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
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
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
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
pos- would be very applicable to market gardeners
neg-might be too inapplicable to most farmers of large scale
neg- kinda low brow
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.
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.
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.
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.