January / February 2019
ENTREPRENEURS IN AGRICULTURE
A New Trail
Farm diversifies through unique value-added industry
Seeding Technology Succession Seed Development
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12 A New Trail 07 10 20 26 30
A Farmer’s Viewpoint
Better Farm Input Price Information Needed by Kevin Hursh Grain Market Analysis
Creating Dynamic Duos by Scott Shiels
Farming Your Money
Grain Marketers, Stay Away from Cost of Production by Paul Kuntz Seeding Technology
Precise Placement by Jennifer Blair Top Traits
Seed Development by Jeff Melchior
TREVOR BACQUE 4
The Hamill family not only farms, but also provides a valueadded service through Red Shed Malting. The family business creates specialty malt for the booming craft brewing industry.
35 40 42 45
Fail to plan? Plan to fail. by Natalie Noble
Those Wily Weeds
Battling the Kochia Bonanza by Tammy Jones Spraying 101
Optical Spot Spraying Makes Sense by Tom Wolf
News & Innovations
New compact disc harrow and more
READ THE LATEST NEWS AND INSIGHTS FROM OUR CONTRIBUTORS. WHETHER IT’S FARM INVESTMENTS OR INSECTS, THEY SHARE THE LATEST TO BRING YOUR SUCCESS IN AND OUT OF THE FIELD.
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OPI Can Help You Manage Your Stored Grain in a Delayed Harvest
January / February 2019 Publishers
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BETTER FARM INPUT PRICE INFORMATION NEEDED | A FARMER’S VIEWPOINT
Better Farm Input Price Information Needed I’m a fan of the farm input price information published monthly by Alberta Agriculture, particularly the fertilizer prices. I only wish it was more frequent and that it was available in each province. Before going further, I should note the copyright information: “This content may not be used or reproduced without properly accrediting the Statistics and Data Development Branch, Economics and Competitiveness Division, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.” Kevin Hursh, P.Ag. Kevin Hursh is an agricultural consultant, journalist and farmer. He has been an agricultural commentator for more than 30 years, serving as editor for Farm Credit Canada’s national bi‑monthly magazine AgriSuccess, and writing regular columns for Canada’s top agricultural publications. Kevin is a well-known speaker at agricultural conferences and conventions. Kevin and his wife Marlene own and operate a grain farm near Cabri in southwestern Saskatchewan, growing a wide array of crops. Twitter: @KevinHursh1
Monthly survey of prices for selected farm inputs has been conducted in Alberta since 1976. I’m always amazed at how seldom the information seems to be quoted and I’m also amazed at how many producers don’t know about it, even in Alberta. According to the website, price collection is carried out by the Alberta Federation of Agriculture in partnership with the Data Development Branch. Since April of 2009, the project has been sponsored by Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial agreement. As an example, the October statistics show urea (46-0-0) increasing to an average of $541 a tonne in the province, up $20 from September. Phosphate, 11-51-0, increased by $10 a tonne hitting roughly $732 a tonne. For both urea and phosphate, the October price was the highest in the past couple years. However, prior to the summer of 2016, prices were much higher. In the last five years, the highest price for urea was $750 a tonne back in June of 2014. Phosphate peaked at around $840 a tonne in June of 2015. Full-service anhydrous ammonia (82-0-0) was pegged at $835 a tonne in October, up $5 a tonne from the previous month. However, anhydrous is relatively inexpensive from a historical perspective. 7
A FARMER’S VIEWPOINT | BETTER FARM INPUT PRICE INFORMATION NEEDED
Fertilizer is a huge input cost and price transparency is a problem. Numerous sources provide information on current grain prices. As a producer, you can get texts with price quotes several times a day or you can go onto various websites to look up prices. By comparison, about the only way to get fertilizer prices is to take time and call around to various suppliers. The Alberta Ag website includes a function whereby you can see graphs of prices for the past two years or the past five years. Search “Alberta Farm Input Price Survey” to find the website. Unfortunately, the information from each month is only available well into the following month. Biweekly or ideally weekly information released immediately after the survey would be far more useful. And while the price trends are probably similar in Saskatchewan
and Manitoba most of the time, the values can be significantly different. The October prices I paid for both urea and phosphate in southwestern Saskatchewan were considerably higher than the average prices reported for Alberta. Fertilizer is a huge input cost and price transparency is a problem. Numerous sources provide information on current grain prices. As a producer, you can get texts with price quotes several times a day or you can go onto various websites to look up prices. By comparison, about the only way to get fertilizer prices is to take time and call around to various suppliers. The Alberta Farm Input Price Survey covers 56 different farm inputs from fence posts to combines. It’s interesting to see how the price of farm machinery has increased over the years. However, I’m not sure how useful it is to have a base price on some unnamed make of tractor in a particular horsepower range. The price of diesel and gasoline is valuable. On the other hand, the price of a particular brand of Roundup herbicide may or may not bear any relationship to the cost of generic glyphosate. But at least Alberta is doing something to provide farm input price information and that’s more than what’s happening in the other provinces. APAS, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, has investigated the possibility of doing a farm input price survey, but nothing has materialized. If governments and farm organizations want to help farmers to help themselves, more and better information on farm input prices would be a good place to start.
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GRAIN MARKET ANALYSIS | CREATING DYNAMIC DUOS
Creating Dynamic Duos Recently, I attended an intercropping workshop in Brandon, put on by POGI (Prairie Organic Grain Initiative), MOA (Manitoba Organic Alliance), the Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers, and the Manitoba provincial government.
Scott Shiels Scott grew up in Killarney, Man., and has been in the grain industry for more than 25 years. He has been with Grain Millers Canada for five years, doing both conventional and organic grain procurement as well as marketing for their mills. Scott lives in Abernethy, Sask., with his wife Jenn. www.grainmillers.com
While intercropping is primarily thought of as an organic farming practice, the crowd at the workshop definitely showed it can have tremendous benefits on a conventional farm as well. Intercropping is the practice of seeding more than one crop at the same time, in the same fields. The two most predominant ways of seeding the intercrop are by premixing the seed together or by doing a “paired row” system, keeping the crops separated in the field. In recent years, there has been a shift to no-till and to more ecological farming practices driven by farmers. Studies have proven that legumes, such as lentils and peas, fix nitrogen better in a no-till system than in a conventional tillage system, and we have also learned that no-till soils are more energy efficient. There has been a lot of research done locally in southern Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan which has demonstrated how crops can benefit each other and essentially work together in an intercrop system. There are many examples of how roots from different plants grow to different depths, and can lift water to plants that do not root as deeply. We have learned that cereal crops such as wheat, oats and barley have larger root systems than legumes because they need to search for nitrogen, while the legumes fix the nitrogen themselves, reducing the need for such an extensive root mass. In an intercropping system, roots are often intertwined in order to use the nutrients the other plant’s roots are giving off – a form of nutrient transference. This is also known as CMN or common mycorrhizal networks. Mycorrhiza is a beneficial type of fungi that grows with most plant roots. In most cases, there is a mutually-beneficial symbiotic relationship between the host plant and this fungus. As an example, in an intercrop between wheat and peas, the peas contribute about 20 per cent of the nitrogen that they fix to the intercropped wheat, thus reducing the need for applied nitrogen. Complementary intercrops also tap into different resource pools in the soil and help provide nutrient access. For example, chickpeas will allow intercropped wheat to access organic phosphorous via root extraction. Different crops provide different levels of mycorrhizal activity. Crops such as corn, flax and pulses are very high in mycorrhizal activity, while cereals such as wheat, barley and oats offer medium activity, and brassicas such as canola and mustard are non-mycorrhizal crops. This knowledge should assist producers when they are making their cropping decisions. Another benefit of intercropping is an increase in photosynthesis due to more plant biomass and ground cover which can also reduce weed pressures. In wheat, intercropping has also been proven to reduce disease, which can minimize fungicide use in the crop. On the marketing side, there have been a couple of somewhat surprising revelations from the intercrop research we have seen. Intercropping has been shown to allow growers to use less competitive, higher-value crops in their intercrop with more success than growing them individually. We have also seen crops produce and thrive in an intercrop situation in areas where they nearly always fail in a monocrop system. The opportunity for more diversity with regards to cropping options is always exciting for producers and buyers alike! The opportunities seem nearly endless as far as potential mixes producers could intercrop, as well as the possible benefits on both the marketing and agronomic sides of the coin. Until next time…
COVER STORY | A NEW TRAIL
A NEW TRAIL | COVER STORY
A NEW TRAIL Farm diversifies through unique value-added industry By Trevor Bacque
It all started out innocently enough. A farm boy named Joe Hamill started homebrewing beer as a hobby in 2012. As he perfected one recipe, he began another; and another; and another. One evening after a family supper he mentioned to everyone that it would be quite something if he could use the malt barley from their Penhold, Alta., farm in his next batch. His wife Daelyn, brother Matt and mom Susie all thought it would be a unique twist on homebrewed beer. As Joe started to homebrew a more locally-oriented brew, he unknowingly opened the tap line to an idea that hasn’t stopped flowing. However, it’s a far cry from how the family farm and its current business setup began 90 years ago. Sandwiched between the 2A and the Queen Elizabeth II highways and straight east of Penhold, the Hamill family farm was established by Irish immigrants Bernard and Madge Hamill, along with their six children. When they arrived, the family only had one quarter section to their name. By the 1940s, sons Barney, Jim and John formed a three-way partnership and took over from their father. Barney ended up having three kids and one of them, John, had both a knack and love for the land. However, he worked off-farm for years as a power engineer at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, helping part time on the farm as time allowed. “I really liked it; I got to farm with my dad and two uncles. It was a great experience farming with those guys,” he says. “For myself, there was no stress because I was just renting land and didn’t have to worry about capital equipment purchases – pretty easy farming then for me. As I took more of a role, there became a lot more pressure to make money and pay the bills.”
Photo: Brothers Joe (left) and
Matt Hamill are two entrepreneurial brothers who started Red Shed Malting out of their family farm near Penhold, Alta. Credit: David Dinan
It was 1995 when John was able to transition into farming full time as the family’s footprint had grown to 1,700 acres by that point. Today, it’s 2,100 acres of canola, wheat and malt barley, the latter of which is his prized crop. However, he doesn’t grow the two most popular varieties, Metcalfe and Copeland, which comprise about 80 per cent or more of Prairie acres every year. Instead, John grows Newdale, Synergy and Connect. All three lines are relatively new creations, and all share a common trait: the booming craft-brewing industry really prefers them. 13
COVER STORY | A NEW TRAIL “The feedback on these varieties is that craft market likes the taste of it. They’re looking at how they taste and they’re very interested in the specs of the base malt,” he says, adding that he doesn’t have lodging issues, which is a big plus in his area where winds are known to routinely whip through. He seeds his malt barley immediately after his wheat and canola, and he is experimenting with higher seeding rates. Those increased rates are expected to provide greater plumpness, yield and uniformity. While other farmers now opt to straight cut their barley early and dry it down on-farm, Hamill still swaths and combines, which works well for his 700 to 800 acres of barley he annually plants. His farm has also generated international interest thanks to the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC). The Winnipeg-based industry group tests and promotes domestic barley to the world. Recently, it led a tour of Chinese delegates from the brewing and malting industries onto Hamill Farms to see Canadian barley in person. The delegation saw their potential product growing first-hand in the field and learned about how it performs in local conditions and why Albertagrown barley is a great choice for their beers. “The CMBTC has done a really great job to promote these new varieties and get our export customers to maybe change from the Metcalfe and Copeland,” he says. “The people were impressed, and these are big buyers who are purchasing one million tonnes of malt in a year. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d have Chinese malt buyers on my farm.” It likely wouldn’t have been possible without his one son diving headlong into homebrewing and the Alberta government recently getting involved through revised legislation. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (now Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis) had an antiquated rule that stated an Alberta brewery must brew a minimum of 5,000 hectolitres of beer or 1.5 million beers annually to be in business. Due to massive startup costs and the capacity required to make this amount of beer, growth stagnated for decades. However, in December 2013, the AGLC lifted its punitive proviso and stated there would be no more minimum brewing requirements. The floodgates opened. “We knew that the brewing industry was going to be changing in the minimum production laws and we saw an opportunity and started talking about it more often after family suppers,” says Matt, 34, who is also a 2017 Nuffield scholar. His area of focus: best practices in the barley value chain with case studies involving Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Likewise, Joe didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. “Even then, we didn’t know how many breweries would be there. It was definitely a little nerve-racking and kind of crazy, but it’s pretty exciting to think that we were hitting the market right at the perfect time.” 14
Photo: Joe, Matt and John Hamill take a break in the family’s now-infamous Red Shed where their value-added business resides.
Credit: Alberta Barley
Despite the new-found ability to start a brewery of any size in Alberta, the Hamills thought better of it and instead looked out their front window for inspiration. If they could produce and supply the malt, they would secure their niche and be part of a community that they were banking on to explode with growth. It appears they chose right. In late 2018, the 100th Alberta brewery registered for business, up from 24 just four years earlier. The decision to create specialty malts was cemented for the brothers one day during a brewery tour in Calgary in the winter of 2013. “Being at the Big Rock Brewery was this aha moment and seeing malt from Germany that travelled thousands of miles – it totally doesn’t need to. It was definitely some of that early motivation,” says Joe, 30. So, with Joe’s homebrewing acumen growing by the batch, Matt’s ability to build relationships along with John’s skill to produce a quality crop, the trio decided to start seriously examining the idea of roasting and malting their barley. While many beers simply use a base malt, many more beers in the craft-brewing industry require specialty malts as well as three
A NEW TRAIL | COVER STORY
to five times more barley than normal due to the trend away from using adjuncts such as corn and rice. In September 2014, they incorporated Red Shed Malting and they were on the hunt for malting and roasting equipment. There was one small problem. The only two maltsters in the province have some of the largest capacities in North America and a customized, on-farm setup wasn’t exactly readily available. “That was pretty tricky, especially on the scale we were going for. There wasn’t really anyone doing it or making the equipment; nobody in North America, or if they were, they made one version or a prototype,” says Joe. They began doing their homework and spent long hours online researching where they could find the equipment they needed. They secured the first piece of the puzzle after finding a Chinese manufacturer in Jinan, about four-and-a-half hours south of Beijing. After talking it over, they decided John and Joe would go to China and investigate in June of 2015. “A lot of people in the brewing industry get tanks made in China, but they use a broker,” explains Joe. “You can’t really do
“We knew that the brewing industry was going to be changing in the minimum production laws and we saw an opportunity and started talking about it more often after family suppers.” - Matt Hamill that with malting equipment because there aren’t many malt plants out there. It was a bit scary at first, but once we sat down and talked with them, it calmed the nerves a bit.” The two spent their five days overseas in meetings with the company, including with its CEO and the engineer who would eventually build their entire setup. Joe approved the design schematic thanks to his background in architectural technologies. His engineering mind also looked after the entire 15
COVER STORY | A NEW TRAIL
“It was pretty cool to take our barley, run it through our whole process, deliver it to a brewery and drink that product and know it came off of our land and we took it all the way to the brewery.” - Joe Hamill retrofit of the cold-storage shed to house the malting operations. They made a second trip that November to give the final sign off on the equipment. Shortly after the first China trip, Joe and Matt found a roaster, this time located in Turkey. Needing to once again see the potential purchase up close, the brothers set off around the globe. They spent five days talking with the company, which largely specialized in coffee roasters, and seeing the roaster operate in person. It wasn’t quite the same experience as with the Chinese company, though.
Photo: Joe Hamill shows off a bag of their finished malt. Credit: David Dinan
“While they tested out roasting the barley they set off every smoke detector in the building. That was pretty fun; the neighbours were probably a little concerned,” says Matt with a laugh. Despite a little smoke, the roaster was just what they needed and they signed on the dotted line. Two months later the roaster arrived. With both malting and roasting equipment, the respective companies sent over engineers to install and offer training. Joe began roasting almost immediately after setup. By February 1, 2016, they had successfully sold their first bag of malt to Troubled Monk in Red Deer, a craft brewery operation that went on to claim second place in the World Beer Cup for its brown ale that May. “It was pretty cool to take our barley, run it through our whole process, deliver it to a brewery and drink that product and know it came off of our land and we took it all the way to the brewery,” says Joe. Their entire setup includes a two-metric tonne (MT) steep tank, a pair of two-MT saladin boxes where the grain germinates (which houses a built-in kiln), as well as a 4,500-litre water tank, malt cleaning equipment and grain-handling equipment. When
Photo: Comparing colours during the malting and roasting process. Credit: David Dinan
A NEW TRAIL | COVER STORY Joe creates his malts, temperature is critical. The malt germinates between 17-20°C, and is finished in the kiln between 70-115°C. The malting process takes about seven days. Some of the specialty malts are further processed by being roasted between 70-230°C. The roasting process takes between 40 minutes to three hours depending on the order and desired flavour profile. Joe largely developed his recipes through trial and error, as well as on a one-kilogram roaster, in order to find winning recipes. “Once we had that determined, we could scale up into the big roaster.” Currently, Red Shed has 12 different malts on offer, however what makes them unique is that they do not blend malt varieties together, as is often the case. Instead, they market Newdale, Synergy or Connect as unique malts with unique profiles. Their most popular selling malts are biscuit, Kananaskis (Munich style) and Rocky Mountain (Vienna style). The amber and chocolate malts are also well known among Alberta’s craft brewers, too. Typically, the average craft beer employs 80 per cent base malt and 20 per cent specialty malt. Today, Red Shed runs between 70 and 80 per cent capacity
throughout the year. Joe roasts and malts about 250 MT per annum and believes expansion may be on the horizon within 24 months to meet demand. Currently, Red Shed is the only Canadian malthouse complete with a roaster, able to produce specialty malts so desired by craft brewers. They also work closely with customers to ensure they’re putting out the best possible products. “We definitely talk with brewers and work with them to know what they want and what colours they want in their malt,” says Joe. “We’re working with them to find out how dark they want that chocolate malt to be or if there’s something not out there, how do we get that. It’s a collaborative effort.” With the location and ability to create new malts daily, the Hamills can rapidly react to customer demands. “Locally, if they need it tomorrow, they can usually get it. If we’re low on inventory, we can roast it next day or day of,” says Joe, adding that the exceptionally short lag time is what satisfies customers. “The main thing I usually hear when they compare to imports is ‘it’s so fresh.’ The smell just knocks them in the face and they just love that. They think it comes through in the beer, too.” Now in its fourth year of operation, the entire family is part of the Red Shed Malting story. John and Joe seed, manage and harvest the barley. From there, Joe roasts and malts it. Throughout the year, Matt is making connections and sales with breweries across Alberta. Daelyn handles all marketing and communications efforts for Red Shed Malting and Susie is the resident left brain who adds up all the numbers for both Red Shed and Hamill Farms. After getting into farming and thinking he and his wife may have a regular, predictable life, John says his two sons have taken the family down a gigantic rabbit hole, but they don’t regret a single moment. “It has been a bit of a wild ride, it happened so fast. I had enough faith in the boys. Matt had a big job: he had to get out there and find customers to buy our malt; and Joe had to produce a product that was good. I just had to trust that they could do their jobs,” he says. “In the last four years, I’ve done things I never thought that I would do. I never thought I’d go to China to buy equipment; that’s pretty crazy. Even the installation of all the equipment – you don’t think that you could fit all that work into running a farm but somehow you do, then you’re under a steep tank getting it going. Overcoming all the obstacles coming your way, it’s pretty daunting when you’re going through it, pretty stressful, but after it’s pretty rewarding.” To cap it all off, the boys did get into the brewing game after all. Hamill Brothers Brewing launched in January 2018 and created its first batch of beer that September. It was a strong bitter in honour of their dad who recently developed a taste for it. Cheers. 17
Reasonability and the Law of Unforeseen Consequences One of my strict rules when dealing with the transition process of a family farm is to include ALL the family members and to speak to them on a one on one basis. I do this so that I have a full understanding of the views and issues faced by them all. This includes non-farming children and I am often asked by some parents why it is necessary to speak to them.
Including non-farming children does not confer a right by them to demand equal share. It is simply including them in fair process which can help them understand why outcomes have been planned in certain ways and hopefully lead to consensus agreement.
And remember that the next generation of Millennials are more likely to cash in that value than any of the preceding generations. So be careful which set of grandkids you disinherit in the rush to preserve the longterm future of the farm.
Entitlement is an ugly emotion and can destroy families quicker than many other things. But entitlement is not a trait only confined to non-farming children and an all-inclusive process does not pander to entitlement. In fact, the opposite, where entitlement sentiment is uncovered it can be dealt with at an early phase of the process.
What I advocate for, more than anything, is that families have open and honest discussions so that there are no surprises. These open and honest discussions should be regular events, not one-offâ€™s and they should perhaps seek to create a moral agreement which could take the form of a family statement or even the beginnings of a constitution which sets out how the family interacts with the farming business. When the family is developing these moral agreements, it should never underestimate the power of storytelling. Storytelling, especially by grandparents, uncles and aunts, can help to create the glue that holds the family together and help kids understand why things are important, especially legacy assets such as the farm. In this way we can avoid the fear of inclusivity and focus on the power of the family bond.
But not every child who wants a fair inheritance is acting in an entitled manner. Many are motivated, not by greed, but by reasonability. Remember that for all the kids, the farm was home, where they were raised and where they spent their childhoods. They have fond memories and formed friendships and developed into adults around the farm. They have strong emotional bonds to the farm and want to retain a piece of that. Remember for some, the option to farm was not offered. Often the oldest male child still has the advantage over younger siblings, especially sisters. Girls are still not afforded the same status as boys and then there are those with allergies and other disabilities which prevent active participation.
Bob Tosh, PAg., FEA, is a Farm Management Consultant with MNP. He can be contacted at 306.664.8303 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The, now, significant difference between the value of the farm and the value of the non-farm assets is a challenge. I realize that many farmers donâ€™t see themselves as wealthy and donâ€™t count the value of the land as relevant as it is unlikely to ever be sold but remember that this is a choice.
Farming can be solitary work Whether it’s watching rolling fields from the comfort of your cab, or seeing your herd crest a hill from across the valley, there’s something special about that time in the wide, open spaces. But there’s a difference between being and feeling alone. Farming is an amazing way of life, but sometimes it can be as draining mentally as it is physically. Make sure your well-being is a priority and talk to somebody if you or someone you know needs help. Agriculture is rooted in strength – the strength to take care of our families and ourselves. For more resources, visit DoMore.Ag. #RootedInStrength
FARMING YOUR MONEY | GRAIN MARKETERS, STAY AWAY FROM COST OF PRODUCTION
Grain Marketers, Stay Away from Cost of Production I think it is best if I start by saying I have a lot of respect for most grain market analysts. In fact, one of the contributors to this magazine, Scott Shiels, has been a good friend of mine for many years.
Paul Kuntz Paul Kuntz is the owner of Wheatland Financial and offers financial consulting and debt broker services. He can be reached through wheatlandfinancial.ca
However, I do have a pet peeve with market analysts who insist their clients know their cost of production in order to set marketing goals. Part of it comes from working with farmers at a time when nothing was ever profitable. These producers would have sat on inventory for 10 years before they could have sold it for the cost of production. They needed to make marketing plans and it was not based on their break even, it was based on the markets and cash requirements only. Now do not get me wrong, I fully understand the premise that selling at a profit is a great way to stay in business. What I do not agree with is having a marketing plan solely based on the cost of production.
GRAIN MARKETERS, STAY AWAY FROM COST OF PRODUCTION | FARMING YOUR MONEY
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The first problem with that strategy is there is no clear cost of production. It can be stated a few different ways. It can also be interpreted differently. Following is a chart that depicts the
total cost of a farm and the acres. Simple division is done to create a cost of production.
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FARMING YOUR MONEY | GRAIN MARKETERS, STAY AWAY FROM COST OF PRODUCTION
The simple fact is that certain crops have to cross-subsidize other crops. This is not to say the lower-returning crops are not profitable. Once a crop achieves yield that equates financially to cover the expenses of fertilizer, chemical, seed and crop insurance, any amounts over and above are contributing to the remainder of the costs on a farm. So based on this chart, the break even is $387.72 per acre. This number represents all costs generally across the acres. Following is another way to look at the numbers of the same farm.
This is the same group of numbers that came up with $387.72 per acre as an overall per-acre cost of production but now you can see five different costs of production. Which one is correct? Mathematically they are all correct. All the numbers are accurate. The question I am trying to answer is: how can we use this information to make marketing decisions? There is no doubt we can use this information as a base, but I caution against using specific crop numbers. Following is an example. Let us assume your canola crop yielded 45 bu/acre and the current price is $10.15 per bushel. This would give you a gross income of $456.75. If your break even was $425 per acre as listed above, the marketing plan seems straightforward: you should sell because that is profitable. Now let us assume your wheat crop ran 43 bu/acre and it is worth $6.45 a bushel. This will result in an income of $277.35/acre. This is well below the break even of $366 per acre from our chart. You would need the price to go to $8.51/bushel just to break even. This would seem like a poor marketing strategy to sell the canola today at $10.15 and hold on to the wheat waiting for $8.51 per bushel.
GRAIN MARKETERS, STAY AWAY FROM COST OF PRODUCTION | FARMING YOUR MONEY
Based on that example, I would argue my break even for canola is only $425 if I can achieve the break even amounts for the rest of the crops. This example gets worse if I were to use the overall farm break even of $387.72 per acre and judge that amount against a crop like canola. It would be easy to attain that dollar-per-acre amount when selling canola but it would be impossible when selling peas at $7/bu requiring 56 bu/acre just to cover costs. The simple fact is that certain crops have to cross-subsidize other crops. This is not to say the lower-returning crops are not profitable. Once a crop achieves yield that equates financially to cover the expenses of fertilizer, chemical, seed and crop insurance, any amounts over and above are contributing to the remainder of the costs on a farm. In other words, based on our example, a crop can achieve an income of $350/acre and still be good as long as other crops bring in $450/acre. The success of your farm will be determined by having more crops that yield $450 per acre than the ones that yield $350 per acre. There is another problem with simple cost of production math driving the marketing strategy: it completely leaves out the overall financial health of the farm. If a farm has suffered a setback, working capital begins to diminish. This will have two impacts. First, you will want to extract as much cash as possible from your future crops to rebuild your cash. Second, when you have enough working capital, you will want to build more for the next time you have a setback. This type of thinking is critical to the financial well-being of the farm. Producers need to make as much hay as they possibly can when the sun is shining because you do not know how bad the rainy day will be. This is probably the main reason why I scoff at short-sighted grain marketers who simply want to meet your break even. It is a producer’s fiduciary duty to the well-being of that farm to make up for past losses and have provisions for potential future losses. The grain market analysts I respect are the ones who understand the technical trading side. I respect the ones who are following world trends. I respect the ones who take all the relevant data into consideration to predict what the market may do. I want to see these professionals telling producers how high a price might go, how low it might go, and when it will do that. The producer can then take that information and determine if they wish to sell. Every producer will tell you the decision is based on a lot more than cost of production.
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This is why I fully support my producers when they answer the question: how much do you need for your grain? As much as I can possibly get! 23
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SEEDING TECHNOLOGY | PRECISE PLACEMENT
Precise Placement Seeding technology steps into the future
By Jennifer Blair
As far as Colin Rosengren is concerned, seeding technology hasn’t advanced a whole lot since the early ’90s when air drills started to gain traction. “I don’t think there’s been a big change in seeding equipment at all over the last 30 years,” says Rosengren, who farms near Tisdale, Sask. “It’s changed very little, and in some ways, not for the better.” The realities of farming in 2018 are different than they were even 10 years ago. As margins narrow and global demand for food grows, farmers need to do more with less, maximizing their soil and water so that every seed is as productive as possible. That’s what pushed Rosengren toward a 2016 John Deere Conserva Pak 1870 air seeder (now called 1870 Precision Air Hoe Drill)—a long overdue step forward in seeding technology as far as he is concerned. “I’ve seen how critical the soil environment is to plant health and ultimately yield, and the Hoe Drill is the closest machine to doing what our goals are in terms of soil environment,” he says. The Hoe Drill, which Rosengren used for the first time this growing season, is a precision air hoe drill opener that improves accuracy in seed and fertilizer placement. Rosengren, who deals with patches of soil compaction on his farm, is happy to try something completely different in his approach to working the soil come springtime.
PRECISE PLACEMENT | SEEDING TECHNOLOGY “Every other air drill is basically placing your seed on top of a layer that’s like pavement,” he says. “Every farmer that goes to check their seed depth knows that they scrape down to the layer that’s like a rock, and then they look for their seed on top of that. Why would you lay your seed on top of a sealed-off, compacted layer of soil? It just creates a very poor environment for the seedling.” His drill creates loose soil below the seed, allowing moisture to move up in the soil when it’s dry and down in the soil when it’s wet. The soil is mellower, the plants are healthier and the crops perform better. “This was kind of an instant fix for us to improve the seedbed,” he says. “For our soil types, it’s a very good machine for assisting plant health and getting good emergence rates on all crops. Hopefully over the next few years we will see that hardpan disappear and we’ll have a little more mellow soil for better root growth. That’s our goal.” It’s still early, yet Rosengren says the drill has already helped make a positive difference in the performance of his crops. “We had our best barley crop that we’ve ever had,” he says. “We saw better emergence rates than the guys seeding beside us during the dry spring here. It’s tough to attribute that fully to the machine, but we were certainly happy with our emergence in challenging conditions.” Despite some positive attributes, the technology has a long way to go before it offers the type of accuracy most farmers require.
“We had our best barley crop that we’ve ever had, We saw better emergence rates than the guys seeding beside us during the dry spring here. It’s tough to attribute that fully to the machine, but we were certainly happy with our emergence in challenging conditions.” - Colin Rosengren mortality rates that can range from 40 to 60 per cent. With a planter, farmers can place one seed perfectly and grow one perfect plant over as many acres as needed. Farmers may cut their seeding rate in half, or better, by having a planter.
CANADA’S AGRICULTURE DAY February 12, 2019
“I like the way it works in the soil, but it’s still an air drill with an air drill delivery system and all of the problems that come with that,” says Rosengren. “We have variable rate and that helps, but it still has uneven distribution.” In search of a better product and system, some farmers have started exploring planters instead. Historically, planters have been used to plant corn in the United States and other corn-growing regions, but more and more, planters are becoming adapted to seed canola, soybeans, pulses and even cereals.
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Chris Haeusler, who farms near Humboldt, Sask., seeded his canola, soybeans and maple peas this year with a HORSCH Maestro SW planter for the first time – and he’s completely sold on it. “Would I go back to an air seeder? Hell no; not a chance,” says Haeusler. “It really comes down to dollars and cents. Either I get better yield or it costs me less to put in. The planter does that.” Unlike air seeders, planters eliminate variation with seeding depth and from row to row, allowing better placement of each seed. Typical seeding rates are set to compensate for seed
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SEEDING TECHNOLOGY | PRECISE PLACEMENT “Last year, between my soybeans, peas and canola, I think I ripped $163,000 out of my seed costs, and we’re probably going to cut it even lower this next year based on our test plot results,” says Haeusler. “I’ve seen the results for myself.” In the field, Haeusler seeded anywhere between 210,000 to 260,000 seeds per acre. During his test plots, he found there were no yield drops in plots that were seeded at 150,000 seeds per acre. Anything lower than that resulted in weed pressure, with yield loss occurring in plots that dropped below 100,000 seeds per acre. “We cut our seeding rate by about a third and we ended up with a perfect plant count. It worked out nicely,” says Haeusler, adding he also saved in fuel costs using the planter. More importantly, the plant health was better. “You don’t have any of those scraggly little skinny canola plants because there’s two or three side by side. Every stalk is the size of your pinkie, and it’s in a line all the way down the row like that,” he notes. “Every plant is nice, big and healthy.” Despite hot and dry growing conditions all summer, Haeusler’s canola yields were in the mid-50s to about 60 bushels per acre. “You can’t knock that. It’s some of the better numbers I’ve seen in the area,” he says. “The planter versus the drill will give you at least the same yield.” Haeusler says moving to a planter from an air seeder requires a shift in thinking. It’s not a direct replacement for an air
seeder, and while the planter itself is user friendly; it’s a completely different way of putting seed in the ground—the old rules don’t apply. “It’s a learning curve and a half,” he says. “The general rule of plants per square foot gets thrown out the window with a planter.” There is no air cart available with the planting equipment currently on the market. “The problem is you’ve got to apply fertilizer separately,” he adds. “There’s no one-shot pass yet.” Growing pains aside, planters are quickly becoming a viable option for canola, soybean and pulse crops—particularly on farms that already run two drills. “If you have small acres where you’re only using one drill, you’ve got to be able to look at the dollar value of holding on to that second machine,” he says. “If you’re only going to seed small acres with it, a $400,000 price tag is tough to justify. But my drill does all my conventional crops and my planter does my peas, soybeans and canola. It works for me.” And for Haeusler, the results speak for themselves. “My second drill was at the point where it needed to be replaced, and it was either go on to another new, larger drill or go to a planter,” says Haeusler. “For the seed savings, I figured it was worth giving a kick at the can. But with the way the plant stand came up, the evenness of the field, the nice healthylooking canola plants—the planter is a no-brainer.”
CUT CANOLA SEEDING RATES BY 50% WITHOUT SACRIFICING YIELD? The answer to the question…yes. How? By taking a different, more precise approach to canola seed placement and management. Canola seed placement with a row crop planter is proving itself in more and more areas as a means to reduce seed cost yet maintain or exceed the yields of traditional air seeders. HORSCH leads this technology by offering factory “Canola-Ready” seed disc technology for simple conversion from row crops to planting canola with the Maestro SW planter line. So how does the Maestro SW planter have the ability to plant canola at a lower seed rate per acre, without sacrificing yield? The answer is simple…by dramatically improving seed mortality. With traditional air seeders, the canola seed can go through a harsh metering process, then travel through primary and secondary towers resulting in abrupt stops and directional changes. The turbulent path canola takes from the air seeder meter to the opener can result in 20-30%+ seed damage. Once the seed is damaged, it will not germinate. Canola mortality is also affected by seed depth placement and furrow integrity. Depth control on the Maestro SW provides superior canola seed placement at shallow depths (3/4”-1”). When placing seed at a desired depth, the relationship from the center line of the gauge wheel to the point of seed drop must be as close as possible. With the Maestro SW, this relationship is in line, placing seed at an exact depth no matter the terrain the row unit has to follow. When looking at other seeding technologies such as independent hoe drills, the relationship from the center line of the gauge wheel to the
point of seed drop can be 12”-24”. This distance creates irregularities in seed depth placement. Also, the gauge wheel on such drills acts as the packer. Acting as both packer and gauge wheel creates more irregularities as depth is controlled by the flow of soil. With the Maestro SW row unit furrow packing and gauging depth are two independent functions. Obtaining crop uniformity and consistency provides numerous advantages in canola management when using a Maestro SW. Consistent, precise and gentle seed placement ensures a uniform emergence of the crop. Uniform growth gives you the ability to better manage the health and fertility of the crop. Many fungicides need to be applied at specific stages of maturity. If the crop is growing uneven and at different stages, the effectiveness of the fungicide is compromised. Individual row shut-off eliminates overlaps, which cause lodging and variations in maturity. Uniform maturity also helps maintain consistent moisture levels and lower green count levels, which equal big discounts to the value per cwt if not managed. With the Maestro SW not only do you get precise planting rate per acre, but also you maintain a 0% coefficient of variation from row to row, compared to air seeders, which can have 15% or more row-to-row product volume irregularities. Plus, Maestro SW has the ability to maintain consistent population going around field obstacles with curve compensation. Overlap control is achieved on each individual row, the ultimate management tool to reduce over seeding. For more information on how Maestro SW will take canola seed management to the next level on your farm, please contact your local HORSCH dealer or email us at email@example.com. The HORSCH Maestro SW comes in 15”, 20”, 22”, and 30” row spacing pending toolbar size.
A canola metering disc on the Maestro SW
Blending Speed, Precision & Capacity.
LIKE ONLY A MAESTRO CAN. To maximize your optimum planting window and secure the highest potential yields, your planter investment must blend speed, precision and, most of all, large volume product carrying capacity. The Maestro orchestrates all of these design principles to spend less time filling and more time planting, while maintaining precise seed depth and spacing. Simply put, you can plant more acres per day without sacrificing accurate seed placement.
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TOP TRAITS | SEED DEVELOPMENT
Seed Development Researchers continue to identify traits that push back against FHB, drought stress and lodging By Jeff Melchior Experts across the Prairies agree: when it comes to the traits farmers are looking for in their wheat varieties and other crops, yield is still king. But yield doesn’t tell the whole story. Disease, drought and lodging ultimately may impact yield and quality. Crop researchers, aided by the input of farmers, seed growers and dealers, are continually investigating and identifying traits that are making progress on these fronts.
Swift Current makes waves in FHB resistance Among wheat breeders and researchers, particularly in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Fusarium head blight (FHB) is public enemy No. 1. Richard Cuthbert, a leading wheat researcher at the AAFC Research and Development Centre (RDC) in Swift Current, Sask., says he spends much of his time attempting to identify FHB-resistant traits. The research team’s ongoing efforts include incorporating Fusarium resistance into short-strawed wheat varieties, which typically underperform in that arena compared to their taller cousins. Cuthbert says the Swift Current RDC has been able to break that association in a few cases, but it has taken a lot of time. “It is possible to shift those traits but it takes a tremendous amount of effort in breeding.”
Photo: Dale Kern (driving)
and Michelle Pennington (bagging) – combining early generation wheat breeding yield test plots.
Credit: Cam Barlow, AAFC
Another challenge has been combining Fusarium-resistant traits from wheats such as Canadian Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) wheat with Canadian Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat. “We’ve been working to integrate that resistance into more moderately-resistant wheat types – especially in CWRS which is a more premium market class.”
SEED DEVELOPMENT | TOP TRAITS
Photo from left to right: AAFC crop researcher Richard Cuthbert, pathologist MariaAntonia Henriquez and pathologist/biotechnologist Ron Knox stand among thousands of genetically unique lines being screened for Fusarium head blight resistance. Credit: Richard Cuthbert
Heat and drought have become quite important issues for farmers over the past two years, says Cuthbert. Researchers have been looking at traits such as photosynthetic efficiency and the ability of a given variety to hold water. However, these kinds of traits are generally only discovered once a variety has already been developed. “A lot of these things in research are playing catch-up to breeding,” he says. Lodging resistance and standability is a category in which producers’ expectations have grown, adds Cuthbert. “[Some wheat varieties] that came out in the mid to late 2000s really shifted farmers’ expectations of what is possible, especially in CWRS wheat, so much so that varieties that would have been thought to have been quite strong strawed in the past do not make the grade today.”
Soybeans shine in southern Manitoba Simon Ellis is the co-owner of Ellis Seeds, a seed farm and agri-service company located near Wawanesa, Man. The company’s goal is to have access to any seed that can be grown in the province. In their case, that primarily means wheat, barley, oats, flax and soybeans.
“Ten years ago, we could hardly sell soybeans but now it’s probably No. 2 or No. 3 on our seller list. It’s a big market player both in the seed and production world in Manitoba.” - Simon Ellis Not surprisingly, yield ranks high among the traits Ellis Seeds’ customers look for. In the wheat arena, yield, consistency and moderate resistance to FHB have made AAC Brandon a hit among local producers, says Ellis. “It’s a consistent high yielder through a range of conditions. We’ve seen some varieties in the past that can be just phenomenal one year but then do not perform as well the next year with a slight change in conditions. When AAC Brandon first came on the market it ticked all the right boxes and farmers stuck with it.” 31
TOP TRAITS | SEED DEVELOPMENT Soybeans are booming right now among Ellis Seeds’ customer base, particularly with the advent of dicamba- and glyphosateresistant soybeans. “The companies have put quite a bit of money into the research and development of early-season beans and pushing the yield,” says Ellis. “Ten years ago, we could hardly sell soybeans but now it’s probably No. 2 or No. 3 on our seller list. It’s a big market player both in the seed and production world in Manitoba.” Part of this interest is driven by soybeans’ potential in rotations. “I think when farmers have been looking at their budgets they’ve been focused on wheat and canola because they offer the best return,” says Ellis. “However, they knew their rotations were too short and now that soybeans are available, they’re able to expand that two- or three-crop rotation and diversify their risk.”
Photo: Southern Alberta-based SeedNet, a conglomerate of 13 seed
growers located throughout Western Canada, has had a lot of demand recently for its hybrid fall ryes. The crop pictured above is Guttino hybrid fall rye, which SeedNet says boasts high yields, superior lodging resistance and excellent winter survival.
Credit: Stamp Seeds
SeedNet customers focus on intensive management Based in southern Alberta, SeedNet is a group of 13 independent seed growers throughout Western Canada who grow cereal, pulse and special crop seeds for customers across the Prairies. SeedNet customers are looking for varieties that respond to intensive management, says Greg Stamp, a SeedNet member based in Enchant, Alta. “I think farmers are just starting to ask, ‘With my management style, can I push this variety and make more net money per acre being more intensive with my inputs?’ In wheat, we’re moving past AAC Brandon and on to varieties like AAC Viewfield and CDC Landmark. There are a few more in the pipeline that really respond well to high management.” Beyond wheat, SeedNet has seen a lot of success with hybrid fall rye. Their Guttino hybrid fall rye has been bred for high
SEED DEVELOPMENT | TOP TRAITS
“I think farmers are just starting to ask, ‘With my management style, can I push this variety and make more net money per acre being more intensive with my inputs?’” - Greg Stamp yields, lodging resistance and winter survival. KWS Daniello, meanwhile, has been bred for those traits plus low ergot risk and suitability for both dryland and irrigation farming, which is valued by area farmers. According to SeedNet, Daniello also offers a high falling number for milling markets.
Photo: Simon Ellis of Wawanesa, Man., says he’s seeing greater interest in dicamba- and glyphosate-resistant soybeans.
Image is courtesy of Simon Ellis.
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SeedNet Exclusives: AAC Lacombe Yellow Pea 3 Hybrid Fall Rye Varieties Guttino – milling or feed, great yields KWS Daniello – high yields, lowest ergot risk KWS Propower – new silage/forage variety
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TOP TRAITS | SEED DEVELOPMENT Height, standability and seed thickness are among the traits available in several of SeedNet’s new pulse seed offerings, says Stamp. “We have a brand-new yellow pea called Inca developed by the Crop Development Centre (CDC) in Saskatchewan that’s licensed to SeedNet for Alberta and Manitoba. The interest is pretty good; people are concerned about yield and standability and Inca fits into those categories.” In lentils, Stamp says many customers are moving to CDC Proclaim, another variety licensed to SeedNet by the CDC. A big reason for this is Proclaim’s yield compared to other lentils as well as greater height and seed thickness. It also features tolerance for imidazolinone herbicides. Lodging resistance is particularly important in the irrigation areas of southern Alberta, says Stamp. However, producers seem to have the problem in hand. “I would say yield trumps lodging resistance because more and more of my customers are using plant growth regulators (PGRs) to make plants stand up but still go for maximum yield,” he says. “It depends on the farmer. Some guys are comfortable using PGRs while others do not want to take that next management step or that extra pass in the field.”
Towards the future Beyond plant traits, Rick Stamp—founder of Stamp Seeds and co-founder of SeedNet—points to certified seed as the future of the industry to reduce the risk of purchasing seed that
Photo: AAFC FHB nursery near Morden, Man., for screening early generation wheat lines and for registration testing.
Photo Credit: Richard Cuthbert, AAFC-SCRDC.
hasn’t been thoroughly tested for quality control. “Most people realize that cleaning your own seed sometimes makes economic sense but a lot of times it does not,” says Rick. “Seed that is tested properly by the certified testing associations we deal with is a big part of that quality-assured seed we provide.” Varieties that can tackle any kind of extreme weather or environmental conditions will likely be in demand going forward. “We will need new varieties of crops able to tolerate lower rainfall and different rainfall patterns,” he says. “They need to be able to withstand two to four weeks of no moisture without shutting down. The plant breeders are definitely looking at how they can find plants or varieties that will withstand that.” New CRISPR gene-editing technology stands to dramatically increase the number of new varieties available and the speed at which they are developed, says Stamp. He believes this is a good thing overall; however, the sheer number of varieties the technology can produce will make every seed he chooses to invest time and money into more of a gamble. “What will happen is we will have more and more varieties that we will maybe want to multiply up,” he says. “First of all, we need to have a market for that variety or that type of seed with those attributes. But sometimes you don’t know; you have to grow it first and then see if it has market acceptance.”
FAIL TO PLAN? PLAN TO FAIL. | SUCCESSION
Fail to Plan? Plan to fail. How three families have used succession to take care of the next generation
By Natalie Noble
For farmers getting close to retirement, the thought of turning over the operation can be daunting. Even worse are the times an unexpected event forces a farm’s transition to the next generation. Enter succession planning. It’s a process that can take years, cause tears and is best taken on with trusted and knowledgeable guidance. Every family’s planning needs are unique, but there are many advantages to learning from others.
THE GREIG FAMILY PLAN: FAIRLY FACILITATING The Greig family of Reston, Man., operates Avondale Seed Farm and is working on their succession plan as the farm transitions to two of their children and their spouses. The new third generation is working to figure out their roles and responsibilities around farming the 6,000 acres of pedigreed seed and small beef cow herd. Having combined their parents’ farms, Fred and Lori Greig understand the importance of planning. “We’ve been through this already so hopefully we can make it a little easier on this next generation,” says Fred. Their daughter Stephanie and her husband Jordan Roper have farmed with them since 2015, while son 35
SUCCESSION | FAIL TO PLAN? PLAN TO FAIL.
What they learned The Greig family has learned that in striking a fair balance between farming and nonfarming children, “equal” is not necessarily the same as “fair.” “As an example, if you leave a certain amount to a non-farming child, it can look like you’re leaving four times that to your farming children. But, on any given year, the nonfarming child, who doesn’t need the money to keep the farm operating, can make more money letting their portion sit in a savings or GIC account,” says Fred. Furthermore, the plan needs to consider possible changes in circumstances, such as children leaving or returning to the farm. “With three family units involved now, it’s created a new dynamic,” says Stephanie. “We do have some unknowns around roles and responsibilities to figure out. Part of the plan has to consider beyond this transition to all our children, as well.” For Fred, being proactive has been key to their family’s success. “If you don’t get at this before something happens, and come into the position where you have to, that adds a whole other level of stress. We’ve learned if you can do it ahead of time, you can take the time to do it right,” he says of the biggest lesson he’s learned.
Photo: Fred Greig has been through succession planning with his parents, and he aims to make this round easier on his kids. Photo courtesy: Fred Greig
Cam and his wife Jordan returned in 2017. Allison, a teacher, is content remaining off the farm, so far. With their kids’ choices, comes the Greigs’ biggest challenge – working out a succession plan that treats each of them fairly. “We need to leave a legacy that ensures they’re all speaking and that any extended family are happy,” says Fred. He and Lori started their planning process with their accounting firm that also handled the farm’s previous transition when Lori’s parents retired. Knowing the intimate details of their farm business, their accountant has worked as the family’s facilitator for more than three years. “They understand exactly what we want to do, and they came back with some plans and suggestions we’ve been able to tweak to suit our own situation. We don’t mind leaning on a group like that,” says Fred. The planning process has included a valuation of the farm and business, gradual transferring of preferred and common shares as well as a life insurance policy. Each step is designed to ensure a fair end result, with enough value to keep the farm sustainable for the farming children and an equivalent inheritance for the non-farmers. 36
THE OTTO FAMILY PLAN: LEAVE TIME TO SPARE Near Warner, Alta., the Otto family is well into transitioning Provident Farm Ltd. into its fifth -generation. As Brian and Carolyn step back, son Andrew and his wife Shauna have stepped up to run their 4,300 acres of grain, oilseeds and pulses. Their other two children are both married and work off-farm. Brian says the loss of a longtime hired hand initiated the planning process in the fall of 2013, when he was 65. “I said to Carolyn, ‘maybe we should be thinking about slowing down, but how are we going to continue running the farm?’” Meanwhile, Andrew was working as a heavy-duty mechanic and shop foreman in Taber. The Ottos knew if Andrew and Shauna wanted to farm, the kids had big decisions to make. So, once the couple chose farming, the transition planning began, although Brian and Carolyn had already been working on it for several years.
Succession planning that works for FARM&FAMILY
Your Family, Your Farm, Your Future – What’s Your Transition Plan? As a farmer, you’ve worked hard to get to where you are. By planning for succession, you control where your agriculture business goes next. At MNP, we help you prepare for the future with a program created specifically with farmers – and their families – in mind. Transition your farm on your terms, leaving nothing to chance.
See how prepared you are for your future with our online assessment tool: MNP.ca/Legacy For more information on the TransitionSMARTTM program, contact Bob Tosh, PAg., FEA, Farm Management Consultant, at 306.664.8303 or email@example.com
SUCCESSION | FAIL TO PLAN? PLAN TO FAIL.
the in-laws,” says Brian. “We recognize that we are not just transitioning to Andrew. We’re transitioning to his family, to Shauna and our three granddaughters, and we are including our other two children in this process. We are very comfortable with this.” Although discussing death and the next generation is grim, it is a necessity. “This process forced us to have the difficult conversations about what’s going to happen when my parents aren’t here anymore. The worst thing you could do is not have a plan,” says Andrew. Even with a plan in place, Andrew also must consider his non-farming siblings’ future. His current plan is to expand the farm and eventually buy both out. “It’s all got to be split up somehow. So, we feel like we need to grow the business enough that we can afford to deal with that and keep the business going at the same time.” Fortunately, early planning leaves time on their side and space for that growth. “If we hadn’t started talking about the transition process, I don’t think I would have worked so hard to get educated on the operation,” says Andrew, whose big takeaway is the massive amount there is to learn as the majority owner of the farm.
Photo from left to right: Planning well ahead, Brian and Andrew Otto were able to work side-by-side for several years as the farm moved into its newest generation. Photo courtesy: Brian Otto
The Ottos’ biggest concern was determining the fairest way to settle the estate for each sibling. “We want to ensure that all our children are treated equitably when we’re no longer here,” says Brian. “The big question to us is: what is equitable?” They also needed to ensure Andrew and Shauna could afford to keep farming and make a good living into the future. “We don’t want them saddled with something they can’t afford once we’re gone.” To start, the whole family gathered for a weekend of open communication to discuss expectations. They then worked these details out with their transition lawyer and longtime accountants who acted as facilitators. They created a solid plan over several individual and group meetings. Now into their fourth year, the majority of responsibility, decision-making and operations have transitioned to Andrew. As he carries on from Brian’s 48 years building up the farm, working together has been rewarding. “I’ve enjoyed that. His heavy-duty mechanic and management experience fits in nicely and it’s given him the advantage of strong people skills. The way he deals with challenges may be different than how I would do it, but it is working well,” says Brian.
What they learned Communication is key. “I can’t say it enough. Everyone has to understand what their position is—the parents, the children and 38
THE FAYE FAMILY PLAN: DO THE RESEARCH Zenneth and Cindy Faye have operated Diamond F Farms near Foam Lake, Sask., for 40 years. Having two daughters, they were not always certain about the farm’s future, but today they are well into transitioning the farm to their daughter, Brittany, and her husband, Steve. Their other daughter, Ambrely, farms with her husband, Garett, on his family’s farm north of Tisdale, Sask. Brittany and Steve first expressed interest in operating the family farm three years ago, despite being students and working on the side. After a three-year trial period, they decided farming was their future. Zenneth and Cindy had already been discussing the farm’s succession, and built a team with legal, financial and facilitation expertise to help them. The first task was their retirement plan. “Knowing all those real costs to sustain a living for the next 20 years is tough,” says Zenneth. “We used services from some banking institutions to gain insight about what would be required. It was a difficult process, very eye-opening.” They worked out fair scenarios for both daughters while positioning the family farm to continue positive growth.
FAIL TO PLAN? PLAN TO FAIL. | SUCCESSION
What they learned After frustrating encounters with professionals only interested in cashing a cheque, Zenneth says his biggest lesson has been the non-negotiable of a top-tier transition team. “It’s so important to engage professionals who have worked with families right from the get-go. Facilitators who don’t just handle certain sections of succession planning and can take an all-encompassing approach,” he says. “You want the team you are paying for to work on your best interests and the individual situation, not just fill in templates.” One huge help is to reach out to trusted people in the industry, even if it is a sensitive subject. “I asked around my network of friends and association contacts to see about who they used and how their experience was. I would ask who not to use as well.”
Photo from left to right: Garett and Ambrely with son Liam, Cindy, Zenneth, Brittany and Steve with daughter Violet. Zenneth Faye stresses the importance of exercising care when enlisting help and rejecting those who try to rush you through succession planning. Photo courtesy: Zenneth Faye
In Agriculture Conference
Farming For Tomorrow - 1/2 Page Horizontal - 7” x 4.75”
Elevating the discussion in agriculture March 11 & 12, 2019 Hyatt Regency – Calgary, AB
AdvancingWomenConference.ca or call 403-686-8407
THOSE WILY WEEDS | BATTLING THE KOCHIA BONANZA
Battling the Kochia Bonanza By Tammy Jones Above: Post-harvest kochia control is being assessed.
A number of circumstances contributed to this year’s kochia bonanza. Environment, soil salinity, kochia’s competitive ability and herbicide resistance all played a role. Knowing this, what can be done to minimize the problem?
Environment As 2018 started out warm and dry, weeds like green foxtail, redroot pigweed and kochia (C4 pathway plants) got a head start on most crops. C3 plants (wheat, canola, barley and about 95 per cent of the plants on the earth) prefer cooler temperatures and good moisture, while C4 plants are more efficient and thrive in heat. It’s impossible to control the weather, but weed control is definitely a management opportunity. Kochia typically germinates from early April until as late as June, so a single herbicide application is unlikely to provide complete weed control. On top of that, kochia is more challenging to kill in a drier environment because of its hairy leaves and waxy leaf surface. It’s easier to control small, actively growing weeds, using recommended water volumes, appropriate rates of herbicides and multiple modes of effective action. Herbicide tank mixes and herbicide layering are two options for implementing multiple modes of effective action. Herbicide layering is a relatively new weed-management concept, which uses sequential herbicide applications to enhance weed control and minimize the risk of developing herbicide resistance. A pre-seed “extended control” herbicide included with glyphosate provides multiple modes of effective action on emerged weeds, while helping to reduce the number of weeds that emerge 40
BATTLING THE KOCHIA BONANZA | THOSE WILY WEEDS
prior to crop emergence and during the early growth stages of the crop. This results in smaller weeds being present for the in-crop herbicide application, and as previously mentioned, smaller weeds are easier to control.
Soil salinity Kochia is more tolerant of salinity than many grain and forage crops. In years of excess moisture, salts are drawn up to the soil surface from the high water table. In drier years, soil moisture evaporates, and salts are concentrated in the upper levels of the soil profile. Rainfall usually helps to move some of the salt down below the rooting zone, but the lack of rainfall in the past year or two has meant more accumulation near the soil surface. Higher salt levels impact plant germination, as well as soil water availability for plant growth. Electrical conductivity (EC) is a measurement of the soluble salts in the soil solution, commonly expressed in deciSiemens per metre (dS/m). As a very oversimplified explanation of salt tolerance, kochia can tolerate a soil EC of up to 16 dS/m, barley and alfalfa tolerate a maximum of 8 dS/m while corn and edible beans are somewhere around 2 dS/m for salt tolerance (based on data from Alberta). It should be noted that every saline site is unique, and a proper soil analysis looking at the 0-6 inch and 6-24 inch depths of the soil profile will help determine the nature and severity of the problem. Crop selection based on salt tolerances, establishing a perennial forage or other management options may help but there is no easy solution to salinity.
Kochia competitiveness Kochia can grow up to six feet tall, is estimated to produce 15,000 to 16,000 seeds per plant and is well known as a tumbleweed. A recent study conducted in Lethbridge by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada put tracking collars on kochia plants and traced them. With the winds howling, the kochia plants reached top speeds of about five miles per hour and dropped 90 per cent of their seed within a half-mile of home. This means that in patches of kochia, the amount of seed that drops off prior to and immediately after beginning to tumble will result in a population explosion in that area. Still, 10 per cent of 15,000 seeds is 1,500 seeds that can easily travel from one quarter to the next and the next and the next.
Kochia seed has low or no seed dormancy. This is a great opportunity when you achieve good kochia control for a year or two, because the seed bank will be depleted and the kochia pressure is reduced. On the flip side, if the plants do manage to set seed, then the seed will all germinate in the next year or two and there needs to be increased vigilance in controlling that population.
Herbicide resistance At a recent Canadian Weed Science Society meeting, the University of Alberta’s Dr. Linda Hall reported that the frequency of herbicide resistance in populations of kochia is increasing. Over 300 kochia seed samples from Alberta were tested in 2017: 100 per cent were resistant to ALS inhibitors (Group 2 herbicides); 40 per cent were resistant to glyphosate (Group 9); and eight per cent were dicamba resistant (Group 4). Like many other weeds, kochia has evolved multiple herbicide resistance and 10 per cent of the samples were resistant to all three herbicide groups. This summer in Manitoba, leaf tissue samples submitted for resistance testing confirmed a dramatic doubling in the number of municipalities with glyphosate-resistant kochia. This lab test is an opportunity to assess herbicide resistance in season, so that those weeds are managed appropriately. Not every sample that was submitted was herbicide resistant, meaning that in some cases herbicide rate, application method or environment was the reason for a lack of control. If herbicide resistance is suspected, due to variable control within a field (one plant dies and the neighbouring plant survives) then confirming resistance is important to identify what will still work to control the weed. Small kochia patches can be eliminated by pulling those resistant weeds. If eliminating the patch isn’t an option, then silaging or baling kochia prior to seed set is an alternative. A kochia plant that is cut off by mowing (or put through the combine at harvest) still has potential to set viable seed. A study in Montana measured an average of 4,100 seeds per plant were produced between harvest (late-July to mid-August) and the first killing frost (late-September). Post-harvest herbicide application options are being investigated but it’s too early to make any recommendations other than ensuring multiple modes of effective action are used. The post-harvest treatments did not prevent seed production, although it was reduced. When there is known resistance in a weed population, it’s challenging to believe that using herbicides will completely solve the problem.
Setting up for success Anything that enhances the crop competitiveness, like narrower row spacings, increased seeding rates and early weed control, will minimize the impact of kochia. Row crops that provide wide open spaces will be more challenging and herbicide layering or inter-row tillage will help. Kochia is an annual weed with low seed dormancy and a short seed bank persistence, so anything that reduces seed set is an opportunity to get this weed under control. 41
SPRAYING 101 | OPTICAL SPOT SPRAYING MAKES SENSE
Optical Spot Spraying Makes Sense Tom Wolf, PhD, P.Ag. Tom Wolf grew up on a grain farm in southern Manitoba. He obtained his BSA and M.Sc. (Plant Science) at the University of Manitoba and his PhD (Agronomy) at Ohio State University. Tom was a research scientist with Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada for 17 years before forming AgriMetrix, an agricultural research company that he now operates in Saskatoon. He specializes in spray drift, pesticide efficacy, and sprayer tank cleanout, and conducts research and training on these topics throughout Canada. Tom sits on the Board of the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association, is an active member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and is a member and past president of the Canadian Weed Science Society.
Site-specific treatments have long been a goal in agriculture. It makes sense to provide inputs or treatment at rates that reflect the local situation. To a large degree, those capabilities have been available for fertility and seed inputs for some time, with input zones reflecting soil types or topography. But the sprayer world has not seen as much site-specific treatment. The reasons: pest maps are time-consuming to generate and their usefulness may be short-lived; weeds are fairly ubiquitous, and it usually makes sense to treat an entire field; and sprays are relatively inexpensive compared to fertilizer or seed. When it comes to spraying, we need to redefine site-specific. While traditional zone maps (corresponding to, say soil type and/or elevation or slope position) allow unique treatments on a scale of acres, new sensors have allowed sprayers to basically leapfrog this approach and treat each square foot uniquely. These sensors identify plants directly and create an immediate treatment response. The idea, and technology, has been around agriculture since the early 1990s, with Concord DetectSpray and later Trimble WeedSeeker. For various reasons, these never became widespread. New cutting-edge technologies are about to change this. WEEDit is an optical spot spraying (OSS) system manufactured in the Netherlands by Rometron (https://www.weed-it.com/), and has been available on the market for several years. It is widely adopted for use in Australia and South America, is now making inroads in North America. WEEDit spray booms contain sensors placed at one-metre intervals. These scan the ground
OPTICAL SPOT SPRAYING MAKES SENSE | SPRAYING 101 One reason the system has been successful in the Southern Hemisphere is the long growing season that may require multiple spray passes outside of the crop each year, and where the weeds are relatively large at treatment time and therefore easier to detect. In North America, the pre-seed spray window is relatively narrow and weeds may be very small or just emerging. The risk of a miss due to non-detection is therefore greater. The WEEDit system has a feature that addresses this risk. The solenoids that trigger an individual nozzle are pulse-width modulated (PWM). This means the application rate is adjusted according to travel speed which offers an innovative feature: the entire boom can be programmed to spray a defined fraction of the full dose, to a maximum of 50 per cent, as a background broadcast rate (called â€œbiasâ€?). The smallest weeds that escape detection are likely to be susceptible to this lower dose. Larger weeds are then detected and sprayed with an individual spot spray at the full dose. Bias is typically set to about 25 per cent; savings are less, but control is improved for those very early season situations. Currently, several hundred WEEDit sprayers are operating in Australia. Since 2017, there have been five installations in Western Canada, and about 25 in the U.S. Midwest. Savings compared to broadcast spraying range from 65 to 85 per cent. Similar systems are in development by other manufacturers, and the future looks very promising.
ahead of the boom, identify the presence of plants and trigger the nozzle in line with the plant. The sensor contains five channels so its resolution is actually 20 centimetres wide. The boom therefore contains a nozzle every 20 centimetres, and this nozzle has a correspondingly narrow fan angle that treats just this space. The detection principle is based on the quality of light that is reflected from living plant tissue compared to everything else. A red or blue light is emitted, and chlorophyll-containing plants reflect a unique wavelength that differentiates them from ground or dead plant material. The response time of the system is very fast. Triggered by small solenoids, a travel speed of up to 15 miles per hour is possible when the sensor looks one metre ahead. Furthermore, the software allows the user two important controls. First, the sprayed distance before and after a detected plant can be buffered between five and 20 centimetres, resulting in a sprayed patch between 10 and 40 centimetres long. This could be useful when boom heights fluctuate and placement of the sprayed patch shifts accordingly. Second, the user can select from among four sensitivity settings. Higher sensitivity can detect smaller weeds but will also result in more false results.
Another approach is pioneered by a company called Green Eye Technologies (http://www.green-eye.ca/index.html). They have developed plant recognition algorithms that are currently able to identify 150 different species. Green Eye has launched a business in Canada that scouts fields by high-resolution drone imagery, and then provides customers with species-specific distribution maps (https://youtu.be/nlXc7TVoegI). Plant counts can show crop establishment and species composition by zone. When this information is converted to a prescription map, rate and tank mix composition could be varied as necessary by zone, or weeds can be sprayed individually. The agronomic value of this information is clearly very high. Optical spot spraying offers a number of opportunities for weed management. Cost Savings: OSS has an appealing rate of return on investment. On a 5,000-acre farm, a pre-seed treatment of glyphosate plus tank mix for resistance management may cost $10 per acre, or $50,000 per year. At an average savings of 75 per cent, that represents $37,500 per year. Add other non-crop uses, such as post-harvest, and savings increase. With eventual weed recognition in-crop, virtually all herbicide treatments are candidates for such savings. Herbicide Resistance Management: Delaying the onset of 43
SPRAYING 101 | OPTICAL SPOT SPRAYING MAKES SENSE herbicide resistance requires the use of multiple effective modes of action in a tank mix. Cost of tank mixes is a deterrent to this practice. With OSS, these tank mixes become affordable. Efficiency: With 75 per cent product savings, a tank of product will last longer. The time lost to hauling water and product, as well as filling the sprayer, will decrease. For example, WEEDit users are spraying a full day on a single load. Or they may choose to use a much smaller load, decreasing equipment weight. Pre- and Post-Harvest: Whether for desiccation or weed control, site-specificity of late-season sprays can also be based on living tissue. Only regions in the field requiring the desiccant are treated. Perennial or late-season weeds are selectively controlled pre-harvest. Since herbicide rates in these applications are typically higher, savings are significant. High-Value Crops: Row crops requiring multiple fungicide applications per season, such as potatoes, can benefit from OSS. Sprays applied prior to canopy closure can thus avoid gaps between plants, saving product.
Producer Innovation: One user of the WEEDit system in Saskatchewan developed an innovative use. Having missed a pre-seed spray, the applicator was faced with large weeds in a one-leaf Roundup Ready canola crop. By turning down the sensitivity of the system so the canola crop did not trigger the sensors and turning on bias mode, he was able to broadcast spray the field at a low dose (sufficient to control the small weeds) and then apply a full dose to the larger weeds, triggered by the sensor. Equipment Innovation: As individual zones, or weeds, require unique doses or products, technologies like direct injection, remote nozzle switching, multiple smaller tanks and booms, and PWM will make more sense and grow. License to Farm: OSS makes intuitive sense not only to applicators, but also to the public at large. Showing and using these technologies demonstrates stewardship practices that are easy to communicate and understand. Rapid development and improvement of these technologies is ongoing. Finally, we may have all the pieces that can bring site-specific weed management to market.
NEWS & INNOVATIONS
LEMKEN LEMKEN Unveils New Compact Disc Harrow As more farmers incorporate tillage into their farm management practices to address specific agronomic needs, LEMKEN has unveiled its newest compact disc harrow, the Rubin 10. While offering the same intensive uniform mixing as the Rubin 9 at shallow depths up to six inches, LEMKEN’s new Rubin 10 handles heavy trash more aggressively with bigger, stronger discs measuring 25 inches in diameter. Delivering more efficient field performance with new symmetrical disc arrangements on both sides, the Rubin 10 eliminates lateral pull, ensuring the machine pulls straight, and reduces fuel consumption. Featuring surface-hardened DuraMaxx for 30 per cent longer service life than conventional discs, each disc is equipped with override protection, significantly minimizing frame loads when discs hit obstacles in the field. The Rubin 10 also improves the crumbling and distribution of soil and organic matter, resulting in a more levelled seed-bed.
“LEMKEN’s ongoing development of compact disc harrows and other strategic tillage tools continues to be driven by farmer demand for effective strategic tillage solutions that address agronomic challenges in a single pass while leaving the field seedbed-ready,” says Laurent Letzter, managing director of LEMKEN Canada. In other news, LEMKEN has acquired two divisions of the Dutch company, STEKETEE, adding innovative hoeing technology for mechanical weed control to its product range.. “As the acceptance of chemical crop-care agents decrease, and farmers grapple with the growing problem of herbicideresistant weeds, the addition of the STEKETEE technology to LEMKEN’s product offering bolsters our company’s commitment to always provide farmers with the right strategic tillage machines to do the job effectively and efficiently, both now and into the future,” says Letzter.
CANADA’S FARM PROGRESS SHOW Launch Your Next BIG Thing at Canada’s Farm Progress Show If you’re working on the next big thing for your company, there ought to be an equally awesome launch plan in the works. When it comes to agriculture innovation that place is the Product Launch Program at Canada’s Farm Progress Show. For over 40 years, Canada’s Farm Progress Show has connected producers, manufacturers and buyers from around the world to the latest innovations in dry-land farming. Show manager, Shirley Janeczko says, “Canada’s Farm Progress Show offers exposure of new products to equipment manufacturers as well as attendees at our show.” In addition to discounted booth space, exposure in both the show and innovation guides and the assistance of a professional audiovisual team, innovators can launch and display their new product during the show. With over 40,000 visitors from more than 50-plus countries,
Canada’s Farm Progress Show promotes innovation, education, collaboration and growth in the agriculture industry. The show attracts world-class exhibitors, speakers and entertainment to Regina, Sask., each year. The three-day show is the only place to see it all. From education in the latest agricultural technology, networking and business development opportunities to shopping and entertainment, Canada’s Farm Progress Show has something for everyone. 45
NEWS & INNOVATIONS
FCC AND 4-H Farm Credit Canada and 4-H Canada Announce Healthy Living Initiative to Support Rural Youth Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is collaborating with 4-H Canada and industry partners to create a national program that supports the mental and physical health of 4-H youth. The two-year, multi-party agreement supports the emotional and physical well-being of rural youth across Canada through the creation of the 4-H Canada Healthy Living Initiative, beginning in 2019. “The Healthy Living Initiative means offering youth not only the tools and resources to face challenges, but also opportunities to learn how to thrive,” says 4-H Canada CEO Shannon Benner, in recognizing FCC, Cargill, UFA Co-operative Limited and Corteva Agriscience for contributing more than $150,000 toward the program. As part of the two-year commitment, 4-H Canada will deliver webinars and workshops to assist in the creation of resources that will be made available for over 7,700 4-H Canada volunteer
leaders, who serve as critical mentors and role models in adult-youth partnership. These resources will help train volunteers to recognize youth in distress and provide access to support they need. For the lead partner, FCC, the 4-H agreement is part of a multi-pronged strategy to promote awareness and support for mental wellness in agriculture. The Crown corporation is distributing a mental health publication called, Rooted in Strength, to every farm mailbox in Canada. The booklet was created with mental health experts and provides a listing of resources available for people struggling with mental health issues. “Agriculture is a growing and dynamic industry that offers many exciting opportunities,” says Michael Hoffort, FCC president and CEO, during a media briefing at the Western Canadian Agribition in Regina. “We also know there are times when things don’t go as expected and problems are compounded by exhaustion, a sense of isolation and not always having access to local support resources.”
MACDON MacDon Industries Acquires Winnipeg-based Sprayer Parts Warehouse For nearly 70 years, MacDon Industries and Sprayer Parts Warehouse (SPW) have operated as separate leading distributers in the agriculture industry. That has all changed with the recent acquisition of SPW by MacDon Industries. “This company complements our acquisition of Westward Parts Services Ltd. in 2012, and we look forward to enhancing our leadership position in agricultural and sprayer parts in Canada, as well as expanding our position in industrial parts,” said Gary Giesbrecht, president of MacDon. MacDon’s history is rooted deep in the Prairie heritage of Winnipeg, with products distributed and supported worldwide from offices in Canada, the United States, Australia, Russia, Brazil and Germany. MacDon’s relentless pursuit of improvement is driven by a desire to make harvesting easier and more productive for farmers. Working directly with producers and custom harvesters in tough real-world conditions, this relationship guides MacDon to pioneer industry-leading 46
innovations like the FlexDraper®. MacDon has a worldwide reputation for excellence as The Harvesting Specialists and is proud to make equipment that is helping producers harvest the crops to feed the world. “The addition of Sprayer Parts Warehouse is an excellent fit for our growing aftermarket parts business,” says Jason Klassen, vice president of global parts. “We see more opportunities for cross-promotion, distribution expansion and increased volumes from this strategic acquisition.” SPW will continue to operate from its current location, and Ray Falkenberg, former owner, will remain with the company as general manager. For more information, visit MacDon.com.
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