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Which Agricultural Innovation Would You Choose From the Following Ideas...

 
Travis Philp
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I'm entering an agriculture innovation award but my problem is that I can only submit one idea and I have several. They tend to pick innovations that are applicable to run-of-the-mill, large scale farms. They love ideas that increase mechanization, though some people win for things like starting a frikkin CSA, 'planting everbearing strawberries instead of junebearing', or for running educational tours for kids etc. So this also tells me that the innovation doesn't have to be your invention, nor does it actually have to be new. Here's the link to the page: Provincial Innovation Awardhttp://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/premier_award/index.html

Assessment Criteria

The following criteria will be used to assess applications:

Uniqueness and Originality - Refers to historical information of where the innovation originated and the uniqueness of design or style utilized to produce the innovation.

Development - Refers to the extent to which the idea or concept has been thought through to completion. Consideration may be given to the stage of development i.e. emerging through to mature.

Operational Benefits - The innovation must have been developed or be in development and currently be in use or have a future use in the agri-food sector.
Adoption and/or Commercialization - Refers to the degree of success (or potential for success) of adoption by other agri-food businesses or the commercialization and marketing of the innovation.

Broader Use - The innovation must have potential for use on a broader basis and be able to demonstrate the potential for having a positive effect on the agricultural industry.
Impact or Benefit - Refers to the economic and/or social benefit to Ontario's agri-food sector resulting from the innovation.


Below is my list of innovations that I'm considering. Right below each idea I've wrote soemthing like "3-4 crit" which is how many of the criteria I think the innovation is strong in. I've also made some comments in an effort to help whittle this list down.
The innovations I'm thinking of are:

mulch mound garden beds- Laying out 6-8 inches of hay, leaves, woodchips etc, making planting holes or rows and filling them with manure to plant into
3-4 crit

pos-makes use of old hay/straw
-this won me an innovation award from a Toronto non-profit organization

neg-might not be applicable to most farmers


hydrogen peroxide to cure peach leaf curl and minimize/eliminate powdery mildew
4-6 crit

pos-potential for widespread use (my province has a lot of peach/nectarine/apricot growers)

neg-might already be commonly known but so are some of the winning innovations


slug trap- a slurry of flour, water, sugar, yeast, cornmeal is fermented overnight and placed in dishes which are distributed out into the field
4-6 crit

pos- would be very applicable to market gardeners

neg-might be too inapplicable to most farmers of large scale
neg- kinda low brow

hugelkultur
5-6 crit

pos- can be dug by hand or with tractor
pos- can be used by tree growers and veg growers

neg-might be too inapplicable to most farmers cuz they like flat fields that they can tear up with their tractors



Earth sheltered passive solar greenhouse
3-5 crit

pos-reduces or eliminates need for supplemental heating

neg-might not be pretty enough
neg-my greenhouse is only a few months old and hasn't been fully earth sheltered yet


floating row covers to extend growign season
5 crit

pos-very applicable to market gardens, large scale strawberry growers (we have a lot in this province)

neg-might be commonly known but so are some of the winning innovations


Grow garlic as a perennial
5-6

pos-could be a big time saver for growers who harvest by hand (which is still common round these parts)

neg-not applicable to mechanical harvesters or closed-minded growers

cold frames
4-5

pos-great season extensioner which is vital for my region

neg-old innovation that may be in wide use (though I doubt it)



CSA and/or Restaurant custom email ordering
5

pos- great for customer

neutral- KEG won this award for their standard CSA in...2010?

neg- was a bit of extra logistical and paper work for our farm but great for the customer



Agritourism
4-5

neg or pos- Forest glen herb farm won similar award in 2011
neg or pos- RJ Harley won in 2011 for kids educational tours


Pie plate animal deterrant- string up pie plates on a stick with 'trip wire' of string. They knock together from the wind or from string being pushed.
4

pos-worked really well against wild turkeys in strawberry patch

neg- may be too 'out there' or n/a for large farms


Selling/marketing wild edibles that grow on the farm
3-4

pos-keeps more natural plants around farms
pos-makes money off of 'weeds'

neg- may not be applicable to most farmers



So which would you choose to run?


 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Travis, how about combining a couple of ideas that you think might be a bit 'obvious'?
For example, mulch mounds and floating row-covers? (I envision on-contour windrows spanned by large hoops)
Dunno if that kind of idea complicates things out of all reality, but...
talking strawberries, you can do a real permie multi-function number while keeping things recognisable and unintimidating, eg row-covers eliminating bird predation, as well as increasing temps etc.
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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Thanks for the suggestion Leila. It would make my use of row covers more unique and I did use row covers on my strawberries but didn't use hoops. I can't see a panel of what I imagine to be fairly conventional farmers going for such a non-mechanically inclined idea as mulch mounds. Maybe there are machines that could spread the hay/straw and make rows but not that I'm aware of.

I was leaning more towards hugelkultur for market gardeneners, raised bed strawberry growers, and tree crop farmers, since hugelkultur is more machine-friendly. I was thinking that it could even be developed as a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic tile drainage in wet fields.

I had thought about combining all the no-till techniques I use into one submission but the lady at the ag office said no-till is nothing new so that kinda discouraged me. Though I'm not talking about the conventional no-till by any means, I suppose.

Do you think mentioning that I've won previous innovation awards for the idea would work for me or against me? (if I use hugelkultur or mulch mounds) I could see the panel thinking...'well he's already won an award for this so lets give it to someone else'. But I could also see it working in my favour. I'm too double sided with these things.
 
Travis Philp
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Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I just received this advice from the program coordinator:

"My only advice is to focus your application on one innovation and explain it well. You can apply to the program another year with another innovation."

So maybe the combination you suggest isn't the best way to go.

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i would pick hugelkulture..as I feel that it is the best way to use a lot of waste material quickly to make plants grow better
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I ended up going with hugelkultur. Thanks for the input ladies. *crosses fingers*
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Good call Travis
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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Good luck with the award! Hugelkulture is something not a lot of farmers have heard of (including me until recently!) and one thing I wanted to know immediately was, how do the beds actually perform a year, two, three years later? You see lots about starting the beds and the theory, not much about how well they actually DID perform. Especially beyond the first growing season. Granted, you don't have time to do that yourself for this project, but could you find people who made them last year, the year before last, and get photographs of those beds? I think that would help sell your ideas.
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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Thanks for the encouragement!

Renate: The application is already submitted so I can't use your suggestions but...

Most of our hugels were built in august of 2010 so we have a two full seasons of experience. The large 3-4 foot high beds ( they've shrunk from 4-5 feet high) that had whole trees buried in em have gotten better in terms of plant growth, while our 1-2 foot high beds composed of mostly branches did amazing for the first season but then seemed to taper off slightly the next time around.

There isn't much noticeable visual difference in the beds currently compared to when they were first built except for a few sinkholes in a couple of them so before and after pictures wouldn't have much impact. I did include two series of step-by-step photo's, one done by hand and one done with a backhoe.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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