Everything you wanted to know about crops
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.