Farming for Tomorrow September October 2021

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September / October 2021


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Progressive farm continues to grow, diversify business ventures

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A Farmer’s Viewpoint

Observations from a drought year by Kevin Hursh

Grain Market Analysis

Brutal conditions challenge marketing ideas

32 37


Can agronomy push your canola yields to the max?



the call of corn by Natalie Noble

Farming Your Money

Can you make the drought work for you? by Paul Kuntz

Those Wily Weeds

Assessing the Critical Weed Free Period of Canola Spraying 101

Cross Pollinating in the Spraying Industry by Tom Wolf

by Natalie Noble New Acres

By Trevor Bacque

by Tammy Jones

by Scott Shiels

Canola Yields

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Land Development

Long distance farming the latest trend in land expansion by Natalie Noble



Agri-Trade is back by Jaclyn Krymowski





Land Value

Labour, inflation and farm machinery by Vincent Cloutier



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Trevor Bacque


Cole Ottmann

Regular Contributors Kevin Hursh Tammy Jones Paul Kuntz

Scott Shiels Tom Wolf

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Observations from a drought year Kevin Hursh, P.Ag. Kevin Hursh is one of the country’s leading agricultural commentators. He is an agrologist, journalist and farmer. Kevin and his wife Marlene run Hursh Consulting & Communications based in Saskatoon. They also own and operate a farm near Cabri in southwest Saskatchewan growing a wide variety of crops. Kevin writes for a number of agricultural publications and serves as executive director for the Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan and the Inland Terminal Association of Canada (ITAC). Twitter: @KevinHursh1

It’s been an amazingly hot, dry growing season. Crop and forage production hasn’t been this severely curtailed over such a wide region of Western Canada since the drought of 1988. This extreme year generates some interesting observations and insights.

That bit of extra moisture Low spots in the field that held a bit of water in the spring, water runs, roadsides where the snow was a bit deeper – all show an amazing crop response from the little bit of extra soil moisture. When moisture is the limiting factor, an extra inch or even half an inch stored in the soil is a big deal. In a year like this, chem fallow fields can dramatically outshine continuously cropped ground. Even fields with taller standing stubble can show a response. On the other hand, fields where weeds were thick and herbicide application was a bit delayed can be ugly. The weeds stole some of the valuable soil moisture. In a more normal year, that wouldn’t have been such a big deal. It’s also a year where the crop varies dramatically based on where the showers landed. An extra half an inch of rain in a localized thunderstorm can make a big difference. 7


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Seeding date Where I farm in southwest Saskatchewan, I’ve come to believe that early seeded crops usually have the best yields. That may not be the case this year. Crops seeded before the end of April seemed to have a greater need for moisture when the first wave of extreme heat hit in early July. It was surprising to see how some of those crops dried or burned up while later seeded crops held on a bit better. As I write this, the weather forecast is more hot and dry, so it may not matter much in the end if a crop was seeded early or late.

Crop type In my area, some of the worst looking fields are cereal crops. Many canola crops that started out strong are now thin and suffering. Peas are short, but some still appear to have a bit of yield potential. I have durum side-by-side with canary seed and the fields were seeded one after the other. The durum is short and burned. The canary seed is thin and short, but hasn’t burned as badly. Canary seed is knows as a shallow rooted crop that doesn’t withstand drought very well, but I think it may end up outyielding the durum. For me, the biggest surprise is lentils. The lentil crops are not thick. In many cases, the rows haven’t completely closed. However, the crop has remained green when many others have burned and there appears to be a reasonable number of pods. Lentils like a bit of drought stress to set seed, but I’m surprised at their resilience. Harvest will tell the tale on whether the appearance actually translates into yield.

Crop Insurance Crop insurance in all three Prairie provinces will be making huge yield loss payments. Fortunately, they have all built healthy surpluses to draw upon. A significant percentage of grain producers don’t enrol in crop insurance saying the yield guarantees are too low and they never collect. One shouldn’t say “never.” Certainly, some producers have the ability to self-insure and avoid paying premiums. However, over the long term, for a majority of farms, crop insurance is likely to be a paying proposition. That’s because governments subsidize half the premium cost of crop insurance and they pay all the administrative costs. Yield coverage is based on your own yield history. Like any insurance, it’s best if you never have to collect. However, in a disaster year like this one, crop insurance support will be vital for many operations.

As an industry, we have been getting cocky. We haven’t experienced a major, widespread crop disaster in a long time. Some producers claimed that with modern seeding practices and improved crop varieties we’d never see another drought disaster. Program changes to more easily allow the use of drought damaged crops for livestock feed are a logical policy response helping both grain and cattle producers.

Livestock feed supply A year like this proves how important it is for livestock producers to have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C to feed their animals. In my area, some producers rely on irrigation from the South Saskatchewan River to generate some of their feed supply. Unfortunately, much of the alfalfa winter killed. Then water levels were too low for the pump intake, so irrigation couldn’t proceed. Some could fall back on grazing corn. Late season precipitation might still generate decent corn production. Salvaging grain crops for green feed also became part of the solution for winter feed supply. Unfortunately, even with planning and innovation, many herds will need to be reduced.

Adjusted expectations The definition of a bad crop depends on where you farm. A 30 bushel per acre canola yield is a bad crop in areas that typically get 50 to 60 bushels. In non-traditional canola areas where drought is more common, 30 bushel canola is a pretty solid yield. This year, many producers would be thrilled if their canola ended up doing 30. As an industry, we have been getting cocky. We haven’t experienced a major, widespread crop disaster in a long time. Some producers claimed that with modern seeding practices and improved crop varieties we’d never see another drought disaster. News flash: Mother Nature bats last. 9


Brutal conditions challenge marketing ideas Well, I am sure you all have heard enough about the drought by now, but it will definitely be a big factor in the grain marketing world for some time yet. By the middle of July, major western Canadian grain growing regions were averaging over 40 per cent less than average precipitation, causing widespread concerns about Prairie crop production. To add to this, the northern U.S. growing region, as well as many agricultural areas around the world, also have experienced conditions detrimental to production volumes this year. 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 Yorkton, Sask., with his wife Jenn.

Marketing your crop in a year like this is a challenge. Finding the balance between taking advantage of record high prices, and managing risk by not overcommitting on contracts, can be very tricky. Finding companies or buyers that will work with you when there are issues is always a challenge. All too often, producers are put in a very tough spot when the crop does not turn out like expected, and then are hit with buyout costs from their buyer that make a bad situation even worse. It is very difficult to write a marketing article, when realistically, the best thing that producers can do right now is nothing. There is very little downside to the grain markets in the short-term, so holding off on more sales is the best recommendation I can give. Many producers are already contracted beyond what they will produce, which will put a lot of stress on everyone. One thing that this situation will encourage, is producers’ reluctance to forward contract in the future. While the memories of 2021 will linger for a very long time, what we need to remember is that forward selling at profitable levels is a good strategy that pays dividends more often than not. Going into harvest this year, producers can expect to see very aggressive pricing on grains for both old crop, and the new crop 2022/23 year. Buyers will be coming out swinging this coming winter as competition for acres will be fierce and everyone will be looking to replenish carryout stocks going forward. There will be good opportunities to lock in prices on all commodities, so there should be no need to stray too far from established rotations. It will be a somewhat unique year, as we expect all crops to experience bullish price trends. On the topic of rotations, we often see producers chasing high prices when one or two crops are in short supply. When this happens, as displayed in the feed barley market this year, we quickly can swing from short and bullish to long and bearish seemingly overnight. While this can work out quite well in the short-term, pushing your rotation too hard can also put you in a longer term problem with issues like resistant weeds or disease getting hold. Market conditions like we are seeing right now should allow producers to stick to rotations better, which is better for the land in the long-term. Until next time…



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Can agronomy push your canola yields to the max?

CCC’s program aims for 52 bushels an acre in next five years By Natalie Noble

In 2014, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) introduced Keep it Coming 2025. The 10-year strategic plan to meet global challenges and opportunities targets canola production of 26 million metric tonnes by 2025 at an average yield of 52 bushels per acre. If the numbers sound ambitious, farmers should know they are a response to global demands for heart-healthy canola oil and premium feed protein while increasing economic and environmental benefits for every acre. “We took it upon [ourselves] as an industry that we would meet that challenge in Canada,” says Curtis Rempel, CCC’s vice-president of crop production and innovation. The plan launched with benchmark yields at 31 bushels per acre while last year’s halfway mark averaged 40 to 42 bushels per acre. It’s sat there over the last three to five years in spite of challenges, including regional extremes of drought or moisture, yet leaves five years to gain 12 more bushels per acre. So, what’s next? Yield is, of course, determined by genetics, then environment and finally management. “You can’t control the environment but there are a number of management things you can do to help climate-proof your crop and optimize your genetics,” says Rempel. Canada’s canola hybrids have the genetics to reach the yields, Rempel says. “We’re not lacking in our genetic yield potential. Our companies have delivered in spades. Our next job is to look at what we can do from an agronomic standpoint to jump it up.” 12

To climb to 52 bushels by 2025, the CCC uses evidence-driven best management practices they break into four pillars. Stand establishment, fertility, integrated pest management (IPM) and harvest management each contribute 25 per cent towards yield. With canola, stand establishment repays a big bang for a farmer’s buck. It starts with the optimal variety for a field, not the entire farm. The next step, and the biggest driver of solid stand establishment, is seeding enough plants to reach that economically viable stand. Unlike large-seed crops like corn or soybeans with a seed-toplant ratio of one-to-one, canola does not achieve 100 per cent emergence. “For a whole host of reasons, with canola it’s been plant two to get one,” says Rempel. “We’ve been making some improvements and currently plant 1.75 seeds to get one plant. To get that optimal stand, you have to add some plants.” With seed being a significant portion of a farmer’s input costs, it’s no surprise some might balk at seeding extra. Using the CCC’s Canola Calculator, farmers explore the target plant density and seeding rate, with costs, for their farm’s individual field conditions. “Farmers will be able to see how money invested in planting enough seeds will pay back in yield,” says Rempel. “The calculator is unique because with canola there’s different seed sizes, different planters. It takes a lot of that guess work out so farmers can optimize their yields.” The road to good stand establishment starts with scouting to ensure emergence meets expectations. If it’s lacking, farmers can look back and troubleshoot. Once they get everything

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“Our mantra is increased yields, increased profitability, reduced production risk and increased sustainability. All of these must be met.” - Curtis Rempel honed in and know how their equipment is working, upkeep becomes a periodic re-check. Those who can spare the time can certainly do their own scouting, but there is something to be said for hiring a good agronomist to help out. “They have more time to do the detailed counts because the farmer is usually moving on to other management issues on the farm,” says Rempel. “Sometimes they’re bringing a really objective second set of eyes. [Farmers] should decide where to focus time and resources to and where dividends will be substantive.”

With seeding and fertility applications complete, it’s on to IPM. Scouting is once again the key. As a tool, it’s the rear-view mirror that ensures farmers move forward in the right direction. IPM is also one place where investing in a professional agronomist to conduct disease assessments may pay off. Bumping yields through IPM boils down to understanding specifically where losses are coming from. Further research is underway to better understand the agronomic thresholds for certain canola pests but in most cases there are solid thresholds available. Rempel warns against conducting pre-emptive insecticide applications. Instead, time and money are conserved through proper scouting to first determine whether insect populations are at or near threshold levels. To stay on top of IPM, many farmers use their calendars to create good scouting routines. For example, Rempel says, “I know I’ve got to look out for flea beetles right behind my planter, sclerotinia when plants are flowering and blackleg during the one- to four-week stage right after planting.”

With stand establishment addressed, farmers can focus on fertility which inevitably raises the topic of 4-R management. As an organization, CCC has a unique focus. “For us, 4-R is not sustainability first,” says Rempel. “4-R is proven by worldwide research to increase profitability and reduce risk. That’s our lead. If you get other incomes that’s great.”

As the season moves to an end, harvest losses can largely contribute to lower yields. Prairie farmers are no strangers to recent years’ high wind trends and pod-shatter concerns. To swath or straight cut becomes the question. The CCC advocates straight cutting to minimize yield loss with one less pass over the field, saving time and energy.

When managing fertility, yield targets and plans should again be set according to field, versus the entire farm. These are based on past experience, such as yield monitor data, but should also include soil testing and consider the realistic yield for the growing area. Farmers can then infuse their genetics around that real expectation and fertilize accordingly.

They’re also working with equipment manufacturers, the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) and other researchers to address harvest loss. Historically, combines and harvest equipment have globally focused on the large seeds of the major world crops such as corn, soybean and wheat. This leaves farmers adapting machinery designed for large seed to very small canola seed while manufacturers work to improve their options.

Starting with a solid base of what the field’s fertility looks like off the start is a must for farmers to effectively continue. Rempel also says, controversial or not, canola requires adequate nitrogen for its oil, protein levels and maximum yield. “There are a number of growers who are under-fertilizing for their crop to get the yields they could be attaining,” he says. Still, “In this day and age, we need to be cautious.”

In the meantime, understanding and properly using combine settings avoids seed loss and pod-shatter shelled out the back of the combine. “If we’re looking for a three bushel per acre gain with our harvest management, we can easily be losing three bushels out the back of the combine,” says Rempel.

He suggests farmers soil test, consider their historical yields and visit regional data from other sources such as a crop insurance provider to understand their reality before assuming they’re under-fertilizing. They can then come up with a stronger fertility game plan.

The CCC’s online Combine Optimization Tool assists farmers to determine what losses they’re experiencing and how to set their combine, especially once temperatures drop and relative humidity increases. He also encourages farmers to check their drop pans more often to effectively calculate loss.

Wherever possible, farmers should be thinking of more than just one blend for the farm or, at the very least, use a canolaspecific blend. “If you have the logistics and time to do this by field, that’s ultimate,” says Rempel.

Finally, Rempel says the demand-based strategy for 52 bushels per acre is not yield at all costs. “Our mantra is increased yields, increased profitability, reduced production risk and increased sustainability. All of these must be met.”



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the call of corn

Better genetics see corn acres expanding north and west By Natalie Noble

As the 2021 Prairie summer kicked off with a seemingly never-ending heatwave, one group of farmers felt a little less pressure. These are the farmers who’ve ventured into growing corn on farms at increasingly northern geographies as well as westward from Manitoba where corn was historically not well-suited. In recent years, corn acres have expanded into new geography and acreage across the Prairies, growing by more than 50 per cent between 2015 and 2019. Kirriemuir, Alta., farmer Dallas Vert has absolutely noticed the growth in corn acres into east-central Alberta. “In our area, 10 years ago there were very minimal acres of corn. Today, almost every single rancher is growing some acres of corn. It’s pretty cool to see,” he says. Along with his wife Natasha Pospisil, Vert grows a total of 11,000 acres of wheat, peas, and canola, with approximately 600 to 800 of that dedicated to corn at their farm, Conquest Agro Services. The couple also own an independent farm supply retail outfit, Dryland Agro Services, providing a unique insight into farm trends in their area. “We’ve noticed this trend for corn acres growing farther north a lot on the retail end,” says Vert. “Rather than growing oats or barley for green feed, a 2,000-acre rancher can grow 500 to 600 acres of corn and that provides their entire year’s corn feed for their cattle. The rest of their acres can be seeded into cash crops.” Also working the area, Yvonne Sprangers, owner of YS Ag 16

Consulting, has seen the same. “Growing corn was fairly new for a lot of the clients I’ve been working with in the last few years,” she says. “I’ve noticed more people asking about it and more trying it out. There are also more field days in this area focusing on corn growing.” Because all this northern corn is destined to feed cattle, it’s typically grown by ranchers or nearby farmers who can sell it for feed. It’s certainly been a benefit for Craig Ference at Double F Farms, a family ag operation including 4,500-head of cow-calf, an 8,000-head feedlot, and 17,000 acres of cropland near Kirriemuir. Ference grows 4,000 acres of canola and 13,000 acres of corn. “We grow one crop per year with multiple end uses,” says Ference. “Because of the different heat units required for different varieties, we can grow anything from silage corn to earlage to grazing corn. We can start grazing our cattle as early as mid-August up until as late as April of the following year. We winter graze all our cows.” Growing feed corn over a crop like barley reaps more tonnage per acre and a higher quality feed. “If you get a five tonne corn crop, which is actually pretty poor in our area where we shoot for a 10-12 tonne corn crop, you might only get a three or four tonne wheat or barley silage crop,” says Vert. “There’s almost triple the feed value out of corn per acre yet it’s not costing three times as much to grow.”

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NEW ACRES | THE CALL OF CORN Also advantageous, these growers are not shipping their corn to sell it. “Farmers plant their corn in the fields close to the yard for silage to save trucking. For land that’s farther away from the yard, they’ll put in a couple hundred acres and graze it,” says Vert. “There’s no need to start the tractor every day in the winter.” While the benefits to swapping out some acres to corn are clear, it does come with its challenges. Because its northerly, as well as westerly, advancement is fairly new, there’s a steep learning curve attached. “It took us a few years to understand how you have to mitigate with corn and get on top of the spring,” says Vert. “We feel like we’re getting into the groove now after some time learning how to grow it.” These regions farther north offer beneficial rainfall, but they also bring shorter days growing seasons. It can be tough to balance out, but there’s one major plus. “We’re never short of heat and corn loves the heat,” says Vert. “During the [early summer heat wave] our canola was flowering and dropping its flowers off, but our corn was just loving it.” The farmers embracing this trend give credit to the excellent science and genetic advancements behind it. “Since we started growing corn about five to six years ago, the genetics have changed a lot,” says Ference. “The development of 1,800 heat unit corn has seen an exponential push into Western Canada and further north.” To put this in perspective, U.S. corn growing regions utilize 2,400-plus heat unit corn varieties and southern Alberta growers sit in the 2,300-to-2,400 heat unit range. “The further north you go, the lower the heat unit,” says Ference. “For our farm, 2,100 is an optimal heat unit. We also grow some 1,800 heat unit varieties so we can get a harvest in early.” Vert agrees. “Some farmers can now seed in late April or early May with certain varieties for silage and also seed latermaturing varieties to go towards a grazing corn,” he says. “You can really set up your silage and grazing plans through these different varieties available now.”

“It’s not for everybody. It’s a learning curve, it’s a fair amount of investment into it, the seed’s expensive, you either have to own a planter, rent one, or get it custom done. For people who want to grow corn on a barley budget it’s tough.” - Craig Ference as if the other plants are weeds. It takes a long time to fill in those rows, get some ground cover and be competitive.” After planting, weed control is critical, especially through the early growing stages. “If you let it go and the weeds get too infested, they’ll overtake the corn crop within two weeks,” says Vert. “Keeping the fields clean is a big hurdle in growing these corn acres. Down in high-corn acre regions like Iowa, you’ll see farmers really stay on the ball in keeping their fields clean.” While there are Roundup Ready corn varieties, there are limited products available for higher level weed control. Sprangers says Kochia has been causing increasing concern. “We’re running into glyphosate resistant kochia that’s been very difficult to get back out of some of these fields. When you’re growing corn-oncorn, your kochia levels can really build up,” she says. Corn is also expensive to grow in terms of seeding and input costs. “Per acre, seed costs are similar to canola, if not more and you need a really well-suited fertility package,” says Vert. Getting those fertility requirements to the corn can be a challenge. “A lot of planters can only hold a small amount of liquid to put down with the seed and lack the place to put granular fertilizer down with it,” says Sprangers.

These genetics have opened exciting opportunities, but new corn growers are still working to overcome some hurdles. For one, corn is not optimal for zero-till operations. “Corn likes warm, soft, tilled soils,” says Vert. “With zero-till corn where we go right in and don’t prework the soil, it doesn’t grow as well as pre-worked corn. A lot of famers spread fertilizer, work it in and then plant their corn right away into that freshly worked soil.”

Sprangers says many farmers enjoy the tonnage and silage value realized with corn and likely won’t return to barley. Others have tried it out of a year or two without anticipating its investment and have gone back to barley silage. “It’s not for everybody. It’s a learning curve, it’s a fair amount of investment into it, the seed’s expensive, you either have to own a planter, rent one, or get it custom done. For people who want to grow corn on a barley budget it’s tough,” she says.

It also requires careful seeding placement into moist soil for germination, typically at 1.5- to 2-inch depths. “It doesn’t tolerate cooler soils as would something like peas,” says Sprangers, adding that density is also important. “If it’s placed too close together and comes up unevenly, it will start to react

Still, there’s great potential in ROI when the right conditions are met. “You’re putting a lot more dollars forward initially but in a dry year like this one, an oat or barley might yield anywhere from a quarter to a third in terms of tonnage or feed benefits we’re seeing with corn at the end of harvest,” says Vert.


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Agri-Trade is back

Better genetics see corn acres expanding north and west

By Jaclyn Krymowski

After last year’s pandemic-induced hiatus, an anticipated 30,000-plus attendees look forward to the return of one of Western Canada’s premier agricultural shows—the Agri-Trade Equipment Expo in Red Deer, Alta., this Nov. 10-12. A partnership established in 1984, Agri-Trade is a joint venture of the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce and Westerner Park. With a typical gathering of about 500 different vendors, many consider it to be among the very best of both ag and equipment shows in all of North America. “Coming out after harvest, there’s also a social component to Agri-Trade,” the show’s manager Dave Fiddler tells Farming for Tomorrow. “A lot of people haven’t seen each other since before they started harvesting. It’s a great time for farmers to get together, chew the fat so to speak and catch up.”

Making a grand return Unlike many events from last year, Agri-Trade had approval from Alberta Health Services to proceed in 2020 using COVIDacceptable guidelines. However, Fiddlers says their exhibitors agreed it was still too risky to proceed. “In talking with[them], they felt the virtual [option] was not 20

the way to go,” he explains. “They’d rather be in person and face to face and the farmers we talked to felt the same way.” Enthusiastic about the 2021 return, some of their vendors carried forward their deposits to this year. Their eagerness is certainly well-founded. Fiddler says that they draw a wide array of individuals from throughout Western Canada in addition to a sizeable crowd from the U.S. “It’s a great place to exchange ideas, learn all about the new equipment and do business,” he says. “[That is] the focus of the show.” Between their hundreds of vendors and between 20 and 30 sponsors, Agri-Trade also has another claim to fame in being a significant contributor to the local economy. “We’re looking at $300 million in economic activity that’s generated from this show to the western Canadian economy each year,” says Fiddler. Another exciting component of the show is its display of the latest and greatest technology and innovations in the ag equipment space. New exhibitors to the show all go through a review process to ensure their contributions will be on par.


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“Farmers have an opportunity to talk about the guts of the machinery, and see how it all comes together.” - Dave Fiddler “We have a waiting list to get into the show each year,” notes Fiddler. “It’s a tough show to get into.”

Ag Innovations Between the flashy displays and exciting showcases, one tried-and-true event that many attendees look forward to each year is Agri-Trade’s award program, Ag Innovations. Between June 15 and Aug. 15, applications open for competitors to share their devices and products that can better help producers do their jobs. The award is open to all agriculture sectors all over the world. The five finalists are selected to compete live before a panel of judges at Agri-Trade for a $20,000 grand prize and a $5,000 “Farmer’s Choice Award” as voted on by the audience. In addition to submitting an online form, this year’s applicants are also required to send in a short video pitching their product or service to the judges.


“[Applications are] rolling in faster than they normally do,” says Fiddler. “There’s a number of different things that may be [entered]. It’s quite a fierce competition” He adds that their entries can range widely from up-andcoming manufacturers to major brands or even some small innovations born and crafted in someone’s farm shop. Essentially, their goal is to showcase and support ingenuity that will benefit farmers, marketers and all sectors of the agriculture industry. The Ag Innovations program is something that truly makes their show unique, Fiddler continues. It gives the manufacturers and innovators a chance to introduce their new ideas and specialists directly to the farmers. “Farmers have an opportunity to talk about the guts of the machinery and see how it all comes together,” he says.

“Focus on youth” Agri-Trade also offers bursaries for agriculture students for local colleges Red Deer College, Olds College and Lakeland College totaling $22,500. To further show support for youth, the event also offers free admission to 4-H members. This year’s exhibitor list and show layout can be found on Agri-Trade’s website. A show app will also soon be made available soon for attendees and vendors.


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GLASS Progressive farm continues to grow, diversify business ventures By Trevor Bacque Photography by Sarah B Groot Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes and primary agriculture is a hotbed for this practice. At Strathmore, Alta., the Hilton family has examined its origin to extend its heritage for yet another generation by once again changing the game. What began more than 100 years ago by English homesteaders has made quite a contribution to Canadian agriculture over the last century. The risk taking and adventurous nature of Gordon and Viola Hilton during the ‘50s through until the ‘90s saw the family farm achieve great success. However, it was one giant “gamble” in the ‘70s that truly paid dividends and altered the face of modern farming practices forever in Canada, and beyond. Regular trips down to the Lethbridge area to see what agricultural researcher Wayne Lindwall was up to had a tremendous impact in Gordon’s life and farming philosophy. Lindwall was trying out something many thought to be ridiculous. It was called no-till farming. Between the ‘30s and ‘70s they saw firsthand the devastation caused by erosion on their land north of Strathmore, and, while discouraged, they did not have a solution to combat the issue. That is, until they met Lindwall. 26


“He was researching no-till at a time when nobody wanted to know about no-till,” says Spencer Hilton, the 63-year-old son of Gordon and Viola. “He determined it was a good practice he wanted to research. Our father was one of the first to grow and promote soil conservation techniques.” With their outlier of a farm doing away with summerfallow in the mid-‘60s, Gordon began to modify existing equipment to adapt to his new system. In 1978, he helped established the Alberta No-Till Farmers Association-later renamed the Alberta Conservation Tillage Society-and served as its initial chair. Two years later he purchased a Pioneer No-Till seed drill from Palouse in Washington State. Gordon and a literal handfull other farmers across the Prairies adopted the techniques while scores more snickered. It didn’t take long for the returns to follow with the ability to manage more acres and have a greater volume of grain to sell throughout the year, especially at a time when virtually nobody else did such a thing. “Like many ideas, it starts with technology,” says Spencer. “It had then become not just an idea but the economics started to kick in as well. Then it’s economics and a good idea, then it becomes the norm. The paradigm has shifted and it’s now the norm.” In 1990, Gordon was inducted into the Soil Conservation Council of Canada’s hall of fame for his life’s work. It marked the first time a farmer had been inducted into the organization hallowed ranks. Fourteen years later he would be inducted into the Alberta Agriculture hall of fame for the same work.

A legacy of their own Today, the primary owner operators are Spencer, wife Lynne and their two sons Dane and Reid alongside Sterling and his wife Lianna. They grow a rotation of Prairie staples canola, milling wheat and malting barley across 16,000 acres of land.

The Origin Malting and Brewing Company began in 2017 as a way for the Hilton family to explore value-added options for their world-class malting barley. Initially slated to be a malthouse, the family decided to expand into a brewery and make a true grain to class connection for consumers. The Hiltons are one of 15 Prairie farm families that sell their barley directly to American brewery Lagunitas.

With the dissolution of the Wheat Board’s monopoly in 2012, new grain marketing opportunities were beginning to be spoken about, but few had concrete plans. The Hiltons always wanted to connect closer to end-users, but had never been given a look at doing so. By chance, an American brewer, Tony McGee of the famous Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, Calif., wanted to secure his malt supply while his brewery prepared for a massive expansion. He connected with his network to be introduced to the best malt growers in Alberta. It quickly led him to the Hiltons. “That ability to see behind the curtain and trying to find additional items that we could do on our farm with specialty 27


“There is real value for our farm to tell our story, especially when you see the local movement. We didn’t really know how valuable our malt barley in Western Canada was until these guys were praising ours compared to malts they’ve worked with in the past. That information to us was that we are sitting on some high-end products.” - Sterling Hilton contracts, that just opened up a whole new realm for our farm of wanting an ability to always be able to deal with people that want to use our products,” says Sterling, 48. “What that allowed us to do for our farm was to get comfortable with dealing with end users’ expectations and Lagunitas’ pinch points that were important to them.” McGee met a number of other farmers and at the end of the process a 15-member farmer cohort formed, dubbing themselves the Chinook Arch Growers. With 14 farmers in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan, this group of farmers negotiates price and term for malting barley direct with the brewery before it is then contracted to Rahr Malting to be malted - a very unique twist; even most direct models still go farmer-processor-end user. “There is real value for our farm to tell our story, especially when you see the local movement,” says Sterling of the craft beer boom across Canada. “We didn’t really know how valuable our malt barley in Western Canada was until these guys were praising ours compared to malts they’ve worked with in the past. That information to us was that we are sitting on some high-end products.” It made the Hiltons collectively ask themselves an important question, one that would take them down yet another path of diversification and financial sustainability for future generations. “Why not in our hometown?” says Spencer. “That whole Lagunitas allowed us to be more comfortable in looking at different opportunities at the farm level.” 28

Alberta agronomics The malting barley produced at the Hiltons’ farm performs well at a malthouse, earning top marks in both plumpness and extract consistency, two critical components for quality malting and brewing. What’s more is the farm’s elevation is a great asset. At about 3,000 feet above sea level, disease pressure is less than it is in many other parts of the Prairies. The elevation also means very cool nights even in the middle of summer, perfect for barley, a cool season crop that doesn’t thrive on excess moisture or heat. The family exclusively grows CDC Copeland, one of the stalwart malting varieties alongside AC Metcalfe. While certain producers opt to straight cut the barley in August and dry it down to spec, the Hiltons still prefer to swath and pick it all up at once after a uniform drying period, weather permitting. This year the Hiltons have faced a similar fate as many, though, due to the dreaded heat dome that ravaged most of the Prairies. Hot and dry weather means this was a down year no matter what metric was used. “We will be significantly down in terms of production, but we’re spread out,” says Spencer. “There are some areas that


Spencer and wife Lynne (seated) with sons Reid (far left) and Dane (centre) as well as Sterling (far right) and wife Lianna at the family farm near Strathmore, Alta.

will produce reasonably well and some won’t be very good at all. It will be close to half of average. This is the worst drought since the ‘30s.”

become involved, as well. Origin was a way for Sterling to keep his children interested in the family business, as well with one daughter still employed at the brewery.

They remain hopeful, however, to have enough for their Lagunitas contract and their own venture. As the experience with Lagunitas began to unfold, they thought there may be an opportunity at home to try something similar.

“They weren’t that interested in being part of the primary agricultural production, but the two of age have worked at Origin and that is what they are more excited about,” he says. “We look at it as diversification and still being involved in ag … doesn’t necessarily have to be in the seats of a tractor.”

Origin Malting and Brewing Five years ago, Spencer’s son-in-law Kyle Geeraert was working for a pulse trader when he came across equipment geared towards craft malting. After conversations with many family members, it was collectively decided that a malthouse and brewery were the natural choice to diversify income and business through the farm - connecting their barley fields to the taproom. “He took it from idea and did a lot of the work to make into a business,” says Sterling. The farm legacy continues through the brewery and malthouse, which has allowed for other family members to

After securing a building in Strathmore, equipment was installed and the malting and brewing process began in late 2017. The family just celebrated four years of business over the Heritage Day Long Weekend, which ties in with their local rodeo. They purposely chose the weekend to begin their value-added operation to bring together the community through farming. Today, the facility produces about 800 tonnes of malt per year and 2,000 hectolitres (200,000 litres) of beer, currently enough to satisfy demand, but the family knows that could easily grow - and they hope it does. They also supply more than 60 additional breweries of various 29

COVER STORY | RAISE A GLASS sizes with malt cooked to different specifications. They are now working on moving into B.C. as well as the United States. “That’s by design, as well,” says Sterling. “It’s a value-added opportunity, that structure and the production, to fulfil it at this time and our ability to source it back to where it came from.” Dane, 42, is part of the next generation and a licensed heavy-duty mechanic tasked with all logistical matters at the farm. He is excited about the future of all their ventures and knows that there is always room for something new, which motivates him to be one of the catalysts for continued improvement at the farm. “Growing up, you can see what grandpa and the prior generation did, opportunities for me or others to come back,” he says. “Besides just the farm, we always analyze each opportunity on its own merits. There are lots of opportunities.” He explains how the experience has been like no other so far, surpassing even his own expectations of what would be possible through a diversified operation. “We enjoyed the connection to end users, then to customer; that has been a real eye-opener,” he says. “We are not having traditional opportunities in the way of people buying food or

beer. It’s too far arm’s length away. We saw this opportunity with Origin, bringing this field-to-glass right to our hometown, but also to be able to connect with a bigger audience that would be coming from the urban populations. We talk to them about farming, new farming practices, sequestering carbon … we are actually part of the solution.” His younger brother Reid, 36, is a licensed pilot for Canadian North Airlines, who can always be found at the farm anytime he is grounded. The never-ending to-do list lets him come back and help virtually anytime, although it’s primarily seeding and harvest when he is most hands on. For Reid, he wanted to make sure Origin wouldn’t just be another place to swig a pint, but to be part of a larger story of agriculture and how vital it is, even for something as simple as a beer. “We did have such a great experience with Lagunitas and the ability to connect with the next step in the process,” he says, adding that the malthouse was a natural part of the equation because it’s the first step in value-added processing. “It’s a way to make it a unique experience, not just another brewery. Always having the idea that nothing is off the table, there’s a real open-mindedness, almost a feeling of anticipation. What’s around the corner next? It’s made it very interesting to be a part of.”

Left side: Sterling Hilton (back left) with brother Spencer and his sons Dane (foreground), Reid (middle left) and Sterling’s son-in-law Kyle Geeraert at the Origin Malting and Brewing taproom in Strathmore, Alta. 30

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Bayer is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Bayer products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Bayer’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. These products have been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from these products can only be® exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a Bayer is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship (ETS). Bayer products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Bayer’s Policy for violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. These products have been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material purchaser to confirm their buying position for these products. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship. produced from these products can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move ® ® ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOWmaterial PESTICIDE DIRECTIONS. Roundup 2 Yield Technology contains genes confer tolerance glyphosate. Roundup Ready containingLABEL biotech traits across boundaries into nationsReady where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grainthat handler or product purchaser to to confirm their buying position for these products.2 Xtend soybeans contains genes that confer tolerance to® isglyphosate and dicamba. will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Dicamba will kill crops that are not tolerant Excellence Through Stewardship a registered trademark of ExcellenceGlyphosate Through Stewardship. to dicamba. Contact your local crop protection dealer or call the technical support line at 1 888-283-6847 for recommended Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System weed control programs. ® FOLLOW PESTICIDE ® Ready® Technology contains genes®that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. ALWAYS READ AND LABELReady DIRECTIONS. Roundup Bayer, Bayer Cross, DEKALB and Design , DEKALB®, Roundup 2 Xtend and Roundup Ready 2 Yield are trademarks of Bayer Group. Bayer CropScience Inc. is a member of CropLife Bayer Cross, Roundup Ready® and TruFlex™ are trademarks of Bayer Group. Used under license. ©2021 Bayer Group. All rights reserved. Canada. ©2021 Bayer Group.Bayer, All rights reserved.


Can you make the drought work for you? As we go through this summer of 2021, most of us are hit with record heat and very little rain fall. The main topic of conversation and concern with producers is this drought we are facing. Working with my consulting clients as well as my Global Ag Risk clients, I see a varying impact to each. The biggest difference is between grain producers and livestock operations. Paul Kuntz Paul Kuntz is the owner of Wheatland Financial. He offers financial consulting and debt broker services. Kuntz is also an advisor with Global Ag Risk Solutions. He can be reached through

For grain producers, the drought has an impact. It dramatically lowers the potential revenue of the crop. The inputs have mostly been placed and the money spent. The equipment payments have to be made. The mortgages, land rent, and property taxes all need to come from a smaller crop. Grain producers need assurances that money will be available. The insurance products available to grain producers do provide what is needed. Regardless if it is your provincial crop insurance, Global Ag Risk, Just Solutions or AgriStability, in the event that production falls below the selected level, the producer will receive cash. With provincial crop insurance, the threshold is only yield. With the other products that are revenue based, the price of the commodity comes into play as well. Regardless, there is a measurable level that a grain producer can see and manage around. If the drought causes their farm to lose money, these insurance products pay you money. You may argue that it is not enough cash, but the fact remains that it is cash that is required. If the production issues like a drought are widespread, there will most likely be an upswing in commodity prices. This does not always happen, but it is happening in 2021. As a comparison, the price of canola for July 2020 as well as new crop canola two months after that was both $10.20.


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A drought for a livestock producer is not the same. The production of the livestock has happened. The breeding herd is there and so are the babies. They now need to be fed. The price for canola for July 2021 is $19 and new crop canola (October 2021) is $20. So, when a widespread peril affects grain production, it will increase the prices most likely. This gives the producer an opportunity to make up for some of the losses and recoup some cash. A canola grower can literally grow half a crop in 2021 and receive the same revenue as they did with an average crop in 2020. A drought for a livestock producer is not the same. The production of the livestock has happened. The breeding herd is there and so are the babies. They now need to be fed. From the time frame of May 1 to Nov. 1, the livestock producer needs moisture to produce feed for the animals for that time frame, plus grow enough feed so that they can put up in a proper fashion to feed from Nov. 1 to May 1. If that feed does not grow, not only does it impact the producer right now as they have no feed, but it will continue to affect them for the next year. If the drought is widespread, obtaining feed can be an issue. Also, the form that it is available in can be logistically challenging. If you typically feed sileage and you have no feed, you will not be hauling sileage to your farm from hundreds of kilometres away. You will most likely be getting bales. You will have to alter your feeding systems. From a transportation perspective, large square bales are the most cost effective for trucking. Most producers do not feed large square bales so that


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FARMING YOUR MONEY | CAN YOU MAKE THE DROUGHT WORK FOR YOU? becomes a challenge if you need to use that type of feed. By far the biggest issue with purchasing hay is trucking. Regardless of the type of bale, it is still expensive to transport hay. Hay is logistically challenged. It is not like grain. We can basically move grain all over the world and make it work out. Hay needs to be closer in distance than grain to make it feasible. If there is a drought that is affecting a large number of livestock producers, the price of that livestock will not increase. There is a chance it will decrease. Unlike the grain farm that experiences a drought, the livestock farm still has the commodity production. The breeding animals and market animals are still there. The shortage is not in the animals, it is the shortage of feed. Whereas a grain producer experiencing drought actually produces less of the commodity. So, if the livestock producer is forced to sell market animals earlier than planned, or if they have to liquidate breeding animals, there will not be a bump in prices. Most likely the market will be under pressure and return less money. There are insurance programs available province to province but they are not as applicable as the grain grower’s insurance. If a livestock producer needs pasture for their animals, receiving a cheque is not going to solve that problem. That producer needs grass. If their farm does not have grass nor does any

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Drought for a livestock producer will have financial implications so cash will be beneficial. The problem is that the implications run much deeper than money. It is the health and wellbeing of the animals that is the main concern for the livestock producer. neighbouring farm, money will not fix this problem. In Saskatchewan we have a rainfall insurance program to cover pastures offered through the provincial crop insurance office. Based on a number of formulas and the product you chose, you can receive money in the event that there is less rain than normal. The program ends in August and after all calculations are done, if you qualify for a payment, you will receive a cheque in September. If it is the first week in July and you have no grass, a cheque in September is for sure not going to help you. There is also a forage and green feed program that will guarantee certain tonnages. If you do not achieve that, you can receive a payment. Again, this may not help if there is not feed to purchase in a reasonable geographic area. Both of these programs are better than nothing, but they still fall short of reducing the stress of a livestock producer. The best example I can give of the stress level difference between grain producers and livestock producers is the ramifications: If you have 31 million canola plants (roughly the number of plants on a regular quarter section) die because they had no water and therefore no food, you will receive some insurance money and some sympathy from your neighbours. If you had 25 cows (roughly the number of cows you put on a quarter section) die because they had no food, you would not get any insurance and you could go to jail. You will definitely have fines to pay and you may be banned from owning livestock. I do not have any recommendations to fix this issue for livestock producers. Government and insurance companies can only offer one thing and that is money. Drought for a livestock producer will have financial implications so cash will be beneficial. The problem is that the implications run much deeper than money. It is the health and wellbeing of the animals that is the main concern for the livestock producer. Adequate moisture for all is the answer. Grain and livestock producers both need moisture to make it all work. All we can do hope that we get it when it is needed.



Assessing the Critical Weed Free Period of Canola The optimum timing of weed removal in many crops has been studied extensively and is often defined by the critical weed free period. In a study conducted by Steven G. Martin and others in southern Manitoba in 1998 and 1999, weeds needed to be removed by the four-leaf stage of the crop (which ranged from 17 - 38 days after emergence) to prevent more than a 10 per cent yield loss due to weeds. Tammy Jones B.Sc., P.Ag Tammy Jones completed her B.Sc. in crop protection at the University of Manitoba. She has more than 15 years of experience in the crops industry in Manitoba and Alberta, with a focus on agronomy. Tammy lives near Carman, Man., and spends her time scouting for weeds and working with cattle at the family farm in Napinka.

Another often cited canola study estimated that the yield impact of one weed emerging a week before the canola is equivalent to that of 100 weeds emerging three weeks after the canola. The Canola Council of Canada agrees that early weed control is important for canola profitability. Weeds present prior to crop emergence typically grow quickly without that crop competition, using precious soil moisture and nutrients. Waiting until the crop has emerged to control weeds usually means that the weeds are more difficult to control because they are larger, more mature and possibly hardened off in cool or dry growing conditions. In addition, crop tolerance to early herbicide applications can be variable. Additionally, perennial and winter annual weeds may already be blooming at the time of a herbicide application, so not only are they difficult to control, but it may be too late to prevent seed set or spread through roots and rhizomes. The general consensus of these studies is that a small number of weeds - even just a few per square foot - emerging before or with the crop can be much more damaging to yield potential than a larger number of weeds flushing later. But frequently, the initial instinct is to skip a pre-seed herbicide application because there don’t appear to be that many weeds growing. 37


Pre-Seed Herbicide Only

In-Crop Herbicide Only

This is food for thought as we assess the past year’s challenges and begin to plan for next year. Whether moisture or nutrients are limiting, or conditions are ideal, the presence of weeds has a big impact on crop emergence as well as yield potential.

The lack of plant stand, due to weed interference at the time of crop emergence, did not recover after the weeds were removed. While some new canola plants did emerge and attempt to establish in the voids, this meant unevenness in the crop stand. Weed control was also more challenging without crop competition. Often, higher seeding rates are suggested to provide increased crop competition resulting in less weed pressure. This demonstration flips that suggestion around and suggests that pre-emergence weed removal will allow for more optimal crop emergence that results in better crop competition and more optimal yields.

In a demonstration that has been repeated over years, and also with different herbicide tolerant canola systems, annual weeds resulted in lower yield potential by competition for light, water and nutrient resources as well as the number of plants per square foot. In Figure one, we see a demonstration of a pre-seed herbicide that was applied on the left side of the plot, while no pre-seed herbicide was applied to the right. Canola was seeded into the entire block. No in-crop herbicide was applied to the back half of the plot, while an appropriate herbicide was applied to the front half of the plot, at a somewhat late application date based on weed staging, but only 27 days after planting and approximately 21 days after crop emergence, when the canola was in the 4-leaf stage (as studies had suggested was critical for weed removal). 38

Increasing seeding rates have a cost associated. Based on the average yearly price as summarized by Ryan Furtas, a market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry in 2020, increasing the seeding rate by one pound per acre would cost between $12 to $14/acre. That would be a similar cost to many pre-seed herbicides that can provide an opportunity for optimal stand establishment. Also, in areas where there isn’t high weed pressure the increased seeding rates will result in a very thick crop canopy which can result in spindly, weak plants if resources are limiting or disease issues if the crop stand is too lush. This is food for thought as we assess the past year’s challenges and begin to plan for next year. Whether moisture or nutrients are limiting, or conditions are ideal, the presence of weeds has a big impact on crop emergence as well as yield potential. A critical assessment of early weed removal, even before planting, may provide more return on investment than increasing inputs or at the very least minimize the investments necessary to establish a competitive crop. An ounce of prevention really is worth more than a pound of cure.

Farmers! Got unwanted pesticides or livestock/ equine medications? Cleanfarms 2021 Unwanted Pesticides & Old Livestock/Equine Medications Collection Safely dispose of unwanted or obsolete agricultural pesticides and livestock/equine medications – no charge! For information on what is and is not accepted, click on the QR code. Take them to the following locations on the dates noted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Northern Saskatchewan

Southern Alberta

October 4 to 8

October 25 to 29

CARROT RIVER Tuesday, Oct. 5 Richardson Pioneer 306-768-8084 HUMBOLDT Thursday, Oct. 7 Humboldt Co-op 306-231-5915 LEADER Friday, Oct. 8 G-Mac’s Ag Team Inc. 306-628-3886 LIBERTY Friday, Oct. 8 Nutrien Ag Solutions Craik 306-847-2040 LLOYDMINSTER Tuesday, Oct. 5 Veikle Agro (Lloyd) Inc. 306-398-7516 LUSELAND Wednesday, Oct. 6 Rack Petroleum 306-372-4411 MEADOW LAKE Thursday, Oct. 7 Meadow Lake Co-op Service Center 306-236-3644

MELFORT Monday, Oct. 4 Paragon Ag Services Ltd. 306-752-3343

SASKATOON Friday, Oct. 8 Saskatoon Co-op Agro Centre 306-933-3836

BROOKS Thursday, Oct. 28 Nutrien Ag Solutions Brooks 403-362-2072

NOKOMIS Thursday, Oct. 7 Richardson Pioneer Nokomis 306-528-4484

SHELLBROOK Tuesday, Oct. 5 Lake Country Co-operative Association Limited 306-714-7803

CARSELAND Friday, Oct. 29 Richardson Pioneer 403-934-9267

NORQUAY Tuesday, Oct. 5 Norquay Co-operative 306-594-2215

SPIRITWOOD Wednesday, Oct. 6 G-Mac’s Ag Team Inc. 306-883-2476

NORTH BATTLEFORD Friday, Oct. 8 Battleford Co-op Farm Supply 306-445-9457

UNITY Monday, Oct. 4 Unity Cargill 306-228-4144

PRAIRIE RIVER Wednesday, Oct. 6 Nutrien Ag Solutions Prairie River 306-889-2172

WYNYARD Monday, Oct. 4 Cargill Ltd. 306-554-2244 YORKTON Wednesday, Oct. 6 Richardson Pioneer Yorkton 306-786-5647

ROSETOWN Thursday, Oct. 7 G-Macs AgTeam Inc. 306-882-2600 ROSTHERN Monday, Oct. 4 Blair’s Fertilizer 306-232-4223

CARSTAIRS Friday, Oct. 29 CORE Ag Inputs Carstairs 403-940-0472 CASTOR Thursday, Oct. 28 Meadowland Ag Chem Ltd. 403-882-2490 CLARESHOLM Tuesday, Oct. 26 UFA Claresholm Farm Store 403-625-3337 DRUMHELLER Friday, Oct. 29 Kneehill Soil Services Ltd. 403-823-4600 ENCHANT Wednesday, Oct. 27 Nutrien Ag Solutions Enchant 403-739-2012

FOREMOST Wednesday, Oct. 27 South Country Co-op 403-867-3200 HANNA Monday, Oct. 25 Fox Lake Agro Services Ltd. 403-854-2820 HIGH RIVER Monday, Oct. 25 South Country Co-op 403-652-4143 HUSSAR Monday, Oct. 25 Richardson Pioneer Hussar 403-787-3931 MAGRATH Friday, Oct. 29 Richardson Pioneer Magrath 403-758-3162 MEDICINE HAT Tuesday, Oct. 26 Nutrien Ag Solutions Medicine Hat 403-526-9499 MILK RIVER Thursday, Oct. 28 Parrish and Heimbecker 403-647-3633

Next Cleanfarms collection in this area in fall 2024 • COVID social distancing measures may be in place For collection dates elsewhere on the Prairies, go to:



OLDS Thursday, Oct. 28 Richardson Pioneer Olds 403-556-6606 OYEN Tuesday, Oct. 26 UFA Oyen Farm Store 403-664-3611 RED DEER COUNTY Wednesday, Oct. 27 Central Alberta Coop Innisfail Agro 403-227-3466 TABER Monday, Oct. 25 Taber Home & Farm Centre 403-223-8948 THREE HILLS Tuesday, Oct. 26 Kneehill Soil Services Ltd. TH 403-443-2355 VETERAN Wednesday, Oct. 27 Richardson Pioneer 403-575-4600


Cross Pollinating in the Spraying Industry By Tom Wolf

When our kids were little and started school, we would sometimes talk about our expectations for this big part of their lives. It was during those conversations that I boiled down my hope for them into two main goals: That the school system would encourage their natural curiosity so they can become lifelong learners, and that they develop an interest in travelling to expose themselves to other cultures, their challenges, ways of thinking and values. The second one seemed more important, because I knew from my own experience how transforming it can be to see the world through a different set of eyes. Eventually, most people and businesses settle into a comfortable culture of their own making. They get used to things being a certain way and commit more to this way over time. Eventually, change becomes difficult and carries a certain cost, and the inclination is to avoid that cost. Often a crisis is the only thing that can truly generate change. Travel is just one of the ways businesses can use new ideas to cross-pollinate their operations, generating some sort of hybrid vigour that improves how they operate or what products they develop. In agriculture, visiting a different farm is one of the most effective cross-pollinators. Seeing how others do things can generate a lot of creativity. Stepping out of one’s own “culture” can unleash a new efficiency.

The Stara from Brazil offers a dry hopper and pneumatic delivery as well as centre-mounted booms, extending the utility of the tractor unit.

While on the topic of overseas sprayers, we often see diaphragm pumps on these. These pumps are larger, heavier, and louder, but they don’t need priming and can therefore sit above the tank sump, they can run dry, generate higher pressures and they can pump air. They do need more maintenance, pulsation damping, and pressure relief bypass. In an effort to capture the advantages of both, the Fendt Rogator sprayer uses a clever water reservoir on its centrifugal pump to keep seals wet, removing one of the worries. We need continuing innovation in pumps to give us the best of both worlds.

That’s why it ‘s interesting to look at sprayers from abroad or from other ag sectors to see what their design culture has settled on. Let’s look at a few.

Learning from Overseas Sprayers South America has its own domestic sprayer manufacturing sector. One of their brands, Stara, mounts the sprayer booms in the middle of the frame, halfway between the front and rear axles. This minimizes the impact of rough ground just like a walking beam axle does. They also offer an optional dry hopper with spinner or air delivery system in addition to the liquid tank. While the capacity wouldn’t be enough for large-scale top dressing, it very well could fit the bill for dry pesticide products and allows use of same wheel tracks. Stara suggests the pneumatic boom to broadcast cover crops. 40

Is a diaphragm pump better than its centrifugal cousin? A design that merges the best of both worlds would be welcome.


Learning from other ag sectors We can learn from the aerial business as well. They’ve long advocated for low water volumes, mostly necessitated by smaller hoppers and long ferrying distances. As a result, operators have paid close attention to the droplet size distribution, keen to avoid waste in larger droplets. The rotary atomizers now quite common or aircraft do a good job to eliminate these large droplets while at the same time avoiding the smallest droplets. Hydraulic nozzles on ground sprayers tend to produce both larger and finer droplets, and this makes it harder to obtain good coverage and avoid drift simultaneously. Efforts to place rotary atomizers on ground sprayers stopped in the ‘80s simply due to engineering constraints (rotary atomizers produce very wide spray swaths) and some marketing errors (promise of lower volumes and reduced rates raised concerns about product performance). But the more important contribution has been aerodynamic in nature. Aircraft use foil-shaped booms, customized nozzle spacings and modified wing tips to minimize and counteract turbulent air that can displace the spray plume before it hits the target. We are still working these details out for ground sprayers as they travel faster and faster.

Rotary atomizers produce more uniform droplet sizes, and foil-shaped booms reduce aerodynamic turbulence on aircraft.

We can perhaps learn the most from orchard airblast sprays. When the target is a tree, its shape and size matter. Sprayers need to be adjusted so that the emitted spray plume matches the canopy, a concept known as Crop Adapted Spraying (CAS) that has been advocated for by my partner at Sprayers101, Jason Deveau. Air assist is a key component. The goal is to deliver the right amount of air to maximize deposition on targets in the canopy. Too little air, and the spray may not get




SPRAYING 101 | CROSS POLLINATING IN THE SPRAYING INDUSTRY there, or deposit only on the outermost layer near the sprayer. Too much air, and the spray blows right through or causes the leaves to streamline, reducing capture efficiency. And of course, sensors that turn certain nozzles off when encountering smaller trees, or when there is a gap between trees, are part of the approach. Operators don’t just calibrate for nozzle flow, they calibrate for canopy condition.

Starting from Scratch Adjusting airblast strength and application volume to conform to target size makes more efficient use of water and product. Images courtesy of Jason Deveau.

Taking Advantage of Machine Learning In boom sprays, the targets are much smaller than in the orchard industry. But the CAS concept, including air assist, can help deliver more spray without drift and can improve its deposition there as well. Air simply needs to be implemented and made easily adjustable to suit the canopy. The current focus on machine learning may be useful in characterizing the canopy density and then setting the air and liquid flow accordingly. It doesn’t just have to be on or off. Machine learning can also be used to solve other sprayer problems. We’ve long struggled to get level, low booms. Since the average sprayer treats the same field many times during its life, perhaps it can learn from its topography. What if the auto-boom systems georeferenced and recorded their actual boom position and settings over a field? Then the next time, the system could anticipate the terrain challenge and become better at correcting it.

Over time, farm equipment becomes more and more complex. Features are added to solve certain problems. Before long, we have machines that are heavy, expensive, and difficult to diagnose and repair. What if we started from scratch? In sprayer construction, there are relatively few new entries. But looking back in time, it was often the startups that delivered something simple and fresh. Look at the Spra-Coupe. It addressed a regional need for a light, productive unit and had a lasting impact. Western Canadian sprayer manufacturers brought shrouded booms to the market, a highly successful innovation. As I look at the current situation, I see local startups like Precision AI seek to revolutionize weed detection, or Crop Pro Consulting do the same for site-specific mapping, not just for crop growth potential, but also for weeds. Pattison Liquid Systems has entered the sprayer manufacturing arena with its Sniper pull-type. As a fresh design concept, they focused on the important parts, a great boom, recirculating plumbing, and continuous cleanout, matched to a PWM delivery system with optional weed detection. Not encumbered by the burden of incremental increases in complexity, the sprayer remains simple yet does the important things well.




Long distance farming the latest trend in land expansion

For southern Alberta farmers, land availability and cost were main drivers for buying land out of province By Natalie Noble

It wasn’t that long ago that expanding farmland meant getting By Natalie Noble the inside track on a neighbour’s plan to sell land close to yours. At most, it might have been a parcel a few minutes or a half hour down the road. Either way, farmers, families, employees and equipment were rarely very far from home. That still happens, of course, but times are changing. Realtors specializing in farmland say many are buying second and even third “bases” hundreds of kilometres away, often in other provinces. “I believe it’s becoming a trend,” says Ted Cawkwell, an ag-focused realtor for RE/MAX in Saskatoon, Sask. There are a number of reasons for this, but for Mike Hubbard, a Lethbridge, Alta., farmer who works alongside brothers Steve and Aubey, the biggest reason came down to land availability and price. This year marks the 12th growing season the Hubbards have concurrently managed their southern Alberta acres with a large parcel of land about 435 kilometres away in southwest Saskatchewan. And they don’t just own the land, they actively operate it using their existing equipment. “The main factor that caused us to buy out there was the availability of land,” says Mike Hubbard. “In southern Alberta competition for land is really high. It’s really hard to even come across a listing. But out [in

southwest Saskatchewan] we were able to buy a big package of land at a fraction of the price it was at home.” Hubbard’s case is not unusual, says Cawkwell. “The size of farms are expanding at quite an impressive rate. It’s become increasingly more challenging for farms to expand in their local area so the aggressive farmers are willing to move to a second or even a third or more base … just so they can continue expanding their operations.” Although the factors creating this trend have the potential to frustrate some farmers, Cawkwell says it’s part of the ongoing evolution of agriculture. “I don’t think it’s anything that can be stopped. It’ll have pros and cons but it’s just part of the evolution,” he says.

Simple rotations cut costs Hubbard and his brothers have figured out a back-and-forth system in which the southern Alberta land is seeded, then the same is done in Frenchville, Sask. Harvest happens first in Alberta followed again by another four-and-a-half hour trek in Saskatchewan. Chinooks in the Lethbridge area typically offer an earlyseeding advantage that usually translates to an earlier harvest. That’s why the southern Alberta acres are almost always seeded first. 43


Back to their Roots, Again

Darren Sander Farmland Real Estate welcomes the family’s fifth generation into Canadian agri-business as Darren’s son Tyler comes aboard By Natalie Noble Canadians and people around the world are catching on to “Canada’s best kept secret,” according to Darren Sander, Saskatoon-based farmland realtor. “We have the most undervalued land in the country here in Saskatchewan, but we’re now on the radar. It’s one of the reasons our sales here have been so active.” says Darren. “It’s a great place to live, raise a family and you can’t beat the people here.” Darren, born and raised on his family’s Wilkie, Sask. farm, is the fourth generation of Sanders to work in agriculture. This year, he officially welcomes the family’s fifth generation into an ag-based business as his son Tyler, also a realtor, joins Darren Sander Farmland Real Estate. The Sanders hold a special place in their hearts for what farmers go through when they sell their land. “When you come to someone’s door to sell their farm, it’s different than selling a home,” says Darren. “You’re selling someone’s life’s work, likely generations of it. It doesn’t matter if we’re selling five or 50 quarters, it’s always an emotional journey.” 44

“You’re selling someone’s life’s work, likely generations of it. It doesn’t matter if we’re selling five or 50 quarters, it’s always an emotional journey.” - Darren Sander When Darren’s parents moved the family to Saskatoon as he started sixth grade, his father commuted to run the farm in the summers. “It’s funny, when we started operating my custom harvesting business in 1990, my life mirrored that again,” says Darren. “We’d be somewhere across Canada and the U.S., all the way down into Texas harvesting crops for farmers throughout the summer, spending winters in the city.”

ADVERTORIAL | REMAX Darren, his wife and their three children would travel to each farm staying in a 40ft. RV, bringing tractors, grain carts and running four-to-six combines as a support network for each client’s harvest. “We harvested close to a million acres over those 17 years. We saw a lot of land and dealt with a lot of farmers,” says Darren. Tyler and his sisters learned the value of hard work by spending time on various north American farms until Darren exited custom harvesting in 2007. “When I stopped, I found working those farms was not just what I did, it’s who I am,” says Darren. “That’s what led me back into the industry and selling farmland. It felt like I’d taken a 17-year intensive course on farmland and I missed dealing with farmers.” Shifting into farmland real estate, Darren had already built a strong network of farm contacts and feels fortunate to have sold a lot of land on behalf his valued farm clients, small and large. His biggest buyer group includes farmers already operating near the sale property or those relocating to set up a new farm. He’s also dealt with investors and out of province buyers. “We just sold a 5,000-acre tract of land in Watson, Sask. to a large investor in Ontario looking to expand their land base,” says Darren. “We completed a very large farm sale for a South African client a couple of years ago. We’ve been fortunate to have some great success, but it all goes back to dealing with farmers.” Tyler also brings that love of farming and his dad’s work ethic to the business. “I grew up seeing my dad get up for combining at six a.m. and running until two a.m. I thought that was the norm and how everyone worked,” says Tyler. “We learned early to value our friendships within our family and all the farm families we were working with.”

Tyler also brings a residential real estate focus in addition to farmland transactions. “Working beside my dad again is going to be awesome,” he says. “All of the knowledge we have built up from our family’s experience and history in farming, we’re excited to put it to good use and see what the future holds for us.”

It’s certainly rubbed off on the Sander kids. Tyler ran combine from ages 11-to-15 and loved spending time with farmers. After high school he worked construction and then in the trades for several years. “I enjoyed being outside, but I didn’t feel this work was my long-term career,” he says. “I realized I wanted a real estate career where I could sell farmland. I completed my course and earned my license while working full time.”

It’s another full-circle shift for the Sander family. “Here we are, back to dealing with farmers,” says Darren. “We understand their challenges and pressures. We’ve been able to execute their sales or find farms that are a great fit for them. Building these strong relationships is what we love to do.”

Tyler’s presence opens new doors including a larger focus on technology and digital marketing, something Darren’s never needed to lean into thanks to his existing network. “I’m planning to capture a lot of our work and what these farmers have built on film. We’d like to provide this back to the farmers we work with,” says Tyler. “I’ll also be posting this content on our social media.

Farm Land Sales Specialist REMAX Saskatoon P: (306) 291 8944 E: W:

Darren Sander

Tyler Sander

Realtor REMAX Saskatoon P: (306) 291 2788 E: W:


LAND DEVELOPMENT | LONG DISTANCE FARMING THE LATEST TREND IN LAND EXPANSION Keeping rotations simple helps keep operations efficient and timely, says Hubbard. He keeps the expected maturity of his crops in mind before seeding and plans rotations accordingly to minimize travel between the two locations. This means whole crops are planted in one region rather than dividing them between the Alberta and Saskatchewan parcels. “We don’t want to get caught where we got stuff ready to [harvest] here and in Saskatchewan at the same time,” he says.

Using existing equipment creates efficiency Moving equipment is a process Hubbard admits is tough for everyone involved. But even the cost of transportation still beats the expense of buying a new fleet of equipment for his second base. And using all of his equipment on both farms keeps his farm machinery active rather than sitting in a farmyard. “Most years you can maximize your equipment and you don’t have equipment sitting out there not being used when you have work to do here and vice versa,” he says. Ted Cawkwell, an ag-focused realtor for RE/MAX in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, says the lack of availability and high prices are causing more and more farmers to look hundreds of kilometres away for opportunities to expand. Photo by Collin Unger

This strategy is not unusual for farmers in Hubbard’s position and makes sense from an efficiency perspective, says Cawkwell. “They get more hours on the machines they have which reduces their overall cost per acre, making the operations more profitable,” he says.

Lease? It’s not that simple Hubbard says leasing the Saskatchewan land isn’t really an option for the brothers at this point. It’s a matter of simple economics. “Once you’ve put that kind of investment into a place, what you get paid to lease it out doesn’t cover the cost you have into it,” he says. “If you’ve had it for years and years and it’s paid for, it’s a lot easier to [lease out] than when you’ve just purchased it.” The reluctance to lease out expanded land is common among producers who have recently bought land far afield, says Ben van Dyk, an ag realtor with Coaldale Real Estate Centre in Coaldale, Alta. One common reason for expansion is to help sons and daughters get a start in agriculture, he says. This usually ensures there are people out on the farm with a vested interest in keeping it productive. But in cases where the two parties barely know one another and may not have complete trust, rental agreements can be fraught with complications. Ben van Dyk, a longtime farmland realtor currently with Coaldale Real Estate Centre in Coaldale, Alberta, says a lot of long-distance farmers are doing the heavy work themselves on their “second bases” rather than entering potentially-risky leasing arrangements. Photo by Morton Molyneux - M P Molyneux Photography


“Profit on an operator-run farm is substantially better than leasing out because [with leasing] you’re depending on third parties and their farm practices. If they don’t keep up the fertilizer or the chemicals the land might get into disarray. Tenants may not always maintain the land up to par.”

One of your special features is the ‘En Bloc.’ Tell us about this. When auctioning off a farm that is made up of numerous parcels, offers the ‘En Bloc’ option wherein prior high bidders of multiple parcels may at the conclusion bid on the entire farm or ranch. The benefits of the ‘en bloc’ to a bidder wanting the entire farm mean a) they can be outbid at the start of the sale but remain eligible to buy the entire farm as a whole b) it allows them to get around the difficulty associated with being high on every single parcel and c) they know if they go to round two in the ‘en bloc’ they are never ‘stuck’ with just a part of the farm – they know they either will get all or none if bidding in round two.

SELLING FARM LAND IT’S ALL WE DO ROY CARTER, CEO Why did you start As a farmer and lawyer in rural Alberta, I often witnessed the difficulties and stress farmers encountered when the time came to sell their land. Farmers know better than anyone the importance of using the right tool or piece of equipment for a job, yet when the time came to sell, there was no tool designed specifically for selling agricultural land. Often with little experience in selling land, farmers are left with only one chance to get it right.

What is your agricultural background? I grew up on a family farm and worked on the farm while going to school and University. The farm dates back to 1911 when my grandfather rode horseback over the Edson Trail to homestead. After University, I continued to grain farm while working off-farm in my law practice. The farm is now 4th

generation and owned by our son and his family, running a purebred Angus cattle operation.

How do you showcase your properties? is really built as a function of what wasn’t working with conventional methods of selling farm land. Farmers told us they were disappointed with conventional real estate listings. At, once we start the sale process, we work closely with you to help develop a robust marketing plan that is on-going until sale day. A combination of 13’ cement-based signs, 53’ vans, social media, videography with voice over, newspaper, and postcard mail-outs ensure your land is marketed to all potential Buyers. Our past Buyers include not just farmers but investors, out of province Buyers and Buyers that have only viewed the land through our online marketing.

When is the right time to sell? Farmers often treat their land akin to an extended family member. It is just not dirt. There is much emotion attached to selling farm land. On the other hand, farm land is the nest egg that they have worked and saved for their retirement years. Is it time to actually realize some of those retirement plans? Markets are trending upwards as optimism prevails generally in the economy – low interest rates, higher agricultural commodity prices, and seeing light at the end of the tunnel regarding the pandemic. Add to this, the rumblings of increased capital gains taxes, selling now may have its advantages. When selling farm land in an upward market, what is the top?

What does ‘CLH’ stand for? CLHbid is part of our firm, CLHlaw.

What is the advantage? A handoff between parties is seldom flawless whether that be in a relay race or business transaction. At, there is no handoff. We are not just part of the equation; we are the entire equation and solution. Our team, having legal and accounting backgrounds, works with your trusted advisors to ensure net after-tax returns are maximized for your family. From your very first call right down to handing you a cheque at closing we walk the entire walk with you.

  1 866 263 7480 British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba

Feeling Bullish About Farmland Real Estate?

Ted Cawkwell is a fourth generation farmer who understands the business of farming, and more importantly the people in it. He was involved in the sale of his family’s farm prior to becoming a Realtor, giving him firsthand experience of the emotion involved in a farm sale. Through his team, The Cawkwell Group, Ted uses his “boots on the ground” knowledge of the industry to support Buyers and Sellers of Saskatchewan farmland. Ted continues to farm today with his brother. At the Cawkwell Group “How” they help their clients is one of the things that they pride themselves on. Their Mission statement “Making the World a Better place through Honesty, Integrity, Commitment, Innovation, Growth, and Exemplary Customer Service in Farm Land Real Estate” is their guiding light that is reviewed as a team on a weekly basis. The Cawkwell Group uses their combined expertise to their client’s advantage. The power of their team truly is one of the diierences that helps their clients achieve winning results. The Cawkwell Group has a proven track record of selling some of Saskatchewan’s largest farms at premium prices for their Sellers. They have assisted their clients sell over $60,000,000 in farmland in the 2021 season thus far. When working with Farm Buyers they oier a full service plan that allows their clients to sit back and let the Cawkwell Group look after all of the details. The Cawkwell Group uses leading edge innovation to help both Buyers and Sellers of farmland. Professionally edited drone video, satellite maps, electronic signatures and various online tools and apps are used to ensure their clients success.

Please contact us today to talk about buying or selling farmland CAWKWELLGROUP.COM | 306-986-7255 | TED@CAWKWELLGROUP.COM

T:3.375" S:3.375"

Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers Bayer is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Bayer products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Bayer’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. These products have been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from these products can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for these products. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship.

That said, there are dozens of ways a long distance farm can be managed. “Some have a partnership with an operator there and they do everything on a custom basis in a profit share,” says van Dyk. “Some are operating two farms but one line of equipment. And others, especially the larger players, look at [the expanded land] purely as an investment.”

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its labeling. NOT ALL formulations of dicamba or glyphosate are approved for in-crop use with products with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans. NOT ALL formulations of dicamba, glyphosate or glufosinate are approved for in-crop use with products with XtendFlex® Technology. ONLY USE FORMULATIONS THAT ARE SPECIFICALLY LABELED AND APPROVED FOR SUCH USES. Contact the Pest Management Regulatory Agency with any questions about the approval status of dicamba herbicide products for in-crop use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans or products with XtendFlex® Technology.


None 3.375" x 4.75" None 3.375" x 4.75" SWOP 100%

Spreading out the risk A major incentive for long distance ownership is minimizing risk, says Cawkwell. Owning farmland in various regions, often with different soils and climate, can help spread out the weather challenges of operating a farm in a single location. “I think one of the benefits of starting a second or third base is you’re mitigating your risk. If there’s too much rain, not enough rain, there’s hail, there’s bugs, there’s disease; any of those types of things, its less likely you’re going to have that in more than one location at once.” Less likely, but not impossible. This has been a dry growing season across the Prairies and Hubbard is facing a lot of the same challenges in both locations. However, for the most part he says farming expanded acres in different locations has helped manage risk. 11585533

-Farming for Tomorrow.indd



Insect control technology provided by Vip3A is utilized under license from Syngenta Crop Protection AG. Bayer, Bayer Cross, BUTEO™, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup Xtend®, SmartStax®, Trecepta®, TruFlex™, VaporGrip®, VT Double PRO®, XtendFlex® and XtendiMax® are trademarks of Bayer Group. Used under license. LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design® are trademarks of BASF. Used under license. Agrisure Viptera® is a registered trademark of a Syngenta group company. Used under license. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Used under license. Bayer CropScience Inc. is a member of CropLife Canada. ©2021 Bayer Group. All rights reserved.


Roundup Ready® Technology contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Roundup Ready® 2 Technology contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Products with XtendFlex® Technology contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, glufosinate and dicamba. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate and dicamba. Glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Dicamba will kill crops that are not tolerant to dicamba. Glufosinate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glufosinate. Contact your Bayer retailer, refer to the Bayer Technology Use Guide, or call the technical support line at 1-888-283-6847 for recommended Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System weed control programs.

Leasing out land can also have tax implications based on active versus passive income. Farmers should look into this when making the decision to lease out land, he says.

INSERT: 09/01


“Overforthe past 10 to 11 years there have been times we’ve been Farming Tomorrow -in a drought situation in one place but we’ve had a really good -crop in-- the other place. So it does for the most part spread your risk out as well.”

A family affair Every farm family is familiar with how easily busy seasons can take the primary manager/operator away from their loved ones for extended periods. That’s compounded when you’re running three farms in one province (the Hubbards have an additional two parcels in southern Alberta) and a large farm in another.

indoor agri-trade show

November 22 - 27, 2021 Regina, SK 50

And that doesn’t even include the long hours of transportation or the small aircraft trips out to Saskatchewan to scout and spray as two of the Hubbard brothers have their pilot licences. However, when the kids aren’t in school the Hubbards try to get the whole family out to Saskatchewan as much as they can. “Our kids love coming out there. It’s kind of like having a lake house minus the lake and the vacation time. It’s just somewhere to go where the cousins can be together,” says Hubbard.


Fertilizer Canada Now is the time for Canada to #Choose4R In December 2020, the federal government set a national fertilizer emissions reduction target of 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030. Because Canadian farmers are already among the most sustainable growers in the world, they have less room to lower fertilizer emissions without compromising their food production than those in other countries. As it stands, Canadian farmers have a nutrient use efficiency that ranges between 66 per cent and 78 per cent, compared to a global average of 45 per cent to 50 per cent. Some believe that the solution to reducing emissions is simple – use less fertilizer and incorporate regenerative farming techniques and organics. However, these options are not realistic as Canadian farmers must continue to increase their yields in order to continue to feed a growing global population. For more than decade, the fertilizer industry has worked with farmers to develop the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework.

4R Nutrient Stewardship is a science-based and proven series of best management practices that provide Canadian farmers with a flexible approach to keeping up with global demand while reducing agricultural emissions. There are only nine growing seasons until 2030. To meet its climate goals, Canada must follow the leadership of Canadian farmers and go all-in on 4R Nutrient Stewardship. Choosing 4R will reduce environmental impacts while supporting Canadian farmers and families. Canada must choose 4R Nutrient Stewardship to meet Canada’s emission reduction targets, visit fertilizercanada. ca/our-focus/stewardship/emissions-reduction-initiative/ to LEARN MORE.

FP Genetics In the spring of 2021, FP Genetics and the Royal Canadian Legion, Saskatchewan Command, announced a variety naming collaboration that serves to honour veterans and highlights the sacrifices they have made in service of community and country. Through this program, nine varieties have been named after veterans. FP Genetics and The Royal Canadian Legion – Saskatchewan Command are honoured to announce two new CWRS wheat varieties named in this collaboration, AAC Hockley and AAC Hodge VB. Pte L.J. “Jack” Hockley was born in Yellow Grass, Sask., in 1926. He joined the Canadian Army during World War II, served with Pacific Command and was honourably discharged in 1946. The official variety name is AAC Hockley, which is a new high-yielding semi-dwarf CWRS wheat bred by Richard Cuthbert. Major Frederick Edward Hodge was born in Winnipeg, Man., in 1917. Frederick Hodge went overseas in 1941 and was a Major during the Second World War. In the first wave of landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Hodge along with 31 other men were captured and executed at point blank range. The official variety name is AAC Hodge VB, which is the highest yielding

CWRS line to come through the registration process. This midge tolerant line was bred by Santosh Kumar. Wholly-owned by more than 160 seed growers, FP Genetics is dedicated to providing superior seed genetics to western Canadian farmers. FP Genetics has developed an industryleading portfolio of more than 60 certified seed varieties of various crop types including wheat, durum, barley, oats, flax, pulses and hybrid fall rye. The Royal Canadian Legion, Saskatchewan Command, serves veterans and the communities in which it operates through advocacy work for the care and benefit of all who have served Canada. The Legion provides representation, services, and assistance to veterans at no cost. The Legion understands the importance of honouring past sacrifices and acknowledging the courage of those who served and still serve today. To learn more please visit: 51


BASF BASF introduces Vercoras as the first BASF seed treatment for InVigor hybrid canola BASF Canada has received registration from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency for Vercoras, BASF’s first seed treatment for InVigor hybrid canola. Vercoras delivers broad-spectrum protection against key seed and soil-borne diseases like blackleg during the critical early season infection period, as well as baseline protection against flea beetles. “As our first seed treatment for InVigor canola, the launch of Vercoras signals an exciting step forward for BASF and canola growers,” said Chris Hewitt with BASF Canada. “By utilizing InVigor seed treated with Vercoras, growers can leverage a robust level of disease control, including protection against blackleg and frontline protection against flea beetles that can be complemented by other insecticide technologies.” Vercoras includes the insecticide active ingredient Clothianidin (Gr. 4) and four fungicide active ingredients: Fluopyram (Gr. 7), Metalaxyl (Gr. 4), Fluxapyroxad (Gr. 7) and Pyraclostrobin (Gr. 11).

industry,” said Justine Cornelsen, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada. “The Canola Council of Canada is committed to working with industry partners like BASF to provide growers with agronomic resources and innovative solutions that help fuel success.”

“Blackleg and flea beetles not only cause significant challenges and frustration for growers, but they also have the potential to negatively impact the long-term success of Canada’s canola

Vercoras will be available for purchase for the 2022 growing season. To learn more about Vercoras and InVigor® hybrid canola, visit

PI Financial When it comes to commodity price forecasting, it’s as much art as science. This is where commodity price charts come in handy. Commodity chart patterns, price trends and technical analysis are very useful visual aids to help understand what’s going on in the markets. Take the recent uptrend in canola. No one knows for sure when this up trend will end, but a picture can tell you where it’s been, what it’s currently doing and where it may go in the future. However, since no amount of market analysis will be perfect, consider also using option-based hedging strategies to balance and diversify your grain marketing decisions. Think of options as a minimum floor price, almost like price insurance. They give you the downside protection you need along with the upside potential you want. Options are very flexible marketing tools so you can worry less about whether your prices forecasts are going to be right and focus more on managing price uncertainty. 52

Bottom line, keep your price forecasting simple. Markets go up, down or sideways so look for medium- to long-term trends, a breakout from an existing sideways range or a meaningful change in price direction. This doesn’t mean you are going to be right every time, but combined with innovative option-based hedging strategies, you can strive to capture pricing opportunities and protect revenues over time.

WE’LL FIND THE WAY FORWARD TOGETHER. AFSC has your back with a personalized portfolio of livestock and crop insurance, farm income stabilization, and lending products to protect you from the unexpected … and keep you moving forward.



Labour, inflation and farm machinery More than a decade of agricultural communication without a column on machinery. Not that the topic was uninteresting, but others constantly supplanted it. Not now: the craze resembles that of 2011-13, when grain prices exploded following years in the doldrums.

Vincent Cloutier With nearly 20 years of experience in the Canadian agri-food industry, Cloutier is a member of National Bank’s Agriculture and Agri-Food team. Having served in recent years as Senior Economist at La Coop fédérée (now Sollio Groupe coopératif) and Director of Economic Affairs at Les Éleveurs de porcs du Québec, he specializes in international trade and agricultural policies. A graduate in agronomy and agri-food management from Laval University and a four-time participant in the prestigious Harvard Agribusiness Seminar, Cloutier supports National Bank’s agricultural and agri-food financing teams with his expertise in business environment analysis.

Back to the past. For reasons we all know, the past year has been atypical for farm equipment sales. Data compiled by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) reflects the sharp decline in sales in the spring of 2020 as uncertainty loomed. Indeed, depending on the category, sales at that time were one-half to one-third of normal volumes. One category was not affected: tractors with less than 40 horsepower, which are clearly intended for customers for whom agriculture is not the main source of income. In the context of high exposure to the vagaries of international trade - most agricultural equipment is imported - the resilience of the sector during COVID has been fascinating. Some headwinds persist: exploding shipping costs, shortages of microchips, and skyrocketing metal prices, to name a few. On the other hand, the last few months have seen a euphoric sales phase akin to the beginning of 2010. This is fueled by strong net revenues in 2020 and commodity prices. At the time of writing, although in a high range, the markets were still looking for direction based on the weather in North America. While corn and soybeans were easing, canola and wheat were the opposite, with the market reflecting critical crop conditions in key growing areas. But why link labour, inflation and farm machinery in the first place? In all likelihood, labour scarcity will be a major driver of inflation over the next few years. Mechanization and automation will consequently take a growing place in the toolbox of agribusinesses. At the same time, they will have no choice but to pay more to attract and retain the necessary workforce. In addition to its macro-economic impact, labour scarcity will leave an indelible mark on the agri-food sector. There are obvious incentives to have the equipment and technologies necessary to carry out the work more diligently. These are reasons why the place of farm machinery on the balance sheet of Canadian farms is gradually increasing: Statistics Canada data speaks for itself. More has to be done in a context of human resource shortages, and in less time. The growing whims of the weather do not simplify the equation. Many are asking themselves: buy or rent? New or used? There is no unique recipe, but there are some factors to consider. First, the residual value when leasing, calculated by deducting the monthly payments from the initial value. The higher the monthly payments, the lower the residual value and vice versa. One will also understand that leasing will increase a company’s expense ratio, without the asset appearing on the balance sheet. On the other hand, the value of the equipment owned and financed will be reflected in the balance sheet, in the asset and liability columns, with a consequent impact on the associated ratios. The multiplicity of choices reflects the entrepreneurial diversity of agriculture in Canada and that is a good thing. Regardless of the strategy, comparing machinery costs with peers will provide essential benchmarks. It is a must.




MERIDIAN’S PATENTED AIRMAX TM 360: 360O AERATION NO SCREENS FEWER AIR RESTRICTIONS The AirMax™ 360 offers a high-performance aeration system that surrounds the full circumference of the hopper cone. With no perforation, there are no screens to remove when changing seed varieties, resulting in virtually no cleaning or cross-contamination. The The AirMax™ 360 offers a high-performance aeration system that surrounds the full circumference of the fan blows directly into the air-plenum, offering fewer restrictions and maximum airflow.

hopper cone. With no perforation, there are no screens to remove when changing seed varieties, resulting ideal useno forcleaning SmoothWall Bins in the seed industry, the AirMax™ 360 features continuous air ductoffering starting from the top of inAn virtually orHopper cross-contamination. The fan blows directly intoa the air-plenum, fewer the cone andand pointing down toward the center. This design forces air into the center of the grain cavity, which is necessary for even grain restrictions maximum airflow. conditioning.

© 2021 Meridian Manufacturing Inc. Registered Trademarks used under License. (09/2021)

An ideal use for SmoothWall Hopper Bins in the seed industry, the AirMax™ 360 features a continuous air duct starting from the top of the cone and pointing down toward the center. This design forces air into the center of the grain cavity, which is necessary for even grain conditioning. To learn more and find a dealer near you, visit, email or call (800) 830-2467.

Request a quote at | (800) 830-2467 |

Request a quote at

© 2021 Meridian Manufacturing Inc. Registered Trademarks Used Under License. (07/2021)