Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

July 22, 2005 12:10 ET

AAFC: Tip Sheet July 2005

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - July 22, 2005) -

Bye-Bye Blueberry Blues

Consumers in Nova Scotia are seeing blue for a month longer thanks to a blueberry preservation technique developed at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The technique involves storing the blueberries under controlled atmosphere tents which contain 10 per cent carbon dioxide. The high levels of carbon dioxide prevent decay in blueberries. As soon as the tent is opened, the carbon dioxide dissipates, therefore posing no risk to human health. Currently, researchers are working to make this preservation method transportable which will improve blueberry distribution throughout Canada and the world. Under normal conditions, blueberries can be stored for two to three weeks, but with the new preservation technique, they can last up to six weeks. Trials for adapting the procedure to freight containers and transport trucks will begin at the end of the summer. British Columbia is also interested in using the technique, which also prevents grey mould on strawberries and raspberries. The research is being conducted by Charles Forney at the research centre in Kentville, N.S.

Wading into Island streams

The most detailed mapping of streams ever undertaken in Prince Edward Island is underway with $90,000 in funding under the Canada-Prince Edward Island National Water Program. The maps, which are being drawn with the help of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite technology, will be used to help develop management plans to protect streams and watercourses and provide new information about the province's water supply. The data will assist Island communities to create watershed management plans. A mapping of the Island's streams, carried out in 1985, is not accurate enough for decisions on water related programs and policies. Data is currently being collected in a number of Island waterways. Each watershed will be examined to capture actual stream conditions, including the length of streams. It is anticipated the project will correct errors in the current database, including situations where watercourses are indicated, but do not exist and where existing watercourses have not been captured. The program has already identified a number of previously unknown springs that feed Island streams. The Prince Edward Island Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry is partnering, coordinating and supervising the project. The Canada-Prince Edward Island National Water program, announced in April 2004, provides $2.3 million to help the Prince Edward Island agriculture and agri-food industry conserve and enhance existing water supplies. The Government of Canada is investing $1.8 million and the Government of Prince Edward Island is contributing $578,000 to help secure the Island's fresh water supply for current and future agricultural needs.

Good watershed practices study a first

For two decades now, government and non-government agencies alike have promoted the use of 'beneficial management practices' (BMPs). These science-based farming activities are designed to minimize the impacts of agricultural production on the environment. However, while BMPs have seen plenty of field testing, their value in a watershed setting has largely gone unstudied. Until now, that is. AAFC, with assistance from Ducks Unlimited Canada and a number of other cooperators, is taking on this challenge with the Watershed Evaluation of BMPs (WEBs) project. WEBs is a four-year initiative designed to evaluate both the environmental and economic effectiveness of selected BMPs on water quality at seven small, regionally selected watershed sites across Canada, notably the Salmon River Watershed (B.C.), the Lower Little Bow Watershed (Alb.), the South Tobacco Creek Watershed (Man.), the South Nation Watershed (Ont.), the Bras d'Henri and Fourchette Watersheds (Que.), the Blackbrook Watershed (N.B.), and the Thomas Brook Watershed (N.S.). Some of the BMPs under assessment include land conversion, riparian enhancement, nutrient management, and restricted livestock access to waterways. Additional information on the WEBs project, which falls under AAFC's Greencover Canada Program, can be found at http://www.agr.gc.ca/env/greencover-verdir/webs_e.phtml.

Harvesting rain and snow

Extended dry spells on the Canadian Prairies can pose problems for producers in need of reliable water supplies to maintain their operations. An applied research project involving Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute is tackling this perennial problem by combining old water catchment techniques with latter day plastic lining technology. The team has designed a small plastic lined reservoir which outperforms dugouts by more efficiently collecting precipitation in the form of rain or snow, while doing a superior job of preserving the quality of water collected. Last year, a trial precipitation harvesting project was launched at the Western Beef Development Centre in Lanigan, Sask. The two systems installed have the total capacity of one-third of an Olympic sized swimming pool and can water 40 animals a day. Last June to September, the systems were able to retain 85 per cent of the rain which fell in the reservoir. This summer, with the help of a solar powered remote cattle watering system, the team is evaluating how the reservoir can be used by producers to provide water for their cattle.

Solving the mystery of food-borne viruses

Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are trying to prevent produce infected with food-borne viruses from reaching the kitchen table. Food-borne viruses are transmitted when produce comes in contact with infected food handlers. They can also be transmitted in the field or during processing, presumably through contaminated water or nutrient materials. The researchers, at the Food Research and Development Centre in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., have developed an improved procedure to detect noroviruses and the hepatitis A virus. Their detection method will provide a better picture of the prevalence of food-borne viruses. This has potential to lead to a more accurate assessment of the risks the viruses pose, the development of novel detection technology applications and the creation of appropriate standards. The research is conducted using the Real-Time polymerase chain reaction technique which is a leading edge multiplication procedure. In this technique, small pieces of specific DNA are added to an artificially inoculated food sample, which then act to prime the generation of multiple copies of the virus nucleic acid. The results appear instantaneously through measurement of increasing fluorescent emissions. Along with providing an assessment of the prevalence of viruses in food, the scientists hope the research will eventually be useful for risk management and become Canada's first official detection method for food-borne viruses.

Developing new markets for New Brunswick potatoes

Potatoes New Brunswick (NB) is undertaking an aggressive marketing campaign to help strengthen the industry's share of the potato market. Potatoes NB, the marketing agency for the potato sector in the province, has received $236,000 in funding to assist the potato sector in developing new markets for New Brunswick potato products. Potatoes NB is adding $121,000, making the overall value of the market development project $357,000. The funding is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through its Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food program (ACAAF). The potato sector has faced a number of challenges recently including increased competition and lower prices due to a glut of potatoes on the market. Potatoes NB will use the funding to step up promotional activities, maintain current clients and securing new sales. The goal is to capture a greater share of the available domestic and export potato markets. The plan includes collecting information on market conditions and opportunities in the potato market and increased involvement in trade shows and trade missions in Canada, the U.S. and other foreign markets.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Media Relations
    (613) 759-7972 or 1-866-345-7972
    media@agr.gc.ca