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May / June 2019

ENTREPRENEURS IN AGRICULTURE

Future focus Alberta entrepreneur takes diversified, growth-oriented approached to farming

Grain Storage Farmland Values Grain Handling


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12 Future focus

Grain Market Analysis

Preventative Maintenance by Scott Shiels

A Farmer’s Viewpoint

Livestock Lessons by Kevin Hursh

Grain Storage

Stocked Storehouse by Madeleine Baerg Grain Handling

Can you handle it? by Jennifer Blair

Farmland Values

Holding Strong by Natalie Noble Cattle Call

Rules of the Road by Karin Schmid

TREVOR BACQUE 4

KEVIN HURSH

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50 53 55 58

Swathing

Swath Security by Jennifer Blair Haying

An Unlikely Cash Crop by Shannon VanRaes

Farming Your Money

How Does Your Farm Compare with Income and Expenses? by Paul Kuntz Those Wily Weeds

The Right Row Spacing for Weed Management by Jeannette Gaultier Spraying 101

The Challenges of Spraying by Drone by Tom Wolf

READ THE LATEST NEWS AND INSIGHTS FROM OUR CONTRIBUTORS. WHETHER IT’S FARM INVESTMENTS OR INSECTS, THEY SHARE THE LATEST TO BRING YOUR SUCCESS IN AND OUT OF THE FIELD.

PAUL KUNTZ

SCOTT SHIELS

TOM WOLF


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PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE | GRAIN MARKET ANALYSIS

Preventative Maintenance Spring is in the air, and with that, probably my most favourite time: seeding! Whether you are pulling a 60-foot air drill or broadcasting your seed through a Valmar, there is something special and satisfying every time you cross the land.

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

This is a time where most of you are spending a lot of effort thinking, both about the seeding job you are doing, and about what is left doing once seeding is done. On that note, I thought I would touch on some possibly forgotten, or neglected, jobs around the farm that could potentially cost you money when marketing your grain down the road. One of the first things we recommend doing after seeding is turning bins and sampling the grain you have left on the farm. Generally, by this time of year, most producers will have the necessary space available to enable them to move their remaining inventory around, and to resubmit samples to buyers to check grain quality. All too often, the spring warm-up and early summer heat can start to cause issues to what was fine all winter in the cold weather. The other reason for getting buyers to check samples again is that oftentimes, once we get into the summer, opportunities arise for premiums when buyers get short. In my experience as a grain buyer, I can say, in many cases, the first person you are going to call when you need some grain is the individual who came by for a visit and provided new samples. It never hurts to be the “squeaky wheelâ€? in this industry. The next thing you should do is a thorough checking and cleaning of all your empty bins. Taking this time to fix any bolt holes or leaky lids can save you from having to deal with spoiled grain in the future. Also, it is a great opportunity to sweep up flat-bottom bins and sprinkle, if you are up for it, a little bit of diatomaceous earth around the outside of the bin. This helps prevent stored grain insects from harbouring in this area and infesting the new grain that comes into the bin at harvest time. Hopper bins, while better, are not immune to some of these issues either. Taking advantage when they are empty and inspecting the inside is crucial to preventing stored grain issues in the new year. Once your bins are empty, open up your bottom slides and get a look up and into them. We have had numerous producers fail to find grain that got wet and stuck to the sides of the hopper bins. Once the bins are refilled, that crusty wet mess crumbles down and contaminates the new grain and can cause grading issues due to off-type grain or potentially worse issues with bugs or heated grain. A quick little bit of preventative maintenance can go a long way to ensuring the grain you grow remains in good condition for you to sell. Until next time‌ 7


A FARMER’S VIEWPOINT | LIVESTOCK LESSONS

Livestock Lessons As Canadian grain farmers, we need a code of practice. Before you see red and start calling me names to suggest yet another useless, bureaucratic exercise, hear me out. Codes of practice have been developed for practically all the livestock species raised in Canada – beef, bison, poultry, equine, farmed deer, hogs, rabbits and sheep among others. The codes for dairy and goats are currently under revision. 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

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Codes are developed and regularly revised through extensive consultation and a lot of heated discussion over what constitutes proper production methods. Producers, farm organizations, veterinarians and animal behaviour experts are all part of the process. The first livestock codes were developed in the early ’80s. These codes are not legal documents, but they lay out the basis for what’s considered practical and ethical. Let’s say you need to euthanize an animal. This isn’t pleasant no matter how it’s done and someone unfamiliar with livestock production might be appalled. However, if it’s carried out according to the code of practice, there’s a strong defence. Back in 2016, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle called for pain control when castrating bulls older than nine months of age. In 2018, that was revised to six months. Recommendations and expectations change and some codes can become law. The Canadian livestock codes are easy to find on the Internet. The one for beef cattle is 56 pages long and covers everything from assisted calving to proper water supply. The grain industry has nothing comparable. Covering all the practices involved in crop production will make it an extensive document. A grain code might require some regional variations and there will be uncomfortable questions.


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A FARMER’S VIEWPOINT | LIVESTOCK LESSONS

For the first time, the Canadian crops sector is considering a code of practice as part of what it can do on the whole public trust issue. Over time, this would be far more valuable for the industry than throwing more money at yet another consumer education initiative. Should you always use separate augers for treated grain or can those augers be properly cleaned and then used for harvested production? Is application of fertilizer onto frozen ground or onto snow considered an acceptable practice? Some jurisdictions have laws on this, but others don’t. In some provinces, namely Ontario and Quebec, farmers need pesticide application licences for applying crop production products on their own land base. That’s not the case in the Prairie provinces. What should the code of practice say? Should the industry be working towards having everyone licensed?

Many groups are working at the education approach including Farm & Food Care, the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity and Farm Credit Canada through its Ag More Than Ever campaign. From time to time, yet another group will make a foray into this arena producing some sort of documentary that’s supposed to change the viewpoint of the entire consuming public. Yes, there’s value in producers telling their story and being active on social media, but all the evidence suggests it’s an uphill battle. Too many consumers are too far removed from agriculture and too many are scientifically illiterate. To them, any pesticide residue, no matter how small is unacceptable. They don’t understand the concept of maximum residue limits which are set with incredibly wide safety margins. They don’t realize the entire world is made up of chemical compounds and it’s the dose that matters. GMO crops sound scary. They can’t be natural and the new technology of gene editing is probably bad too. Celebrity viewpoints carry more weight than those of farmers and scientists, plus the celebrities often garner free media. For agriculture, an inexhaustible budget would be needed for a publicity campaign to have any hope of moving the needle on public opinion.

What’s the proper way to dispose of outdated crop protection products? What about excess treated seed? How do you provide employee safety training? What are age appropriate jobs for farm kids?

But it is worthwhile to put our own house in order – to have the difficult discussions about what are acceptable grain farming practices and what are not. We can pretend that all farmers are saints and that nothing inappropriate ever happens, but the reality is different.

For the first time, the Canadian crops sector is considering a code of practice as part of what it can do on the whole public trust issue. Over time, this would be far more valuable for the industry than throwing more money at yet another consumer education initiative.

There are farming practices that should change and some that should end. Developing a code of practice may seem like an academic exercise, but it’s actually a valuable starting point for dealing with public perceptions.

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Farming is all about community There’s a closeness that shines through, despite the acres that separate us. We’re quick to lend a hand or an ear, a piece of equipment or a strong back. Whatever’s needed to get the job done, we’ll come together to do it. Farming is an amazing way of life, but sometimes it can be as draining mentally as it is physically. And that same community is here to help. 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


COVER STORY | FUTURE FOCUS

Photo: Jarrod Kuhn, centre, farms with his two sons Ashton, left, and Tyrel, right, near Acadia Valley, Alta. Credit: Chynna-Lynn Photography

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FUTURE FOCUS | COVER STORY

FUTURE FOCUS Alberta entrepreneur takes diversified, growth-oriented approached to farming By Shannon VanRaes When Jarrod Kuhn looks out onto his main farmyard near Acadia Valley, Alta., he doesn’t see 13 50-thousand-bushel bins—he sees his savings account. “I look at our bin system like a bank account, because my money is sitting in those bins. So we call it our little bank,” says Kuhn. “And we watch them closely.” With 40,000 acres in production, storage is key to managing the multigeneration grain farm and its auxiliary enterprises, including an agronomy business and aerial spraying start-up. Beyond the 650,000 bushels of storage in the main yard, an additional 240,000 bushels of grain storage is scattered throughout Kuhn Farms, complimented by the use of grain bags for infield storage as needed. “At harvest, when you’re busy with nine or 10 combines, you sometimes just can’t physically keep up to get it back to the bin, so we put bags in the fields,” he says. “And then this time of year, we try to sell out of our bins and then get our grain bags home to the bins.” The continually evolving system is a far cry from the mixed cattle and grain farm his grandfather started in 1946, but Kuhn says the operation’s founding patriarch wouldn’t be surprised by the scope of today’s operation. “You know what my grandpa told me when I was still a little guy?” says a reminiscing Kuhn. “He goes, ‘what I’ve seen in my life on the farm, from horse and plow, to tractors and cab combines? You’re going to see that again but maybe even more. And I have. He was right, he’d seen the vision and he knew that the farm was going to grow.” 13


COVER STORY | FUTURE FOCUS

“After ‘98 I went strictly to managing the oil patch, but my wife Carolyn and I still kept growing our farm, and in the evenings and the early mornings I would still work on the farm … then I’d go at work at the oil fields from 7 ‘til 5 and dad would be on the farm full-time.” - Jarrod Kuhn Kuhn’s father Irwin took the farm over with the help of his brother Carl sometime in the 1960s. By 1978 the cattle had been sold off and the farm was focused solely on grain production. “They didn’t have a big enough herd and it wasn’t really feasible. It also tied up their winters,” he explains. But as it turned out, the freedom the brothers gained by selling the herd left them a little bored and looking for something else to fill their time with. Irwin solved their dilemma by purchasing a couple of old loaders so they could bury rock piles for themselves and their neighbours, but the initiative soon became so successful that it simply took on a life of its own. In 1984, what began with some used equipment was officially incorporated into an oilfield construction company. “We were building sites and working in the oil patch, we had CATs and hoes and graders, and reclamation equipment,” says Kuhn. “It just kept growing along with the oilfield activity in the area.” Before long, IW Kuhn Environmental was employing 120 people on job sites across Western Canada and Kuhn was at the helm as president. But even though the balance was a delicate one, he never turned his back on his long-term plan to grow the family farm. “I’ve been farming since I was a kid, I bought my first land when I was 25 years old, that was in 1991. So in 1991 the three of us, my uncle, my dad and me, we were farming about 4,000 acres of grainland,” says Kuhn. “After ‘98 I went strictly to managing the oil patch, but my wife Carolyn and I still kept growing our farm, and in the evenings and the early mornings I would still work on the farm … then I’d go to work at the oil fields from 7 till 5 and dad would be on the farm full-time.” That changed when Irwin died in 2010. 14

Photo: An aerial shot of Kuhn Farms during seeding. Credit: Kuhn Farms.


FUTURE FOCUS | COVER STORY

“We were at about 24,000 acres in 2010 when dad passed away, he was a young 66 years old … I had to come back to the farm full time,” he explains. Kuhn stepped down as president and in 2012 IW Kuhn Environmental was sold to a larger oilfield company, although his brother Jordan and other relatives remain involved in the business. However, Kuhn’s entrepreneurial spirit wasn’t dampened by the sale and he turned his attention to the farm, which continued to grow. Today, Kuhn farms with his wife and their two sons, Ashton and Tyrel, while his brother and mother continue to own a small stake in the operation. The farm also has eight full-time employees, in addition to seasonal workers. “At seeding time and harvest time we have about three or four young guys that work on the rigs and they come work for us … because it’s breakup in the oilfield,” he says. In good years, Kuhn Farms produces as much as 1.5 million bushels of grain. That means storage is integral to the farm, as is technology, holistic management and vertical integration. “Both the bin system and the grain management system are huge on our farm,” he says. “All of our big bins have moisture sensors, temperature sensors and they are all linked back to my office though Wi-Fi … if there’s a problem or something starts going on with the heating, the GrainMax system, it’s called, will kick a fan on to either cool it down or dry it down.” The system also allows Kuhn to rehydrate grain when it’s advantageous. “Say your grain is 10 per cent moisture, you’re allowed to haul 14 to the elevator, well for a month before that, if you have some high humidity days you can actually put moisture back to the grain using the conditions outside with your fans,” he explains. “So if you take a 50,000-bushel bin and add two per cent to it, well that’s a thousand bushels and a thousand bushels of weight at $7 or whatever, so our bin system is very important.” Having the ability to dry grain down also allows the farm to harvest crops, even when conditions aren’t optimal. “With a system like that we can go where … farmers that don’t have aeration systems can’t go,” says Kuhn. “I can go and get it at 20 per cent [moisture], so it allows me to get my grain in the bin with some quality, instead of letting it go through two more rainstorms. It’s all about efficiencies and getting it off as quick as we can. We have to pay a little more after to dry it, we’re running in that 20-some-cents-a-bushel to dry it, but at least I know what’s in the bin.” But that’s not where it ends, Kuhn has started also started constructing a seed cleaning plant. 15


COVER STORY | FUTURE FOCUS

Photo from left to right: Ashton, Jarrod and Tyrel Kuhn. The family manages 40,000 acres of cropland and utilizes the latest technology to handle, store and monitor their grain. Credit: Chynna-Lynn Photography

“It’s kinda sad in a way … but farming to me, right now, is big business, It’s not just about go out, work hard, cut a crop and you’ll feed your family. Now it’s about managing your grain and managing your cash flow. it’s business decisions that are made on a farm every day.” - Jarrod Kuhn “Because we need so much of our own seed, it just made it more sense for us to clean our own grain. And this way we can do it on our time,” says Kuhn. It’s also a way to keep employees consistently busy, he adds. The seed plant will also provide Kuhn Farms with a way to take 16

advantage of new management practices and possibly lower their reliance on herbicides. “We will be able to clean dockage out of our own grain,” says Kuhn. “And the future of farming looks like intercropping could be big, say, growing flax and chickpeas together then cleaning them out … different things like that, that’s going to be part of the future of farming, so we’re going to be looking at doing different things like that.” Until now, a neighbour has cleaned Kuhn’s grain, but with continued expansion, Kuhn says that’s no longer a viable option. Similar to many entrepreneurial farmers in Western Canada, he says it was the next logical step as the farm explores the possibility of selling its grain directly to international buyers. “I want to be part of the value-added food chain of farming,” he says. “If I can take my lentils and husk them and split them, and put them in a bag and send them into the world, well, I want to be part of that.” In the meantime, two other auxiliary agricultural businesses have also sprouted under Kuhn’s auspices—41-9 Agro Limited and 41-9 Aerial Limited.


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COVER STORY | FUTURE FOCUS

“About five years ago we hired an agronomist full-time on our farm … and I think within the first year we decided, why don’t we offer an agronomy service to our neighbours?” says Kuhn. “So he does soil samples for them, he watches their crops, he checks for diseases, anything that an agronomist does, so we do it at a custom rate for the neighbours.” The farm has also purchased a helicopter and hired a pilot to allow for custom spraying and greater input efficiency. “We started learning how to spray some of our crops to minimize damage to our pulse crops and some of our oilseed crops,” says Kuhn. “The day after a rain I can be out there with my chopper, versus waiting two or three days with a high clearance sprayer.” But despite the farm’s focus on expansion and vertical integration, Kuhn is adamant that agribusinesses can only thrive when they hold onto the basics of good people, strong community and healthy soil. “Really, where does the whole process start? It starts at your soil, and your soil needs to stay healthy,” he says, noting much of the soil in Western Canada has seen a century of use and abuse. “I think we need focus as farmers, that we need to get soil health back, we need to get the earth worms going, we need to get our microbes, whatever we can to get our soils back to healthy … if you don’t have good healthy soil, you don’t have anything.” A healthy work environment is also key, says Kuhn, noting all of the family’s business ventures over the years have succeeded because of the commitment of their staff. “Always surround yourself with good people,” he says, adding that keeping his employees busy and valued year-round is important. “We have six full-time men and two full-time ladies that work in the office …. these ladies are my right arm, it’s amazing what they do for me.” “From managers in the oil patch to great people on the farm … we had a very strong core of good people in both businesses,” says Kuhn. He notes that his employees are also important members of the local community who volunteer with the local fire department and help keep the amenities like the local recreation club up-and-running. But he acknowledges that rural communities are changing as farm businesses change. “It’s kinda sad in a way … but farming to me, right now, is big business,” he says. “It’s not just about go out, work hard, cut a crop and you’ll feed your family. Now it’s about managing your grain and managing your cash flow. It’s business decisions that are made on a farm every day.” 20

Photo: Jarrod Kuhn weighs and examines grain at his farm near Acadia Valley, Alta Credit: Chynna-Lynn Photography


STOCKED STOREHOUSE | GRAIN STORAGE

Stocked Storehouse On-farm crop storage: bigger, better and more popular than ever

By Madeleine Baerg Above: A newer move in agriculture is large hopper combos, which offer the efficiency of large size with no need for grain sweeping. (10,500 bu. x 20 = 210,000 bu capacity)

Canadian farmers have always stored a portion of their crop on-farm, knowing they gain better marketing control and more competitive pricing if they can hold inventory into the new year. Now that temperature and moisture sensors mean spoilage is mostly a thing of the past, it’s increasingly attractive and easy, given wireless alerts, to manage significant storage capacity on-farm. With improvements in genetics leading to huge per-acre production gains and industry consolidation significantly growing average farm sizes, it’s not unusual to find farmers with hundreds of thousands of bushel storage capacity. “What’s happening is that we’ve got a younger generation of farmers looking to buy up land and run it at maximum efficiency,” says Ken Pierson, a sales manager with Meridian Manufacturing. “Meanwhile, the amount of grain we’re growing has exponentially grown. In 2010 in Saskatchewan, for example, we were growing wheat at 25-30 bushels per acre. Now it’s not uncommon to be at 50-70 bushels per acre. It used to take 30 minutes to unload a five-tonne truck. Now guys have four or five combines going and semis that are getting unloaded by large augers in 12-17 minutes. That’s what’s driving the big bin business. I expect [continued building of big bins] to keep happening for the next five to 10 years for sure.” Trevor Crozier and Jake Leguee are two of that younger generation. Crozier, a partner in Crozier Ag in Sedley, Sask., says his operation started with zero storage in 2008. Over the past decade, he has installed in excess of 700,000 bushels of capacity at a single yard site: four 62,500-bushel bins, 10 32,000-bushel bins, plus eight fertilizer bins that are cleaned and used annually for crop storage, too. “The trend is everyone wants more storage,” he says. “More often than not, there’s a premium for holding onto a crop longer that outweighs the cost of carry. That means the return on investment, even for a big investment, can happen really quickly.” 21


GRAIN STORAGE | STOCKED STOREHOUSE

3D Grain Bin Moisture Mapping: The Way of the Future? By Madeleine Baerg Grain monitoring cables have massively improved farmers’ ability to store grain safely, the technology monitors a small number of inches of grain immediately adjacent to the cables, and it can identify a problem. It’s given rise to agribusiness entrepreneurs to seek out the next big thing in grain monitoring. That next big thing might just be technology similar to a medical CT scan or MRI – set to bring farmers’ monitoring confidence to a new level. Called GrainViz, the made-in-Winnipeg mapping technology uses very low-power radio waves – less, in fact, than what a smartphone produces – to build a 3D image of stored grain. Paul Gilmore farms 5,000 acres of grain near Warren, Man. Currently, GSI/151 Research have experimental GrainViz systems installed in two of Gilmore’s bins: one in a 25,000-bushel bin and the other in a 5,000-bushel bin. Gilmore plans to install systems in an additional three or four large bins soon. “The bigger the bin, the more the problem if something goes bad. It doesn’t take much: just a couple points of moisture and you’ll get heating,” he says, adding that he has peace of mind because he is able to see grain cooling through the images. “I can have $250,000 worth of canola sitting in a bin. I’d say it’s definitely worth it.” He particularly likes the low-maintenance system, which he believes will stand up to the rigours of a grain bin better than current cable systems do. His only hope for improvement is that GSI/151 Research creates a phone app rather than the computer log-in currently required. “My hope is to get to the point where I can be on holidays with my kids and check my bins from my phone.” According to Boyd Koldingnes, vice-president of sales and marketing for GSI/151 Research, technology has advanced to a point now in 2019 that farmers can see moisture variations in an area as small as the size of a coffee cup in a small bin or a beach ball in a large bin. He believes such technology could create multiple spinoff opportunities for Prairie farmers. If it’s possible to know the exact real-time quality of a bin of grain, grain buyers might pay farmers to store grain on-farm, insurance companies might lessen premiums, banks might lend more willingly, even government might value the energy savings enough to absorb partial costs. 22

The recent issue with China’s refusal to take Canadian canola is a case in point, according to Pierson. “If you’ve got canola in storage on-farm with aeration on it and good monitoring, you don’t have to feel pressured to sell it for $9 per bushel. You can hold onto it for three or four months, or however long it takes to get this thing settled.” In addition to not having to take the lower prices that come when one sells off the combine, Crozier says he really appreciates the flexibility his bin yard allows, both for keeping crops separate and for blending. As well, he values the simplification of logistics post-harvest. “We have long and tiring winters. On a farm of our size, we were spread out over 20 miles, so constantly driving tractors in winter. Now, shipping is just so much easier. We can haul on any given day.” Though they still use a little bit of bagging, that portion of the crop is sold before winter, meaning snow removal only needs to happen in the main yard site and all unloading equipment is easily accessible. Leguee and his family farm 14,000 acres close to Weyburn, Sask. They have 360,000 bushels of storage capacity: two each of 25,000-, 35,000- and 45,000-bushel bins plus an assortment of smaller bins and hoppers, as well as about 12,000 bushels of rented “condo” storage offered by major grain companies. Last year, they stored all they could in their bins, put 250,000 bushels into bags and hauled the rest of the crop in. “Bags are great at filling in the gap between a record crop and a poor one. Permanent storage is definitely better. We have the continual plan to keep adding to our bin yard. Basically, every five years we’ll build another pair of big bins,” he says. Big storage capacity usually means big bin sizes, which is a good thing both for construction cost efficiency and operational efficiency. Setting up an auger in one place and filling longer means faster unloading, which keeps combines moving in the fields. “It’s not acceptable for combines to stop. They’re worth too much money. We have to do anything we can to keep them going,” says Leguee. And, a big bin’s efficiency isn’t only at loading, he points out: “When you unload and go to clean that bin, the floor size is the same whether it’s seven rings or 10.” Given the semi or semi-and-a-half of grain left in the bottom of a big flat-bottomed bin at unloading, perhaps it’s not surprising that an increasing number of efficiencyminded farmers are coming to manufacturers in search of large hopper combos, says Pierson.


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GRAIN STORAGE | STOCKED STOREHOUSE “If I had said seven or 10 years ago that people would buy 10,000-13,000 hopper combos, people would have said I was crazy. But, when you become a large farm and you’re planning for the next decade or two, and you want to reduce manpower at harvest, all of a sudden a 24- to 27-foot hopper combo becomes very attractive.” Currently over 40 per cent of all grain bins sold by CORR Grain Systems Inc., the No. 1 supplier of large grain bins in Western Canada, are leased rather than sold. “Customers prefer to utilize the expense of leasing a bin over depreciating the asset over a longer time,” says Brett Schmidt, CORR Grain Systems’ vice-president of finance. “Leased or sold, storage bins are a great return on investment as they hold their value, and optimize the storage and maintenance of the crop production at the farm gate.” Both Leguee and Crozier use wireless grain-monitoring systems. Though cable monitoring the older, manual way is

Photo: 4000 bu. x 12 = 48,000 bu. of seed storage.

24

“If I had said seven or 10 years ago that people would buy 10,000-13,000 hopper combos, people would have said I was crazy. But, when you become a large farm and you’re planning for the next decade or two, and you want to reduce manpower at harvest, all of a sudden a 24- to 27foot hopper combo becomes very attractive.” - Ken Pierson


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GRAIN STORAGE | PRECISE PLACEMENT

“Grain bins are permanent; you get to live with them forever. It’s a huge investment and you only get one chance to do it, so think through doing it right. Building for today is easy, anyone can do that. You need to really look past the next five or 10 years.” - Trevor Crozier certainly doable, “the problem is making sure it gets done; knowing who the last guy was to do it,” says Crozier. As such, the automatic alerts that ring right through to one’s phone is a “very, very cheap safety net,” that he highly recommends. Neither uses remote fan control, though Leguee sees potential in that technology. “Our home bin yard is pretty close so it’s easy enough to go turn the fans on. But, I do think there’s a fit for automatic fan control. It can be hard to know exactly when to run fans. A system that would take weather into account would be

26

beneficial. I see it in our future, especially at our home bin yard.” Overall, Crozier and Leguee agree that anyone considering constructing additional storage needs to think big picture and long term. “Grain bins are permanent; you get to live with them forever,” says Crozier. “It’s a huge investment and you only get one chance to do it, so think through doing it right. Building for today is easy, anyone can do that. You need to really look past the next five or 10 years.” As such, consider key priorities such as yard drainage, vehicle access and snow clearing both in the immediate future and if you were to expand capacity yet again. On rented land, consider what happens if the rental agreement ends: whereas hopper bins can be put on a trailer and moved, big buildings may prove an investment lost. On owned land, build big and preferably modular or stackable to maximize efficient expansion opportunities. Before you start, look for good advice, recommends Crozier. “If you’re thinking about building, go talk to someone with a big yard,” says Crozier. “Ask them what they’d do different if they could do it again. I’ve never spoken to any of my peers who said they 100 per cent nailed it. People are happy to share. We all want to see our friends and neighbours succeed.”


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GRAIN HANDLING | CAN YOU HANDLE IT?

Can you handle it? There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to grain-handling systems By Jennifer Blair

The locals call it ‘Dimterra.’

Above: Mark Dimler’s grain handling system near Grenfell, Sask., looks like a terminal from the road.

Standing sentinel at the edge of Highway 1 just outside Grenfell, Sask., Mark Dimler’s grain-handling system is easy to confuse with that of a larger outfit. With 600,000 bushels of storage, an automated grain dryer that can run around the clock, an overhead bin with a 100-tonne scale, and a grain leg all looped together, ‘Dimterra’ rivals its namesake for bells and whistles. “It looks like a terminal from the road and runs like one too,” says Dimler with a laugh. “We can load Super-Bees in about five minutes.” But the Dimlers require a system of that size for their 30,000-acre grain farm. When you’re managing an operation that’s as big as the Dimlers’, every inch of storage space can mean the difference between success and a wreck during a tough fall. “At harvest time, you need to get your crop off as soon as you can in the best condition possible,” says Dimler. “It doesn’t take much bad weather before you’re losing grain, weight, and quality.” As farm footprints increase and margins get tighter, more Prairie farmers are looking at their own on-farm grain handling systems to reduce their time and labour at harvest. “Farm sizes are getting bigger, and they can’t do it all on their own anymore,” says Jim Sawby, owner of Skyway Grain Systems in Airdrie, Alta.

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“Farmers have to be faster and faster. Ten years ago, 6,000 bushels an hour truck receiving was lots. Now, it’s a minimum of 10,000 bushels an hour.” - jim sawby

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“As farms get bigger, farmers really have no choice. It’s either spend it on labour or spend it on a handling system.” And, in recent years, farmers have become even more focused on automation—developing systems with touch screens, sensors, and smartphone apps that can be operated anywhere around the world “with the push of a button.”

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“Grain handling systems make it so that farmers don’t have to have so many hands moving augers and driving trucks around the yard,” says Sawby. “We’re displacing all that work and making it more convenient. It makes life easier.”

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“Farmers have to be faster and faster,” says Sawby. “Ten years ago, 6,000 bushels an hour truck receiving was lots. Now, it’s a minimum of 10,000 bushels an hour.” On Kevin Serfas’s 50,000-acre grain farm, time is of the essence during harvest, and his grain handling system helps him manage his logistics.

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All of Serfas’s grain handling is centralized in an industrial park in a nearby town to make it more convenient. Most of the grain he stores goes into 1,000-tonne flat-bottomed bins on aeration, except his malt barley, which is loaded into big commodity sheds using 16-inch augers.

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“You can have as many combines in the field as you want, but if you can’t physically get the grain off the trucks and get the trucks back to the field quickly, that causes real problems—your combines are basically parked,” says Serfas, who farms near Turin, Alta.

“It’s nice when you can just throw up the auger and dump 30 Super-Bees into a bin before you have to move the auger again,” he says. “It’s the same with the commodity sheds. You can throw your auger up and dump a whole bunch of loads before you have to move it again. 29


GRAIN HANDLING | CAN YOU HANDLE IT?

“I just don’t think you can farm without it, I think it’s a necessity. Because of my system, I didn’t take losses in years that I might have if we hadn’t invested in storage and handling equipment. It doesn’t take too much loss to pay for bins that cost $2 a bushel, especially with our higher organic grain prices. It’s already paid us back.” - Travis Heide “The load-out of that flat-bottom commodity storage is done with a big payloader with a five-yard bucket on it. You can load a Super-Bee out in like 12 minutes.”

Improving quality But effective grain handling isn’t just about speed or convenience, adds Sawby. It’s also about maintaining grain quality. “They need the grain handling to keep up to harvest, not only for getting the truck unloaded quickly and back to the combine in time, but also to handle what you’ve got to do to that grain once you bring it into storage,” he says. That’s a key reason Dimler has invested in such a large setup on his own farm. On top of an additional 600,000 bushels of off-site storage, his grain-handling system comes with four 108,000-bushel flat-bottom bins, four 28,000-bushel hopper bins, and four 14,000-bushel hopper bins—all with aeration and temperature cables. This allows him to take his high-value crops—such as malt barley and canola—off a little early, without sacrificing yield or quality. In a typical year, Dimler might start combining his malt barley at 18 to 20 per cent moisture and then dry it slowly. “That lets us get the barley off before it rains, and when you combine barley a little bit on the tough side, the heads aren’t breaking off on the ground, so you’re not losing near as much either,” he says. That’s particularly important in a wet year, he added. “One year in the area, there were frequent little showers at 30

Photo: Southern Alberta farmer Kevin Serfas needs the increased speed that comes with a large grain handling system on his 50,000-acre farm.


CAN YOU HANDLE IT? | GRAIN HANDLING harvest time, and most people weren’t able to get malt grade for their barley,” says Dimler. “But we were able to combine it tough and get malt for it. In that particular year, that was a difference of over $1 a bushel.”

“Security blanket” It’s a similar story on Travis Heide’s organic grain farm near Waldron, Sask. “With organic and higher-value crops, it’s that much more important that we have the ability to take the grain off before it’s rained on or snowed on and then get it into proper storage,” says Heide, who has transitioned about 75 per cent of his 46,000-acre farm to organic. When Heide started out in 2014, he used grain bags to store his crops, but after back-to-back wet falls, he realized he needed to find a different storage solution—one that would allow him to aerate his grain if it came off tough. The final straw was a snowfall that buried his organic flax. “When we finally had a chance to get into the field, we couldn’t wait until it was dry. We needed to go right away,” he says. “So we bought bins and a grain dryer, and that’s what saved us that year. We were able to take 14 per cent organic flax off and get it dried down. “It’s a little bit of a security blanket for those what-if scenarios.” Now, Heide has a series of large flat-bottomed bins ranging from 30,000 to 70,000 bushels of storage each, as well as supplementary hopper bins. The bins have electric unloads from the centre, as well as aeration. And because Heide intercrops for improved soil fertility, he also has a grain cleaning setup that uses 16-inch augers and conveyers to feed the bins. The grain cleaner is fully automated—it calls for grain from each individual bin as it needs it, filling the hopper and engaging the auger system on the bin to bring it into the cleaner. The system then allows Heide to send the two crops in two different directions, usually into a large bin and a hopper bin. All of this grain handling equipment has helped Heide manage his logistics as he expands his farm. “I just don’t think you can farm without it, I think it’s a necessity,” he says, adding that he plans to add a leg, a pit, and a scale to his system. “Because of my system, I didn’t take losses in years that I might have if we hadn’t invested in storage and handling equipment. “It doesn’t take too much loss to pay for bins that cost $2 a bushel, especially with our higher organic grain prices. It’s already paid us back.” 31


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FARMLAND VALUES | HOLDING STRONG

Holding Strong

Outlook positive for Prairie farmland values despite 2018 headwinds blowing into 2019

By Natalie Noble Above: Since values spiked in the first half of the decade, Prairie farmers gained big time in borrowing power. This is seen today on farms with new machinery, updated grain storage and farmers who’ve leveraged their land equity to buy more land. Courtesy of Cawkwell Group

Weather trends, commodity prices and market access over the last couple years have slowed recent drastic increases in farmland value across the Prairies. However, industry experts say the outlook is still good. Ted Cawkwell is an agriculture specialist and realtor who grew up farming in Saskatchewan. His business has him on the ground helping farmers throughout the province make good decisions around buying and selling farmland. While there have been murmurs across the Prairies of a “cooling down” in farmland values, Cawkwell says many analysts are still predicting increases in land values, depending on region. He adds that considering the massive growth between 2010 and 2015, it would not be surprising if the market experienced some correction. “Certainly, no one is predicting a massive correction like in the 1980s, because today’s interest rates aren’t going to drive that down. But, a five to 15 per cent correction in certain areas would probably not shock anyone today,” he says. “In any market cycle, there are peaks and valleys. And typically, when things skyrocket that fast, it’s common to experience a correction, or at least a cooling down.”

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HOLDING STRONG | FARMLAND VALUES

Cawkwell believes short-term farmland values may plateau soon, but he suspects any correction or downward movement will only be experienced in weather-pressured areas. “Weather and commodity prices are the biggest drivers on profitability at the farm gate and that’s what drives farmland values,” he says. “Southwest Saskatchewan has had two extremely dry crop years in a row. If they have another one this year, that could be an area that might see a small correction. In other areas, like northeast and east-central Saskatchewan, they’ve had phenomenal crops for six or seven years in a row. Those farmers are doing really well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these areas buck the plateau trend and continue to rise if they continue to pull off these big crops.” J.P. Gervais, chief agricultural economist with Farm Credit Canada (FCC), says values remain strong. Recent numbers may be below those of 2012 and 2013, particularly in Saskatchewan and Manitoba where increases ranged from approximately 20 to 29 per cent in each year, but less drastic increases today are a matter of perspective. “I’m expecting land values to continue to grow, but at a slower pace,” he says. However, Gervais adds that market-access issues absolutely

loom large across the Prairies for 2019 – specifically in light of recent tensions with China affecting Canadian canola exports, India’s restrictions and tax on Canadian pulses and Italy’s COOL labelling policy on durum.

What happens when values rise and fall? To understand farmland values today and what they mean for farmers, one can look back over the last four decades. Farm families will recall the paradigm shift of the 1980s when farmland values across the Prairies rose dramatically over a couple years, hitting all-time record highs in 1982 until high interest rates drove them down, halving prices in many cases. “My dad farmed then, and I remember $50,000 quarter sections were suddenly worth $100,000,” says Cawkwell. “Then interest rates went up to 22 per cent, and all of a sudden, the land was worth $50,000 again. A lot of farms went bankrupt.” Those values typically stayed down over the next 30 years until 2010. “Farmland values in Saskatchewan had been undervalued compared to the rest of the free world on an exponential scale,” says Cawkwell. “We were due to catch up and values started

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FARMLAND VALUES | HOLDING STRONG rising rapidly, close to 20 per cent each year between 2010 and 2015. Land values essentially doubled in the span of five years.” In other words: “An operation with $5 million in farmland in 2010, which isn’t even huge in today’s market, went up to approximately $10 million in land value in 2015,” he says. This surge becomes important in today’s market because of the massive effect it had on the net worth of Prairie farms. “In farming, as in any business, you’re trying to build net worth,” says Cawkwell. “That equity is what you can borrow and leverage on. Cash is usually tight on farms, but ideally over time you build equity. In this scenario, people’s equity ballooned in a five-year time frame. All of a sudden, farmers in the province had much more borrowing power.” That resulting borrowing ability is seen across the Prairies today in new machinery and updated grain storage. And farmers are leveraging their land equity to buy new land. “That equity they built in the land is a driving factor that’s changed the landscape of agriculture in Western Canada from 2010 on,” says Cawkwell. After that five-year spike, 2016 and 2017 saw those farmland value increases slow, particularly in Saskatchewan, with growth cooling to approximately 7.5 per cent in 2016 and then 10 per cent in 2017, and Manitoba, where growth slowed to eight per cent in 2016 and then five per cent in 2017. Alberta’s land value increases fell off to 9.5 per cent in 2016 and seven per cent in 2017. So, values rose, just not so drastically. While much of Canada’s analytical data is broken down by province, Cawkwell and Gervais say that farmland values are increasingly based upon region, not entire provinces. “It’s becoming more difficult in this market to paint a really broad view of the market,” says Gervais. “We have to dive into specific regions, and then also consider supply and demand.” For instance, in 2017, Alberta’s Peace Region saw an average increase in land value of 11.5 per cent with pockets of strong demand in the area, whereas central Alberta held steady around eight per cent. Photo: With farmland values up

over recent years, many farmers saw opportunity and retired earlier than anticipated, not wanting to wait for that growth to slow. Courtesy of Cawkwell Group

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Saskatchewan’s west-central region’s farmland values were still climbing nearly 17 per cent in 2017 in a competitive market, while the southwestern part of the province had a 14 per cent jump as farmers looked to expand. Manitoba’s Parkland experienced the province’s highest value increases at nearly 10 per cent with farmers also


HOLDING STRONG | FARMLAND VALUES looking to expand despite limited land for sale, increasing demand in the area. The Central Plains-Pembina Valley saw no change due to higher-priced land and little change in ownership.

“If they’re 65 years old, maybe they don’t mind farming a few more years if they think the market will move in their favour, but they’re not looking at long-term trends.”

WHAT’S TO COME?

The last seven years saw many farmers seeing opportunity and exiting earlier than anticipated. “They were saying the values were too good. They didn’t want to take the risk that there could be a correction,” says Cawkwell.

In 2019, a few major challenges are stacked against western Canadian ag. “Since last year, Canada’s ag commodity prices, including grain, are down while interest rates are up,” says Cawkwell. “We’re facing some recent and new-found challenges, including trouble with China for the canola export market. We know that farmland values ultimately follow farm-gate receipts. When farmers are profitable, values go up; when they’re not, farmland values cool off.” As profitability at the farm gate may be narrowing, it appears farmland value could do the same. Cawkwell believes long-term real estate values of any type, including farmland, always go up. Where uncertainty lies is in the short term, and this can be problematic for sellers. Particularly those close to retirement. “The biggest bulk of my sellers are at retirement age,” he says.

Gervais agrees that the long-term forecast is more optimistic than the short-term, especially since 2018 was a volatile year for western Canadian ag, given trade tensions and weather issues. “We have some significant headwinds in the short-term future to be thinking about. I thought the start of 2019 would be a less volatile and uncertain year, but at this point, it’s not shaping up to be better. Interestingly, the world economy has slowed a little as well,” he says. Still, he remains highly optimistic into the long term. “If we look at growing food demand and Canada’s reputation as a reliable high-quality supplier to the entire world, I’m absolutely positive about our long-term situation. The world wants Canadian agricultural commodities.”

REVEL IN. ALBERTA’S LIMITLESS SUNSETS. If you’re without employer-sponsored benefits, we have a plan that fits your needs and your budget— so you can spend time enjoying the little things.

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CASE IH | RETHINK PRODUCTIVITY

Timeliness and Preparation Are Keys to High-quality Hay Are you ready to put up higher-quality hay this season?

From dairy-quality alfalfa to horse hay or the forage grasses that feed our beef cow herd, a high-quality hay is good for your livestock, your hay-buying customers and your bottom line. Spend some time with your hay equipment and in your hayfields to put up the highest-quality hay possible, and then store and feed it properly. Here are some tips for high-efficiency hay production:

TIMELINESS IS EVERYTHING

Time is of the essence in high-quality hay production. Recent university research shows that most forages lose 20 percent of their total digestible nutrients and 40 percent of their protein just 10 days after their optimal harvest stage.1 • Aim to cut alfalfa between the bud stage (just before blossoms open) and 10 percent bloomed plants. • Cut grass hay in the boot stage (when undeveloped seed heads are near emergence from the top of their stems) for tall fescue, timothy and most other forage grasses. • For brome and orchardgrass, cut after seed heads have emerged. But even when you get your hay crop cut right, you’ve got a tight window to get it baled to ensure weather doesn’t degrade your hay quality. Case IH ThirtyPlus™ hay preservative can help, allowing you to bale hay with moisture content up to 30 percent without worrying about overheating or toxic molds.

MAKE SURE YOUR EQUIPMENT IS READY TO GO

Repair or replace all parts showing signs of repair and make sure you’ve greased and checked fluids on powered equipment. Finally, stock up on twine, wrap and hay preservatives, plus sickle sections and guards. Adequate inventories can save you a trip to town or prevent a middle-of-the-night shutdown.

WALK YOUR HAY FIELDS

As you wait for your fields to dry (or thaw) and prepare to hit the ground running, don’t forget to take a walk — across your hayfields. Spring is the best time to evaluate alfalfa stands. It’s also a good time to consider fertility and pest control. Many experts recommend adjusting fertility immediately after the first alfalfa cutting;2 that gives you time to pull soil samples this spring and send them for analysis, and then use the results to guide your fertilizer applications.

USE THE BEST EQUIPMENT FOR HIGH-EFFICIENCY HAYING If it’s time for new equipment, take a look at balers and disc mower conditioners from Case IH, designed not only for high-quality hay production but also for high-efficiency hay production.

• DC3 series disc mower conditioners: Industry-leading cut and crimp for superior hay quality. The modular cutter bar is designed for high-capacity operation with heavy-duty components, including shear-hub-protected gearboxes and quick-change knives.

Forage plants grow and mature quickly, especially under favorable spring conditions. With such a tight window for high-quality hay production, you don’t want to spend time fixing when you need to be haying. To help prepare, inspect your equipment thoroughly and sharpen or replace all blades, sickle sections and cutting mechanisms.

• RB5 series round balers: Wide pickups, high-capacity feeding systems and durable belts and rolls build dense, uniform bales — driving down the cost of handling. Whatever you’re baling, heavy-duty pickups provide a clean sweep of crops and uninterrupted feeding.

Photo: Case IH DC3 series center-pivot disc mower conditioners

Photo: Designed for the toughest crop types and conditions, the Case IH

combine fast cutting with high-quality conditioning to help you hit optimal haying windows.

RB5 series round balers provide superior bale shape and density.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT CASEIH.COM


THE

NUMBER 1 PRIORITY.

TO TURN YOUR TO-DOS INTO TO-DONES. Although we manufacture equipment, it’s our job to provide solutions. The day we began redesigning our Maxxum® tractor series, we did so with your day in mind. All the things you need to keep your operation running smoothly – like durability, versatility and high-efficiency – are all here. Plus, with five models ranging from 95 to 125 PTO hp and providing 150 tools and attachments that are easy to engage and disengage, we’re sure to have a configuration that meets your needs. No wonder farmers are more loyal to red than any other brand. Put visiting your local Case IH dealer or caseih.com/livestock at the top of your to-do list today.

©2019 CNH Industrial America LLC. All rights reserved. Case IH is a trademark registered in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates. www.caseih.com


CATTLE CALL | RULES OF THE ROAD

Rules of the Road What producers need to know about the new transport regulations Karin Schmid Karin grew up on a mixed farm near Keoma, Alta., raising purebred Simmental cattle and grain, and is still involved in the family operation to a limited extent. She has a master’s degree in agriculture from the University of Alberta, and her thesis focused on the genetic and metabolic factors affecting feed efficiency in beef cattle. Before joining Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), Karin spent just over four years with the Canadian Hereford Association as their breed development coordinator.

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On Feb. 20, 2019, the Health of Animals Regulations Part XII (humane transport) were updated. These regulations come into force in less than one year, on Feb. 20, 2020. Cattle producers strongly support animal welfare, and our objective is to achieve the best possible outcomes for cattle that are transported, while recognizing some of the logistical challenges associated with our unique geography and infrastructure. We emphasized that regulatory changes should be science- and outcome-based, focusing on what is best for the animal. Our producers believe regulatory revisions should be based upon research conducted under commercial conditions, with cattle, transport trailers and drivers, under the typical transport distances and conditions experienced in Canada. There are concerns around the lack of data supporting altering the current time in transit and rest stop regulations, some of the ambiguity in the proposed verbiage of the regulatory proposal, the ability of our current rest stop infrastructure to adequately service an increased volume of cattle and the subsequent biosecurity requirements, as well as the practicality of having someone physically present to assume responsibility for delivered cattle around the clock, a requirement which was removed from the official regulatory text.


RULES OF THE ROAD | CATTLE CALL

We are disappointed that the majority of our comments seemed to be overwhelmed in favour of activist positions that Canada’s livestock transit times are too long and rest durations too short, without the necessary science- and outcome-based evidence to support this change.

What does the research say? Research conducted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) found that 99.95 per cent of cattle on long hauls (over four hours) reached their destination in good condition (Gonzalez et al. 2012). In that study, 95 per cent of long-haul cattle spent less than 30 hours in transport. In addition, more recent AAFC and Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) research supports this conclusion through an examination of the fitness of cattle arriving at auction markets, provincial and one federal abattoir in Alberta. This indicates the majority of cattle observed at auctions were fit for transport (Heuston et al. 2017). Adjustments to regulations are more likely to move the industry away from 100 per cent than to make up that final 0.05 per cent. Rest stop research is in short supply; there is a lack of information on the effectiveness of rest stops in mitigating the

Cattle producers strongly support animal welfare, and our objective is to achieve the best possible outcomes for cattle that are transported, while recognizing some of the logistical challenges associated with our unique geography and infrastructure. potential stressors of long-distance transport (Ross et al. 2016). A small AAFC research study focused on the duration of rest stops indicated that rest stop periods less than 10 hours did not prevent short- and long-term stress after transport in weaned calves, but suffered from small sample sizes, no behavioural observations during the rest stop itself and potential confounding due to time-of-day effects (Marti, 2017).

Let’s make it 100%

In 2019, recycle every jug. Canadian farmers recycle 65% of ag-plastic jugs. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of collection, this year we’re going for 100%. Every jug counts. Please help by recycling all your ag-plastic jugs. To find a collection location near you, or learn about other programs, click on Programs at Cleanfarms.ca info@cleanfarms.ca

@cleanfarms.ca

y jug Ever ts ! coun

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CATTLE CALL | RULES OF THE ROAD Rest stop infrastructure is limited in Canada. East of Winnipeg there are two at Thunder Bay with a combined holding capacity of 38 pens. It is unclear how these facilities will handle an increased volume of cattle and necessary biosecurity protocols, especially if loads end up forced to share pens due to space constraints. To help close this knowledge gap, a project was initiated in 2018 under the Beef Industry Science Cluster to examine the effects of rest stop duration and quality under commercial hauling conditions (http://www.beefresearch.ca/factsheet.cfm/ effect-of-rest-stop-duration-and-quality-during-transport-oncattle-welfare-259). This project will have completed two years of data collection by the time the new regulations come into force. It is unclear at this stage whether the project will be granted an exemption from the regulations to continue. Recommendations have been made that rest stop duration remain unchanged until results from this project are available to update the regulations appropriately.

What has changed? The full text of the regulations, along with the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement can be found at: http://www.gazette. gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2019/2019-02-20/html/sor-dors38-eng.html. The biggest change in the regulations is the reduction in transport time from 48 hours to 36 hours, without any flexibility in that 36-hour cut-off time for unforeseen circumstances. After 36 hours of transport, rest stop duration where feed and water must be provided has increased to eight hours from five hours. An exemption from these mandated times exists for trailers or other conveyances that are specially equipped to provide feed and water to all animals throughout the journey, but these trailers do not yet exist in any great numbers for cattle in North America. Compromised animals can be transported for a maximum of 12 hours before mandatory feed, water and rest. Young animals that can’t be fed exclusively on hay or grain can be transported in a single

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trip only for a maximum of 12 hours (i.e. a baby calf is not permitted to be transported for six hours, unloaded, reloaded and transported again for six hours). The regulations also prohibit anyone from leaving an animal at a slaughter plant or assembly centre (for the definition of an assembly centre, see the regulations) unless the person transporting the animal provides the receiver of the animal with written notice that the animal has arrived. In addition, a document must be provided that contains information regarding the condition of the animals, the date and time they were last provided access to feed, water and rest, and the date and time of the arrival of the animals at the slaughter establishment or assembly centre. The receiver of the animal assumes responsibility for the transported animal’s care as soon as the receiver acknowledges receipt of the notice and accompanying information. The transporter retains responsibility for the care of the transported animal until the receiver has provided that acknowledgment and documentation. Every commercial carrier or any other person that transports animals during the course of business or for financial benefit must have a contingency plan that establishes measures to be taken if there are unforeseen delays or circumstances that could result in the animal’s unnecessary suffering, injury or death; or, if the animal becomes compromised or unfit during loading, unloading or transport. In addition, commercial carriers will be responsible for training, or ensuring that training is received, by their employees. Canadian Livestock Transport (https://www.livestocktransport.ca/en/) would be one of the available options, and after March 1, 2020, mandatory entry-level training (MELT) from Alberta Transportation is required for all new class 1 and class 2 drivers that are farmers or farm workers. There have also been a few changes to the definitions of the conditions that equate to “compromised” or “unfit” animals, as outlined in the table below.


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CATTLE CALL | RULES OF THE ROAD

Compromised

*Can only be transported for a maximum of 12 hours. *Can only be transported to the nearest place (not an assembly centre, unless seized or detained under a provincial or federal act) where it can receive care or be humanely killed, needs to be segregated for the trip (or with a familiar companion), individually loaded and unloaded without navigating ramps within the trailer, and measures are taken that prevent suffering, injury or death during loading, transport and unloading.

Unfit

*Cannot be transported, unless the animal is to receive veterinary care on order of a veterinarian. If so ordered, the same conditions apply to the transport as for compromised animals.

Non-ambulatory (downer). Bloated, with no signs of discomfort or weakness.

Has a fracture that impedes mobility or causes signs of pain or suffering. Has a prolapsed uterus or severe rectal or vaginal prolapse.

Acute frostbite. Exhibits signs of a generalized nervous system disorder.

Blind in both eyes.

Is lame in one or more limbs to the extent that it exhibits signs of pain, suffering, halted movements or a reluctance to walk. Is lame to the extent that it cannot walk on all of its legs.

Has not fully healed after a procedure (including dehorning or castration).

Has laboured breathing. Has a severe open wound or laceration. Has sustained an injury and is hobbled to aid in treatment.

Is lame in a way that is not described in the definition of “unfit.� Is extremely thin. Has a deformity or fully healed amputation and does not demonstrate signs of pain as a result.

Exhibits signs of dehydration. Exhibits signs of hypothermia or hyperthermia. Exhibits signs of a fever.

Is in peak lactation.

Has an unhealed or acutely injured penis.

Has a hernia that impedes movement (including if a hind limb touches the hernia as the animal is walking), causes signs of pain or suffering, touches the ground when the animal is standing, or the hernia has an open wound, ulceration or obvious infection. Is in the last 10% of gestation or has given birth during the previous 48 hours. Has an unhealed or infected navel. Has a gangrenous udder.

Has a minor rectal or vaginal prolapse. Has severe squamous cell carcinoma of the eye (cancer eye). Has mobility limited by a device applied to the body, including hobbles (but not hobbles that are applied to aid in treatment). Exhibits any other signs of infirmity, illness, injury or condition that indicates a reduced capacity to withstand transport. 44

Is bloated to the extent that it exhibits signs of discomfort or weakness. Exhibits signs of exhaustion. Exhibits any other signs of infirmity, illness, injury or condition, that indicates it cannot be transported without suffering.


SWATH SECURITY | SWATHING

Swath Security Many farmers still doubt straight cutting By Jennifer Blair

Jim Latrace has heard all the arguments in favour of switching to straight cutting his canola. But for the time being, he’s sticking to swathing. “After trying straight cutting three or four years ago, we went back to swathing,” says Latrace, who has a 4,500-acre seed farm north of Regina, Sask. “At our place, it saves us money and makes us more efficient. We’re happy with swathing.” Straight cutting canola started to gain traction on the Prairies about five years ago, when the first pod-shatter-tolerant canola varieties hit the market. Before that, farmers mostly chose to swath to reduce the pod shattering that can happen when plants are left to ripen in the field rather than in swaths. But the advent of pod-shatter-tolerant canola varieties has given farmers another option, and today, anywhere between 20 to 50 per cent of farmers have tried straight cutting on some portion of their acres. “We’ve seen a pretty steady rise in straight cutting, and it’s happened relatively quickly,” says Angela Brackenreed, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada. “The way farmers have adopted this is really quite impressive.” And for many farmers, harvest management has been the driving force to make the switch from swathing to straight cutting. “The reasons vary from year to year, field to field, and farm to farm,” says Brackenreed. “For some folks, swathing comes with some challenges, so for them, removing it altogether is a way to get rid of a headache. Logistics have been pushing them to look at different options.”

Financial Yield In certain cases, though, there are good management reasons to select swathing and many of those come down to location. “There are regions that are pretty consistently limited by growing season right from the get-go,” says Brackenreed. “In those particular regions, they may never see a 100 per cent shift to straight cutting.” But for Latrace, it’s not just about logistics, though swathing does make combining “a breeze.” It’s also about economics. Currently, Latrace primarily grows Nexera canola at a premium, and the company doesn’t yet offer any pod-shatter-tolerant varieties. At Latrace’s operation, a non-Nexera variety has to perform 20 per cent better on the same fertility plan to make the same money as a Nexera canola. “We grew some straight-cut varieties early on, and they would do about eight per cent better than what we did with our Nexera varieties,” says Latrace. “They weren’t paying their way.” The varieties have improved in the years since then, but not quite enough to convince Latrace to make the switch. Even with the cost of a custom cutter – who can swath 1,500 acres of canola in two days for $14 an acre – the economics don’t pencil out to move to straight cutting. “With the kind of service I get from him, we’re able to leave the swathing till about 60 to 70 per cent colour change, so we’re yielding virtually the same as we would straight cutting and making a premium on it,” says Latrace. “When you compare the cost of swathing at $14 per acre to Reglone at $15 per acre to desiccate the crop and get it to come in, it’s not costing me anything to swath. 45


August 13-14, 2019 Olds College, Olds, AB

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.

Visit AgSmartOlds.ca to register & for more info!

Produced by

Platinum Partners

Official Magazine of AgSmart


Growing Profits with Data

Event Highlights

AgSmart is the new smart agriculture educational event created by Olds College and Agri-Trade. The hands-on demonstration and education exposition is focused on technology and data across the agriculture sector – how to gather it, and how to use it to enhance productivity and profits.

Keynote Speakers

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.

August 13: Join Rob Saik for his opening keynote and book launch on Agriculture 5.0, covering the journey of agricultural advancement that sees us at the dawn of Agriculture 5.0; a convergence of technologies that will re-shape the future of food production! August 14: Greg Johnson, Tornado Hunter, will open the day with his keynote on Risk & Rewards as it relates to ag tech!

Great Albertan BBQ Speaker Spotlight: Rob Saik Technology is converging at a pace never experienced before in agriculture. Sensors, tied to data systems, connected to precision GIS agriculture linked to smart GPS autonomous machines mean that it is increasingly difficult for farmers to keep up with the pace of change.

Taste some local Albertan fare served up BBQ style along with a side of entertainment by Drew Gregory the evening of August 13. All full access passes include a ticket and individual tickets are available for purchase for $40.

• How do you decide which data platform is best for your farm? • What will be the sensors you could use that will save you time and make you money? • When will your operation be ready for autonomous smart equipment? These are the questions you will be able to explore at AgSmart! This experience has been designed like no other farm show. In two days you will be able to get your hands on, test drive, experience and learn about how you can leverage new technology on your farm in a practical manner. This show is not focused on big equipment (although there will be cool paint on exhibit)… it is more about how we make the equipment do what you want.

Educational Sessions, Workshops & Speakers Leading experts will speak to agricultural technologies and how they apply to today’s producers. Topics are focused for the crop and livestock producer and cover everything from software to drones to new innovations.

Outdoor Demonstrations Check out a variety of outdoor demos focused on feed and equipment, including first-time demos for some new innovations. Stay tuned on AgSmartOlds.ca for announcements leading up to the event.

So, if you are looking for a place to learn about how to implement technology on your farm to make a bottom line difference… join us @AgSmartOlds!

Exhibits

Robert Saik, PAg, CAC CEO – DOT Ready Retail CEO – AGvisorPRO Advisor to AgSmartOlds

Tickets

Over 50 ag tech products and services will be showcased throughout the day.

There are a variety of ticket options to suit your operation and schedule. Full Access Passes are $165 for 2-days or $100 per day. General Admission for the outdoor demonstrations & exhibits is $20. Special rates are available for students.

Tickets are on sale at AgSmartOlds.ca


SWATHING | SWATH SECURITY It’s probably saving me money because I don’t have more sprayer tracks, which cost 2.5 per cent in losses. I’m not just after bushel yield – I’m after financial yield.”

Risk Management For Karlene Oesch, the decision to stick with swathing boils down to risk management. “Canola is our cash crop, so making sure that cash crop is in the bin and our risk is managed is huge to allow us to continue farming from generation to generation,” said Oesch, who along with her fiance and his family grows 4,200 acres of grain at Scattered Spruce Salers, their mixed operation near Hairy Hill, Alta. Oesch typically grows anywhere between 1,000 to 1,300 acres of canola in a given year, and while she has considered straight cutting in the past, the growing conditions haven’t allowed her to take the risk.

Photo: Regina-area farmer Jim

Latrace has chosen to stick with swathing because it makes good financial sense for his farm.

“It seems like every fall we have the intentions of leaving a quarter standing and see how it goes. But we’ve had snow on our crop before we’ve had a chance to get it off,” says Oesch. “In between getting everything harvested and figuring out desiccation timing, we don’t have the willpower to let it stand. It becomes too scary. “That’s our cash crop, so knocking it down and knowing we’re going to be able to go through and combine it is more reassuring than that whole wait-and-see that comes with straight cutting.” For farmers in the central and northern parts of the Prairies, that’s one of the key arguments against straight cutting, says Brackenreed. “When you’re swathing canola, it’s not super critical when you get out in the field to harvest after. You can swath and that canola crop can be out in the field for three or four weeks through variations in weather,” she says. “With it standing out in the field, there’s more risk there.”

Better Genetics But new genetics are reducing that risk – regardless of whether farmers choose to straight cut or swath. “Better plant genetics have really helped us maintain our swathing acres,” says Oesch. “Variety selection has allowed us to continue the swathing game a little bit longer than we anticipated.” While pod-shatter-tolerant varieties were designed for straight cutting, they’re also helping farmers get the most out of swathing, and Oesch has used that to her advantage. Last year, between 50 to 60 per cent of the canola Oesch grew was a pod-shatter-tolerant variety, and this year, she plans to grow some L255PC, a shatter-tolerant InVigor variety that has received good reviews.

Photo: Swathing is an important risk management tool on Karlene Oesch’s Hairy Hill-area farm.

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“As we get these pod-shatter-tolerant varieties and varieties that were selected for pod drop, they’re also in a sense selecting plants that are going to be better for swathing, too,” she says. “We’re definitely using it as a tool wherever we can.”


SWATH SECURITY | SWATHING Shatter-tolerant varieties are also allowing farmers to swath a little later, giving them more time for the seed colour to change and the yield to fill out. “We’ve seen some impressive gains in genetics in the last five years,” says Brackenreed. “The shatter-tolerant varieties can offer benefits beyond straight cutting, in that we can leave these crops standing in the field longer to try and capture more yield by delaying that cut timing.” For farmers who want to skip the shatter-tolerant varieties, there are still plenty of good genetics out there that work well with swathing. “There’s more buzz about straight cutting, so they’re pushing those lines a little harder, but they’re not rejecting the guy who wants to swath,” says Latrace. “There are still very high-yielding swathing varieties.” Ultimately, the decision to swath or straight cut comes down to what works best on each individual operation. “You need to match your decision to your logistics,” he says. “If you have a good swather, don’t be afraid to keep it. If you have access to a custom cutter and you like picking up a swath, do it. But if you’re set up to straight cut already and want to give it a shot, do what works for your logistics.” Oesch agrees. “Swathing is what works for us, but I won’t say that it’s going to work for everybody. Sometimes what works for me isn’t going to work for somebody else.”

Photo: Straight cutting has gained steam over the past five years with the introduction of pod-shatter-tolerant varieties, but the majority of farmers are still swathing, says Canola Council agronomist Angela Brackenreed.

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HAYING | AN UNLIKELY CASH CROP

An Unlikely Cash Crop

Hay proves its worth for many Prairie farmers

By Shannon VanRaes

Rob Blackwell has been making hay near Cochrane, Alta., for 40 years. “When we moved into the foothills here, we were limited as to what we could grow and we found, at that point, there was a good hay market we could get into domestically,” he says. “Not only is the price, normally, very good, but there is a high demand, so we can sell anything and everything, pretty much.” In more recent years, most of Blackwell’s hay has gone to Japan, where cattle and beef producers have historically paid more for hay than domestic buyers. But with dry conditions pushing demand up across the Prairies, Blackwell says domestic and foreign hay prices are now hovering on the same plane. “This year in particular, it’s levelled,” he says. “Just because there is such a high demand locally for hay. In normal years, I think the export market is slightly better than the local market.” One province over, Tamara Carter says she’s seen hay sell for as much as $220 a metric tonne this winter. “Certainly, drought affected most of the forage in Saskatchewan. So, in terms of volume changing hands, there was less hay to sell,” says the president of the Saskatchewan Forage Council. The result has been higher prices and more demand. As to whether or not higher prices are pushing farmers to view hay as a cash crop, Carter doesn’t want to hazard a guess. But she notes more and more people are calling the non-profit organization looking for information on hay marketing and production.

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AN UNLIKELY CASH CROP | HAYING

“It’s getting more and more expensive to make hay, Especially good-quality hay, and the economics of beef production are getting poorer and poorer … when you look at the price of a baler, price of fuel, price of net-wrap, equipment time, it’s just getting expensive to make good-quality hay.” - Kevin Duddridge

“I’ve been getting calls from people I’ve never heard of before. Calls from all over the place, far and wide, looking for hay,” he says.

Demand for hay also appears to have increased in Manitoba.

He farms 5,000 acres of forages east of Fort Macleod in southern Alberta. The primary production is dedicated to alfalfa and timothy.

Kevin Duddridge feeds about 230 beef cattle near Steinbach, but also factors hay sales into his larger farm business plan. For years, he’s planned ahead to meet the needs of longtime, local clients, but recently he’s seen demand for hay expand to new demographics.

However, he doesn’t believe current demand for hay will draw a significant number of new farmers into hay production – particularly in Manitoba, where the beef cattle herd is still half of what it was prior to BSE. Then there’s the economics of production. “It’s getting more and more expensive to make hay,” says Duddridge. “Especially good-quality hay, and the economics of beef production are getting poorer and poorer … when you look at the price of a baler, price of fuel, price of net-wrap, equipment time, it’s just getting expensive to make good-quality hay.” One producer who can attest to the increased production costs is Mike de Kok, but he won’t be changing his program any time soon.

Despite optimal growing conditions, de Kok’s costs have increased 15 to 20 per cent in the last five years. However, he isn’t changing his program.

51


HAYING | AN UNLIKELY CASH CROP

“It makes sense compared to grain right now because prices aren’t the greatest on that end,” he says. “The main thing with forages is that it’s your own marketing. Alfalfa … you kind of have more say on when you are going to get paid and how much you want. With grain, it’s ‘how much will you give me?’” The majority of his acres are under irrigation which pushes his alfalfa costs per acre to about $400 while the timothy runs anywhere from $250 to $300, when factoring in fertilizer and water. Seed is a minimal cost that occurs approximately every five years. For de Kok, his alfalfa is generally sold off to Alberta and B.C. dairies at prices anywhere from $240 to $300 per tonne. The timothy is sold to a Lethbridge-based buyer between $350 to $425 and is exported to Japan for dairies and its domestic pet-food market. While the inputs may seem uneconomical, his yields end up around five-and-a-half to seven tonnes per acre. On top of that, he is netting around $1,400 per acre. Factor in his alfalfa is cut three times and the timothy twice, it’s easy to see why he believes it to be a cash crop. “As long as we can get the higher quality for dairies, it’s been very good for us in the past,” says de Kok, 33. “We’re in a very windy, hot area in the summer, so it’s good for drying down the alfalfa to bale it and it’s really good quality.” The long-term plan is still to focus on forages, as well, according to de Kok. With new, greater yielding varieties becoming available to farmers, the farm will be forage-driven into the foreseeable future.

“There is a lot more cattle and it’s used back in the country now, And even the cattle guys, in particular, seem to be focused less on producing hay and more on managing their cattle herds. And you know, you can only do so many quality things at once, so that’s where I’m leaning there.” - Rob Blackwell second cut and they get the best hay.” Since Alberta’s beef herd has seen significant recovery over the last decade, the factors pushing hay prices upwards may also be tied to management practices among ranchers, according to Blackwell. “There is a lot more cattle and it’s used back in the country now,” he says. “And even the cattle guys, in particular, seem to be focused less on producing hay and more on managing their cattle herds. And you know, you can only do so many quality things at once, so that’s where I’m leaning there.” But it’s unlikely many producers will begin viewing hay as a staple cash crop, he adds.

“It’s a little bit more labour-intensive farming than grain because our summers are busy,” he says. “We are doing three cuts of alfalfa. On that end, it’s a little more work than say doing your cereal crops, but it has paid for us in the past and we’ll continue in hay.”

“When the export market first came to play in our area … we all thought, well we can be a hay farmer,” says Blackwell. “But so many farmers found it such a risk to produce a crop … that they gave up trying to do it and they went back to grain.”

One demographic not shying away from high-quality, highcost hay is horse owners.

Even if producers are interested in increasing their hay production with the goal of selling more hay, they’re at the mercy of the weather.

“It seems like everyone around here has a horse except me,” says Blackwell. “There are so many acreages around here with people with horses for their kids, or pleasure riders, so the demand for hay is huge.” Duddridge notes many people view horses as pets, not livestock, and are willing to pay a premium for the highestquality hay they can find. “We grow more each year for our horse customers, because horses have to have hay and our horse farmers are more quality sensitive and less price sensitive,” he says. “So, what I mean is they are prepared to pay for the quality. They get the 52

“No matter what type of forage you’re producing, you have to have rainfall to make it work. You have to have rainfall in the spring season to make it grow and you have to have no rainfall during harvest season,” says Blackwell, who saw dry conditions shrink his own hay production by nearly two-thirds in 2018. “But if you can beat the weather and you can get around the weather, then it’s a real bonus. In my mind, I think it’s still the best cash crop you can grow if you can get the crop off in decent shape.” If 2019 is another dry year, prices will continue to climb, although how high remains to be seen.


HOW DOES YOUR FARM COMPARE WITH INCOME AND EXPENSES? | FARMING YOUR MONEY

How Does Your Farm Compare with Income and Expenses? By the time you are reading this, your cropping plans will be set for 2019 and your seed will be going in the ground. The 2018 year will be in the books with all your data ready to analyze.

How do you think your income and expense numbers measure up to the industry? Are you an efficient producer? Is your income at a level to pay all the costs? How much better could you be doing? 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

These are questions producers ask all the time. The biggest cost a farm has is never measured on a financial statement: opportunity cost. What if you seeded a different crop? What if your fertility program was more aggressive? What if you spent too much? Producers make decisions in the beginning of the season and find out if they were right at the end. Compare that type of management to other industries. Imagine a baker creating a new type of cinnamon bun. They make the bun, put a price on it that returns a profit and then display it. Maybe the buns all sell out in the first hour. The baker can perhaps adjust the price upward because they know the product is good and will return more profit. Perhaps after a day or two they do not all sell and some have to be thrown away. The baker will lower the price or just make less. The point is they know the results of their decisions very quickly and can react. Grain farming is not that forgiving. If you seed yellow peas and it turns out the world really wants green peas, you cannot adjust by the time you find out. To analyze the cost of growing a crop and measuring profitability, I am going to use the Saskatchewan Agriculture Crop Planning Guide for 2019 Black Soil Zone Edition. This year, they list 15 crops of which eight show profitability. Surprisingly, this is good news that 50 per cent of the crops are profitable. In years past, upwards of only 25 per cent of the crops would show profitability. The first information that shocked me when reviewing the guide was the loss shown growing any type of lentils. There was a time when lentils would be the highest-profitable crop. For 2019, red and large green lentils both show losses. Probably not shocking is the prediction that canola will be the highest-profit maker. Let’s take a look at a few crops and the input expenses.

Expense Item

Wheat

Canola

Malt Barley

Flax

Seed

$31.36

$66.19

$37.67

$16.19

Fertilizer

$85.65

$105.07

$66.19

$62.96

Chemical

$78.68

$63.72

$101.54

$87.60

Total

$195.69

$234.98

$205.40

$166.75 53


FARMING YOUR MONEY | HOW DOES YOUR FARM COMPARE WITH INCOME AND EXPENSES? The seed and fertilizer numbers are accurate but the chemical numbers are not realistic. They assume you will have to spray for some insects on all crops and all acres. There is also a strong fungicide number in there that would allow for two applications. The exercise is to compare your numbers to these. Next, we will look at revenue projections. These come from the top 20 per cent of crop insurance clients for the yield, and prices are based on fall contracts available at the time of the report.

Expense Item

Wheat

Canola

Malt Barley

Flax

Yield bu/per acre

65.2

52.7

76.2

36

Price

$6.75

$11.59

$4.74

$12.62

Total

$440.10

$610.79

$361.19

$454.32

Based on your location, these prices will differ. Let’s look at what is left over to pay the fixed costs.

Expense Item

Wheat

Canola

Malt Barley

Flax

Revenue

$440.10

$610.79

$361.19

$454.32

Fert/Chem/Seed

$195.69

$234.98

$205.40

$166.75

Gross Margin

$244.41

$375.81

$155.79

$287.57

The gross margin has to pay the balance of the bills on your farm. This is where each farm is different. Your farm might rent a lot of land where the next farm owns their land. One farm might own the land outright and the other farm has mortgage debt on all of it. You have to put your own numbers into the equation to determine profitability. There is an opportunity though to look at some industry numbers and compare them.

Expense

Per acre

Labour

$17.75

Fuel

$24.00

Machinery Depreciation

$45.10

How do these numbers measure up on your farm? Following is some background to these numbers.

Machinery Investment

$31.61

• The labour is based on a wage of $22/hour. Is this what your employees make? Do you have to compete with other industries and pay more?

Land Investment

$59.55

Property Tax

$7.46

• Fuel is based on $.955/litre. Do you pay more or less?

$185.47

• Machinery is based on $421.51/acre of equipment investment. That means a 5,000-acre farm would have $2,107,500 in equipment. That would only cover one new combine, an air drill and a 4WD tractor. • The land cost is $67.01/acre. If you add up your mortgage payments, land rent and property taxes, where is your farm at? Every farm is going to be different but the point is you need to know your numbers. It is OK to have expenses higher than the industry numbers. It is OK to have revenue lower than the industry numbers. What is not OK is not knowing any of these numbers. Your decision-making process will not be effective if you have no accurate data. Go to your local extension office and ask for the crop guide for your area and run the numbers on your farm. I guarantee it will be an enlightening experience. And hopefully when this fall comes along, you will see that you made all the right decisions. 54


THE RIGHT ROW SPACING FOR WEED MANAGEMENT | THOSE WILY WEEDS

The Right Row Spacing for Weed Management By Jeannette Gaultier It’s said that you shouldn’t discuss religion or politics with your neighbours. Drainage either. My own take, based on experience and social media, is that row spacing could be added to that list. It seems like many farmers have strong opinions on the “right” row spacing, which ranges from six to 36 inches and anywhere in between. Against my own better judgment, I’m about to jump into the fray. First, an obvious bias: weed scientists are proponents of narrow row, high plant population systems.

Photo: Glyphosate-resistant kochia between the soybean rows in Manitoba. Credit: Ingrid Kristjanson, Manitoba Agriculture.

In general, studies have shown that, compared to narrower rows (less than 15”), wider row spacings lengthen the period of time that weeds must be controlled to prevent crop yield loss. In Manitoba, for example, soybeans planted on 30-inch rows required weeds to be controlled for two additional soybean development stages, on average, compared to soybeans seeded on 7.5-inch spacing (Figure 1). The commonsense theory here is that crops grown on wider rows take longer to canopy, giving weeds the opportunity to compete for sunlight, nutrients and moisture. One caveat to such studies is that they have mostly been conducted on traditional row crops, such as corn, dry beans and soybean, with little data available for crops like canola (e.g. Morrison et al, 1990) and cereals (e.g. Lafond, 1994). 55


THOSE WILY WEEDS | THE RIGHT ROW SPACING FOR WEED MANAGEMENT correlation between plant population and yield. The put-more-seed-getmore-yield scenario has been demonstrated in canola and cereals, in addition to row crops like dry beans and soybean; however, corn tends to have mixed results. The other bias: in contrast, plant pathologists advocate for wider rows and/or lower plant populations. The theory here is that such crop arrangements can reduce the incidence of disease within a field by increasing airflow and decreasing humidity within the canopy. Research conducted at the University of Manitoba (U of M) concurs, finding higher incidence of sclerotinia canola seeding rates increased. Despite higher yields, this trend was also consistent in soybeans (North Dakota State University) and dry beans (NDSU, U of M), often necessitating the use of a fungicide in narrow row, higher plant population scenarios. In addition to affecting canopy microclimate, researchers found denser crop stands also contribute to disease through increased plant-to-plant contact and due to greater risk of lodging. What about the lower yields associated with these systems? Planter enthusiasts will quickly, and correctly, point out that higher yields don’t Photo: Effect of row spacing and plant population on critical weed free period in soybean in Manitoba. automatically maximize return on Credit: Ingrid Kristjanson, Manitoba Agriculture investment, especially when seed is a That said, higher plant populations combined with narrower significant input cost. It’s not all rows is a proven strategy to increase crop competitiveness economics either; we’ve learned plants can alter their growth with weeds across a range of crops. Agriculture and Agri-Food habits based on available space, likely perceived by reflected Canada researchers in Alberta and Saskatchewan conducted light “signals” from neighbouring weeds or crop. Corn is extensive studies in cereals and canola which has shown this perhaps the biggest crop diva, narrowing its leaf arrangement, to be the case. Seeding rate was also found to be an producing smaller ears or aborting ears when it feels important factor, as part of an integrated approach, for claustrophobic. Canola, cereals and soybean also compensate increasing the competitiveness of flax with weeds, including by branching/tillering and/or self-thinning in response to wild oat (University of Saskatchewan). In nearly all the studies varying stand density. This suggests there is an agronomically reviewed, increased plant populations decreased weed optimal plant density that minimizes self-thinning and biomass, highlighting the ability of denser crop stands in maximizes crop uniformity. suppressing weeds. So, I’ve successfully argued for both drills and planters. I’ll Not yet sold on narrow rows? As a bonus, there is a strong further appease my neighbours along the row width spectrum 56


THE RIGHT ROW SPACING FOR WEED MANAGEMENT | THOSE WILY WEEDS by saying the “correct” spacing is likely different for every farm, depending on equipment, economics and agronomics. The fact is, whatever your row spacing, it will have an impact on a weed management plan. Crops grown on narrow rows (less than 15”) may be relatively weed-free with a herbicide burn-off treatment followed by a single in-crop herbicide application. To achieve similar results, crops grown on wider rows (more than 15”) will likely require the use of residual herbicide chemistries and/or multiple in-crop herbicide applications, or tillage. Regardless of row spacing, every farmer should think about resistance management. However, row crops are arguably at higher risk for the development of herbicide resistance because of greater herbicide use intensity coupled with a competitive weed population. In Manitoba, the first cases of glyphosate-resistant (GR) kochia were found in corn and soybean row crops. This differed from Alberta and Saskatchewan, where GR kochia has largely been associated with chem fallow. Weed scientists have pointed out that row crops and chem fallow are more similar – in terms of herbicide use intensity and competitive weed populations – than row crops are to solid seeded crops. The goal here isn’t to blame a system but to manage it better. Prairie farmers are increasingly being sold on residual, pre-emergent herbicides and on new weed-speak, such as herbicide “layering.” The concept is twofold. Firstly, by pairing residual products with our traditional herbicides, we help extend weed control through a crop’s critical weed-free period. Secondly, layering herbicides – when the activity of a herbicide active ingredient(s) from one application overlaps with the activity of another herbicide active ingredient(s) from the following application – may help reduce the risk of developing herbicide resistance. Research has proven that tank mixing herbicides with multiple modes of action that have activity on target weeds is more effective at reducing herbicide resistance than rotating different, single herbicide modes of actions. Although research on herbicide layering is ongoing, preliminary findings indicate that layering is also more effective at reducing herbicide resistance than rotating modes of actions. Tank mixing and layers are not exclusive; they can be used in combination. There is no one best row spacing for every farmer on the Prairies. Agronomic decisions on row spacing and plant populations will impact other agronomic decisions, such as weed management. Remember to bite your lip when you think your neighbour growing canola on 15-inch rows should switch to 12-inches. 57


SPRAYING 101 | THE CHALLENGES OF SPRAYING BY DRONE

The Challenges of Spraying by Drone 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.

Spray application by drone is here. It’s common practice in Southeast Asia, with a very significant proportion of ag areas now treated by drone. Estimates from South Korea, for example, suggest about 30 per cent of their ag area being sprayed by drone. It’s in the U.S., too. The Yamaha RMax and Fazer helicopters, which pioneered drone spraying in Japan back in the mid-1990s, have been approved for use in California since 2015. DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, introduced their ag model, the Agras MG-1, to North America in 2016. The Ukrainian Kray drone operates at 70 m.p.h. and is for sale in Canada. Other drones are available or in development. As William Gibson, the author of Johnny Mnemonic, once said, “The future’s here, it’s just not widely distributed yet.” DJI Agras MG-1 spray drone. (Source: DJI.com) Proponents of drone spraying cite a drone’s ability to access areas where topography is a problem (such as steep slopes), where productivity of manual application is much lower, or low areas where soil moisture prevents ground vehicles. Operator exposure is reduced compared to hand-held application. Opponents talk about productivity and cost factors compared to manned aerial application, spray drift and rogue use. Before drone spraying becomes commonplace, two important things need to happen: 1. Federal laws need to be updated to accommodate the unique features of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or systems (UAS). Current laws make many assumptions unique to manned ships, and the process to correct that will require some patience. A thorough review for U.S. laws, and their shortcomings, can be found at https://jolt.law.harvard.edu/digest/drone-use-pesticideapplication. 2. Federal pesticide labels need to permit the use of drones for application. As of February 2019, Canadian labels have no such registered use. There is no doubt that we need to prepare for a future that includes spraying by drones. Features such as topography adjustment for height consistency and autonomous swath control are already essentially standard, and the capabilities that improve control and safety will continue to improve. And yet I’ve been nervous about the prospect of pesticide application with drones. My primary concern is around – you guessed it – spray drift. Because a drone payload is relatively small (about 15 kg for the Kray, about 10 kg for the Agras MG-1, and 16 or 24 kg for the RMax and Fazer, respectively), application volumes will need to be low to have any sort of productivity. How low? For manned aircraft with a 200- to 600-gallon hopper, two to four US gpa (18 to 36 L/ha) are the lowest commonplace volumes. The lower volumes require a medium spray quality to achieve the required coverage. Drift control with coarser sprays requires higher volumes. At those volumes, a drone would be able to do perhaps one acre per load. While OK for spot spraying, it represents a serious productivity constraint for anything larger. There will be a push toward lower volumes, perhaps 0.5 to one gpa (five to 10 L/ha). When we need to spread less volume over the same area and still achieve a certain droplet density, or coverage, the only way to

58


THE CHALLENGES OF SPRAYING BY DRONE | SPRAYING 101 achieve that is with finer sprays. Drones are therefore likely to apply their payloads in fine to very fine sprays, as defined by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). Finer sprays will increase off-target movement and evaporation. These fine droplets are also more prone to the aerodynamic eccentricities of aircraft, and can result in less uniform deposition. Vortices from the rotor can create unpredictable droplet movement. (Source: kasetforward.com) The current regulatory models for aerial drift assessment in North America, AgDISP and AgDRIFT, are not yet able to simulate drone application. But by entering finer sprays into these models for their conventional-manned rotary-wing aircraft, we can see that buffer zones will be higher. Much higher. And that outcome will give pause to regulators. Failure to control the movement of a spray is, and should be, a problem. Furthermore, ultra-low volume (ULV) sprays can change the efficacy of some products, and these will require new performance studies. We don’t know how our regulators will respond to their findings. They will likely demand empirical data on spray drift and efficacy from drones – I would. Since the drones available in today’s market do not conform to a common design standard like fixed- or rotary-winged manned aircraft, each model may need its own study. Some will have rotary atomizers, others will use hollow-cone hydraulic sprays. Some will have electrostatic charging, others may propose special adjuvants. Once data is assessed, there will likely be restrictions in flight height, flight speed, wind speed, spray quality, water volume, perhaps air temperature and relative humidity (or Delta T). The obvious question is how these proper application practices can possibly be ensured. Operators will need more than just regulatory approval to use a drone; they will require proper

training, similar to what a commercial aerial applicator now receives prior to operating a business. Recall that our aerial applicators are governed by national organizations, the NAAA in the U.S. and the CAAA in Canada. These organizations are in regular contact with federal regulators to ensure compliance. They also help fund research into application efficacy and safety. They organize conferences in the off-season and calibration clinics in the growing season. At these, flow rates are confirmed and deposited droplet size is measured. Spray pattern uniformity is assessed and corrected as necessary. Should drone applications be exempt from these controls? I don’t think that would be wise. Are we ready to implement them? Absolutely not. These requirements would change the drone’s economic model. And despite these precautions, a drone may still leave the control of a pilot due to unforeseen technical or human events. In the U.S., Yamaha does not sell their drone helicopters. Instead, they deploy their own teams to make the applications. This way, they have assurance that only trained and experienced pilots use the technology. I recall after 9/11, the U.S. government removed public access to some of our modelling tools for aerial application, as a precaution to help prevent a dangerous agent from being dispensed by aircraft by terrorists. Imagine the possibilities that spray drones represent for nefarious activity. How can this possibly be prevented? Requests for drone use are no doubt in progress at our regulatory agencies. The outcomes of their risk assessments will provide important initial guidance, and food for thought and discussion. They may even change the mind of registrants. Until that time, application of any pesticide by drone remains illegal in Canada.

59


NEWS & INNOVATIONS

BAYER Bayer Fund to Provide Nearly $100,000 in Scholarships to Canadian Students Bayer is continuing to support Canadian students in pursuit of higher education with nearly $100,000 in scholarships. Sponsored by the philanthropic arm of Bayer, the Bayer Fund Opportunity Scholarship offers graduating Grade 12 students the chance to secure one of 65 entrance scholarships valued at $1,500 to help fund post-secondary education in an agriculture or food-related field of study. “Bayer has always been a strong supporter of STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math), as well as health and nutrition, and we are strongly committed to fostering future leaders in Canadian agriculture,” says Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs lead with Bayer Crop Science. “Supporting young people and encouraging them to consider agriculture is important to the future growth of our company and the

Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.” Whether seeking a diploma or degree in agriculture, food and nutrition, culinary arts or food safety, students must have confirmed plans to enrol in their first year of study at a Canadian educational institution. Students must also demonstrate academic excellence, leadership capabilities and a keen interest in giving back to their community. Completed applications – due May 31, 2019 – must include an essay outlining the future role students hope to play in agriculture or food, while demonstrating how they will make an impact in the industry. Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of judges and winning entries announced in September. The Bayer Fund scholarship program has awarded close to $2 million to thousands of deserving students since it was first introduced in Canada in 1991. For more information, visit www.bayer.ca.

CALHOUN Calhoun Super Structure Wins 2019 Canadian Business Award Calhoun Super Structure has had a bright start to 2019. The company was recently awarded the 2019 Canadian Business Award for Best Fabric Building Engineering and Installations Firm. Calhoun designs, engineers and manufactures fabric structures for any industry and application up to 250 feet wide for any length. Using a unique 3D Nonlinear Finite Element Analysis to custom engineer structures in key industries such as waste and recycling, composting, municipal applications, construction, mining, oil and gas, sports and recreation, equestrian, agriculture and warehousing, Calhoun’s competitive advantage can be summed up with its tag line: our strength is in our structure. “Success is an evolving thing,” says Deanna Hope, Calhoun’s marketing manager. “It takes the right combination of people, process, patience and proactivity to continually strive for it. This past year has been a banner year for Calhoun in terms of surpassing goals, exponential growth and the calibre of projects 60

we’ve successfully completed for our customers. It is truly an honour to be recognized for that, and it truly wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of our team and partners.” With over 25 years in business and an extensive dealer network across North America, the company is diligent about developing new products for customers to ensure the safest, strongest, most reliable structure. Universally-available satellite and street-level imagery has allowed for more detailed and accurate reviews of building sites. Moving forward, Calhoun plans to expand into untapped industries and markets by offering new products and growing its dealer network.


NEWS & INNOVATIONS

LETHBRIDGE COLLEGE Students Bring Answers to Agriculture Industry The mission had one final task for Lethbridge College’s AgENTs. In April, students from the Agriculture Entrepreneur in Residence (AgENT) program pitched innovative solutions to industry-provided challenges at the AgENT Innovate Ag Competition. The event marked the culmination of the first year of the extracurricular AgENT program. Each week, approximately 30 students met to discuss issues affecting the agriculture sector. Then, applying newly-learned innovation and entrepreneurship skills, they presented five-minute pitches to a panel of industry judges, with the goal of encouraging implementation of their solutions. “This is a chance for students to showcase their problem-solving skills and big ideas,” says Megan Shapka, manager of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “We have worked with them this year to instil the entrepreneurial mindset, giving them agency to create their own future as they prepare to enter a workforce that will require them to continually reinvent themselves.” Open to all students from across campus, the program is made

Photo: The winning team at Innovate Ag 2019 - (L to R):

Grant Vossebelt, student; Cor Van Raay, AgENT donor; Mallory Adams, student; Evan Weir, student. Credit: Isaiah Mason

possible thanks to a $5-million gift from Cor Van Raay, a leading Canadian cattle producer, and the involvement of 26 industry mentors who met with students throughout the academic year. “Investing in our youth is essential to the sustainability of the agriculture industry,” says Melody Garner-Skiba, executive director, Alberta Sugar Beet Growers and vice president, Rocking Heart Ranch. “The AgENT program provides industry with an amazing way to connect and foster the next generation of agriculture entrepreneurs by encouraging innovation, diversity and knowledge development. It has been an honour to be a mentor this past year and see the incredible future of our industry first hand with the students in AgENT. I know the future of agriculture is in great hands.”

OLDS COLLEGE Olds College Approved to Offer New Ag Tech PostDiploma Certificate Alberta Advanced Education has approved Olds College to offer a dynamic new post-diploma certificate in agriculture technology integration. Designed for students who already hold a diploma or degree, the new certificate will provide an understanding of how related technologies and components interact to provide accurate information and real-time monitoring and controls to the agriculture producer. “As technology applications on-farm and in agribusiness continue to iterate through multiple versions (both hardware and software), a significant skill gap exists within the industry when it comes to supporting agriculture producers adopting new technology,” comments Debbie Thompson, vice president, academic and student experience, Olds College. “The new certificate will provide students with opportunities to recognize the connectedness of, and interactions between

hardware and software, to enable producers maximum uptime in the field. Graduates will be able to apply this knowledge to link emerging technologies with existing farm infrastructure.” With the launch of the Olds College Smart Farm in June 2018, and most recently the Smart Ag Innovation Centre, the college provides a cutting-edge environment for students to learn about agriculture technology. The agriculture technology post-diploma certificate is one of many exciting new ag tech initiatives being developed and launched as Olds College continues to grow and evolve as Canada’s smart ag college. Applications for the new certificate will open October 1, 2019, with the first intake of students on campus for a September 2020 start date. To qualify for admission, students must hold a diploma or degree in mechanics, agriculture, land, environment, technology, engineering, forestry or information systems, or a journeyman agriculture equipment technician or heavy equipment technician. 61


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