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Right to Farm legislation goes under review

Industry sceptical because of changes to the land reserve,abrupt dismissal of Richard Bullock. The province has quietly launched a review of the BC Farm Practices Protection Act, consulting municipalities in advance of discussions with industry later this month. Passed in 1996, the legislation has never been reviewed. Municipalities are welcoming the move but RegEns, executive director of the BC Agriculture Council, says industry is more sceptical of the province's motives following controversial changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve and its abrupt dismissal of former land commission chair Richard Bullock. "We're concerned," Ens says. "As a council, we don't have an official position, but in the industry there's a lot of scepticism." The province contacted the BC Agriculture Council in early July, Ens says, and the council has met with ministry staff once to date. Consultations with municipalities followed, first with the four municipalities whose ability to pass bylaws affecting agriculture is regulated under the BC Local Government Act (including Abbotsford, Delta, Kelowna and Langley Township) and then unregulated municipalities.

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Bats are Worth 1 Billion to Agriculture (2015)

Corn farmers, look to the sky at dusk and mutter thanks to the bats swooping over your moth-ridden fields: Those winged mammals put more than $1 billion back into your collective pockets, a new study suggests. The first-of-its-kind research used nets to fully enclose 20-by-20-meter fragments of large corn fields at night, thereby excluding foraging bats, throughout the growing seasons in southern Illinois in 2013 and 2014.

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Agricultural products are one of the world’s biggest sources of plastic trash

From the pipes and tubes that deliver irrigation water to the pots seedlings are grown in to those delightfully tacky blue and orange bits of twine that bind bales of hay, plastic products are stitched into almost every agricultural activity. Agricultural films—thin plastic membranes used to cover the soil for purposes of weed suppression, temperature enhancement, fertilizer uptake and more—are one of the largest contributors to the billions of pounds of plastics that are discarded by farms across the planet each year.

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New Law Gives BC More Authority Involving Water Use

A scorching hot summer, abnormally low rainfall and dwindling reservoirs meant there wasn’t enough water to sprinkle lawns, fill pools or wash cars in Metro Vancouver and many other cities across B.C. Suddenly, interest spiked in understanding how the province protects and allocates its newest precious resource. There was far less public attention last spring when the provincial government refreshed the 100-year-old laws governing water by passing a new Water Sustainability Act. The centrepiece of the legislation was an extension of British Columbia’s existing licensing and regulation regime for surface water, meaning streams and lakes, onto groundwater, which is pumped from wells. The change closes a loophole where someone denied a licence to get surface water — due to limited supply or for environmental protection — could simply walk a dozen metres onto the nearest shore, drill a well and pump out an unlimited amount of groundwater without penalty. “We were the only jurisdiction in North America that had no regulation on groundwater, other than California,” Schreier said. California has also recently closed that loophole. As Environment Minister Mary Polak puts it: “Anybody could drill down into groundwater and take what they wanted, and as much as they wanted.” For a few more months, they still can. B.C.’s new rules come into effect on Jan. 1.

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Slurry Manure Injector Developed at AAFC in Agassiz (2015)

The purpose of the injector is to test the concept developed by Derek Hunt and Shabtai Bittman at AAFC in Agassiz to use dairy slurry to replace the ‘starter’ commercial fertilizer typically used for corn. The injectors are set to corn-row space, and designed to deliver a constant rate of manure; the corn is planted as close as possible to the injection furrow a few days later by following the tire tracks. Our research has shown that dairy slurry placed close to corn roots will provide sufficient nutrients to fully replace commercial starter fertilizer. The farmer saves money and avoids overloading the soil with nutrients. Our technique has been adopted in northern Germany, confirmed by researchers in the Netherlands and undergoing evaluation in Denmark.

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Climate Forecasts

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society has recently issued its climate forecasts for the coming four seasons. It is available at: http://iri.columbia.edu/our-expertise/climate/forecasts/seasonal-climate...

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Ammonia Tunnels at AAFC Agassiz - (2015 update)

ammonia tunnels

(L-R) Derek Hunt, Allen Dobb, Dr. Shabtai Bittman. 

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Enhancing soil infiltration reduces gaseous emissions and improves N uptake from applied dairy slurry (2009)

Rapid infiltration of liquid manure into the soil reduces emissions of ammonia (NH3) into the atmosphere. This study was undertaken to assess the effects of two low-cost methods of assisting infiltration of applied dairy slurry on emissions of NH3, nitrous oxide (N2O), and on crop N uptake. The two methods were removing of solids by settling-decantation to make the manure less viscous and mechanically aerating the soil.

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Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Agassiz, BC

The Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre was created in 1886 as an experimental farm and by 1900 was well known for its collection of more than 3,000 varieties of plants and fruit trees. Over the last 100 years research at the centre has included new varieties of fruits, vegetables and forages, with a focus on dairy cattle nutrition beginning in 1986, and the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre being established in 1998. Today, research at Agassiz also includes small fruits, greenhouse vegetables, special crops and forages; soil resource conservation and land evaluation.

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AAFC scientist at Agassiz Research Centre appointed to Order of Canada

Dr. Dave Gillespie of Chilliwack was been appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada on July 1, 2015. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, announced 100 new appointments to the Order of Canada. The Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest civilian honours, was established in 1967, during Canada’s centennial year, to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Over the last 45 years, more than 6 000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order.

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