Fiona Agricultural Disaster Assistance Program

Monday, November 28, 2022

Farmers can now apply for financial assistance to help cover extraordinary operational costs caused by Hurricane Fiona. The Fiona Agricultural Disaster Assistance Program provides a one-window financial response to help the agriculture industry recover from Hurricane Fiona.

The program provides financial assistance through provincial disaster financial assistance arrangements for small businesses, and any future federal and provincial assistance programs as they’re developed to provide additional support for damage and costs not covered by insurance.

The program’s one-window approach includes the Agricultural Response Program that was announced in October 2022.

Extraordinary damage and operational costs include:

  • equipment and infrastructure
  • crops and cropping
  • livestock and feeds
  • agricultural and debris clean-up
  • fuel and alternative power expenses


To be eligible, you must:

  • be at least 19 years old and actively farming
  • have an annual eligible gross commodity income of $10,000
  • demonstrate damage or loss which occurred during the Hurricane Fiona disaster between 23 and 24 September 2022
  • own or lease the damaged property
  • be able to provide a partnership/ownership agreement if requested
  • be able to provide tax return and additional information as required (for non-registered farms only)

Deadline or important dates

Program opening: 24 November 2022
Application deadline: 6 February 2023

Click here to get more information on the Disaster Assistance Program

Setting the Stage for 2023

Thursday, November 24, 2022

 As we head towards the end of the season, it is time to start thinking about the cleanout process. Throwing out the old and preparing for the new is one of the most important components to protected production.

While this is going to look different for those in soil-based systems compared to those who are set up hydroponically, there are some key messages below that can be adapted for any producer. For those who are growing in soil, producers should consider removing plastic on spaces that are not being used for production. The lack of rainwater coming onto your tunnel soils will result in the accumulation of salts in the soil if left unchecked. One of the best ways to tackle this is to allow the snow and rain that come with the winter to run through the soil. Come growing season, this will allow for better uptake and use of supplemented nutrients, and less stress caused by buildup over time. Plastic removal can be a pain, so even doing so every few years is going to be hugely beneficial where it is not feasible to do more regularly. For more information on soil salinity in high tunnels, check out this fact sheet!

Here are a few key parts to your end-of season wrap-up:

  1. Removing ALL organic matter from the greenhouse, and greenhouse vacinity
    • dried up leaves, old soil, dirty pots and growing supplies are perfect hiding spots for pests and disease to overwinter. Its important that you eliminate as much potential habitat and food source as possible
    • Don't hesitate to do this in stages. Clean out the big stuff, and come back a second and third time to get rid of the bits and pieces that were not picked up the first few times. Vacuums and leaf blowers can be excellent tools for capturing/collecting small organic bits that seem to escape the grasps of a broom
    • Do not leave piles of plant material or old soil next to your greenhouse. As much as these serve as habits inside the production space, they will do the exact same thing outside. No matter how well the inside is cleaned, if you have a major source of insects just steps away from the greenhouse...there will be problems
  2. Collect all old growing supplies from the year, and remove from the space for cleaning. Pots, carrier trays, pruners, clips, support stakes/string etc. should be dealt with to reduce pathogen and pest load into the new production cycle. Pots, carrier trays and pruners can all be sterilized and re-used, but be aware of the cleaning agent used here - some are going to cause more harm than good! Wooden stakes, while tempting to re-use these, cannot properly be sterilized because they are highly porous. Disease transfer from year to year from re-using stakes is possible.
  3. Consider swapping out ground cover! While this isn't something typically tackled on a yearly basis, following a heavy disease year it can be worth considering getting a new cover put over the ground. If you are considering this, remove the old cover before going forward with suds and sanitizer! That way your ground layer will be scrubbed back to a base layer of clean, and you can be confident that nothing is hiding out in tiny cracks and crevices throughout the old ground cover.
  4. Suds up the space
    • Giving all growing surfaces a soapy scrub is going to grab hold of any bacterial, viral and fungal agents that are still in the space and wash them away. 
    • The best strategy for washing a greenhouse is to start at the top and work down - and this includes your ceiling! Failure to wash the top of the grow space creates a disease bank that can literally rain down on your future crop.
    • Once you have applied your soap, give the production space a thorough rinse and allow it to air dry
  5. Once you have allowed the space to airdry after cleaning, it is time to bring in the big guns- Sanitizer! There are a lot of sanitizers on the market to chose from, but they do have a few things in common:
    • Contact time is important. Different products have different required contact times in order to be effective. Be sure to check what the required contact time is for your product of choice, and do your best to adhere by that. Otherwise there is no guarantee that the product will sterilize to the degree that you are hoping for
    • Organic matter will de-activate sterilizing agents. Any of those leaves or soil bits that got left behind will actually render your product useless. 
    • Consider how corrosive your cleaning agent is. Bleach is effective, but does impact the longevity of growing equipment, both for plastics and other materials.
    • TEMPERATURE. Sanitizer efficacies significantly decrease at lower temperatures. While it is difficult to justify heating a protected space for cleanout, it is a key factor in maximizing your product efficacy.
Once sterilized, be conscious of what is coming into the space. Clean clothes/shoes/growing supplies should be the only thing that enter the space for as long as possible to maintain your clean growing slate.

Here's to a clean start!

Posted by: Talia Plaskett

Reminder: Pesticide Minor Use Priorities meeting tomorrow! (Thursday Nov 17)

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

It’s time for the annual selection of minor use pesticide priorities for Nova Scotia crops. All growers, conventional or organic, are invited to discuss your pesticide needs, concerns and ideas for 2023.

The session for vegetables will take place virtually via Zoom tomorrow, Thursday, November 17 from 10 AM to 12 PM. Email me for the zoom link -


During the discussion, our minor use representative, Michelle Cortens, will briefly outline the minor use pesticide process. Then as a group you will be guided through the different crops to assess the priority pest control needs for insects, weeds/growth regulators, and diseases. If you have potential solutions on your radar (products registered in other crops or for other uses) or have heard of products you might be interested in, please bring those along as well.


The priorities we select at the meeting will then be submitted on behalf of the province and used in ranking the national priorities, so please join us and share your thoughts!


Looking forward to seeing you there!

- Tim

2022 Ministers Conference

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Register now for the 2022 Nova Scotia Ministers Conference for Agriculture, November 3rd and 4th at the Halifax Convention Centre! 


Climate change, COVID-19, market trends, regulatory environments and the evolving role of technology are shaping the way producers and agri-food companies do business, and this year’s conference will explore how industry, government, and next generation thinkers in agriculture can work together to embrace change and cultivate success. 


Join us for sessions like ‘Down to Earth: Improving Soil Security, ‘Everything Under the Sun: Controlled Environment Agriculture & Season Extension’ and ‘The New World of Genomics in Agriculture’. Plus, a chance to network with peers during the tradeshow and Minister’s Reception. 

Click  here to register 

In addition to the two day conference schedule, the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture is hosting two workshops focusing on Growing Under Cover. International Delphy Consultant Ron Marshall will deliver a full-day, in-person program focusing on 'How to Optimizing Inputs' (water, substrate, fertilizer, pest control products etc.) as well as some of the technology options that are available to help manage the growing environment.

Date: Saturday, November 5th

Location: Super 8 Hotel - 63 Cole Drive, Windsor NS

Time: 9 am - noon, 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Cost: Free!!

Pre-registration for this workshop is required to confirm seating. Please be prepared to bring your own lunch, or travel off-site during the break to purchase something. Contact Nicole at (or (902)679-6021) for registration.

Upping your nitrogen game through enhanced efficiency fertilizers and OFCAF support

Monday, October 24, 2022

Our previous blog post discussed the importance of optimizing your crops nitrogen (N) uptake by applying N as and when it’s needed by the crop, using brassica species as an example (Brassica nitrogen dynamics)

For this post, I wanted to highlight a fact sheet produced through Perennia’s On Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF) on enhanced efficiency nitrogen fertilizers. These fertilizers are engineered to provide a controlled, slower, release of N that will more precisely meet the demands of your crop.

As a producer, this is an excellent time to trial enhanced efficiency fertilizers as OFCAF could help cover the difference in cost between regular and enhanced fertilizers. Find out more information here.

These enhanced fertilizers have different modes of action that stabilize and reduce N leeching and volatilization so it’s important to choose the right fertilizer based on your specific crop N demands as well as your farm field demands.

These fertilizers are one of many tools to help you dial in your fertility management. Reducing rates, switching from surface to subsurface application, or applying N closer to when maximum crop uptake occurs are some of the other tools that can, and should, be used as needed. Enhanced efficiency fertilizers will have the greatest effect where there is a higher risk of losses such as when surface applying fertilizer or applying in wet areas. Under these conditions they provide insurance against nitrogen losses... Protecting your fertilizer investment.

There’s a wealth information in the fact sheet so give it a read and reach out to your specialist if you want to chat more about N fertility! Also, make sure to apply for OFCAF funding before the deadline of Nov 30th.


OFCAF homepage:

Tim Morcom


Fiona Response Programs for Agriculture

Friday, October 21, 2022

Last week Premier Tim Houston announced a series of provincial Fiona response initiatives for agriculture. These two programs have now been launched:

Farm Emergency Response Grant Program
A one-time grant of $2,500 is being sent to registered farms in Central, Northern and Eastern Nova Scotia that experienced financial losses due to infrastructure or crop damage, livestock loss or extended power outages due to the hurricane. Funding from the $4-million Farm Emergency Response Grant Program is also available to registered farmers who experienced storm damage outside the most impacted regions. 

  • For more information, please contact the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture’s Programs Branch at 1-866-844-4276.
  •  If you are a producer outside of the designated impacted regions of Hants, Halifax, Pictou, Cumberland, Colchester, Guysborough, Antigonish and Cape Breton, and suffered direct damage from Hurricane Fiona, please contact Robin Mahoney with Programs at 1-866-844-4276.
  • If you are an unregistered farm in the impacted areas, please contact Robin Mahoney at 1-866-844-4276.

 On-Farm Electrical Interruption Program
A one-time grant of $2,500 is being sent to registered farms in Central, Northern and Eastern Nova Scotia that experienced financial losses due to infrastructure or crop damage, livestock loss or extended power outages due to the hurricane. Funding from the $4-million Farm Emergency Response Grant Program is also available to registered farmers who experienced storm damage outside the most impacted regions. 

 This program is providing $500,000 in federal and provincial funding through the Canadian         Agricultural Partnership to offset costs to farm owners who installed a backup generator immediately before hurricane Fiona or during the extended power outages the storm caused. The program can over up to 100 per cent of the cost of purchasing and installing a generator for on-farm use. The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a $3 billion, five-year (2018-2023) investment by federal, provincial, and territorial governments to strengthen and grow Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector. 

Additionally, there was the following announcement related to additional funding whose details have not yet been finalized:

Provincial Fiona Agricultural Program
Government is providing $6 million through the Provincial Fiona Agricultural Program to cover extraordinary operational costs experienced because of the storm. A simplified application process will be announced soon to ensure funding is dispersed quickly. Additional funding will also be available in the weeks and months ahead to help farmers with rebuilding costs that are not covered by other programs. An email will be sent out regarding this program once guidelines have been finalized, if you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact your local regional office to indicate as such.

If you have any questions regarding the programs above, please don't hesitate to reach out to your regional NSDA staff for more information. The contacts are as listed below:

Eastern Region Offices


Gary Koziel

902-563-2003 or 902-565-8132


Marina Gillis

902-563-2001 or 902-578-0786


Rhonda MacDougall

902-863-7501 or 902-631-2264

Bible Hill

Daniel Muir

902-893-6586 or 902-890-1787

Western Region Offices


Jeff Wentzell



Colin Hirtle



Donald Cluney

902-634-7575 or 902-890-6322


Kevin Morin


Toll Free Line: 1-800-279-0825

Brassica nitrogen dynamics: Fertility planning and seasonal N carryover

Monday, October 10, 2022

As this season is winding down and planning for next year begins, it’s a great time to consider nitrogen applications for your brassica crops as well as what nitrogen credits are made available to the crop following your brassicas.

There’s tremendous variability in the rates and application methods that growers use. Many fail to maximize the efficiency of their fertilizer by applying it at times when the crop doesn’t need it but weeds will hungrily accept it.

Most brassicas have similar seasonal N uptake demands, as depicted in the graph below (fig 1.), which plots nitrogen uptake over a typical cauliflower growth cycle. You can see that N demand dramatically increases around 25 days after transplanting, and 75% of the plant’s nitrogen needs are during the last half of its lifecycle.

Fig 1. Cauliflower seasonal N uptake [1]

Recent research from Cornell shows that when growers apply the same rate of fertilizer but choose to split-apply their nitrogen instead of only applying pre-plant, average yields increased by close to 5% representing an increase from 32.8 ton/A to 34.2 ton/A [2]. Across multiple farms and three years of study, the researchers found a 50:50 ratio of fertilizer application (at-planting : side-dress) produced the greatest yields when the side-dress application was banded at 30 days after planting.

By split-applying your nitrogen, not only are you matching your fertility to the demands of the crop, you are also minimizing the fertility available to your weed bank and reducing losses through leaching. And, by banding your fertilizer, the nutrients in the areas between rows are minimized whilst your brassica crop has maximum availability.

Brassicas, especially cabbage, are excellent N scavengers. This coupled with the fact that much of the plant is left in the field after harvest means that you can expect residual N the following year of up to 10 lb/A. A typical cabbage crop requires 200 lb/A of N over a growing season. After harvest, there is roughly 100 lb/A in the leaves, stump, and roots left on the field. This residue breaks down and is mineralized, ready for plant uptake the following season. Plant available N levels the season following cabbage averaged 8-10 lb/A [3]. This might not seem like much, it’s clearly no legume—but it’s definitely worth considering as fertilizer costs steadily climb. 


Tim Morcom




[1] UC Davis, Cauliflower uptake and partitioning,

[2] Hoepting. C, Understanding Nitrogen Use In Cabbage: New York Study, CCX Cornell Vegetable program,

[3] Hoepting. C, Understanding Nitrogen Use In Cabbage: New York Study, CCX Cornell Vegetable program,