With 589,407 acres of farmland, agriculture is a significant contributor to the economy of Sarnia-Lambton, and its second largest sector (surpassed only by refining and chemical). Production includes Ontario's largest acreages of soybeans and wheat, also corn, specialty crops of tomatoes, bell peppers, and many varieties of fruits and vegetables. There is also a wide range of livestock, including beef and dairy cattle, pigs and poultry.
Envirofresh Produce Inc. recently began operations at new greenhouses in Sarnia-Lambton. Envirofresh located on land owned by CF Industries and uses surplus heat and carbon dioxide from CF Industries in the production of sweet bell peppers for the North American market. Another Sarnia-Lambton example of state of the art greenhouse operations is the Enniskillen Pepper Co. Ltd.
There is ample opportunity to purchase locally-grown foods and enjoy Sarnia-Lambton's rural countryside. Locally Lambton provides a guide to all things country in Lambton. You can access the guide here.
Sarnia-Lambton's agriculture industry is technologically progressive and export-savvy, with more than half of the region's beef production and more than a third of its pork production shipped out of the country, as are many of the crops in varying proportions.
Sarnia-Lambton's Award-Winning Agricultural Sector
Lambton farmers are reaping rewards for their innovation. Seven of the 55 regional winners of the 2010 Premier’s Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence
, announced in June 2011, were from Lambton County.
Al McColl Farms
- The McColl family not only automated their turkey farm, they made it into a state-of-the-art production facility that they have fitted out for maximum efficiency. A number of improvements over the years have meant increased biosecurity, decreased labour, more eggs laid, reduced energy use and better income. The business has a flock of 3,600 breeding hens, and the barns have natural ventilation, automated feeding systems, compact fluorescent lighting and more. A new facility, which has gone through all the development stages, is being built and will mean ever greater achievements: 50 per cent more birds using only 10 per cent more labour than the original operation.
Hog-Tied Farms Ltd.
- A US-based ventilation system that John VanEngelen modified to meet his own hog operation’s needs is lowering production costs while improving air quality, increasing growth rates, and making barns safer and more environmentally friendly. Twelve fans support 16 rooms at the facility, compared to the one to three fans per room in traditional hog barns. His system has also shown that the pigs are ready for market in 15 per cent less time than in more traditional systems. VanEngelen has hosted many farm tours, and in the last six years at least eight other barns in the area have been built using the same technology.
- Jacob MacKellar was looking for a value-added product to supplement his 3,000 acre cash crop operation, he chose edamame, which is a type of soybean harvested in the pod right before it reaches the “hardening” stage. It is consumed as a snack or as a vegetable dish, used in soups or processed into sweets. It is a popular food in Asia and, increasingly, in North America. This non-traditional crop replaces imports and provides excellent returns. Industry representatives project a 500,000 pound market in the next few years, and MacKellar will be ahead of the pack, with a planned harvest of 100,000 pounds in 2011.
- You’d think farming on flat land would be easy, but Steve Vokes who crops on more than 2,000 acres in Lambton County, knows that every terrain comes with different challenges. Flat land needs several municipal ditches to provide outlets for farm drainage systems. But keeping the drains clean and functioning can be expensive and time-consuming for farmers and municipalities. Vokes created a solution in his own farm shop. His excavator device is based on “wicking” principles and involves directly wet-rolling the surfaces of unwanted vegetation with herbicides. This targeted approach prevents spraying herbicide to other plants. By modifying his excavator, Vokes can easily access both sides of the ditches from one location by “rolling” along the vegetation, since pulling out weeds and woody growth by the roots could destabilize the banks. This one man show pays huge dividends with regard to operator safety and maintaining clear, stable ditch banks.
- A shortage of hay in 2008 got beef producer Chad Anderson thinking about alternatives. What he came up with has reduced hay consumption on his farm by 20% and provided a nutritional supplement that his 100 head of cattle feed themselves. The invention is a lick tank filled with condensed corn distillers solubles (CDS), a by-product of corn ethanol manufacturing. CDS is delivered directly from the ethanol plant to the farm where it is stored and then loaded into the lick tank, which Anderson has fitted with a sled so that it can be moved around during pasturing. With grain prices increasing, Anderson believes that this is a good way for beef farmers to boost there bottom lines.
- When two friends combined their engineering expertise and greenhouse growing experience, their team approach resulted in a new vegetable operation that captures waste heat and CO2 (carbon dioxide) from an adjacent manufacturing industry. Envirofresh Farms grows 23 acres of greenhouse peppers beside Terra industries, a manufacturer of nitrogen fertilizer. The two have established a symbiotic relationship. The greenhouse operation needs the equivalent of energy required to supply 1,400 homes. Being able to draw heat via pipelines directly from the neighbouring manufacturer’s byproducts means a huge reduction in energy costs for the greenhouse. In addition, the high quality CO2 that’s captured and piped into the greenhouse is good for the plants, and it’s good for the manufacturer too, since it reduces the amount of CO2 it releases into the atmosphere. Envirofresh is a great example of how agriculture and industry can be good neighbours and boost each other’s sustainability. Its peppers are a “greener” green.