Ev­ery­thing you wanted to know about crops

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

Farm­ers across On­tario may not know Peter John­son’s face, but they are sure to rec­og­nize his voice. For more than 15 years, John­son has been the voice of OMAFRA’s CropLine – a provincewide, free ser­vice of­fer­ing crop man­age­ment tips, her­bi­cide rec­om­men­da­tions and pest alerts. While John­son pro­vides the voice, there is a large team of ex­perts work­ing be­hind the scenes to bring valu­able and timely in­for­ma­tion to On­tario’s farm­ers, tak­ing ad­van­tage of new tech­nol­ogy to de­liver it. The CropLine be­gan in 1992 with a record­ing on John­son’s voice mail. He would pro­vide short re­minders about weather con­di­tions, best times for spray­ing, or a new pest threat. If pro­duc­ers left a mes­sage with a par­tic­u­lar ques­tion, John­son would re­search the an­swer, and record it on the voice mail sys­tem so that oth­ers would ben­e­fit from the ad­vice.

With hun­dreds of calls each week, the voice­mail record­ing evolved to a ded­i­cated, toll-free num­ber. In 2005, the CropLine went high-tech, and John­son’s record­ings be­came avail­able from a down­load­able pod cast, of­fered on OMAFRA’s web­site, farm media sites, and even iTunes.

To­day, more than 2,000 times each week dur­ing peak sea­son, farm­ers from across the province phone for, or down­load, ex­pert in­for­ma­tion from the net­work of re­sources that in­cludes OMAFRA’s field crop ex­perts, on-farm food safety ad­vi­sors, agri-busi­ness con­sul­tants, and Univer­sity of Guelph re­searchers. Ques­tions can be left by voice­mail, or e-mailed in, and an­swers are avail­able on the next record­ing – twice weekly dur­ing peak sea­son, once a week in the win­ter.

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