March / April 2019
ENTREPRENEURS IN AGRICULTURE
Grow the future
With two thriving businesses and a rapidly growing farm, the Aberharts still believe in ‘family first’ Chemical Advances Spraying Tech Seed Royalties
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10 Grow the future 07 08 16 22 30
What to Seed and When by Scott Shiels
A Farmer’s Viewpoint
High Land Prices and Exorbitant Cash Rents by Kevin Hursh High-tech, low stress by Geoff Geddes
The changing world of risk by Jeff Melchior Spraying 101
Sprayer Modifications That Improve Productivity by Tom Wolf
TREVOR BACQUE 4
Grain Market Analysis
With two thriving businesses and a rapidly growing farm, the Aberharts still believe in ‘family first’
Pray for spray
by Shannon VanRaes Cattle Call
by Andrea White Farming Your Money
The Balance Sheet is My Favourite by Paul Kuntz
On The Move
by Alexis Kienlen Seed Royalties
Value Creation by Natalie Noble
S A S K AT O O N
March / April 2019 Publishers
Pat Ottmann & Tim Ottmann
Regular Contributors Kevin Hursh Paul Kuntz
Scott Shiels Tom Wolf
Nikki Gouthro Lisa Johnston Nerissa McNaughton
Pat Ottmann email@example.com Phone: 587-774-7619 Dennis Dowd firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 306-230-0654
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/farming4tomorrow /FFTMagazine /farming-for-tomorrow /farmingfortomorrow WWW.FARMINGFORTOMORROW.CA Farming For Tomorrow is delivered to 98,000 farm and agribusiness addresses every second month. The areas of distribution include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Peace region of B.C. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the content of any advertisement, and all representations of warranties made in such advertisements are those of the advertiser and not of the publisher. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, in all or in part, without the written permission of the publisher. Canadian Publications mail sales product agreement no. 41126516.
WHAT TO SEED AND WHEN | GRAIN MARKET ANALYSIS
What to Seed and When To seed or not to seed, that is the question. Well no, that isn’t the question. More accurately, what to seed or not to seed? That is really the question.
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 crop rotations are very important, in many cases, a good rotation still allows for some flexibility around what you actually seed on certain fields. From a marketing perspective, you need to seed crops that work on your farm, but more importantly, they need to contribute to your bottom line. They need to be able to be sold and shipped in a timely fashion. In Western Canada, we have been seeing an increase in soybean and corn acreage, particularly in the southern-most parts of the Prairies. However, in the past five years, producers in many areas have had the unfortunate experience of learning how tough it can be to produce a good crop of soybeans. Canola acreage could also see some decline in certain areas, as clubroot issues are starting to come to the forefront. This could bode well for canola prices down the road, as a decrease in acres, following a tight supply year, should lead to a bullish market. Oat acreage is forecast to be slightly higher in Canada this year, about two per cent over last year according to industry analysts. With a nearly negligible acreage change, and virtually no carryout of milling quality oats, look for oat markets to be strong heading into 2019-20. Buyers and millers should have strong forward price contracts out early to encourage an increase in oat acreage and production. Wheat acreage going into 2020 should be an interesting one. Wheat markets have been fairly stable this year, but there are definitely some concerns from producers around marketing, and more importantly, shipping this year’s wheat crop. Movement has been slow up until now in many areas, much to the disappointment of producers. However, with reports out of Australia and other parts of the world telling us that wheat crops there are very poor, I do think we should see a run-up in prices, likely leading to an increase in wheat plantings here in North America. Flax acreage has been on a bit of a rise in Western Canada over the past two years, based primarily on good pricing available on forward contracts. Looking ahead, that market should have some upside potential, as this year’s crop was mediocre at best, as far as quality is concerned. With that, good quality food grade flax supply will be exhausted come harvest. Flax could be a good bet this year, with both brown and yellow flax demand and pricing looking very strong. With the surge this winter in feed barley pricing, look for barley acreage across the Prairies to increase some this year. Malt pricing has been very stable, but feed has come up in price, leading to a very small premium for malt. I will caution this though, if we have normal growing conditions, there is a good chance the spread will widen out between feed and malt, with the bulk of the change likely resulting from lower feed prices. The big wild card will be in the special crops, primarily peas and lentils. Pricing has been decent in both markets, when you could find a price. That factor always plays a big role, as most producers do not want to grow large acres of specialty crops without contracts, at least for a portion of their production, in place at seeding time. Until next time… 7
A FARMER’S VIEWPOINT | HIGH LAND PRICES AND EXORBITANT CASH RENTS
High Land Prices and Exorbitant Cash Rents In farming circles wherever you travel, there’s a commonality to conversations over land prices and cash rental rates. See if you’ve heard or made these comments before. “How can anyone justify buying land at current prices? There’s no way that pencils out.” “Did you hear what guys are paying for cash rents? There’s absolutely no profit after paying that sort of money.” 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
The numbers differ depending upon the area, the province, soil quality, crop mix and whether there are factors beyond agriculture in the equation. However, the premise is the same. A large portion of the farming population can’t figure out how others are able to pay ridiculous prices for the privilege of investing more money into trying to grow a crop. It should be noted that many of those complaining are still buying and renting additional land. They just find it popular to make the same comments as their neighbours. Outside investors are a popular whipping boy. For producers aggressively expanding, rumours often start to circulate about outside money fuelling the expansion. That may be true in some cases, but in reality many farmers are expansion oriented and overall demand from producers is the main factor propelling prices to the stratosphere. Of the three Prairie provinces, land prices remain the lowest in Saskatchewan where producers still marvel at good grain land selling for $3,000 an acre or more. Some of the official statistics suggest average provincial land prices remain far below those values, but price direction is not in question. These numbers will seem low for producers in many areas of Alberta and Manitoba.
HIGH LAND PRICES AND EXORBITANT CASH RENTS | A FARMER’S VIEWPOINT
On $3,000 with an interest rate of five per cent, the interest cost alone is $150 an acre. Of course, if you’re able to put 50 per cent down and only have to borrow $1,500, the interest cost is $75 an acre. “Just wait until interest rates rise a bit. With commodity prices so soft, there’s going to be a lot of farms in trouble,” says the coffee shop wisdom. That could happen and there are some analysts sounding alarm bells over skyrocketing farm debt. However, farm equity has risen even more quickly and loan defaults are extremely low. The rate of increase in land prices may be slowing, but it would take a lot of economic hurt to cause prices to drop. Land has always been an investment. Most farmers owe most of their increasing net worth to increasing land values rather than all the profits they’ve accumulated from farming. Look at it from an investor’s point of view. You buy land for $3,000 an acre and rent it out for $100 or more per year, net of land taxes. The $100 an acre is only a 3.3 per cent return on your investment, but that’s as good as any GIC at the bank. In addition, the value of your investment has been increasing by five, 10 and even 15 per cent a year with near continuous gains
for the past 20 or more years. For a farmer, it may be difficult or even impossible to pay for a land purchase with the cropping profits from that land, but for a long time it has been a very good investment. More difficult to understand is the rationale for escalating cash rental rates. Every producer should crunch their numbers. Beyond all the operating costs, what are the true fixed costs in your operation? After accounting for the cost of eventual equipment replacement, what is your return per acre? After paying cash rent, are you actually making any money? Sometimes there’s an end game to land rental. The hope is that you’ll get first crack at buying the land if it ever goes up for sale. That reason aside, why do some producers pay exorbitant cash rents? Perhaps their margins are so much better than others that they can still make money. Perhaps they are more optimistic than the guys who prophesies on coffee row. But maybe they’re fooling themselves and the land base they own is actually subsidizing uneconomic cash rents on the rest of their farm. Buying farmland has proven to be a good long-term investment even though the land may not pay for itself. The justification for uneconomic cash rents is more difficult to see. 9
COVER STORY | GROW THE FUTURE
With two thriving businesses and a rapidly growing farm, the Aberharts still believe in ‘family first’ By Natalie Noble
The Aberhart family is working together to advance agriculture in Canada for their family, their industry and a better future for everyone. So far, they’re excelling with two thriving agri-businesses and a family farm that’s grown 10-fold over the last 20 years. Was it all easy to imagine 30 years ago? Not according to them. In the late-1980s, pre-teen Terry Aberhart was a budding entrepreneur with a flourishing poultry enterprise. Selling chickens and ducks to friends and neighbours around the family’s 1,500-acre farm, he learned the value in goal-setting and hard work early in life. They’re a family who come by hard work honestly. In fact, Debbie looked after the farm’s dairy herd while expecting each of her boys and up until younger daughter Jennifer was born. Today, Terry, wife Lichelle, Harvey and Debbie work closely as a team, and have grown the farm to a 15,000-acre, progressive dryland grain farming operation. 10
Photo: Terry and Lichelle Aberhart operate a family farm near Langenburg, Sask., alongside brother Dan and father Harvey.
GROW THE FUTURE | COVER STORY
Growing ambition Aberhart Farms, located near Langenburg, Sask., just a mile from the Manitoba border, was originally purchased in 1961 by Harvey’s father. After earning his journeyman electrician’s licence, Harvey returned to the farm in 1974 and purchased three quarter sections from his dad. He and Debbie also bought 30 dairy cows and then two more quarters of land. Fast-forward to the late 1990s and Harvey had sold the dairy herd, then worked as an electrician in Saskatchewan’s mining industry, then sold crop insurance and finally, was managing the John Deere dealership in Russell, Man. Dan would soon be working in sales for John Deere, and Terry was showing some serious interest in running the farm. “For as long as I remember, I always wanted to farm,” says Terry. “I was always excited about it, and it’s always been part of my plan.” Paying attention in school wasn’t his strong-suit, yet Terry says he still had a passion for learning that continues today. Seeking skills that would complement farming, he earned his journeyman certification in ag mechanics, working with a few John Deere dealerships. Unsatisfied with leading a double life on and off the farm, Terry called it quit his day job and made the call to go full time at farming. “I reached a point where I realized I wasn’t enjoying working off the farm and worrying about what was going on there,” he says. “I decided if I was going to farm, I wanted to be able to just farm, and to do it well.” At 20 years old he was entrusted with a fair bit of leash from Dad, who was still working off-farm at the time. He was given the freedom to “step on some rakes” and learn as he went, but wanted more education from other successful farmers. “I remembered from my days working as an ag mechanic, I would go to a farm that was really successful, had an awesome yard and equipment and a great reputation for growing amazing crops,” he says. “Then, I could go to another farm down the road and see a totally different scenario. I recognized quickly that the difference was within the agronomy, the management and how they ran the business. So, I knew I had to learn more in these areas.” With this in mind, and as the farm grew to 5,000 acres, Terry signed up for an Agri-Trend town hall meeting in Saskatoon, Sask., where he met some of their senior coaches. “I thought their platform and the agri-coaching model was really interesting, definitely something we could use on the farm. There were areas I thought we needed more knowledge and expertise and I could see there would be a lot of value there,” says Terry. 11
COVER STORY | GROW THE FUTURE
Growing the farm, and a startup Terry returned home from that trip in 2006 and started Sure Growth Solutions, a business that offers agronomic and management expertise and consulting to farm clients with the training and support of the Agri-Trend network. By then, Aberhart Farms had expanded to 7,500 acres while Harvey’s dealership had changed ownership. “I was able to convince him to quit his job and come to the farm full time,” says Terry. “That allowed us to start this other business while supporting and moving the farm forward.” Harvey says this transition was not easy at first. “It was a little tough, wondering how we could all manage. It’s not easy to move from a secure job into farming and all the associated risks,” he says. Terry agrees. “The first couple years there, I think he was a little unsure. Working sales in the dealership environment, there’s a lot of positivity, but you can be exposed to a lot of negativity. It was hard to feel confident that the farm could be successful and support our families.” Fortunately, as the farm and Sure Growth grew together, the Aberharts were surrounded by numerous entrepreneurs and professionals who were passionate about agriculture and agronomy. “We formed a lot of really strong relationships and through that it helped us sell our consulting business and our knowledge there, but also our farm as well,” says Terry. Today, Sure Growth has been in business for more than 12 years. Their team actively consults on approximately 100,000 acres of variable-rate technology and precision ag-focused work.
Growing opportunity But the Aberharts weren’t stopping there. A new opportunity was approaching that would bring Dan back into the mix. After studying at the University of Saskatchewan and starting up a custom spraying business, Dan says things really clicked into gear for him when he came into sales, selling high-clearance sprayers for John Deere between 2000 and 2013. “This work gave me the opportunity to do business and network with a huge number of really progressive producers in western Manitoba and Saskatchewan,” he says. “There’s an incredible amount of capital and value in building a good network.”
Photo: Terry Aberhart has grown the family farm to now include an Aberhart Ag Solutions, a business to help other growers achieve greater results at their farms. Credit: Mitch Hippsley/Yorkton SK
By 2015, a new opportunity presented itself to Dan, a product called Bio-Sul Premium Plus. A team of Terry’s networking colleagues in Alberta were working with the sulphur-amended compost and had approached him about distributing it east of their province. “I figured I had enough irons in the fire at the time, but the product was really unique and I thought there was a good
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COVER STORY | GROW THE FUTURE opportunity there,” says Terry. “With Dan’s ag sales experience, and because he was looking for a change in direction, we got together, drove out to Alberta and checked the business out.” When the brothers returned home, they put a business plan together and launched Aberhart Ag Solutions. “We were seeing the opportunity to think and be a bigger business at this time,” says Dan. “In the last three years since, we’ve built a network with around 50 re-sellers and have nearly one million acres supplied with the product in these two provinces.” With Dan at the helm, Aberhart Ag Solutions unites the three Aberharts as shareholders. Along with their team, they’re proud to be a part of advancing Canada’s ag industry by offering products, technology and practices that reduce farming’s environmental impact. “If you use our products, it’s not just something Terry’s using on his farm to produce quality product. It’s something you can tell your city friends about that will blow their minds when you tell them what we’re doing in agriculture,” says Dan. For example, the Aberharts use zero-tillage practices, variablerate and GPS technology, all to avoid erosion of their soil and ensure inputs are used solely when and where required. Furthermore, Bio-Sul is a fertilizer made using Class A compost—certified as a soil amendment as its carrier and derived from using recycled urban waste (often grocery waste)—for the elemental sulphur which is a byproduct of the oil industry. “We’re focused on growing food better and more sustainably. It only translates to better economics, soil health and yields; a better future,” says Dan. “We’re working to change the narrative about what we’re doing in agriculture to enhance our environment.” What’s next for Aberhart Ag? Bringing more products to market that increase the quality produced on the farm, and have positive environmental and social impacts. “Our new platform is #farmersfixingtheworldsproblems and how we can help farmers achieve sustainability they can sell to their customers,” says Dan. “Modern producers are getting lumped in with some bad public messaging from the customer’s point of view. “With Terry’s knowledge and experience in the field, we have the … credibility about important issues today that run countercurrent to some of the negative messaging that’s out there.”
Growing through challenge While the sky looks to be the limit for this family, it wasn’t always straightforward. 14
“We’ve focused on leveraging technology, data, new science, efficiency and just doing things better than we did yesterday. That’s all we need to do to keep improving.” - Terry Aberhart After purchasing 10 quarters of land in 2002, the farm suffered a devastating early frost in 2004. “It was the worst anyone around us could remember,” recalls Harvey. “That pushed us into doing more projections, and proving to the bank, the government and ourselves that we could survive.” Terry also recalls a tough stretch in 2011 and 2012, two of the worst years in the farm’s history. “These were very poor production years with high financial losses shortly after expanding aggressively,” he says. “I remember going through that and it was really demoralizing. I looked at it like, ‘did I fail, did we not make the right choices?’” With that, the family instituted annual strategy meetings, bringing in trusted outside experts and coaches. “We look at where we’re at, where we want to go, and how we move forward,” says Terry. “It was tough getting through those two years, but we learned a lot, as we do from the biggest challenges. Part of farming is learning to overcome adversity and adapt.”
Evolution For two young men and their father, each headed in different directions at the turn of this century, fate brought everyone back together. When Terry came back to the farm to avoid working away from it, he would have never expected to be part of two growing businesses today, working with Harvey and Dan. Rather than looking back, they’re focusing forward. “We’re looking a lot at managing our land, the health of our soil and ensuring we’re improving,” says Terry. “We want to leave our land and businesses in better shape than when we took them on.” Farming between his previous and next generation, Harvey has seen massive changes in the way things are done. “My parents farmed the best they knew at the time, and they did a good job,” he says. “But back then, whoever sat on the tractor the longest, was the most successful. The more times they worked the field, the more money they were going to make.” Today, that’s no longer true.
GROW THE FUTURE | COVER STORY
Above: An aerial shot of the Aberhart family farm yard. Today, the operation now includes brothers Terry and Dan as well as father Harvey.
“We’ve focused on leveraging technology, data, new science, efficiency and just doing things better than we did yesterday. That’s all we need to do to keep improving,” says Terry. And doing better involves planning. Terry strongly believes that in business, especially farming, one of the biggest risks comes when something happens to the principal operator. “If they’re doing everything themselves, that’s a really dangerous situation,” he says. “I’ve strived to build a team and organization that can live on, even if something happens to any of us.” This includes having the right structure, tools, support, planning, and also the right advisors in place. “We can leverage each team member’s unique abilities, but also we can fill in the gap if anything comes up. One of our core values is supporting family.” And the family dynamic, like farming, has also evolved with the third generation of Aberharts. Both Terry and Dan have created amazing families in not-so-conventional ways. Terry, Lichelle and their children Sarrikah, 17, Asceline, 15 and
Holden, 11, doubled their kid count last September, opening their home on the farm to three foster children, Rydar, 8, Hailee, 6, and Octavia, one-and-a-half. Living in Brandon, Man., Dan is blessed with a beautiful blended family that includes Gavin, 20, Zack, 18, Trinity, 15, and Evanka, 3. Harvey remains heavily involved in the farm’s operation through the growing season, but he and Debbie head south to Arizona along with their trusty Harley Davidson, for the winter. “I’ll probably never retire,” he says. “I won’t quit. I’ll just slow down and take more time to hit the roads on the Harley with Debbie.” No matter what’s next, family is the Aberharts’ guiding principle. “Our companies are family companies and if they aren’t enhancing our family relationships, they’re no-gos,” says Dan. Terry agrees. “My ultimate goal is to build businesses that can carry on successfully beyond me. I think a lot about not just making the farm and the businesses successful today, but also ensuring they’re successful tomorrow and for our future generations.” 15
MODERN SEEDING | HIGH-TECH, LOW STRESS
High-tech, low stress By Geoff Geddes Above: SeedMaster’s full seeding system featuring their toolbar, UltraPro II On-Frame Tank (UPII), and Nova Air Cart. The UltraPro II system provides accurate, seed row-specific metering.
Whoever said “the only constant is change” must have been talking about farming. The industry is constantly evolving, and of late, the advances in seeding technology have been staggering in their speed and scope. Staying current with the latest offerings can be a challenge, but those who keep current are reaping the rewards of greater production and efficiency.
Don’t hesitate, just innovate “The focus right now is innovation and automation,” says Trent Nowosad, seeding marketing manager for Case IH. “Whether with tractors, combines or seeding and planting equipment, companies are preparing for the days of more autonomous work down the road. Labour costs, or lack of labour, have been big problems on-farm for decades, and automation is part of the solution.” As with higher horsepower in the 1970s and 80s or GPS in the early 2000s, industry today continues to work at streamlining technology and enabling farmers to do more with less. For example, in 2019 Case IH introduced the first parallel-link row unit with double-shoot knife opener design. The emphasis was on seed placement accuracy and depth control, especially in uneven terrain and tough no-till conditions. “The idea is to de-couple operating speed from the job the farmer is doing, so you get uniform seed placement regardless of travel speed,” says Nowosad. “I’ve been farming for over 30 years, and I’ve learned that efficiency equals profit. If you can do the same job at right miles per hour that you used to do at five miles per hour, you’re bound to boost your production without greater effort.”
Do you see what I see? The recently released Case IH air carts feature variable rate technology and sectional control to further enhance accuracy. They also incorporate an element that is growing in prominence in the seeding business: telematics, which is the integrated use of communications and information technology to transmit, store and receive information from telecommunications devices to remote objects over a network. 16
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MODERN SEEDING | HIGH-TECH, LOW STRESS “Where you used to glean information via two-way radio from a hired man in the tractor cab, you can now access that knowledge remotely without relying on someone else’s eyes and ears,” says Nowosad. “That is the beauty and the power of telematics.”
The meters are running Also embracing the push for precision are the latest offerings from SeedMaster. The UltraPro on-frame tank came to market seven years ago, followed in 2017 by the UltraPro II. Both models allow farmers to perform individual row metering. “Accurate seed placement has been emphasized by the industry since the mid-90s, and is still very much a part of seeding equipment,” says Anthony Biglieni, sales manager and dealer development for SeedMaster. “We felt the next step was to stress precision seed metering to increase yields and decrease input costs.” Individual row metering allows farmers to adjust aspects of their agronomy, perhaps lowering seeding rates or attaining better seed emergence. As well, on-board metering reduces the distance seed travels by about two-thirds over bulk metering systems, so it’s gentler on the seed and eliminates bunching, leading to even seed placement within the row itself. “There has been a move out West to consider planter-type seeding tools for canola or soybeans,” says Biglieni. “These tools do a great job in seed metering, but you have to apply nutrients
or fertilizer in a separate pass. For western Canadian farmers, individual row metering on a double-shoot precision air drill matters because it allows them to put seed and nutrients down in one pass, saving time, effort, labour and fuel costs.” Last year, SeedMaster revealed a prototype of the Ultra SR, billed as the first single-rank, knife-opening drill designed for large-acre farming. It uses an innovative trash wheel to keep trash from bunching up and plugging the drill, and the single-rank design makes it easier to follow dips and undulations in the field. Once again, precision is the watchword. At the same time, simplicity is another priority for farmers and industry going forward. “The next enhancements I foresee will be based around making technology easier for the operator to manage,” says Nowosad. “Whether you’re dealing with younger, less experienced staff or you’re a middle-aged son working with an older parent, there is a need to make equipment simpler to use for young and old alike.” By stressing, simple, efficient design and intuitive equipment, companies can streamline the introduction of new technology while fostering more worker satisfaction and greater ease of uptake. “The easier technology is to use, the easier it is to adopt,” says Nowosad. “Everything has a learning curve, but if we can make
Above: Case IH’s Precision Disk 500 DS Air Drill allows you to seed and fertilize at the same time for the highest-yielding crop potential.
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MODERN SEEDING | HIGH-TECH, LOW STRESS it less complicated to learn, set up and operate equipment, we facilitate teaching and spreading knowledge across the workforce. As an owner and manager, that makes your job straightforward and your operation more efficient.”
The wizard of awes Whether it’s changing the settings on a monitor or running calibration on equipment, cutting-edge systems use “wizards” to walk staff through the process step-by-step. The reductions in time and labour required to get workers up to speed each year can mean significant cost savings for farmers, something that may be more vital today than ever before. “The last 10 years have seen some of the best cash flow periods in agriculture in Canada,” says Nowosad. “The problem is that nothing lasts forever. Especially in Saskatchewan and Alberta, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in farm size since 2008, so there’s fewer people farming more acres. Where the economy maybe allowed us to be less efficient than we could have been, as times tighten up, growers need to maximize the productivity of every acre.” As they seek ways to generate more returns in challenging times, farmers are turning increasingly to technology for answers. “A lot of times, increased productivity comes not only from doing our best with the best acres, but from getting all we can from those more challenging spots,” says Nowosad. “Independent depth adjustment openers, for instance, have allowed growers to be stronger agronomically across the farm, getting more done per day with the same labour or
Above: SeedMaster’s canola roller, seen here, precisely meters canola seed, enabling many farmers to reduce seeding rates and still achieve optimum yields.
doing the same amount of work with less labour. There are many such challenges that equipment can help address.”
Model behaviour Seeding technology is also targeting crop emergence as a means to maximize yield. For 2019, New Holland launched two new drill models: the P2082 double-shoot disk drill and the P2075 precision hoe-drill. “Both models deliver consistent and accurate seed-tofertilizer placement, which generates better emergence,” says Paul Krahn, a New Holland sales planning specialist. Fortunately for agriculture, and those that benefit from it, doing more with less and committing to continuous improvement just seem to come naturally for farmers. “I love that ‘never content’ ideology that farmers possess,” says Biglieni. “I haven’t seen one farm where they’re not trying to improve on what they did last year, and that effort begins with seeding equipment. If you don’t knock it out of the park when you seed, you have to play catch up with everything else, from spraying to combining.” When people approach Biglieni at crop production shows, they always want to know how they can get another 10 per cent from their operation this year and take it to the next level. His role in helping them succeed is what gets him up each morning, even on those chilly Prairie days. “Our customers are always striving to be better, and if we can support them in that with the latest and greatest technology, we’ve done our job.”
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FARM MANAGEMENT | THE CHANGING WORLD OF RISK
The changing world of risk By Jeff Melchior Above: Brian Voth, president of Manitoba-based risk management company intelliFARM, says producer overspending in good years exasperates financial struggles in lean times. Credit - Munz Media
Risk management on the farm is a big bucket, one containing everything from financial and production planning to knowing when or if to pre-sell grain and at what price. However, today’s risk management involves a social component as well. How do farmers deal with an employee who presents them with a doctor’s note indicating their need to use medical marijuana? How does agriculture get a seat at the table when industry-changing policies are being developed? Neither are directly related to the actual process of farming, but both can have a significant impact at the farm gate in the long-term. We asked farm advisors from Alberta and Manitoba and a farmer from Saskatchewan about the biggest risks farmers face in 2019.
Costs reign supreme The increasing cost of land, inputs and equipment is probably the biggest concern among farmers today, with all other risk management issues either feeding into it or flowing from it. “All of a sudden an average crop doesn’t pay the bills anymore,” says Ian Boxall, a fourth-generation farmer near Tisdale in northeast Saskatchewan. In this case the numbers tell the story. According to Statistics Canada, the price of seed canola in the 1985 calendar year was $359.76 per tonne versus 2017 when it was $562.76, a 56 per cent increase. Meanwhile, land values across Canada in 1985 averaged $517 per acre versus $2,867 per acre in 2017, a 455 per cent increase. 22
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FARM MANAGEMENT | THE CHANGING WORLD OF RISK Boxall fights the rising cost of farming by watching the markets and keeping his seeding plan and input return on investment razor-sharp. However, farmers cannot be price-takers forever, he says. At some point, consumers are going to have to swallow their share of the cost of production.
than they need to further their acres. Is it worth it to pay half a million dollars for one brand of four-wheel-drive tractor versus, say, $300,000 for a different brand that’s the same size? Your creature comforts won’t be the same but it’s going to do the same job for a lot less money.”
“Canada has the second-highest cost of production and the third-lowest cost of food. I know that Joe and Jane General Public don’t want to pay more money for food but somehow we have to narrow that difference.”
Farm safety, employee management growing concerns
There are things farmers can do to cut costs that are not widely documented, says Brian Voth, president of Manitoba-based intelliFARM, a company that helps grain farmers manage their marketing risks. Although reducing inputs where necessary is always part of a good risk management plan, Voth says it’s often fixed costs that get farmers in trouble. For example, Voth says farmers tend to buy more equipment during good years—sometimes whether it’s needed or not— but are still on the hook for those payments when the markets go south. “I guess it depends on the context, but I find that a lot of farms are over-equipped,” he says. “They have far more equipment
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A need for employees usually comes hand-in-glove with operations transitioning from small family farms to larger enterprises. With that transition comes a host of occupational health and safety issues. Farmers need to develop plans and strategies to manage the health and safety of employees and protect a farm’s liability exposure, according to Dan Trottier, president of Tatonga Consulting Services, a Red Deer, Alta., risk management firm. “There is an awareness developing at the farm gate of the liability associated with hiring people and having them participate in the activities of the farm,” he says. “When you bring new workers into the work environment, the business can no longer assume those workers have all of the awareness they need and that they are able to identify hazards like a family member would.”
THE CHANGING WORLD OF RISK | FARM MANAGEMENT
“In Saskatchewan we export $15 billion in agricultural products, so trade is a huge issue. People are uncertain about what the market will bear.” - Ian Boxall Some of Trottier’s ag clients are asking him how they should handle employee use of now-legal recreational or medical marijuana. Farms with employees need to have a drug and alcohol management policy in place to address this, he says. “Questions have come up after the introduction of cannabis as a legal alternative last fall. If a farm historically had a drug and alcohol policy, were enforcing it and had previously established which positions and tasks on the farm are not to be performed while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the policy can more or less stay the same going forward.” If the farm does not have a drug and alcohol policy in place, Trottier recommends developing and implementing a customized policy for the farm. The same policy should apply for doctor-prescribed medical marijuana as well, he says. “If the farm has decided that certain job tasks are so safetysensitive that an employee cannot perform them while under the influence of drugs—for medical reasons or not—then those workers need to be excluded from performing those tasks.”
Size and scope of farms complicates succession Farm succession is another matter weighing heavily on the minds of many farmers. Succession planning is nothing new; however, it’s another area of farm management that has been complicated by the growing size and scope of farm operations. Trottier has observed the symptoms regularly and offers his clients some coaching. “Communication is key. The existing farm owners or partners have to discuss options ahead of time to decide the best path forward and, if that’s a successful conversation, move into an implementation phase with all family members talking about the opportunities and path forward,” he says.
Above: Ian Boxall shows his sons Riley (left) and Bryce (right) how to test grain. Ian, who grows wheat, oats, canola and peas on his operation near Tisdale, Saskatchewan, considers rising costs, international trade disputes and a lack of public trust in the ag industry the top threats to agriculture. Credit: Dan Trottier
Trade wars hit home
Trade disputes such as the one between the United States and China have an impact that can be felt at the farm gate, says Boxall. They are particularly disruptive to trade-dependent jurisdictions such as Western Canada.
The transition between the current owner and the next generation should be a gradual one, says Trottier. Generally, the bigger the farm, the longer that transition should take.
“In Saskatchewan we export $15 billion in agricultural products, so trade is a huge issue. People are uncertain about what the market will bear,” he says.
“It’s not something where you can say, ‘You’re in charge of the farm tomorrow.’ The next generation has to have the ability to buy into the operation over time and be able to transition through that properly. It’s no longer a one-year scenario, it’s a five- to 10-year kind of scenario.”
The ag industry needs to make sure it always has a seat at the table when trade deals are being negotiated, he says. “We need to ensure our government and our allies understand that trade is good for everybody and to have good trade there will need to be concessions on both sides.” 25
FARM MANAGEMENT | THE CHANGING WORLD OF RISK
Public trust an ongoing battle Trust between the agriculture industry and consumers is still lacking in many respects, says Boxall, and misinformation about the industry from certain quarters is partly to blame. “People outside of farming don’t believe we have their best interests at heart when growing our crops,” he says. “What they need to remember is we are consumers as well. My family eats the same food that they eat. I don’t want to do anything on my farm that is going to affect the health of my family.” Social media offers a major opportunity for farmers to tell their stories, but their efforts shouldn’t end there, explains Boxall. “We should take every opportunity we get to meet with policy makers and tell a positive story. Bring them solutions—don’t just go and complain.”
Managing forward pricing risks One of the biggest risks farmers are exposed to, especially at this time of year, is whether or not to pre-sell grain. Although many farmers are understandably apprehensive about forward-pricing, Voth says the risks can be alleviated by developing a marketing plan based on at least a five-year yield average and then pre-selling based on a percentage of that average. “There is a risk of selling grain that you haven’t harvested yet because you may not,” he says.
“People outside of farming don’t believe we have their best interests at heart when growing our crops. What they need to remember is we are consumers as well. My family eats the same food that they eat. I don’t want to do anything on my farm that is going to affect the health of my family.” - Ian Boxall “That is why we look at the long-term average because that average is going to factor in very good years and it’s going to factor in very poor years. If that average is, say, 45 bushel per acre canola, we’re not going to go and pre-sell 45 bushels per acre; we’re going to sell a percentage of that, usually about 30 to 50 per cent up to a maximum of 70 to 80 per cent, depending on the farmer’s needs and aversion to risk. Not forward selling grain has its risks also if prices drop through summer and harvest.”
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Spraying 101 | SPRAYER MODIFICATIONS THAT IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY
Sprayer Modifications That Improve Productivity 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.
In almost all agronomic practices, timing is key. There are certain, and often small, windows of opportunity for getting a task done without losing yield potential or product quality. Weed specialists talk about early weed removal, pathologists talk about symptom monitoring and entomologists remind us of economic thresholds. Acting at the right time is fundamental. Sometimes I’m asked about comparing two different methods of spray application. I usually dodge these questions by advising to choose the one that gets the job done on time. “An average application at the right time is much better than an excellent application at the wrong time” is how I put it. Sure, I’m dodging, but I really believe that. It’s mostly in the timing. Everything we do carries with it some time inefficiencies. Some are rooted in technology, others in habits. It’s the habits that are easier and cheaper to address. That’s why, when evaluating how to improve a spraying operation, I advise to start with a stopwatch and notepad, not a sprayer brochure. Study your time accounting first. You need to know how your time is used on a spray day. Note the time spent preparing for the job (loading supplies, double-checking label instructions, transporting, etc.). The big users of time are sprayer transporting, filling and cleaning, but there are many small time users and those can add up. This time is doubly important because these tasks occur during the spray day, when the weather is good and you should be maximizing spray time. Even within any one operation, time can be subdivided. How much time is spent on a turn? Since a 120-foot sprayer will make about 22 of these per half-mile, that can add up. Even a spray monitor can play a productivity role if it quickly and consistently locks onto its swath. Needing to stop and back up while it searches for a signal can be costly.
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Because you work in acres, not hours. That’s the way growers, like you, live. You keep pushing, day after day, without ever punching in or out. All with one thing on your mind. Getting more out of every seed, row and field. So, if you’re in the business of higher yields, get there with Bayer fungicides. Especially when your best harvest is yet to come. Find out more about Bayer fungicides at ItsGrowTime.ca
Always read and follow label directions. Delaro®, Proline® and Prosaro® are registered trademarks of the Bayer Group. Bayer CropScience Inc. is a member of CropLife Canada.
SPRAYING 101 | SPRAYER MODIFICATIONS THAT IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY
Fuelling, lubing Loading jugs and totes Reading label Filling tender tanks Loading sprayer (in yard) Transport to field Entering field data into monitor Checking, recording weather Checking for pest, stage Changing nozzles Spraying load Unplugging / replacing nozzles Replacing nozzle body Making turn Filling sprayer Getting sprayer unstuck Spraying out tank remainder Cleaning tank Cleaning filters Flushing boom ends Loading sprayer (in field)
Total Make your own accounting sheet, including every detail or possibility.
On our farm, we sometimes used custom operators to get the cereals off. I recall how aggravating it was to watch the 8820 inch ahead of my N6. Surely, he must be throwing a lot over, I thought (he was). But I usually caught him at the truck, where my unloading speed was over one minute faster. Redemption, briefly. That same principle applies to these small efficiencies. A well-designed tender truck can speed up that process and more than make up for the lower spray productivity of a smaller sprayer. A lighter sprayer load and floatation tires can save a ton of time if it means the difference between getting stuck or cruising through that spot. A set of extra-coarse nozzles that can be rotated into place in just two minutes can help finish a field if the weather changes, or allow a margin to be sprayed, saving a return trip. A custom operator shared some useful tips with me a few years back. He optimized the small things, such as relocating the switch to deflate his suspension airbags after driving onto the trailer to the platform beside the cab. He’d deflate while descending the steps, and by the time the tie-down straps were thrown across, the unit was ready to be cinched down. No waiting. He also opted for a slightly wider aftermarket
boom so he had an even number of spray passes per quarter, saving another two minutes or so per field. The same operator made me aware of the importance of knowing exactly how much spray is in the tank at any one time. The majority of spray monitors are simply not accurate enough. A factory sprayer can count down from a full tank using its flow meter, but that requires two things to be accurate: the filled amount (entered by the operator, usually from a sight gauge) and the flow meter itself. Point is, when we fill the last load of a field, we don’t want too much left over, but we’d still rather not run out. By using the AccuVolume from Simon Innovations, he was able to fill accurately and he was also able to exactly monitor his liquid usage. If he had two passes left, and knew he needed exactly 150 gallons (also considering when his pump drew air), he could monitor that and make small adjustments to the application rate, if necessary, to get there. It’s a big deal because contending with a larger remainder is wasteful and takes time to deal with. The AccuVolume also helps make multiple small-volume batch cleaning more accurate, and therefore easier. A small addition to the tender truck such as an electric hose reel or a swing arm that carries, say 20 feet of hose, helps deal
90% less drift, less run off, superior coverage The Air Bubble Jet consistently produces droplets that are 200 - 550 microns in size. Too big to drift - too small to run off. New Twin Air Bubble Jet With the twin cap you can use 2 - 5 gal. nozzles rather than 1 - 10 gal. nozzle. The advantage is you get over twice as many droplets per sq. inch for superior coverage. Air Bubble jet and Easy Jet nozzles operate at 40-60 psi and have an overall range of 20 - 90 psi. They can be used to apply fungicides, insecticides and herbicides to any crop including potatoes and pulse crops. Ag Canada tested.
Air Bubble Jets
• 2% Driftable droplets compared to 25% or more with conventional. • 200-500 micron droplet size range with appx. 75% in the sweet spot range of 300-400 • Fits most holders or caps. • Life expectancy on average 70,000 acres. • 25 years of experience with no update required.
• Made for Pulse modulation systems including Aim, Sharpshooter, Hawkeye and JD. • 2% Driftable droplets compared to 25% or more with conventional. • 200-500 micron droplet size range with appx. 75% in the sweet spot range of 300-400 • Fits most holders or caps. • Life expectancy on average 70,000 acres.
Air Bubble Jet - 1254 drops (2.5 U.S. gals/acre)
Competitors low drift nozzle - 771 drops (5 U.S. gals/acre)
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SPRAYING 101 | SPRAYER MODIFICATIONS THAT IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY
Let’s say a large area needs to be sprayed today, and the weather forecast calls for rain overnight. The rain will stop spraying for five days. What is the yield potential lost in those five days if weed or disease pressure is high? If 100 acres don’t get sprayed, what is the lost revenue? That’s what that hour is worth. with the weight of a full three-inch line. Or an airline at the pump end can be used to blow the remaining water into the tank. Time, and mess, are saved. Still pumping product? Induction using a venturi is much faster. Preventing problems is probably a better use of time than dealing with them. Take tank mixes, for example. With more products in the tank, and adjuvants such as conditioners, fertilizers or low-drift products making their way in,
anticipating mixing problems may require a jar test. Get the tools, and learn how to do them. It’s important to use the actual tended water in these tests, at the temperature it will be, because that, and water quality such as hardness and bicarbonates, can affect mixing. It’s best not to over-agitate, as that can create its own problems, especially as the tank runs down. Consider a hot tank. If extra labour is available, it removes a lot of time pressure for mixing dry or multiple products. At filling time, simply pump it over and go. Consider improvements in the plumbing to save time. The new Hypro Express end cap features a ball valve for flushing (existing Express end caps can be retrofitted), and this valve can be fitted with the ProStop-E (electric) valve. Flushing can now be done from the cab, saving time and mess. It’s a small change, but it brings joy. The importance of time at spraying can also be viewed as opportunity cost. Let’s say a large area needs to be sprayed today, and the weather forecast calls for rain overnight. The rain will stop spraying for five days. What is the yield potential lost in those five days if weed or disease pressure is high? If 100 acres don’t get sprayed, what is the lost revenue? That’s what that hour is worth. Getting more done means getting more done on time. Evaluate habits and technologies on that basis.
PRAY FOR SPRAY | CHEMICAL ADVANCES
Pray for spray By Shannon VanRaes Above: Flea beetles feed unabated on the cotyledon of a young canola plant. Credit: Courtesy of the Canola Council of Canada
Farmers face more issues than there are crop protection options The new year is well underway, but farmers planning a pest and disease control strategy for the 2019 cropping season will still be working with last year’s toolbox. “For the most part, this isn’t a particularly exciting year, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” says Ian Epp, an agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada. “A lot of it will be status quo, especially on the insecticide fronts, where there haven’t been a lot of changes on products registered or use patterns, so we’re not expecting anything too new.” Clubroot continues to be a prime concern for canola farmers, but Epp says the growing list of clubroot resistant varieties provides the strongest option for those looking to control or prevent the disease. “Given the nature of clubroot, being a soil borne pathogen … there aren’t a lot of fungicides that are very effective,” says Epp. “In its resting spore stage it’s a very, very hard thing to kill.” Research on the effectiveness of liming is ongoing, but the specialist noted it’s an expensive option that yields variable results. However, for low pH soils, liming can result in additional benefits around nutrient efficiency. “Which might make the cost of applying lime a little easier to swallow,” he says. “For some of our soils, 35
CHEMICAL ADVANCES | PRAY FOR SPRAY
“Sclerotinia can still be a significant yield robber, but it is completely dependent on the environmental conditions during the growing season, And there’s nothing new coming out in 2019 that I’m aware of, but it’s been that way the last couple of years.” - Ian Epp especially in Alberta that already have very low pHs, changing the pH with lime may have some non-clubroot benefits.” The possibility of using seed treatments to manage clubroot traces on seed surfaces is also under exploration. But at the moment, no fungicides designed for clubroot suppression or control in canola are registered in Canada. Sclerotinia will also being the minds of canola farmers this season, especially if the year ahead is another wet one, Epp adds. “Sclerotinia can still be a significant yield robber, but it is completely dependent on the environmental conditions during the growing season,” says Epp. “And there’s nothing new coming out in 2019 that I’m aware of, but it’s been that way the last couple of years.” Instead, attention has been focused on giving farmers more tools to help them decide if and when to use one of the several fungicides currently registered for sclerotinia stem rot in Canola, including Astound, Lance, Proline 480SC, Quadris, Quash, Rovral Flo and Vertisan. Above: An adult pea leaf weevil hungrily devours a pea leaf, leaving a noticeable notch in its wake. Credit: Jonathon Williams
Sclerotinia affected canola can also be treated using biological control products containing a fungus called coniothyrium
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PRAY FOR SPRAY | CHEMICAL ADVANCES
Above: Flea beetle damage to canola pod. Credit: Courtesy of the Canola Council of Canada
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CHEMICAL ADVANCES | PRAY FOR SPRAY
Chemical reconsiderations By Shannon VanRaes Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is continuing to examine “extensive new data” as it weighs the regulatory future of three neonicotinoids, but whether that new information will tip the scales remains to be seen. “As the re-evaluation of neonic pesticides such as imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam progressed, it was apparent that there were potential risks to bees and other pollinators. In addition, risks to aquatic environments were identified,” a PMRA spokesperson says in a written response. However, subsequent public consultations brought new information to the federal agency’s attention. “We anticipate making a final decision on the measures to protect pollinators this spring and decisions to protect aquatic environments later this year,” they say. The decision won’t come in time to impact the 2019 season, but Ian Epp of the Canola Council of Canada says if the delisting of such ingredients goes ahead, canola farmers will be hard hit. “They are the most efficacious, they fit the bill as far as specific control of our pests,” says Epp. “It’s just the simplest way and the most direct way to control some of these pests.” Organophosphates are another, non-neonic, option for canola farmers looking for flea beetle control, but they can’t be applied as a seed treatment. “The organophosphates aren’t ideal because they’re not selective, they’re a foliar application and they will kill whatever is in the field … along with our target flea beetles or whatever it is, and that is a little bit of a problem for our farmers,” says Epp. Pulse farmers looking to control pests like wireworms, cutworms and pea leaf weevils without neonics would also face challenges. “The most effective way to control them is through the insecticidal seed treatments, and those are all neonics at this point,” says Sherrilyn Phelps, agronomy manager for the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. “Any of the insects that are mainly below ground in pulses, like wireworms and pea leaf weevil, these seed treatments are by far the most effective and in some cases, the only option.”
minitans, which colonizes and degrades sclerotinia. But it’s a new pre-emergence product with limited field data or published research. “Researchers at AAFC, the University of Manitoba and University of Lethbridge are studying various biological control options for sclerotinia in canola. Researchers have identified bacterial strains that appear to have biocontrol activity against sclerotinia sclerotiorum, as well as a fungicide, however these are still in development,” the council states on its website. Coniothyrium minitans can also be used in edible dry beans, and soybeans, to prevent sclerotia from germinating, while several foliar fungicides that are used to control ascochyta blight may also control sclerotinia. “The problem of ascochyta blight in chickpeas is very aggressive and it was the real cause for the dramatic crash in chickpea acres,” says Sherrilyn Phelps, agronomy manager for the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, referring to a decline in acres in the mid-2000s. “We have had improvements in resistance … but that still has a long ways to go,” she says. “We’ve also had a number of fungicides registered for controlling the disease, which has been great, but the problem we’re having now is that there is resistance to one type of fungicide called strobilurins … in the ascochyta.” Phelps says that while a number of new fungicides have been introduced for pulse crops over the last decade, the overall tally is quite small, meaning resistance will continue be an issue. “There is still is only a limited number of fungicide groups in existence and the overuse of some of these fungicides can lead to the selection of resistant pathogens,” she says. “So rotating fungicides is critical with any of the pulses, just like it is with weed resistance. Rotating herbicide is a weapon in disease management and you also need to rotate your fungicides.” Farmers worried about the spread of herbicide resistant kochia won’t have any new inputs to rely on this season either, but Phelps says the previously mentioned rotation strategies will also extend the efficacy of existing herbicides used to control kochia.
Phelps hopes the PMRA announces its decision in the near future so that farmers can plan ahead.
“Kochia is the main weed issue across the Prairies, for not only pulses, but a number of crops and that is coming out of 2018 which was a relatively dry year and kochia tends to be a little more competitive under dry years,” says Phelps.
“There are some products being evaluated that are in the pipeline … so hopefully there is something new that is coming out. But as we lose more and more tools, the box gets empty pretty quick,” she says. “Options are limited at this point.”
Overall, kochia is the 10th most common weed on the Canadian Prairies, but it’s bumped up to fourth place in southern, semi-arid grassland regions. It’s also a competitive plant that produces copious amounts of seed and does well
PRAY FOR SPRAY | CHEMICAL ADVANCES under stress, making it difficult to control even when it’s not herbicide resistant. “They actually found that 10 per cent of the kochia populations that were tested (in Alberta) had resistance to Group 2, which is your ALS herbicides, Group 9 which is your glyphosate and Group 4, dicamba. So that’s just plain scary,” says Phelps. “You look at the herbicides that are registered for use in pulses we’re really only now left with Group 14s and 15s and some Group 3s.” The agronomy manager added it may only be a matter of time before resistance to those groups develop as well. “So, with weed management, specifically kochia, there’s got to be a shift in how we look at managing that weed and more of a holistic approach in terms of looking at other factors we can utilize,” she says. Those looking to keep cleavers out of their canola are in luck, however. While not exactly new, Quinclorac now has a maximum residue limit in place for export markets, opening the door to use on Canadian crops.
Maximum residue limits have also been established in the U.S. for the growth regulator chlormequat chloride, or Manipulator, giving wheat farmers more options for controlling height. However, not much is new on the disease and pest front when it comes to the 2019 wheat and barley season. “Every year we’re wondering about how bad Fusarium will be and it always depends on the weather conditions, so if we get that hot humid summer, Fusarium is going to be more of an issue,” says Karen Churchill of Cereals Canada. “But there hasn’t been any new product for a while, although I do expect that, in the future, there will be new product. But right now we’re relying on just a few and hoping for the best.” But just because there hasn’t been anything new on the market in recent years, it doesn’t mean research is lagging, she stressed. Work on developing genetic resistance to Fusarium is also forging ahead. “Because of the way diseases evolve and overcome genetic resistance, it is an ongoing area of research, in fact, I think Fusarium in particular is one of the biggest sectors in terms of research dollars, so there is a lot of work going on,” she says.
“For some growers, where cleavers are challenging, this just gives them another tool2110-27144 in the tool box,” says Epp. - SARRC March April 2019 Half Page Farming for Tmrw 7"x4.75"
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2019-01-29 2:37 PM39
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RANCHING 2.0 | CATTLE CALL
What does sustainable beef mean for producers?
By Andrea White Andrea is the community engagement manager for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
People are interested in how their food is raised, where it comes from and are considering external factors such as sustainability in their food choices. What is sustainable beef? Sustainable beef is defined as an economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally sound product that prioritizes the planet, people, animals, and progress. The cornerstone of sustainability is continuous improvement. The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) was formed in 2014 as a collaborative, multi-stakeholder organization focused on advancing sustainability from environmental, social and economic perspectives in the Canadian beef industry. The CRSB works under three main pillars to demonstrate sustainability in Canada.
Sustainability Benchmarking First released in 2016, the National Beef Sustainability Assessment benchmarks the overall performance of the Canadian beef industry from environmental, social and economic perspectives. It shows where the industry is doing well and identifies areas for improvement. For example, from an environmental perspective, it showed that Canadian beef production contributes only 2.4 per cent of Canadaâ€™s overall greenhouse gas emissions, and beef production land provides significant biodiversity habitats. It also highlighted areas such as food waste and producer economic viability for improvement. A sustainability strategy outlines key goals, and progress will be measured every five to seven years with the next assessment planned for release in 2023. 41
CATTLE CALL | RANCHING 2.0 The National Cattle Feeders’ Association Canadian Feedlot Animal Care Assessment Program is also recognized by CRSB with equivalency to the animal health and welfare indicators in the Sustainable Beef Production Standard, and Where Food Comes From provides certification for both CRSB’s Production Standard and PAACO.
Sustainability Certification First of its kind in the world, the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework is an operation-level certification program developed to demonstrate sustainable practices, help companies meet sustainable sourcing commitments and provide consumers assurances about sustainable practices. Certification is awarded for achievement against sustainability standards for beef production and processing across all five principles of sustainability: Natural resources, people and community, animal health and welfare, food, efficiency and innovation. The standards are outcome-based, which allows for flexibility in different production practices. To provide the opportunity for end-user claims about beef sustainability, cattle and beef from certified operations are tracked through the supply chain according to Chain of Custody requirements, verified through a chain of custody audit. Sustainability claims and a CRSB certified logo are available to enable supply chain partners, including producers and processors, to provide consumers assurances they seek. Currently, three certification bodies are approved to conduct audits for the program: Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+), Where Food Comes From Inc. and IMI Global. VBP+ registered producers are credited with VBP+ and CRSB certification through a single-audit process. Where Food Comes From can conduct both producer and processor audits, and IMI Global provides Chain of Custody verification. 42
You may have heard about some of your fellow producers receiving financial credits for sustainability certification. Supported by McDonald’s, Loblaws, Original Joe’s, Swiss Chalet and Cactus Club Cafe, the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Pilot project has been working to connect the supply chain for more than one year. Spearheaded by Cargill in partnership with VBP+, Where Food Comes From and BIXS, the pilot has sourced 3.7 million pounds of beef from certified farms and ranches so far, and is rewarding producers on a per head basis for their participation. In 2018, credits for qualifying cattle moving through the supply chain averaged approximately $18/head, and volume is continually building. This pilot has facilitated the supply chain sourcing infrastructure using CRSB’s Framework as a guide, and in August 2018, McDonald’s Canada was the first company to serve some of their beef from certified sustainable operations, showcasing the CRSB certification logo that consumers can now look for to provide assurances about sustainably raised beef. There is increasing interest from retailers and food service companies in sustainable sourcing opportunities, but meeting that demand requires significant year-round supply of beef from certified operations. Producers already participating report that the process is simple and provides recognition for sustainable practices that you likely already have in place.
Sustainability Projects Finally, CRSB collaborates with projects to drive advancement of sustainability, guided by the goals of the National Sustainability Strategy. This helps us demonstrate the impact and continuous improvement of the whole beef supply chain across all principles of beef sustainability. For example, since 2016, CRSB has been partnering with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Alberta Beef Producers and conservation groups to work with beef producers in identifying and implementing projects to enhance habitat for species at risk in the grasslands region of southern Alberta. CRSB also conducted its first consumer survey to evaluate attitudes about sustainability and gather feedback about its proposed logos and claims supporting the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework. Future annual surveys will continue to address consumer opinions and evaluate public trust for Canadian beef. For more information, visit crsb.ca or email firstname.lastname@example.org
TITLE | SECTION
Farming means late nights Whether it’s the beauty of harvesting by moonlight or the joy of helping a heifer through a difficult birth, late nights have always been a part of farming. But sometimes it’s not the harvest or the heifer keeping you up. At times, farming 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 | THE BALANCE SHEET IS MY FAVOURITE
The Balance Sheet is My Favourite As a financial consultant in the agriculture world, I do have a favourite financial statement. I realize this is not an area that is very exciting but even when it comes to something boring, you can still have favourites.
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
When I worked in the lending industry, I would often argue with my bosses over the importance of the balance sheet over the income/expense statement. My superiors would argue that the farm has to make a profit. I do agree that profit is a wonderful part of a business but it is not always necessary to be successful. If you farmed any time from 1985-2007, there were years (maybe many years) where you did not have any profit on your farm. This is not to say that from 2007 to 2018 profit has been guaranteed on your farm. I am speaking generally in the agriculture industry. There was a time when you had no cash left over (or you were short of cash) year over year. Equity was built. Assets were purchased. Income was perhaps earned from off the farm. This was how you survived. From the years I have spent analyzing financial statements, the balance sheet is what truly shows management. It is important to make a profit, but it is more important to manage that profit. Your balance sheet shows what you did with that money each year. It shows if you have reinvested it or if you have removed it.
THE BALANCE SHEET IS MY FAVOURITE | FARMING YOUR MONEY
I would highly recommend that you look at it on your own and do your own analysis. Measure your numbers. Record this data. Compare it year over year. Keep your asset values up to date. Do not rely upon a banker to do your analysis for you; do your own. It is winter on the Prairies and it is a great time to pour a cup of coffee, let the sun shine into your office/kitchen, and do a balance sheet analysis of your operation. There has been an industry argument in the lending world about land valuation and what that does to the balance sheet. When land prices started to move drastically, some lenders did not want to show those prices as they felt it was distorting the ratios. I heard lenders say that the improvement in the farmerâ€™s financial position had nothing to do with the farmer, it just happened that the land value went up. My argument is that the farmer was smart enough to own land at a time when it appreciated in value. Even though the farmer did not buy the land as a speculative purchase, we cannot punish the producer for making a great real estate investment. Perhaps adjustments can be made to measure year-over-year improvements without the land value increasing. At the end of the day, the land is worth what the land is worth. A market value balance sheet is the real report card as to where your operation is right now and how well you have fared over the years. A profit/loss or income statement is what happened in the last 12 months. I am more interested in the long-term picture of the operation. This is the time of year when you can do this analysis. You should do this exercise as of your year-end date. Do not rely on your accountantâ€™s balance sheet if they prepare one for you. This document is not a real balance sheet that measures your true worth. You need to do this on your own. Start by listing your assets. The list should go from the most liquid to the least liquid. You begin with cash, then grain
inventory, deferred grain, prepaid inputs, market livestock, feed and accounts receivable. This list will be called current assets. Then you can list machinery, breeding livestock, buildings, land and RRSPs. These are long-term assets. Across the column you will list your liabilities in the same fashion: start with what is due now to what is due much later. You would begin by listing your lines of credit, accounts for fertilizer-chemical-seed-fuel, operating loans and accounts payable. You would also add the portion of your long-term debt that is due in the next 12 months. This is basically the payments for the next year. These debts will be classified as current liabilities. Then you can list your equipment loans, cattle loans, building loans and land mortgages. Make sure to adjust for the payments due this year that you included in the previous category. This will be your long-term debts. Then you can add up all of your assets and your liabilities. The difference will be your net worth. This will be your market value balance sheet. This will measure how viable your farm is on the short term and long term. You are now able to look at some ratios that will help measure your financial health. If you look at the total liabilities versus the net worth you get your debt/equity ratio. If this number is close to 1:1, you are a higher risk for the banks. Lenders want to see this number around .65:1. This ratio measures long-term viability. It seems hard to believe that for a grain or cattle operation, if your farm is half paid for, you are considered risky. A 1:1 debt/equity ratio means 50 per cent of your farm is yours. That is the reality though in the lending world. If you relate your current assets to your current liabilities, you will get your current ratio. This measures your short-term viability. Lenders want to see a ratio of 1.5:1 or better. They want to see that for every $1 of current liabilities you owe, you have $1.50 in available current assets to pay. This is an area where I will see farms build up a larger current position and by doing so, they can weather a few storms. These farms can actually produce less than their cost of production and be perfectly fine because they have a strong current position from previous years. Taking a close look at a market value balance sheet is not something that a lot of producers do. If you owe money, I guarantee that some lender looks at it. I would highly recommend that you look at it on your own and do your own analysis. Measure your numbers. Record this data. Compare it year over year. Keep your asset values up to date. Do not rely upon a banker to do your analysis for you; do your own. It is winter on the Prairies and it is a great time to pour a cup of coffee, let the sun shine into your office/kitchen, and do a balance sheet analysis of your operation. 45
SPRAYING EQUIPMENT | ON THE MOVE
On the Move By Alexis Kienlen Above: Liquid Logic is a RoGator product. With Liquid Logic, there is no more than one psi difference from nozzle to nozzle. They can turn that on and off with no difference to spray quality and driver demand. It’s an accurate system. Credit: Jason Deveau
Recirculating booms are a fairly new concept in Canadian sprayers, with uptake at the front of the curve. However, Jason Deveau, Application Technology Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, thinks they have great potential. There’s still some confusion about the technology because farmers are not familiar with it yet. “The recirculating boom is often confused with a lot of the features on the sprayer that I talk about like continuous rinsing,” says Deveau. For a conventional boom, flow travels in a single direction from the tank to the nozzle. However, when a recirculating boom isn’t spraying, the flow continues past the nozzles and returns to the tank via a return line. This is an advantage for many reasons. “The first thing it does is eliminate boom ends,” says Deveau, who has a background in horticulture. “Most booms are broken up into multiple sections, each of which terminates in two boom ends that stick out past the last nozzles. Flow slows or even stops in those boom ends and they are notorious for harbouring pesticide residue. It bleeds into subsequent applications when you least expect it,” he says. This means that when the farmer is cleaning a sprayer, they must take the time to open and flush the boom ends. However, when there’s a recirculating boom, the single, continuous circuit has no dead ends. “Let’s say we’re spraying a product that isn’t going to stay in suspension very well,” says Deveau. “In a conventional boom, sections are fed from the middle. Pressure drops as the solution approaches a dead end and as it gets further away from the pump. When pressure drops, so does flow, and products can begin to settle out. In practice, this means the centre section can have more product than the last few nozzles on the outer sections, and this would affect the consistency of the application,” he says. The more recent continuous booms are fed from the ends of the boom sections, not the middle, equilibrating pressure, and flow, to keep the solution from settling. Further, when the nozzles are shut off, the solution returns to the tank via a strainer that tends to break up any potential clogs or undissolved pesticide before it has a chance to plug a nozzle. “It gets caught out in the filter rather than the nozzle,” says Deveau. Another scenario that occurs with a regular boom is when farmers enter a field with their boom full of water and their tank filled. However, they have yet to spray anything out of the boom.
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SPRAYING EQUIPMENT | ON THE MOVE
“So, what they have to do is park at the entry to the field and charge the boom. Basically, they sit there and they spray until they are convinced that the pesticide has made it all the way to the outside edges of the 120-foot boom. That could be as much as 30 gallons sprayed in one spot,” says Deveau. Farmers could often be spraying at the same spot, at the same entry point, every time they enter a field. “Beyond the fact that [it represents] about $50 worth of water and pesticide, it’s not a preferred practice to spray in one spot over and over again,” he says. With the recirculating boom, farmers have the option of nozzle-by-nozzle control. When the nozzles are off, the water in the boom circulates back to the tank – diluting the tank a little – and the boom primes without spraying a drop. A farmer then turns on the nozzles and starts driving. This can even be beneficial when a farmer is rained out. “Perhaps they haven’t gotten to the end of the job, or maybe it’s too windy. An operator can draw clean water from the rinse tank to displace the product from the boom. Now the pump and boom are filled with water, diluting the chemicals,” he says. “The next day, they can circulate the water back to the tank, agitating the remaining tank mix and priming the boom to pick up where they left off,” he says. “They can start again. They even save the rinse water that they were using. And, of course, it makes rinsing more effective when the tank is empty.” Aaron Hargreaves has been using a recirculating boom for about 10 years. Two years ago, he bought a small Agrifac sprayer, which is almost 5,000 litres. He says the Agrifac takes about 90 seconds to rinse out. Prior to the Agrifac, Hargreaves used a RoGator with Pommier booms. He started using recirculating booms thanks to his equipment salesman. “It was recirculating, too, but I like the way this is set up better. It makes rinsing much better,” says Hargreaves, who farms near Wawanesa, Man. “I bet you there’s maybe a cup of chemical left in my tank. I’ve never had a sprayer with that little residue left.” Since he has started using a recirculating boom, he has never had an issue spraying out any of his crops. “Quite often, guys spray a Grade 2, and then they spray a Liberty and could potentially spray out their canola,” he says. “It happens all the time. I never get that issue. You switch from wheat to canola, you rinse out and you fill your tank, and your boom is charged and you’re ready to go. It’s super convenient. Once you get one, you’ll never go back. It’s just making the investment to get one to start with.” 48
There are currently only a few recirculating sprayers that can do this in North America. Hargreaves really likes the rinsing on the Agrifac and says that is a selling point for him. He doesn’t have to get off the cab, and can literally spray out all the chemical. “It’s super environmental, and super safe for the operator.” One of the earliest recirculating booms was the Pommier, created by a French company, which is available as an aftermarket modification for most sprayers. “It’s been tried and tested and there are no problems with it. As one of the first, it set the bar for what was possible. But since then other versions have evolved that offer additional features,” says Deveau. The Dutch Agrifac sprayers that feature recirculating booms have been available in North America for a few years. Clever plumbing, wider manifolds and more stainless steel lines make them easier to clean. A recent newcomer is RoGator’s Liquid Logic, available on its C Series sprayers. “They claim no more than one psi difference from nozzle to nozzle. Combined with the ProStop-E electric quarter-turn valve, nozzles respond instantaneously, turning on or off with no difference in pressure along the boom. It’s a precise system that lends itself to reduced spray overlap,” he continues. “Looking ahead, there’s a real place for this in North American spraying. There really is. I think it’s something we’re going to see more and more often.” Because the technology is still considered new, it’s not cheap. “Growers will have to decide if the additional expense is worth the features recirculating booms offer,” notes Deveau. As more systems become available, more people are starting to consider the possibility. “In Europe, the technology has been around for some time. It became a commercial reality there because they are far less tolerant of point-source contamination, and their legislation is very specific about pesticide waste and drift. Obviously, we have legislation in North America as well, but we aren’t as strict when it comes to enforcement,” he says. “Sprayers were built so farmers could comply with their laws. In North America, we don’t have that particular pressure.” With all the potential benefits, Deveau hopes people will start to embrace the sprayers before they are forced to adopt their use. When that will be, time will only tell.
VALUE CREATION | SEED ROYALTIES
Questions remain as Canadian ag industry discusses seed royalties By Natalie Noble Above: The Seed Synergy Partners say instituting a new value creation model is an investment that will keep Canada’s cereal industry strong and globally competitive for decades to come. Credit: SeCan
Slow down, demonstrate value and make the best decision for everyone. That’s what western Canadian farm groups are asking for in the consultation phase on the proposed value creation system for Canada’s seed industry, which could see royalties placed on protected varieties of farm-saved seed. A breakdown in the flow of information and understanding was a big takeaway for farm organizations after four face-to-face pre-consultation meetings held between the government and industry in the fall of 2018. In response, western Canadian farm groups, including the barley, oat and wheat commissions from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, jointly submitted a letter to federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay calling for changes to the ongoing value creation consultation process in January of this year. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) say they have heard the requests and are working to respond with the respect farmers and industry deserve. While grain commissions, the government and the seed industry, all agree on the importance of research and innovation, there are differing perspectives and understandings around the proposed timeline, the two models put forth and the required information to allow for proper decision making.
What’s the best model? Farm groups want more information around each proposed model, including consideration for other options. The Seed Synergy Partners, including Canada’s six major seed industry organizations, have proposed two value creation models. The first is an end-point system where a royalty is paid when grain of eligible varieties is delivered. The second, favoured by the seed industry, is a trailing royalty that involves the utilization of a Seed Variety Use Agreement (SVUA), where the royalty is collected when saved seed is planted. Only plant breeders’ rights (PBR)-protected varieties would apply. 49
SEED ROYALTIES | VALUE CREATION Todd Hyra, western business manager at SeCan and the Canadian Seed Trade Association’s president, is a proponent of the SVUA model for a number of reasons. “I envision it much like a subscription to a new variety,” he says. “Producers would have the choice to weigh out the value in having a specific variety available on the farm and decide whether there’s merit to taking it on along with that extra cost. They then buy their certified seed, take it home and grow it. If they like that variety, the following year they declare how much they planted in farm-saved seed.” Hyra suggests the royalty be paid on a per-acre basis so it is easily measured, and the desired density of seeding is left up to the farmer without the burden of having so many definitions attached to what’s being used.
Photo: Canada Seed Trade
Association president Todd Hyra is pleased discussions are moving the value creation issue forward rather than leaving the system weaker in the long term. Credit: SeCan
However, Tom Steve, general manager with Alberta Barley and Alberta Wheat, and member of the national Grains Round Table (GRT) says the farmers he represents are not so confident. “In light of the fact that there’s little support for either model and other potential ideas could come forward, we do think there’s room for other options to be considered.”
Is there enough time? Western Canadian cereal organizations have asked that sufficient time be allowed to perform due diligence and find the best solution. Carla St. Croix, director of innovation and growth policy at AAFC, said when formal consultations launched last November, the timeline laid out included three phases for the initial portion of work to be done, not any final decision making. “What may not have been originally clear is that after this initial phase ends in April, that’ll be where we stop, assess and plan the next steps,” she says. “We’ve heard the desire from stakeholders for a broader set of consultations and to be engaged extensively in the process. So, we’re doing that and trying to respond as we go. Certainly, there will be lots of time for folks to bring their input. We intend to do this right and absolutely no decisions have made at this point.”
Photo: Alberta Barley and Alberta
Wheat general manager Tom Steve says pre-consultation meetings left farmers with more questions and that more time and information are necessary. Credit: Alberta Barley
Amendments to the PBR regulations, as posted on the CFIA website, indicate proposed amendments will be prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in winter 2020. But Anthony Parker, commissioner of the PBR office with the CFIA, says that date is not set in stone. “In government we’re provided a window for these changes, and if we’re not in a position to advance these plans in 2020, it’s very conceivable that they can be pushed back to an appropriate timeframe,” he says.
VALUE CREATION | SEED ROYALTIES
Is there enough supportive analysis? Steve is concerned that the initial consultation left farmers with many questions around the two models, as well as potential rates, cost per acre or per tonne for the average farm, varieties affected, treatment of public versus private sector varieties, and more. “There’ve been some guestimates out there, but nothing concrete so far. Most of these questions haven’t been satisfactorily answered yet,” says Steve. “Farmers need to see proof of the demonstrated value and that it’s not just an added cost. We haven’t seen the value proposition yet—definitely not enough to agree that this would be worthwhile.” St. Croix says the Canadian Government has heard these requests for further analysis, including the economic and legal ramifications. She adds that analysis of how each model would work has been presented to the GRT. “Economic analysis is underway right now. It’s very much informed around the needs of the attendees of the sessions so far,” says St. Croix. “It’s an iterative process in that the questions we need to ask change as we go based on what folks are asking of us.” A lot of work around world markets has also been done and reflected in AAFC and CFIA presentations. Government continues to work in response to requests around specific costs and potential economic returns for farmers and the economy, according to St. Croix. “Some analysis has been done. Clearly there’s a desire for more and we’re continuing to do more. We’re responding, and are quite happy to, in order to tackle these sorts of analytical questions on behalf of the sector,” she says.
very much aligned with what producers want in terms of access to good genetics.” Canada’s ag commissions also heavily fund, and value, research. “We invest a lot. At Alberta Wheat, over $3 million per year into wheat research. So, I think we’re fully aware of the benefits to investing into the future of the industry. But the question is how to best achieve that,” says Steve. In addition to supporting encouragement for private investment, Steve says farmers he represents believe in Canada’s public system. “We’d like to see competitive varieties continuing to come from Agriculture Canada and the universities, as well as competing varieties from private companies so farmers have the maximum choice.” He estimates more than 90 per cent of varieties grown by Canadian farmers come from public breeding institutions. “It would be nice to have a higher percentage of privately developed varieties to compete with these. We would see that as a benefit, but we don’t want to weaken the public programs.” An ideal value creation system, according to Steve, would create an opportunity for private developers to earn a return on their investment, but the change in royalties should benefit public institutions as well. “In other words, there would be an increased flow of royalties going back to Agriculture Canada and the university breeders, so it’s not just there to benefit the private breeders,” he says.
What’s next? On behalf of AAFC and the CFIA, St. Croix and Parker will attend multiple events into April around the value creation proposal. People may also visit the government’s websites to provide feedback, which is supposed to be available sometime in the spring.
It’s important farmers understand a new value creation model is an investment, not a cost, says Hyra. The returns on investment into seed variety research and development would not be immediate, but would ensure strong innovation over decades.
“We’re really open to hearing from people so we can get this right,” says St. Croix. “It’s important people recognize we haven’t made a decision. We are very much consulting and want to hear from them.”
“We’ve got some pretty good products coming now, but we’re developing some gaps in the programs we’ve become reliant upon. Some of these have been our lifeblood for the last few decades, but they’re starting to erode,” he adds.
Hyra has been pleased with the presentation of these models to the industry by the AAFC and CFIA, and especially that the issue is moving forward rather than leaving the system weaker in the long-term.
Some AAFC test stations are no longer available, decreasing the number of plots research scientists have access to in order to keep programs strong.
“I’ve been involved in this discussion for 10 years now, and it’s not an easy conversation to have,” he says. “But now we’re having real discussions about what producers like, what they don’t like, getting to the heart of this matter. In terms of wanting innovation and ensuring Canada remains competitive, by having a good dialogue I think we can find a solution here that’s going to work.”
“Our hope is to stop this with incremental funding that we can reinvest in these programs, but at the same time, attract investment from other parts of the world,” says Hyra. “We’re
NEWS & INNOVATIONS
AgSmart Growing Profits With Data Olds College and Agri-Trade have partnered to produce a must-see new agriculture event, AgSmart. Taking place August 13-14, 2019, at Olds College, AgSmart isn’t just a trade show, it’s a hands-on demonstration and education exposition focused on technology and data across the agriculture sector – how to gather it, and how to use it to enhance productivity and profits. During this two-day event, farmers will have an opportunity to interact with cutting-edge high-tech ag players and experience the latest innovations first-hand. The show will feature education workshops, in-field demonstrations and an exhibit fair profiling some of the latest commercialized products that are transforming the ag industry here in Alberta and throughout the globe.
as well as the outdoor exhibits and demonstrations for $150 for two days or $100 for one day. Alternatively, a separate ticket option is available for just the outdoor exhibits and demonstrations for $20.
Producers have the option of booking a full registration which includes access to all the educational sessions and workshops
Don’t miss this educational opportunity. For additional information and to register, visit AgSmartOlds.ca.
Exhibit space is available for those who would like to showcase their ag tech product or service.
FCC WATCHING TOP FIVE ECONOMIC TRENDS In keeping with Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) commitment to provide timely and relevant economic insights, FCC chief agricultural economist J.P. Gervais shares five key economic trends in agriculture to watch in 2019.
Net cash income plateauing Price volatility, higher input costs and weather-related challenges took a toll on Canadian net cash income in 2018. It’s forecast to plateau in 2019. Overall, the long-term outlook for Canadian agriculture remains positive, since consumer demand for food at home and abroad is still robust and Canadian agriculture and agri-food sectors have shown resilience in the face of adversity.
Ripples in the flow of trade “While the markets generally don’t react well to trade uncertainty, it also opens the door to opportunities for new trade relationships,” says Gervais. “Disruptions can pave the way for new trade flows, which could be positive. But global trade tensions also have the potential to slow growth in the world economy. They can upset the status quo, and potentially impact the demand for Canadian ag commodities and food, and that’s never comfortable.” 52
Global supply and demand fundamentals shifting Different trends in agriculture are building world supplies of agricultural commodities, but large productivity gains bear special mention. Global production growth in recent years has helped replenish stocks, better equipping the markets to absorb potential weather-related supply shocks. With world demand for food still robust, higher production has been needed to meet the pace of increase. This is having lasting repercussions on prices and revenues for Canadian farmers.
Tighter profit margins mean taking calculated risks It is difficult to anticipate the domestic supply of various commodities in 2019. With little chance of real growth in commodity prices and possibly higher farm input costs, Canadian farmers will need to properly evaluate the outlook for profitability along with the associated risks.
Welcome to the golden age of protein “Canadian producers of both animal and plant-based protein stand to gain buyers both at home and abroad as markets around the world are embracing a wide variety of protein products,” Gervais says. “This trend will continue in 2019 and beyond, as plant and animal proteins serve different segments of the global market.”
NEWS & INNOVATIONS
CANADA’S FARM PROGRESS SHOW Don’t Miss Out on the Chance to Launch Your Next Big Idea in the Industry! Canada’s Farm Progress Show is offering 50 per cent off booth space if applied for by May 1, 2019. The internationally-recognized innovation program invites those who strive to invent and reinvent the agriculture industry to come together to showcase their new, groundbreaking inventions for a chance to win a gold or sterling title. To date, Canada’s Farm Progress Show has welcomed 1,109 companies into the program and launched 1,222 innovations. “We have very positive feedback from previous product launches,” says show manager, Shirley Janeczko. “We offer all applicants space in our official show guide, website and a platform on our social media channels.” Businesses applying to participate in the innovation program will have the opportunity to be mentioned on Canada’s Farm Progress Show’s website and Farms.com, as well as be included in e-newsletters, articles and social media posts from both
organizations. Other opportunities include a description of the innovation in the official show guide and innovation guide as well as an opportunity to receive a professional product demo or interview video shoot promoted by Farms.com. Participants will also receive an exclusive invitation to the official grand opening Innovation Awards Ceremony which takes place on June 18, 2019. Apply by May 1, 2019, to get 50 per cent off your booth space in the Innovation Pavilion.
MORRIS Saskatchewan Century Farm Buys Quantum Air Drill in Support of STARS Spring seeding will have a whole new meaning to Dyrland Farms in Kyle, Sask., this growing season – after placing the highest bid for use of a new Quantum Air Drill at the Field of STARS event this past July. Darcy Dyrland was one of 1,200 in attendance at the first-ever Field of STARS event held at the 2018 Ag in Motion. Morris Industries Ltd. initiated the idea with Ag in Motion along with Bayer Crop Science and dozens of other companies to create the sellout fundraising event to benefit STARS air ambulance. “We have always been a supporter of STARS and the important role they play for farmers like us in rural communities,” says Darcy Dyrland. “Being in a rural area we need to have good response times. We have had things happen in our community and close to us and have been lucky to have STARS support in more than a few incidents. Dryland farms with his family on their fourth generation century farm just west of Kyle. The Dyrland family won the use of the new Quantum air drill, which was unveiled at the 2018 Farm Progress
Show – with a winning bid of $150,000. Through Owens & Sweitzer, Dyrland Farms’ Morris dealer, the bid will be put towards the lease or purchase of a new Quantum. “We were thrilled by the outpouring of support for the first ever Field of STARS event,” says Ben Voss, CEO, Morris Industries. “The event raised $530,000 for STARS and will go a long way to help continue to support farmers. We are proud to play a small part in that.” The Quantum air drill, now available to farmers throughout Western Canada, is revolutionary, designed to take farming to the next level, with increased seeding efficiency, yield potential and equipment longevity. “More than just a new model,” Voss says, “Quantum is a giant leap forward in agricultural innovation – and one of the biggest achievements in our 90-year history.” 53
HARVEST ANALYSIS TOOLS
Climate FieldView™ is your data partner to support the decisions you make all season long. Get started today at ClimateFieldView.ca and take advantage of our free trial offer. Performance may vary from location to location and from year to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the grower’s fields. Climate FieldView™ services provide estimates or recommendations based on models. These do not guarantee results. Consult your agronomist, commodities broker and other service professionals before making financial, risk management, and farming decisions. More information at https://climatefieldview.ca/legal/disclaimer. FieldView™ is a trademark of The Climate Corporation. Monsanto Canada ULC licensee. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2019 Bayer Group. All rights reserved.
Our R&D team is quite proud of the new Quantum™ air drill. With advanced robotic welding, a 154% increase in frame strength and over 20 other innovations, there’s plenty to be excited about in Quantum’s game-changing design. Discover more at innovationunearthed.com/rd © 2019 Morris Industries Ltd. All rights reserved.
Farming for Tomorrow March April 2019