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Hogs vs Machine– Advancing BC’s Farming and Food Sector (Institute for Sustainable Food Systems)


*This video was filmed in 2019 prior to COVID-19 and all safety precautions were taken in the filming of this video*

The hog research project investigates how adding hog grazing into small scale vegetable farming will impact soil health and vegetable crop yield over traditional rototilling. This research project is just one of the many taking place at the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at KPU whose goal is to expand its capacity to do field base practical farming research to advance BC’s organic and farming systems sector.

This video was made possible by the funding from Future Skills Centre via Research Impact Canada.

Transcript Below:

Hogs are such a great animal to work with because of the amount of  personality and spunk they have they're really intelligent animals and they each have their own individual personality that you get to know and work with they become to recognize. You and you can recognize individuals amongst them the hog research project that we're doing on this farm is to investigate how if we add hog grazing into vegetable production to small scale vegetable production how that will potentially impact soil health and then the subsequent vegetable crop yield. We're trying to come up with solutions and ideas and education that would benefit other small-scale farmers that are working on regional and community food systems.


The way we're doing this is we're using hogs and we're grazing pasture and we're comparing that to tractor tillage so basically using hogs to graze into the soil versus using conventional tractor tillage and then we're taking a lot of data on how that's impacting the soil for both treatments and then we're going in the following year and planting vegetables in that same field and tracking weed competition as well as vegetable yields and health our goal is to expand substantially our capacity to do field-based practical farming research to advance BC's organic farming and food system sector.

The reason that we wanted to integrate hog production into vegetable farming  is to reduce the amount of tillage that a vegetable, especially an organic vegetable farmer, might be doing. Plowing soils and roto-tilling soils and and preparing them for seed beds and and cultivating them during the season to manage weeds destroys soil structure. It breaks down the clods in a soil into very fine particles and then they they pack together and become very brick-like and importantly then plant roots can't grow in these soils

Hogs rut into the soil and thus till it in their own way farmers know or it's kind of conventional wisdom that having animals working the soil helps improve soil health but this is us taking that kind of what would be kind of farmer's knowledge and quantitatively proving it so then we can use that to make more informed decisions other than just general observations.

This project is being conducted at the Tsawwassen First Fation Farm School which is a program of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems that is housed at Kwantlen Polytechnic University the Naut’sa mawt tribal council partnered with us to put the grant together and submit the grant and so this project really represents very meaningful collaboration between Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems the Naut’sa mawt tribal council and
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Working on the Tsawwassen farm school hog research projects and having great mentors with a significant background in research like Kent and Leah really allows me to kind of learn a lot on the job picking up a lot of extra tips and tricks following their advice and jump starting my ability or increasing my capacity to do agricultural research in the future.

we're hoping to take these results and help them influence further research whether that's looking
at more livestock vegetable integration and whether this is going to be useful to the farmers in the area