Integrated Weed Management in Cucurbits

Monday, February 27, 2017

Plywood separators used to partition a grain drill seed box.
In the Fall of 2016, Perennia, in conjunction with local growers and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, undertook a new on-farm trial that demonstrates the use of mulched cover crops to suppress weeds and promote soil health in cucurbit production.  

Partitions expertly secured with a suitable application of duct tape.
In a previous project (Cover crops and zone tillage for reduced risk weed management in field vegetables in Eastern Canada), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists evaluated weed control methods in cucurbits using cover crops and generated recommendations for using certain techniques to manage weeds in squash production. The technique that we are trying in Nova Scotia integrates the use of fall-seeded rye and banded fall-seeded oats.  

Two rows of oats seeded for eight rows of rye, September 30, 2016.
Oat and rye establishment on October 19, 2016.

The oats will winter-kill, leaving a clear narrow band into which squash can be planted.  The surviving rye is left to grow until late spring at which point it is rolled down to serve as a weed-controlling mulch. This technique has been shown to reduce weed pressure and the amount of herbicides needed, as well as increase marketable squash yield. Squash that is grown on the rolled down rye mulch should be cleaner at harvest, have less disease symptoms, and require less cleaning prior to heading to market.
Another added benefit of this system is the organic matter that the cover crops will add to the soil.  This, along with the season-long soil cover provided by the mulch, will contribute to improvements in soil health.  The mulch will protect the soil from erosion and will also preserve soil moisture should we have a repeat of last year's growing conditions!

We intend to hold a field day this summer to demonstrate this technique, stay tuned for more details!!  
Winter-killed oats alternating with fall rye, January 31, 2017.

Consultation on proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is currently accepting comments on the proposed regulations  through the Safe Food for Canadians Act.  The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations mostly pertain to businesses that import or export food or prepare food to be exported or sold across provincial lines.  You can have your say about the proposed regulations by going here: The deadline for comments is April 21, 2017.

At the above link you will also have access to several interactive tools, such as:

Building Agriculture Resiliency from the Ground Up! - March 16, 2017 - Yarmouth, NS

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Join Perennia specialist Rosalie Madden for this free workshop on building agriculture resilience from the ground up! Topics discussed will be soil health, cover crops, soil management, maximizing fertility, and the importance of organic matter.

Building Agriculture Resiliency from the Ground Up!
Thursday March 16, 2017
96 Water Street, Yarmouth, NS
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Don’t be late, because we plan to cover a lot of ground!

Please contact Terry McKay at 902-638-2396 or Terry.McKay@novascotia. ca, or Gail Walsh 1-877-710-5210 (toll-free) to register by March 13, 2017.

Lunch is not included in the workshop but can be purchased on site.

Cover Crops and Soil Management Workshop - March 7, 2017 - Bridgetown, NS

Join Perennia specialists Jack van Roestel and Rosalie Madden and Scotian Gold's Sonny Murray for a free workshop on cover crops and soil management!  Learn the hows and whys of maintaining a healthy soil and integrating cover crops into your farm system.

Cover Crops and Soil Management Workshop
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
End of the Line Pub
73 Queen Street, Bridgetown, NS
10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Don’t be late, because we plan to cover a lot of ground!

Please contact Terry McKay at 902-638-2396 or Terry.McKay@novascotia. ca, or Gail Walsh 1-877-710-5210 (toll-free) to register by March 3, 2017.

Lunch is not included in the workshop but can be purchased on site.

Safe Food for Canadians Act

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has opened public consultation on the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

This 90 day consultation closes April 21 2017, please take this opportunity to have your say!
CFIA is also having online and in-person information sessions, to find out more, please click here:

Wind Meters

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Perennia's Caitlin Congdon using the wind meter
Here at Perennia we've recently acquired a wind meter that can attach to a phone.  The small fan-like attachment plugs into the headphone jack and works in sync with a free app called Wind Meter established by the company, WeatherFlow.  The wind meter itself costs about $50 (CAD), which is comparable to a similar product from Weatherhawk, although the Weatherhawk version is not yet available for Android.

The wind meter and app will measure wind speed in either kilometers per hour or miles per hour and displays the real time wind speed, gusts, and lulls, and also track the average and report wind direction. Readings can be stored or sent via email and text, or viewed on a map.

Perennia's Research Technician Caitlin Congdon has been using the wind meter when we spray our trials to minimize drift. She has compared the app and phone plugin with our handheld model and has found it to be very accurate. This type of gadget is small enough to be carried in your pocket with your phone, and is an easy way to provide specific on-site information.

There are several portable wind and weather meters on the market at a wide range of price points and levels of detail. Some work through apps, either through an attachment to your phone, or via Bluetooth. The Bluetooth devices generally give more information, such as temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc. and sell for anywhere from $50-$250 (CAD).

This post was written in part by Caitlin Congdon, Perennia's Agriculture Research Technician.

Environmental Stewardship Award Nominations

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) Program are looking for nominations for our 8th Annual Environmental Stewardship Award. The award showcases the outstanding stewardship efforts of farms and elevates public awareness of sustainable farming practices across the province. The award winner will receive a framed painting of their farm by a local artist as well as a cash prize of $2000. The deadline for receiving applications is midnight on July 8th, 2016.

Do you know of a farm that has adopted new practices or technologies or has undertaken projects to protect soil, water or wildlife habitat? If so, please nominate them!  Award application forms are  available at or by calling 893-2293. If you need any help with the nomination process or have any questions about the award, EFP staff are available for assistance.

As in past years, applications are accepted from individual farms as well as the nominations.

If you have any questions, please contact Kathryn Bremner at 902- 893-2293.