Guelph gets new beef research facility

The federal and provincial governments and the Beef Farmers of Ontario have all announced funding for buildings and programs at the University of Guelph’s renewed beef research station this week.

The funds announced are to help create a completely new cow-calf and heifer research facility next to the current beef research station, and a new cattle finishing facility after the demolition of some of the current buildings.

Research on genomic testing of cows will also be funded by the money announced during an event Thursday at the research station near Elora.

Jeff Leal, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, announced $12.4 million in funding for the project.

“This new facility will develop new methods and best practices for more efficient and sustainable beef production, bolstering what is important to us all, the economic competitiveness of Ontario’s beef sector,” said Leal, lauding the groups and organizations that worked to make the beef research facility happen.

“Ontario will continue to be an international leader in livestock research,” he said.

Stewart Cressman, chair of the Agriculture Research Institute of Ontario — which owns and funds agriculture research facilities in the province — said he knows how difficult it is in other parts of the country and the world to get livestock research facilities funded.

“We are very privileged to have a government that invests in livestock research,” he said, adding that such investments are important for the future competitiveness of Ontario and Canadian agriculture.

Such facilities are also necessary for the university to continue to attract leading researchers from around the world to Guelph, said Daniel Atlin, the university’s vice-president, external.

“This facility will have impacts locally, across the province, nationally and around the world,” he said.

Bringing in top faculty, with top research facilities also attracts students, said Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agriculture College.

It’s a challenge for the university to attract students to its agriculture programs — despite multiple jobs awaiting each graduate — and facilities like the beef research station will help, he said.

Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of agriculture and food, announced $2 million in support for a genomic project with Beef Farmers of Ontario to profile cows in Eastern Canada to improve feed efficiency.

A one per cent improvement in feed efficiency can result in annual savings of $11.1 million for the beef sector, he said. It also helps reduce costs at the farm and reduces methane and manure volumes.

In the long term, the facility will help farmers who are dealing with more public pressure on environmental practices, said Joe Hill, vice-president of Beef Farmers of Ontario.

“As an individual farmer it is harder to address these things, but at a research scale, we can sort out where the issues are and how to best manage them at a farm level. It is going to save farmers a lot of time and energy trying to sort through what their options are and how to meet these challenges.”

The facility will help beef producers remain competitive and able to take advantage of trade opportunities, he said.

The beef facility has been many years in planning and is the second major livestock facilities investment at the university, after the large dairy research facility which opened in 2015.

Work is expected to begin this fall on the beef cow research facility, with the feedlot facility after that, and completion expected by sometime in 2018.

— John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia based at Ailsa Craig, Ont. Follow him at @jgreig on Twitter.

Seeding progress is estimated as 99 per cent complete across Manitoba. Seeding is complete in the Central, Eastern, and Interlake regions, with small amounts remaining in the Southwest and Northwest regions. Precipitation was limited in most parts of the province, with the exception being parts of Southwest and Northwest. Most areas could use additional precipitation. Crops have benefited from the warm temperatures, and good progress has been made on weed control operations. Dairy producers have started first cut haying operations. Click here for the Crop Weather Report for the week ending June 10 Southwest Region Rainfall amounts varied, with Russel and St. Lazar receiving close to 60 mm while some areas received no precipitation. Topsoil moisture conditions remain adequate for the most part due the earlier rains. Some areas that received high amounts of rainfall the previous week have had some water ponding in fields causing crop drowning to a very limited extent. Daytime temperatures have been average to above average providing good growing conditions for crops. Seeding is 95 to 100 per cent complete. Winter cereals are growing well and some fields are close to the flag leaf stage. Early seeded spring cereals are at the 4 to 5 leaf stage and late seeded fields are at the tillering stage. Early seeded canola is at the 3 to 4 leaf stage. The majority of soybean fields are at the first trifoliate stage. Germination was uneven in some fields but is improving. Field peas are growing well. Corn is at the V1 to V3 stage. Sunflowers are growing well with the favourable growing conditions. Post-emergent herbicide applications continue with progress estimated at 35 to 40 per cent. Applications have been done in 50 per cent of the spring cereals and most of the field peas. Some advanced soybean fields have had a herbicide application. Windy conditions continue to be a challenge. Diamondback moth counts are low to none. Flea beetles remain a concern in some areas. Pasture and hay growth has picked up from the previous rains but more precipitation is needed. Cattle are now on pasture, however many areas have low water in natural sloughs and dugouts. Cattle water may become an issue in some parts of the southwest. Northwest Region Drying conditions in the first part of the week with widespread rain settling in throughout most of the Northwest Region by week’s end. Areas around Dauphin and Ste Rose were the exception as they received trace amounts only. Ethelbert area received 36 mm of rain, Roblin area 65 to 75 mm, Swan River 25 to 45mm and The Pas 15 mm. Soil moisture conditions are adequate for most of the region with some parts of the region seeing excess soil moisture, soil crusting from heavy downpours and ponding in low-lying areas. Overall, seeding is nearly complete however, some fields around The Pas remain wet and seeding in that area is estimated at 85 per cent complete. Spring wheat is in the ground with 25 per cent emerging and the remainder in the seedling/tillering stage. Canola emergence is at 25-50 per cent with 50- 75 per cent in the seedling stage. Dry soil conditions during seeding has resulted in delayed emergence and variable canola growth stages. There are reports of slow crop growth throughout the region. Soybeans and field peas are seeded and emerging. Herbicide applications are well underway as field conditions allow and crops reach the proper stage. There are reports of flea beetle activity in later seeded canola in Swan River and The Pas. Diamondback moth trap counts remain low; monitoring for Bertha armyworm has begun. Forage growth is progressing quickly; alfalfa in well-managed and newer stands is up to 30 inches in height. Growth stage ranges from early bud to early flowering stage. Bromegrass is beginning to head out. Older forage stands are showing significant weed pressure. Pastures are in decent shape with the majority of cattle hauled out. In the eastern side of the region, additional timely rain will be needed to continue growth as the recent rains have only sufficed for the short term with the drier soil conditions. Dugouts are at 75 to 100 per cent of capacity across the region. Central Region Normal to above normal temperatures prevailed during the week. Limited amounts of precipitation throughout the region, Cartwright received the highest amount with 6.8 mm. Strong winds and high temperatures have contributed to drying topsoil. Rain would be welcome, particularly in the Eastern part of the region, which has received less precipitation than Western areas above the escarpment. Seeding is considered complete with the exception of canola fields that were reseeded due to poor emergence or insect pressure. Most canola is advanced enough that flea beetle pressure is no longer an establishment factor. Canola development varies but most fields are in the 4 to 6 leaf stage. Spring cereals are in the 4 to 6 leaf stage and are tillering well. Corn is in the 3 to 7 leaf stage. Supplemental Nitrogen applications have started for corn in the Carman area. Winter wheat and hybrid fall rye are headed out and growing well. The majority of pea acres are growing well with good establishment. Soybean fields in the Red River Valley are most advanced with fields going into the 2nd to 3rd trifoliate stage. Post emergence rolling of soybean is wrapping up where crops are in the 1st trifoliate stage. Potato fields are growing well with irrigation applied where moisture conditions require. Edible bean fields show good growth. Weed control operations are progressing well, but variable wind conditions have been a challenge. Good crop and weed growth has resulted in effective weed control measures. Most cereals have had a herbicide application. First applications have been done on canola and soybeans with a second pass to follow shortly. Diamondback moth traps report very low counts to date. Pasture conditions are rated as fair but range from poor to good and have improved since the earlier rainfall. First cut of alfalfa is starting for dairy quality forage and is expected to be below normal due to the dry conditions at the start of the season. Lack of spring rainfall to sustain forage growth remains a concern but the recent rains are helping to stimulate growth. Cattle are on pastures as growth has improved. Lots of dandelions in hay fields and pastures. Livestock water supply is adequate but water levels are low and would benefit from significant precipitation. Eastern Region Rainfall amounts varied across the Eastern Region with areas receiving 1 to 10 mm. Overall, soil moisture is rated as adequate. Temperatures started out cool with cloudy to partially cloudy conditions but then gradually warmed and became increasingly sunny as the week went on. Crops continue to grow well. Winter wheat is at the heading/anthesis stage. Spring cereals are at the 5 to 6 leaf stage with 1 to 3 tillers and the stems elongating. Canola is in the early rosette stage. Soybeans are in the cotyledon to 2nd trifoliate leaf. Sunflowers are V2 to early V4. Corn is in the V3 to V4 stage. Herbicide applications are ongoing, with about 70 per cent complete overall. Corn is mostly finished and about 80 per cent of spring cereal acres covered. About 70 per cent of soybean acres have received a first herbicide pass. About 50 per cent of canola acres are done with some fields getting only a grass herbicide in the first pass. The biggest challenge for growers has been dealing with the wind. Hay and pasture conditions are rated as fair to good. Hay and pasture moisture conditions are rated as 80 per cent adequate, 10 per cent short and 10 per cent very short. Rainfall throughout the week varied through the region and was much needed for pastures and hay fields. Pastures are picking up with more livestock on pasture. Dairy producers started cutting alfalfa last week with below average yields. Dugouts are remaining constant at 75 per cent full, with the odd dugout dry. Interlake Region Rainfall was negligible throughout the Interlake; much of the region has seen less than 60 per cent of normal precipitation. Thundershowers dropped higher amounts of 25 to 35 mm in a few isolated areas in the southeast part of the region, as well as in the Fisherton area. Although adequate for most at present, soil moisture levels are declining, and all areas are looking for rain. Windy conditions have made some herbicide applications a challenge. Seeding is complete in the Interlake region. Good growth is evident in many crops with recent warm temperatures and high humidity. Germination has been stagey in many cereal and canola fields; rains have aided in filling in the gaps. Cereals range from 2 to 6 leaf stage and some tillering; the most advanced fields are starting to fill in. Corn is as advanced as V3. Soybeans are cotyledon to unifoliate stage, with some fields in first trifoliate. Pea fields are looking very good. Canola ranges from cotyledon to 5 leaf, with most in the 3 to 4 leaf stage. The odd canola field has been reseeded, due to a combination of stresses – poor germination due to dry seedbed/seeding too deep, flea beetle injury, cutworm damage. Good progress has been made with herbicide applications, when conditions have allowed. The majority of cereal fields have been treated. Most canola and soybean fields have seen one application; the majority of fields will receive two applications this year, due to staginess of both crop and weeds. Warmer temperatures have brought on some of the warm season weeds; green and yellow foxtail and redroot pigweed are abundant. Herbicide control to date has been quite effective. Some crop injury is noticeable; where heat and humidity has allowed for lush crop growth, or where the crop has been under stress. With good growing conditions, crops will grow out of the symptoms. Some flea beetle activity is still evident, but impact is declining as crop growth advances. Diamondback moth traps are seeing more moths trapped, but numbers remain low and monitoring continues. Counts for bertha armyworm moth will begin this week. Monitoring for alfalfa weevil larvae continues. Some damage is being seen, but below threshold levels. Alfalfa fields are budding with standing relative feed values in the 170 to 185 range. First cut hay has started; yields are poor to average. Summer pastures are currently providing adequate forage growth for livestock. Dugouts are low, but currently adequate for livestock consumption.

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