture on corn N demand remains difficult to address, since this variation occurs after traditional side-dress timing, usually within the first two weeks of June. The objective of this proposal is to develop a corn N decision support system (DSS) and on-farm protocol in collaboration with stakeholders. The corn N DSS will build on the "OMAFRA General Recommended Nitrogen Rates for Corn: Corn N Calculator" and will be designed to consider the effects of moisture on both soil N supply and corn N demand. Field trials on new corn hybrids will test how soil moisture affects corn N requirements at different corn stages and uptake at later stages of growth. New N datasets produced from these field trials will be added to the current Corn N Calculator and will be used to determine if delta-yield will predict Maximum Economic Rate of Nitrogen (MERN). This delta-yield approach simplifies MERN calculations, and if proven, would allow farmers to more easily measure the variability of yield response to N across their fields. The validation of a corn N DSS requires substantial amounts of data. Historically researchers have assumed this task, but with the emergence of precision agriculture/big data capabilities, farmers can now also be directly involved with data generation. A protocol will be developed so that farmers can actively participate in data generation for on-farm validation.
2012-042015-04Brown marmorated stink bug monitoring for OntarioTracey BauteS2012ID02 Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys Stål, is an invasive pest from Asia. It was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2001 and has since spread to 41 states and two provinces, including Ontario and Quebec. BMSB has become a significant pest of several host crops in the Mid-Atlantic US, including corn and soybeans. Corn kernels and soybean seeds are punctured by their piercing mouthparts, and injury results in discolouration and shrivelled, unmarketable product. BMSB is also a possible vector of purple seed stain and can delay maturity in soybeans and cause aborted ears in corn. The highly mobile BMSB are known to move between crops, extending the activity within a crop which results in additional monitoring and more intensive management practices. Only through monitoring, education and awareness are we able to detect their presence and respond accordingly. This three year survey project aimed to monitor field crops and several urban, natural and high traffic/tourist locations with known tree host species. The project relied on collaboration between the extension personnel and summer staff from OMAFRA; researchers from University of Guelph and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; and 70 grower co-operators and crop consultants. Grower co-operators and crop consultants were involved in providing field sites to monitor throughout the summer. To determine tree host species for BMSB, the following host trees were targeted for sampling: buckthorn, ash, Catalpa sp., choke cherry, crab apple, dogwood, American cranberry bush, honeysuckle, lilac, American basswood, Manitoba maple or box elder, mulberry, rose, tree of heaven, walnut, and wild grape. Tree hosts were monitored early in the season, while host crops were monitored later in the season, when pods or corn ears were forming. Monitoring of field crop fields included 133 fields in 2012, 127 fields in 2013, and a more focused effort of 63 fields in 2014. Ontario was the first to confirm that buckthorn is a very good and long season host for BMSB, which due to the widespread distribution of this invasive plant in Ontario, increases the number of fields at risk. No field established BMSB populations were found in any host crops during this study. Through increase public awareness campaigns and establishment of the OMAFRA Agricultural Information Contact Centre as the key contact for suspect BMSB finds by homeowners and citizen scientists, we have determined that BMSB has spread across much of the province. Over 250 overwintering populations were confirmed by homeowners and four established breeding populations were found in urban settings by collaborating researchers. Through our monitoring efforts, BMSB has now been detected and/or established in 31 locations across southern Ontario, with no detections found in crops as of April 2015. This rapid spread and increased number of detections indicates that it is only a matter of time before BMSB moves onto host crops in Ontario. This monitoring project is continued in the project titled, "Monitoring for brown marmorated stink bug in Ontario corn and soybean" (2015 - 2018).
2015-042017-03Monitoring for brown marmorated stink bug in Ontario corn and soybeanTracey BauteS2015ID03 Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB; Halyomorpha halys Stål) is an invasive pest from Asia. It was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2001 and has since spread to 41 states and two provinces, including Ontario and Quebec. BMSB has become a significant pest of several host crops in the Mid-Atlantic US, including corn and soybeans. Current research efforts in the mid-Atlantic US indicate that there is a significant risk of substantial yield loss within the first 40 feet of corn and soybean fields. Preliminary results from indicate a potential yield loss of up to 40 bu/ac within the first 40 feet of row in soybeans if populations reach one stink bug per foot of row, which is the current threshold for other stink bugs in soybeans in Ontario and other jurisdictions. Early detection is critical for management strategies to be implemented before Ontario corn and soybean producers experience significant yield loss. This project aims to monitor and document the continued spread of BMSB continuing with the protocol developed in the 2012-2014 survey. Sampling will be biased to agricultural areas considered at high risk, near known established breeding populations or those with prior confirmed homeowner finds. In each of the two survey years, surveys will consist of visual sampling, sweep nets, and pheromone traps in urban and natural sites, transportation corridors and agricultural crops. Visual inspection will be performed on all potential plant hosts surveyed. At each site, any stink bug (indigenous or exotic) nymphs, adults, and egg masses found will be collected in order to catalog the native and exotic species that exist in the habitats described above. In corn and soybeans growing regions, monitoring will extend across counties in southern Ontario. This project is a continuation of the project titled, "Brown marmorated stink bug monitoring for Ontario" (2012 - 2015).
2017-042019-08Isoflavonoid levels in soybean (Glycine max) cultivars and associated anti-herbivore activityIan Scott & Sangeeta DhaubhadelS2017ID02 Two important soybean pests are the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines) and the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae). When populations of these two herbivores are high, there can be a severe reduction in soybean yield. The current strategy for aphid management involves monitoring and reacting by applying insecticides to reduce the aphid pressure. Spider mites are an emerging pest due to the increasing incidence of warmer, drier weather conditions in Ontario. Insecticides are applied to control high populations of aphids and mites; however, the over-use of insecticides may cause mite populations to flare up by reducing native beneficial enemies (lady bird beetles and predatory mites). Isoflavonoids are legume-specific plant natural products abundant in soybean. Their production is induced by herbivores, including hemipterans (e.g. stink bugs and aphids) and lepidopterans (e.g. armyworms and leaf worms), and are characterized by feeding inhibitory activity and growth inhibitory activity on herbivorous insects. Reducing the number of insecticide applications or delaying applications until later in the growing season by slowing aphid and mite population growth is the goal of developing more resistant soybean cultivars to these pests. This project examines the levels of isoflavonoids in leaves of several Ontario grown soybean cultivars to determine which compounds are most active and which cultivars are important for managing aphid and mite populations to provide an additional tool for soybean IPM. This project will screen resistance of several Ontario soybean cultivars from different maturity groups to the two pests by measuring plant damage as well as growth and reproduction of aphids and mites. Chromatographic techniques will be used for analysis of isoflavonoids in the resistant cultivars. Statistics will be used to correlate the biological and chemical data for isoflavonoids identified in the cultivars and the corresponding pest damage ratings. The findings can be used by growers to select cultivars with increased herbivore resistance when early season predictions indicate conditions preferable for aphid and/or mite infestations. The evidence will also provide direction for breeding or metabolic engineering of specific isoflavonoids into currently registered cultivars to improve their resistance.
2017-042022-03Perpetuation and economics of long-term tillage rotation platforms at Ridgetown and EloraDavid Hooker & Bill DeenC2017AG17 The factors driving cropping system decisions are numerous and complex. Growers synthesize the best available information for making cropping system decisions, but usually with a focus on economic performance of individual crops in the short-term. The current trend for less diverse crop rotations in Ontario has been driven, in part, to the lack of quantifiable data available to growers to make informed cropping systems decisions. Long-term cropping system studies are critical to generate the data needed to address economic and crop productivity over the long-term rather than individual years. Current long-term rotation trials were established in 1995 (Ridgetown) and 1981 (Elora) and are uniquely designed and managed to answer economic and environmental questions. They have served as platforms for multiple objectives across disciplines: including the training of students and disseminating knowledge of soil and cropping system responses through scientific journal publications, farmer-focused field days, the CashCropper App, extension materials, and articles in the media. To affect change in farmer practices data is required that shows economic benefits of more complex rotations, reduced tillage systems, improvement of fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency and cover crops. The overall goal of the project is to have a comprehensive economic analysis on yield data and stability over time and to maintain the trials to serve a platform across multiple disciplines. The economic analysis will involve determining the impact of cropping system strategies on profits and on return on investment. The level and variation of returns would be assessed within and across years, taking into account the influence of weather. The data will be incorporated into a new version of the CashCropper App to make the results accessible to growers. In addition, the trials are planned to serve as platforms for further multi-disciplinary research that specifically examines environmental question: crop rotation treatments align with treatments in the the lysimeter project at the Elora Research Station (Dr. Claudia Wagner-Riddle "Environmental and economic value of soil services" - http://gfo.ca/research-project/C2016AG01); soil microbiological profiling is being done; and crop nutrient uptake and grain quality effects on soil health are being measured.
2017-052021-04Integrated Weed Management strategies for the control of glyphosate-resistant waterhempPeter SikkemaC2017ID03 The overreliance on a single weed management strategy or a simplified crop rotation may have short-term advantages such as simplicity and possible short-term profit maximization, but may have long-term detrimental effects due to the evolution of herbicide-resistant biotypes. Herbicides have been a very cost-effective option for weed management in field crops for over 70 years. But the overreliance on herbicides has resulted in the evolution herbicide-resistant biotypes, sometimes multiple-resistant biotypes as is the case with waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus var. rudis) in Ontario. Studies conducted on Ontario farms showed waterhemp pressure can result in up to 48% yield loss in corn and up to 73% yield loss in soybean. Glyphosate-resistant (GR) waterhemp has been confirmed in 40 fields in Essex, Chatham-Kent and Lambton Counties. To make matters worse for Ontario farmers, 61% of seed samples collected had 3-way multiple resistance to Group 2 (Pursuit), Group 5 (Atrazine) and Group 9 (Roundup) herbicides. This dramatically reduces the herbicide options for controlling this competitive weed. This small-seeded, summer annual, broadleaf weed has an extended emergence pattern, has high genetic diversity, is a prolific seed producer, is very competitive and has the potential to spread rapidly throughout Ontario if not properly controlled. This project aims to study many of the principles of Integrated Weed Management (IWM) to deplete waterhemp seed in the seedbank and to develop a more sustainable approach to weed management using multiple weed management tactics. The diverse crop rotation will include crops with different seeding and harvesting times, crops with different row widths and seeding densities, the inclusion of cover crops, and the use of multiple herbicide modes-of-action. These integrated strategies are expected to limit the selection of herbicide-resistant waterhemp, reduce seed return to the seedbank and reduce its movement from field-to-field in Ontario. Waterhemp seed density in the seedbank will be determined prior to initiating the experiment and after the 3rd year of the study (after one cycle of a 3-year crop rotation). Corn, soybean and wheat will be grown in a 3-year rotation, with a cover crop seeded after winter wheat harvest. The most efficacious herbicides will be used in each crop. As a result of this research, Ontario grain farmers will have data from local studies on the effectiveness of many of the principles of IWM that could lead to the development of long-term, sustainable weed management strategies for control of waterhemp in corn, soybean and wheat rotation.
2017-042020-03Integrated pest management and insecticide resistance management for western bean cutworm in Ontario cornArt Schaafsma & Jocelyn SmithC2017ID02 First identified in Ontario in 2008, western bean cutworm has become a significant economic pest of corn in Ontario. Western bean cutworm (WBC) continues to plague Ontario corn producers with losses mainly in grain quality due to insect damage-related moulds resulting in mycotoxin contamination. Fusarium graminearum infection which occurs frequently in Ontario results in increased contamination of grain with mycotoxins that have serious negative effects on the health of livestock and human consumers. The mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), also known as vomitoxin or VOM, is probably the most important quality factor in trade of Ontario corn affecting both the livestock and ethanol industries. The distribution of WBC has significantly expanded from its native range in the western U.S. across the Midwest Corn Belt over the last few decades and recently into eastern Canada. There are three problems: one, the current published action threshold is yield-based and we have learned that it is not conservative enough because of the importance of mycotoxins; second, the transgenic solution we had hoped for in Cry1F has failed; and third, growers are depending mainly on one insecticide product (i.e. Coragen) to manage this pest. The overall goal of this project is to develop a more reliable decision threshold to minimize insecticide use, the introduction of alternative active ingredients, and an insecticide resistance management (IRM) plan. A further benefit is that the seed industry will be introducing competitive hybrids carrying a new transgenic Bt protein (Vip3A) which our lab and field tests have shown to be highly effective against WBC. Again, reliance on this strategy alone will inevitably lead to the evolution of resistance. We propose to include the introduction of Vip3A in an IRM plan with the overall strategy of simultaneously extending the useful life of both the insecticides and the Vip3A trait. The overall benefit of this project will be development of a sustainable plan that will provide corn producers with a long term strategy for WBC management.
2017-042021-06Evergreen farming in southern Ontario: more effective use of cover crops in rotations involving corn, soybean, or winter wheatXueming Yang & Dan ReynoldsC2017AG05 Soil and water quality in southwestern Ontario are important to maintain in order to achieve improvements in field-crop yields, reduce sediment in streams and lakes, and limit appearance of dead zones and algal blooms in the lower Great Lakes, especially Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario. Water quality is of national and international importance because the Great Lakes represents about 20% of the world’s fresh water reserve, which is shared and relied upon by more than 40 million Canadians and Americans for drinking water, field-crop irrigation, commercial and sport fishing, and general recreation. Agriculture has an acknowledged role in the soil and water quality of the Great Lakes watershed. Farmers recognize that intensive crop production systems can lead to the degradation of the soil by decreasing soil structure, permeability, and soil organic carbon content. Cover crops may play an important role in maintaining soil health and influence carbon and nitrogen stores. Although there are many anticipated agronomic, economic, and environmental benefits to using cover crops, they can be difficult to implement in crop rotations with long-season crops such as corn and soybean as there are not sufficient growing degree days left in the fall for successful establishment when the cover crop is planted after harvest. Preliminary work suggests that seeding certain cover crops (e.g. hairy vetch, red clover, crimson clover) after winter wheat harvest can significantly reduce losses of nitrogen from agricultural lands by: 1) scavenging “left-over” nutrient after harvest from the crop root zone and storing the nutrient; and 2) by increasing the soil’s ability to store air and water, sequester organic carbon, and retain and recycle nutrients within the crop root zone. The anticipated outcome of this research project includes recommendations for better selection and management of cover crops to improve the economic and environmental performance of corn-soybean-winter wheat rotations in southwestern Ontario. This research project will address gaps in our knowledge regarding: i) which cover crops are best suited for planting into wheat stubble or standing corn (i.e. intercropping); ii) the best method for termination and incorporation of the cover crop; iii) which cover crops are most effective for scavenging “left-over” nutrient after harvest, increasing soil organic matter, and improving soil physical quality; and iv) how much “nitrogen credit” cover crops provide to corn on southwestern Ontario’s medium and fine textured soils (e.g. Brookston clay loam) in the lower Great Lakes watershed.
2017-082020-12Evaluating yield competitiveness of fall and spring strip tillage and fertility placement systems relative to conventional tillage and broadcast fertilizer systems in efforts to reduce soil and P loss from farm fieldsBen RosserC2017AG20 Agriculture has been identified as a significant contributor toward phosphorous (P) loading in Lake Erie, and has received considerable attention for this role. Soil conservation efforts such as no-till have delivered reductions in particulate P loading; however, these efforts have been offset by an increase in dissolved P, which have been partly attributed to the broadcasting of fertilizer on soil surfaces which do not receive incorporation and are susceptible for loss through surface water. Future conservation strategies for long term sustainability will need to address both issues – reduction in erosion (reduces particulate P loss) with simultaneous incorporation of fertilizer into the soil (reduces dissolved P loss). Strip tillage is one system which could potentially address both reduced tillage and sub-surface placement of larger amounts of fertilizer. Strip tillage has been investigated and promoted as a conservation tillage system for nearly 20 years in Ontario, and is now seeing considerable momentum and uptake in the farm community. More research is required to evaluate the ability of strip tillage to replace surface applications of P and potassium (potash, K) fertilizer, and further refine management recommendations for current corn hybrids and strip tillage technology for those who are converting to it. This project will investigate the response of P and K fertility and placement in a strip tillage system relative to broadcast and conventional tillage practices by conducting trials in Perth, Wellington, Brant and Oxford counties. Four or five trials will be conducted each year to investigate the ability of strip tillage and fertility placement systems to compete competitively with broadcast fertility and conventional tillage systems. Trials will be conducted with co-operators who are currently under conventional tillage systems, and for fertilizer response potential will be placed on locations with low P or K fertility. Treatments will investigate a variety of tillage and fertilizer placements methods to answer the above objectives over three growing seasons.
2011-042015-03Impact of tillage, planting systems, fertilizer placement and residue removal on crop establishmentHorst BohnerS2011AG03
2013-022015-01Competition effects in red clover underseedings to winter wheatStephen BowleyW2013AG02
2013-042018-03National Wheat Improvement Program Cluster, Activity 49: Development of spring wheat varieties and germplasm for market competitiveness in eastern CanadaYves DionNWIP-A49
2013-042018-03National Wheat Improvement Program Cluster, Activity 50: Development of hard red winter wheat varieties and germplasm for expansion of growing area, increased competitiveness and adaptation to new markets in Eastern CanadaYves DionNWIP-A50
2012-042015-08Development of integrated soil quality indicators for Ontario agro-ecosystems based on advanced physical and biological techniquesRichard HeckC2012AG13
2013-022016-01Long term field trials to examine corn, soybean and wheat production systemsDavid HookerC2013EN05
2014-032015-03Development and validation of gamma ray sensor technology for facilitating precision agriculture opportunities in OntarioDavid Hooker & Nicole RabeC2014AG24
2010-092015-09Exploring the density tolerance, yield potential paradigmElizabeth LeeC2009GE02
2012-052015-02Understanding and managing the relationship between insect damage and mycotoxin accumulation in grain cornArt SchaafsmaC2012ID03
2012-122015-03Literature review and database of P and K research data to develop sound best management practices for P and KGreg StewartC2012AG14
2012-122015-03Updating and harmonizing corn nitrogen recommendationsGreg StewartC2012AG15
2012-122015-03Evaluating Plant And Soil Sensors For Determining Site-Specific Nitrogen StrategiesGreg StewartC2013AG18
2013-112015-12Developing an integrated strip tillage system for cornGreg StewartC2014AG21
2014-042016-03Integration of cultural weed management methods as a proactive strategy to reduce herbicide resistance risksFrançois TardifC2014AG14
2014-072017-03Practical management of soybean cyst nematode – Part IIITom WelackyS2014ID02
2016-042017-10Phosphorus loss mitigation: cover crop species and soil P interactionsIvan O'HalloranW2016AG01, GF2 0422
2009-012012-09Fusarium resistant corn inbredsLaima Kott
2010-012012-03Impact of early season stresses under high corn plant populationsClarence Swanton
2010-012011-12The environmental footprint of growing corn for biofuelsClaudia Wagner-Riddle
2012-012014-02Losses and logistics of alternative corn nitrogen application methodsIan McDonald & John Lauzon
2012-012013-10Evaluation of starter fertilizer advancement for corn and soybeansGreg Stewart & Horst Bohner
2012-012013-10Assessing agronomic management strategies for sulphur application and the impact on wheat gluten functionality in Ontario wheatPeter Johnson & Koushik Seetharaman
2013-012013-10Exploring nitrogen fixation in corn using Nfix (G. diazotrophicus)Greg Stewart & Ian McDonald
2005-022011-01A soybean rust strategy for OntarioAlbert Tenuta
2007-022011-05Fusarium Management and Wheat Breeding ProgramDuane Falk & Lily Tamburic-Ilincic
2011-022014-01Reducing the impact of soil water deficits on soybean yields in OntarioHugh Earl
2011-032013-10Effect of climate on the reproductive biology and overwintering success of the Western Bean Cutworm: Implications for Monitoring with Pheremones and Insect Resistance ManagementJeremy McNeil
2012-032013-10Identifying key chemical, physical and microbial indicators involved in soil and root health of corn as a means to develop sustainable production systems for corn and soybeansGeorge Lazarovitz
2012-032014-02Evaluation of pre-harvest sprouting in soft white winter wheat in OntarioLily Tamburic-Ilincic
2013-032014-10Mitigating the Risk of Exposure of Pollinators to Insecticide Contaminated Dust During Corn PlantingTracey Baute & Art Schaafsma
2005-042010-03Ontario Corn Extension ActivitiesGreg Stewart
2008-042012-03Management of Problem weeds in Corn, Soy and WheatPeter Sikkema
2008-042013-04Development of Improved Soybean Varieties and novel germplasm to enhance production and market opportunities for Ontario soybean producersIstvan Rajcan & Gary Ablett
2008-042010-01Molecular Mapping and Characterization of Genes Underlying Low Cadmium Uptake and Protein CompositionKangfu Yu
2008-042011-03Southern Ontario Soybean Insect Pest and Plant Virus Survey for 2008-2010Tracy Baute
2008-042011-03Evaluation and testing selected plant introductions from the USDA for soybean rust resistanceIstvan Rajcan
2008-042012-05Biological Control of Fusarium Head Blight and Mycotoxin Contamination in Wheat Production in OntarioAllen Xue
2009-042011-04Development of High Oil Soybeans for Biodiesel in OntarioIstvan Rajcan
2009-042012-10Is the soybean variety important for making accurate fungicide application decisions?Horst Bohner
2009-042012-03Weed management in soybeans (2009)Peter Sikkema
2009-042011-10Can we increase soybean yield with early planting and longer varieties?Horst Bohner & Hugh Earl
2009-042011-02Weed control strategies for IP soybean production in OntarioFrançois Tardif & Clarence Swanton
2009-042011-10Drought stress in Ontario soybean - How much yield are we losing?Hugh Earl
2009-042010-01Canadian soybean breeding programVaino Poysa, Gary Ablett, Elroy Cober, & Istvan Rajcan
2009-042013-05Monitoring and evaluation of soybean viral diseases in Ontario and screening for natural genetic resistanceAiming Wang
2009-042012-09Agronomic Options for Wheat 2009Peter Johnson
2009-042012-09Wheat Fungicide Trials - Investigating the impact of increasing management on cereal performance trialsOntario Cereal Crop Committee (OCCC)
2010-042012-09Weed Management in Corn 2010-2012Peter Sikkema
2010-042012-03The replant interval effect of selected grass control herbicides on cornClarence Swanton
2010-042011-10Recovering yield potential in corn exposed to early weed stressClarence Swanton
2010-042012-09Achieving the next profitability level in corn with accurate foliar fungicide decisionsDavid Hooker
2010-042012-03Ontario Corn Replant Decision CalculatorGreg Stewart & David Hooker
2010-042011-06Reducing the cost of convention drying grain corn to zeroDavid Hooker
2010-042012-07Upgrading Corn Performance Trial Information ManagementGreg Stewart
2010-042012-09Screening New Corn Hybrids for Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Optimum N RateJohn Lauzon & Bill Deen
2010-042012-10A Comparison of Farm Input Prices – Ontario Versus Nearby US StatesKen McEwan
2010-042012-09Long term field trials to examine yield, soil productivity and environmental impacts of Ontario corn, soybean and wheat production systemsDavid Hooker & Bill Deen
2010-042012-09Western Bean Cutworm monitoring and management strategies for OntarioArt Schaafsma
2010-042013-03Advancing Canadian field crops through breeding for production efficiency, pest resistance, and consumer quality, Activity 2: Soybean molecular mapping and geneticsFrançois Belzile
2010-042013-03Advancing Canadian field crops through breeding for production efficiency, pest resistance, and consumer quality, Activity 5: Soybean breedingIstvan Rajcan
2010-042013-03Advancing Canadian field crops through breeding for production efficiency, pest resistance, and consumer quality, Activity 7: Soybean breeding and evaluationPierre Turcotte
2010-042013-03Advancing Canadian field crops through breeding for production efficiency, pest resistance, and consumer quality, Activity 8: Winter wheat breedingDuane Falk
2010-042013-03Advancing Canadian field crops through breeding for production efficiency, pest resistance, and consumer quality, Activity 10: Winter wheat breedingLily Tamburic-Ilincic
2010-042013-03Advancing Canadian field crops through breeding for production efficiency, pest resistance, and consumer quality, Activity 11: Winter wheat breeding and evaluationYves Dion
2010-042013-03Advancing Canadian field crops through breeding for production efficiency, pest resistance, and consumer quality, Activity 14: Spring wheat breeding and evaluationYves Dion
2010-042013-03Advancing Canadian field crops through breeding for production efficiency, pest resistance, and consumer quality, Activity 17: Barley breedingDuane Falk
2010-042012-03 Identifying sources of partial resistance and tolerance to Phytophthora and Pythium root rotsAllen Xue
2010-042013-04Soymilk and soymilk gels: How does processing affect functionality?Milena Corredig & Marcela Alexander
2010-042014-03S.M.A.R.T. II: Strategic Management Adding Revenue To Winter Wheat and Soybean Growers in OntarioDavid Hooker
2010-042012-10Soybean Tillage SystemsHorst Bohner
2010-042012-10Soybean Rust Monitoring and Management for OntarioAlbert Tenuta
2010-042012-10Improving Management of Soybean Cyst Nematode through Extension Demonstration and OutreachAlbert Tenuta
2010-042012-09S.M.A.R.T. Spring CerealsJohn Rowsell
2011-042014-04Validation of Ontario's N fertilizer recommendations for corn in high yield environmentsGreg Stewart
2011-042014-03Introduction of Glucanobacter diazotrophicus bacterium into sugary-type corn varieties for nitrogen fixationLining Tian
2011-042013-12Evaluation of the effectiveness of transgenes in reducing deoxynivalenol (DON) in corn after infection with Fusarium graminearumPeter Pauls
2011-042014-04Weed management in soybean 2011Peter Sikkema
2011-042014-04Performance comparison of corn and soybean herbicides to common and emerging weed populationsMike Cowbrough
2011-042014-04Evaluation of nematicides for SCN management, Corn and soybean nematode managementAlbert Tenuta
2011-042014-03Practical management of soybean cyst nematode IITom Welacky
2011-042013-05Development of Ontario soybean lines with elevated human health qualitiesSteve Gleddie
2011-042014-04Realizing yield potential in wheatPeter Johnson
2011-042014-05Enhancement of resistance to Ug99 in Ontario wheatGeorge Fedak
2011-042014-03Development of novel methods to control fusarium head blight and sclerotinia stem rotGopal Subramaniam
2011-042012-04Development of an on-site testing method for deoxynivalenol (DON)Gregory Penner
2011-042014-04Evaluation of environmentally stable nitrogen for corn and spring wheat production in Eastern OntarioAshraf Tubeileh
2013-042014-04Assessing the impact of tillage on phosphorus loss through tile lines in OntarioMerrin Macrae
2013-042014-12Distribution and control of glyphosate resistant common ragweedPeter Sikkema
2007-052010-04Sustainable management of the soybean aphidRebecca Hallet
2008-052013-03Molecular diagnostics of the Ontario Soybean Rust Sentinel Plot ProgramSarah Hambleton
2008-052011-12S.M.A.R.T. Initiatives for Increasing Wheat and Soybean Performance in OntarioDavid Hooker & Albert Tenuta
2008-052009-04Strategies for the Development of High Quality Spring Wheat for OntarioJudith Reid & Harvey Voldeng
2009-052010-10 The phenology of bean leaf beetle in Ontario and the impacts of late season pod feeding on soybean seed qualityJocelyn Smith & Tracey Baute
2010-052014-02Improved utilization of soy polyol design and engineering of novel polyurethanes for greener auto parts usesAmar Mohanty
2010-052011-05Herbicide selector for non-GMO and glyphosate tolerant soybeansMike Cowbrough
2010-052012-09Management of the Soybean Aphid and Bean Leaf Beetle in Ontario SoybeansRebecca Hallet
2010-052013-07Assessing new strategies to tailor wheat quality to end use attributesKoushik Seetharaman
2011-052013-04Development of genome-wide selection strategies within elite soybean pedigrees to produce high yielding Ontario soybean varietiesIstvan Rajcan
2011-052013-05Investigating emerging pathogens, new wheat leaf virulence in Ontario and emerging stem rust races in AfricaBarry Saville
2012-052012-10Cross commodity weed assessment technologySteven Newmaster
2010-062013-09Distribution and Control of Glyphosate Resistant Giant Ragweed and Canada FleabanePeter Sikkema & François Tardif
2008-072010-06Practical Management of Soybean Cyst NematodeTom Welacky
2008-082013-09A New Class of Engineered Green Composites from Soy Meal/Soy StalkManju Misra
2010-082013-09Weed management in winter wheatPeter Sikkema
2008-092012-08Development of an Integrated Mycotoxin Management System in Ontario CerealsArt Schaafsma
2008-092011-09Western Bean Cutworm Trapping NetworkTracey Baute
2008-092010-03Fusarium Biocontrol by Induced-ResistanceGopal Subramaniam
2009-092012-09Corn production calculators - Growth Stage InformationIan Nichols
2009-092012-08Development of novel soy-based thermoplastic compositesChristine Moresoli & Leonardo Simon
2009-092011-03Determination of the maximum use of CESRW in milling grists to produce flours for the production arabic breads in targeted marketsTony Tweed & Mike Reimer
2009-092011-08Discriminating gluten protein quality during early stages of wheat breeding: developing a torque based methodKoushik Seetharaman
2010-092013-06Study on dynamics of mycotoxin profiles of Fusarium graminearum in corn wheat and potatoes in Ontario and other Canadian provincesLily Tamburic-Ilincic
2008-102010-12Understanding interactions of winter wheat herbicides with cold temperatures and fungicides to manage yield and qualityFrançois Tardif & Peter Sikkema
2008-102010-09Characterization of Mechanisms of Defence Expressed in the Rachis of Novel Sources of Resistance to Fusarium Head Blight (FHB)Shea Miller
2009-102011-03Platform for objective analysis of sprouting damage in Ontario wheatGregory Penner
2010-102013-10Molecular and physiological characterization of partial resistance to white mold in soybean.Istvan Rajcan
2009-112012-03Efficient and economic starter fertilizers for cornGreg Stewart
2010-122013-10Integrated management system of OTA in winter wheatArt Schaafsma
2011-122013-09Enhancing winter wheat performance and quality by host resistance to multiple diseases and fungicide applicationLily Tamburic-Ilincic
2017-042020-03An examination of stripe rust-winter wheat pathosystem in Ontario to improve genetic gain in breeding programsAlireza Navabiw2017id02 The value of wheat crop in Ontario is estimated to be around $550 million per year. High yield and quality of Ontario winter wheat is seriously threatened by biotic and abiotic stresses, among which Fusarium head blight (FHB, caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum) has historically been most damaging. The mycotoxin produced by this fungus is harmful for human health and livestock feed and productivity. More recently, stripe rust (or yellow rust YR, caused by the fungal pathogen Puccinia striiformis) has been causing serious damage to wheat production in Ontario. The stripe rust epidemic in Ontario wheat in 2016 was record-breaking with severities as high as 100% on susceptible winter wheat varieties in some areas. The reason for this is that the new races of stripe rust in North America are more aggressive and can tolerate higher spring temperatures. Conventional chemical fungicides are commonly used as an important mean to control these diseases. However, they are an added cost to producers. The use of genetically-resistant varieties and natural plant defense activators (PDAs) are among the most promising approach to control different plant diseases. Genetic resistance against diseases is often conditioned by the products of resistance genes that detect the pathogen and initiate a cascade of signaling events triggering defense mechanisms that combat the infection. Combining adult resistance genes with other seedling resistance genes is generally-known as an effective breeding strategy to achieve durable resistance to rust disease in wheat.

This research is designed to address the growing threat from stripe rust through a better understanding of the host-pathogen interaction. The project will expand the current winter wheat breeding program at the University of Guelph on fusarium head blight resistance breeding to include more focused work on the rust diseases. This project is expected to benefit Ontario winter wheat growers and the wheat industry in general by providing a better understanding of stripe rust races in Ontario, which are migrating from the south. Molecular markers will be used to identify major and durable resistant genes in wheat materials and to develop molecular tools for breeders to be able to select for resistance, even in the absence of disease. The potential development of molecular selection tools will provide the required information for winter wheat breeders to target the right combination of genes in their breeding programs for resistance to stripe rust.
2018-012023-02Developing genomics tools as indicators of soil health and sustainable productive agricultureKari Dunfield & Robert Hanner & Steven Newmasterc2015ag07 Healthy soils provide a variety of ecosystem services, including nutrient cycling, supporting plant growth, regulating water storage and quality, and climate and erosion control. Agricultural soils which are not healthy may produce less high-quality food or fibre, and this may result in economic losses. The living organisms in soils are a key component in regulating ecosystem services, and can be studied in a variety of ways, most notably via a process known as ‘biomonitoring’ where sequencing of DNA barcodes (gene regions) can be used to distinguish different organisms, such as soil bacteria, fungi, protists, plants, and soil insects, to gain new insights into soil and plant communities. Soil health forms the basis of long-term agro-ecosystem sustainability but its characterization and quantification has been elusive. However, it is critical to integrate this genetic information with ecological and geochemical measurements so that linkages to agricultural productivity can be established. There are some gaps in our knowledge concerning how soil organisms regulate soil health, and this project aims to fill those gaps.

This project aims to test the ability to use genomics to predict soil health and agricultural sustainability of cropping systems. The research will be conducted on long-term field trials at Ridgetown (cover crops and residue retention), Elora (cover crops, conservation tillage and crop rotation) and Woodslee (crop rotation). Soil samples will be taken over the course of each growing season for several years. Samples will be tested using a variety of established soil health indicators, soil physical quality tests, and biomonitoring for soil and plant communities. Information gathered through this project will address how soil health can directly impact agricultural productivity and if not properly managed may result in loss of farm income.
2017-012017-10Evaluation of straw yield potential of cereal crop cultivars
Ellen Sparryw2010ag04-2 While small cereals have been shown to improve the climate resilience of crop rotations by stabilizing soil health and yields, cereal acres continue to lose ground to corn and soybean in Ontario. Straw yields for cereal varieties cannot be predicted by either grain yield or plant height. Straw yield information will allow producers to better evaluate the total potential economic value associated with cereal production and enable livestock producers to manage their supply of straw for their own operations. This will assist in keeping small cereals as a profitable option within crop rotations in Ontario. Maintaining cereals in the rotation provides tremendous soil health and crop resilience benefits. The straw yield information generated on commercial varieties will also provide farmers with the best information available to supply the expanding straw markets that both exist and are developing. Besides straw for bedding and livestock feed, the demand for crop residues for the production of bio-fuels and other bio-products to replace petroleum-derived products is increasing as new technologies are developed. Cereal straw is a feedstock that can supply many of these market opportunities. Regardless of whether the straw is left on the field or taken off for other uses, the carbon sequestration within the increased biomass supports carbon capture climate initiatives. An increase in the amount of biomass produced by cereal crops will contribute to the reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) through the sequestration of carbon in the soil, as crop residues are incorporated into the soil either directly or in livestock manure.

In this project, straw samples for each of the oat, barley, spring wheat and winter wheat cultivars entered in the Ontario Cereal Variety Performance Trials were collected and moisture content was measured at three of the locations, so that accurate dry matter straw yields could be determined. For several decades, the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee (OCCC) has annually evaluated the relative performance of the cereal cultivars grown in Ontario for grain yield, agronomic traits and end-use quality through variety performance trials conducted at multiple locations across the province. With the exception of one location in northern Ontario, straw yields have not been measured in the OCCC trials due to a lack of research equipment to determine straw yields. While the exact numbers vary each year, the OCCC annually tests approximately 35 cultivars of winter wheat, 25 of spring wheat, 25 of barley and 25 of oats. In order to accomplish this, two research plot combines were modified to collect and weigh the straw of each of the oat, barley, spring wheat and winter wheat cultivars entered in the Ontario Cereal Variety Performance Trials.

As a result of this project, there are now 4 combines and 6 test locations that are able to provide straw yield data across different growing areas. Straw yields were provided to Ontario producers through the annual OCCC Performance Trials Reports, which are publically available on the OCCC www.gocereals.ca website. Straw yield data generated from this project are included in the OCCC database for long-term analysis, which is available to the public on the website in the ‘head-to-head’ comparison area.
2016-042017-03Advancing corn and wheat in Ontario through site-specific management: conclusionDavid Hookerc2016ag08 Agricultural producers adjust crop inputs based on current recommendations. Inputs are usually applied at the same rate across entire fields. Variable responses to agronomic inputs represent opportunities to optimize inputs across the field, which is the essence of precision agriculture. Site-specific management uses “field prescriptions” to apply different rates and inputs to different areas of a field. However, scientific data are lacking in determining the magnitude of agronomic responses to inputs across variable landscapes, especially in Ontario. Optimization of input placement would increase profitability for the grower and reduce environmental impact. Small-plot and field-scale-strips have been used extensively in Ontario, in former SMART projects for example, but little is known how corn and wheat respond to inputs in specific positions, spatially, across a variable landscape. Optimization of input placement in the field would increase profitability for the grower and reduce environmental impact. A better understanding of the causal nature of site-specific responses are needed, and thus soil and topography will be characterized spatially as potential management zones for each field. Two previous OFIP projects (2014-2015 – OFIP 0060 and 0061) showed that corn and wheat performance response to agronomic inputs varied significantly across fields. This work also determined the economic profitability of site-specific management in the fields studied. As the two OFIP projects each lost a field site because of weather, another project was needed to complete a dataset with more environments and to complete the M.Sc. theses of two graduate students.

The primary objective of this project was to characterize the spatial response of hybrid and agronomic treatments in corn, and in soft and hard red wheat, and to associate them with predictive variables in management zones for site-specific management. Some areas of fields may be more responsive to management compared to other areas of a farm field: under-application of an input in a responsive area would result in lower productivity and profitability; while excessive inputs on non-responsive areas of farm fields would also reduce profitability, but the environmental impact due to off-site movement may be most concerning. This project explored the reasons why these areas may be responsive or non-responsive. This information would have direct application to other fields. Crop responses to agronomic inputs may be predicted based on soil and crop sensor information; this project will help develop the technology for using sensors to predict spatial input allocation.

In total, 14 field-scale experiments were installed on farm fields in southwestern Ontario. Fields were selected with known spatial variability. All treatments (i.e., various inputs) were installed as “treatment learning blocks” or “stamps”; each learning block was positioned in a relatively uniform area of the field, but was replicated across each field to represent contrasting characteristics (soil properties and/or topography) across the field. For corn, the response to plant population, N rate and fungicide depended on both the hybrid and spatial position in the field, as analyzed (unconventionally) using spatial position as a variable using statistical software. In soft red wheat, the grain yield response was highly depended on N rate and fungicide, while N rate, N source and N timing affected both grain and protein of hard red winter wheat. Similar to corn, these responses in soft red and hard red wheat varied spatially across the fields. Soil characteristics were compared between the most and least responsive zones in each field; crop responses were only weakly associated with each soil characteristic (mainly soil fertility, pH, soil organic matter, CEC), which detracts from the potential of predicting the placement of inputs spatially in precision agriculture. It is expected that the variability in predicting the responsiveness of zones to inputs would be even higher when temporal variability is factored into the process. This work has produced one HQP as a M.Sc. (Ms. Doria Ali), with another expected to complete her studies in April 2018 (Ms. Lauren Deshaw).

How to Use This Page

What is this? Keeping farmer-members informed of the research investments being made is a priority of Grain Farmers of Ontario’s research department. In the past, updates have been provided at district meetings, through special research inserts and articles within the Ontario Grain Farmer, and by request, in addition to the communication efforts undertaken by the researchers themselves. However, a centralized database of research projects that have been approved for funding has not been publicly accessible – until now.

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