Farming For Tomorrow

Page 1


September / October 2018


Self-Made Man PM41126516

Learn what makes Saskatchewan entrepreneur Kevin Hruska tick. Hint: It’s not money. Fertilizer Tillage Grain Drying

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Self-Made Man

Kevin Hruska farms 45,000 acres of wheat and canola near Gerald, Sask. Turn to page 12 to learn how the 54-year-old entrepreneur grew one of the largest family-owned farms in all of Canada.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Grain Market Analysis


Reaping Returns at Harvest - by Scott Shiels A Farmer’s Viewpoint


Striving for Higher Yields is a Matter of Survival - by Kevin Hursh

22 26 30 34


Benefits of Environmentally Smart Nitrogen Come at a Price - by Jennifer Blair Fertilizer Storage

Manage Fertilizer Price Risk with On-Farm Storage - by Jennifer Blair Tillage

Digging into Tillage - by Geoff Geddes Straw Management The Last Straw - by Natalie Noble




39 42 46 50 55 58


Crop Insurance

To Hail and Back - by Geoff Geddes

Spraying 101

What is Delta T and why is it Important for Spraying? - by Tom Wolf Cattle

Consider Low-Stress Weaning This Fall - by Karen Schmid

Grain Dryers Dry Down - by Alexis Kienlen Farming Your Money

Sheep: The Tariff-Free Industry - by Paul Kuntz

Those Wily Weeds

Herbicide Breakdown and the Risk of Carry-Over Industry - by Jeanette Gaultier




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Reaping Returns at Harvest Harvest is here, and with it, the emergence of marketing opportunities for the newly-harvested crop. As summer breezed by, this crop season continued to look like it might even surpass the previous year in terms of quality and yield. We won’t know final results for a month or more, but all things considered, it looks very good so far.

Scott Shiels Scott grew up in Killarney, Man., and has been in the grain industry for over 25 years. He has been with Grain Millers Canada for five years, doing both conventional and organic grain procurement as well as marketing for their mills. Scott lives in Abernethy, Sask., with his wife Jenn.

Futures markets were lower nearly all summer, with world stocks of wheat, beans and corn all being adjusted higher from the spring on through the summer months. That, coupled with mostly good to excellent crop conditions in most of North America, pressured prices lower, seemingly every day. Trade tariffs imposed out of the U.S. by President Trump have not helped the situation, as he seems hell-bent on using tactics such as these to “Make America Great Again.” Still, there has been a softening in many areas of the trade war, so hopefully there will be mostly smoke and no fire when it comes to agricultural commodities. For producers approaching harvest, or already finished, there are a few things that can be done to aid marketing efforts going forward with this, and every, crop. First and foremost, take good representative samples! Thorough and accurate sampling of your grain at harvest time is one sure way to maximize returns throughout the year, as you and your buyers will know exactly what you have and what they will be getting. There really is nothing worse than shipping a load of grain hundreds of miles away, only to have it arrive and not meet the buyer’s specs, leading to discounts or rejection, both very costly to the farmer. Secondly, I recommend sending your samples to as many buyers as possible, and in as many different areas as you can. In many cases, especially in the cereal grains, different regions have harvested a much different quality of crop. If you happen to have something in your area that another can benefit from, you vastly increase your chances of gaining yourself some premium for your grain. Next, get yourself on email and text lists for as many buyers as possible to take advantage of market updates and pricing opportunities. There are many free services out there (Grain Millers is one of them), as well as economically-priced subscription services that will keep you in the loop and get you to the front of the line when opportunities arise. This market is all about information and opportunity, so you need to do whatever you can to maximize these chances. One other tool that you can use to increase your chances of getting the prices you want is the grain pricing order (GPO) or target price contract. These options are available with most buyers, and will give you the opportunity to pick your price, the quantity you would like to sell at that price, and the movement period you want to ship it in. If you do one of these contracts, you just need to be committed to your price, as the company can trigger these contracts quickly, even when the market differs substantially from the price you want. Some producers think these contracts give buyers an unfair advantage, but I firmly believe they truly are advantageous to both sides. Here’s hoping harvest is very kind to you! Until next time…


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Pat Ottmann & Tim Ottmann

Editor Trevor Bacque


Cole Ottmann

Regular Contributors Jeanette Gaultier Kevin Hursh Paul Kuntz

Scott Shiels Tom Wolf

Copy Editor

Lisa Johnston Nerissa McNaughton

Striving for Higher Yields is a Matter of Survival


Pat Ottmann Phone: 587-774-7619 Dennis Dowd Phone: 306-230-0654

administration & accounting Nancy Bielecki Phone: 587-774-7618 1025 -101 6 Ave SW Calgary, Alberta T2P 3P4

/FFTMagazine /farming4tomorrow /farming-for-tomorrow /farmingfortomorrow Kevin Hursh, P.Ag. WWW.FARMINGFORTOMORROW.CA Farming For Tomorrow is delivered to 100,000 farm and agribusiness addresses every second month. The areas of distribution include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Peace region of B.C. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the content of any advertisement, and all representations of warranties made in such advertisements are those of the advertiser and not of the publisher. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, in all or in part, without the written permission of the publisher. Canadian Publications mail sales product agreement no. 41126516.

Kevin Hursh is an agricultural consultant, journalist and farmer. He has been an agricultural commentator for more than 30 years, serving as editor for Farm Credit Canada’s national bi‑monthly magazine AgriSuccess, and writing regular columns for Canada’s top agricultural publications. Kevin is a well-known speaker at agricultural conferences and conventions. Kevin and his wife Marlene own and operate a grain farm near Cabri in southwestern Saskatchewan, growing a wide array of crops. Twitter: @KevinHursh1


As farmers, most of us are tired of hearing it – that we must keep increasing production to feed a hungry world. Many academics, politicians and especially agribusiness leaders have long repeated this mantra and while it has a grain of truth, it’s largely misleading. World food production has generally increased at a pace that exceeds both population growth and the growth in demand. There are times when worldwide grain-stocksto-use ratios become tighter and grain prices rise, but the opposite seems to be happening in many commodities in recent times. We could very well be going into a prolonged period of lower grain prices characterized by more gluts than shortages. However, this doesn’t stop the imperative to continue aiming for higher yields and more production, albeit in a cost-effective manner.


A surprising number of producers actually disparage new technologies. “That will just increase production and drive our prices down,” they say. “Only the input companies are getting rich.” The price of canola seed is one of the most obvious targets for displeasure. It would certainly be desirable to have more canola seed companies competing more vigorously on seed prices, but it’s hard to argue with the success of the canola industry. It’s Canada’s largest crop because there’s effective weed control and because it has often been the most profitable crop in many regions. Seed for open-pollinated publicly-developed varieties was dirt cheap compared to today’s costs. However, the high cost of seed brings superior weed control, superior disease resistance and much higher yields. If you can make more money growing 25-year-old varieties, go right ahead. Canola isn’t for everyone and that’s OK. Personally, I’m a mustard grower. I farm in a dry region. Input costs are lower for mustard and even though weed control is a lot tougher, I think I

There are times when worldwide grainstocks-to-use ratios become tighter and grain prices rise, but the opposite seems to be happening in many commodities in recent times. 9


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can make more money most years with mustard. Most of my neighbours grow canola so they see things a bit differently. The first hybrid brown mustard variety will be grown on a small acreage in 2019 with a much more significant acreage available in 2020. So far, this hybrid is showing a 20-plus per cent yield advantage over the check variety, Centennial brown. However, with hybrid production, producers will have to buy new seed every year and that seed will be more expensive. I have a front-row seat on this whole issue because I serve as executive director of the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission and I’m surprised by the opposition to hybrid mustard. This is a non-GMO hybrid, developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and mustard breeder Bifang Cheng. The work has been supported by mustard producers, the mustard industry and governments. The goal is to provide the hybrid seed at as low a cost as possible. No big companies taking big profits. In the years ahead, a synthetic or population hybrid of yellow mustard should be available followed by hybrid oriental mustard. “This will just lead to overproduction and drive down our prices,” say the critics. Various efforts are underway to try and expand the demand for mustard and mustard ingredients, but 10

STRIVING FOR HIGHER YIELDS IS A MATTER OF SURVIVAL | A FARMER’S VIEWPOINT consumption is certainly limited. Too much production leads to lower prices and that’s why mustard prices vary greatly from one year to the next. But whether it’s mustard, canola, wheat or lentils, there’s little choice but to strive for higher yields. In the case of mustard, high prices have spurred production in countries like Poland and Russia and they’re capturing some of our market share using seed that was probably pirated from Canada. Stealing our plant genetics won’t be nearly as easy with hybrids, so Canadian hybrid mustard will give the Canadian industry a competitive advantage in the world market. We should be able to recapture some of our lost markets as long as we can maintain quality attributes. No matter the commodity, you can’t stop striving for higher yields with lower costs per unit of production. It’s not because we need to feed the world. It’s because if you sit still, you’ll get run over by the competition. I don’t know a single farmer who makes input decisions based on the noble purpose of feeding the world. We make input decisions with the aim to increase our overall net returns. And we strive for higher yields to remain competitive in export markets.

No matter the commodity, you can’t stop striving for higher yields with lower costs per unit of production. It’s not because we need to feed the world. It’s because if you sit still, you’ll get run over by the competition.



Self-­ Made Man Kevin Hruska always knew what he was good and bad at, says it made all the difference By Trevor Bacque 12

SELF-MADE MAN | COVER STORY If you make $2, save one and spend the other. It’s a simple proclamation, but one that Kevin Hruska has stood by his entire life. It’s how he went from having a Grade 10 education to owning a 45,000-acre farm, a manufacturing company and the ability to retire whenever the mood may strike him. However, this was not handed down to the 54-year-old Gerald, Sask. entrepreneur. Growing up on a tiny family farm, Hruska had a penchant for using his hands, which made sitting in a classroom rather dull. His foray into 4-H at age 10 was the catalyst for a lifetime of learning, risk taking and trusting your gut. His love of 4-H was spurred on by mentor Bernie Mikolas, whom Hruska still considers a close friend. The young farm boy tried his hand at just about everything the club offered including welding, carpentry, automotive works, beef and outdoor adventures. “I probably enjoyed the carpentry and welding the most,” he says. “There seemed to be an opportunity in welding. People were coming to pay me to weld things. I was repairing things before I had a driver’s licence.” And so began Hruska knowing the power and value of both a dollar and hard work. His father George was a good man, but a simple man. He owned three quarters of land and never cared to expand. “He never bought land and only bought two tractors in his entire life. It was a subsistence farm; we just got by. When he bought something, he never stopped using it.” That didn’t sit well with a young Hruska, who, at 16, was taking a more aggressive approach to farming than his father. “I started making the decisions, so he backed away. How he helped me was by not competing with me,” he says. At 18, Hruska bought one-and-a-half quarters of land independent of his father, eventually buying him out. Alongside morphing into a full-fledged farmer, Hruska also became a journeyman welder by the time his high school friends graduated. At 19, he officially started his company, Bridgeview Manufacturing Inc., although he began working and selling wares by age 12, creating just about anything he was approached to build and even made his own chicken pluckers. The first Bridgeview employee, Raymond Helmeczi, still works at the shop today, but now as the director of the company’s research and development department.

Photo: Kevin Hruska in

his farm yard. Most of Hruska’s implements are Case IH, while the rest are supplied by Bourgault. Credit: Denae Woytas

From the moment Bridgeview opened, it has been inextricably linked to the farm. You cannot talk about farming without mentioning machinery in Hruska’s world; it’s just not possible. “Really what was driving the welding was that I really wanted to farm,” he says, also adding the need to farm is what drove the welding. He happily logged 18-hour days feeding 300 pigs by 13


Photo: Kevin Hruska’s machinery fleet. The Saskatchewan farmer uses Case IH and Bourgault as his two main equipment suppliers. Photo taken 2009

hand to make land payments and burned the midnight oil at the shop, too. “Everyone said slow down but I was having the time of my life.” As the shop expanded, he sunk more time and effort into the farm and he believed that scaling up was the only way to make a go of it as a farmer in southern Saskatchewan. “When I built the farm, nobody wanted their sons farming. We were in a 25-year recession; nobody wanted to farm,” he says. “So, I bought cheap land that was in poor shape. I bought land as low as $21,500 a quarter. I bought stony land … and made it good.” Larger farms in his area couldn’t make payments and families had to get out of business. While the price was far too high for potential buyers, it was not for Hruska. His business logo is an outstretched arm grabbing four stalks of wheat – symbolic of how he does not pass up good opportunities. “I bought out some bigger farmers when I had traction,” he says. “Everyone thought I overpaid. I was nervous, I’ll give you that. It was $70,000 a quarter. Now, that quarter is worth $250,000.” In the most recent land crunch, the equity in Hruska’s farmland went up $6 million. “We took some pretty big fast moves, but I’ve been at it 37 years. We didn’t grow overnight; 37 years is not overnight. You can’t sit still and idle in a business. “I was never competing for land until recently. My whole life nobody else was at the table. We went into an area where nobody wanted to farm. We took the good with the bad and developed it,” he says. 14

Hruska recalls one vitriolic exchange with a fellow farmer who called him, among other things, an opportunist. “The success bothered him so much. I said, ‘yes, I’ll take that as a compliment.’ If there’s a bad opportunity, that’s what I should do?” Hruska asks rhetorically with a laugh. As a result of business success, Hruska chooses to upgrade his equipment annually, turning over his entire fleet of machinery each July. He initially spent $30 million on about 45 pieces of equipment, including 13 tractors, 12 combines, six air seeders and six swathers from the Rocky Mountain Equipment dealer in Moosomin and a Pattison Ag outlet in Yorkton. His seed drills are all Bourgault while the remaining fleet is Case IH. This has been his practice for more than 20 years in case, as he puts it, “we ever go into a recession, we can go 10 years [with the current equipment].” As the farm and land base grew, Hruska’s innate curiosity to work smarter led him to start to solve field problems with welding solutions. He created a right-hand discharge for a bale processor and, after seeing that nobody else in the market had created one, he patented it. That wasn’t the only idea Hruska had, though. To his name today, he is the inventor or co-inventor of 18 different Canadian innovations, most of which are machinery features, and all of which are patented. Most relate to making his farming easier and more practical, but he’s not the only one that thinks so. His machinery and patented technology can be found on farms all over the world, including Australia, Russia, Ukraine and the U.S.

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COVER STORY | SELF-MADE MAN His bright ideas eventually attracted outside attention and he spent the next 21 years on and off in patent court, reviewing legal documents and defending his ideas. “It was an experience; not a good one, but a good one to know,” he says bluntly. Hruska maintains he was never trying to embarrass anyone or cause problems, and, truth be told, most times the process never went past a discovery hearing. By having the legalese at a dull roar, he was able to focus on the shop and farm. “Time was better served to settle.” Currently, Bridgeview creates machinery on-farm in a 70,000-square-foot warehouse. Products of Hruska’s include the Mr. Squeeze cattle chute, a Bale King Bale Processor, a V-rake and the Pulldozer Land Shaper and Scraper. Demand from farmers has been high enough and consistent enough that Bridgeview now boasts a dedicated R&D division to anticipate and create the next helpful feature for farmers. He also manufacturers diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and can deliver 22,000 litres to a farm each run. The size and scope of the businesses have grown substantially over 37 years, but Hruska’s approach has always remained static. “If there’s a will there’s a way,” says Annette Glazer, an elementary school friend of Hruska’s who now happens to be the CFO of both the farm and shop. “He’s very determined and very focused. If there’s a problem that comes up and it can’t be done, he’s going to be saying, ‘yes it can.’” Glazer recalls a time in 1991 when Hruska decided to expand the shop and tentatively secured a loan to do so, however, for circumstances unknown the loan was never advanced. It left Hruska in a lurch and an addition that was still desperately required. “So, he took one employee and they basically put up that shell themselves because he needed that expansion. It was a lot of work,” she recalls. “I guess he can be stubborn, but that’s him not giving up; that’s the driven aspect of Kevin.” On his farm, Hruska still maintains a philosophy that simplicity is best. And, despite farming in the Prairies during a time when beans are more popular than ever, Hruska sticks up his nose. He’s not interested in their long growing season or its frost response. “We’re not a maverick farm where we are leading,” he says. “We grow wheat and canola … we’ve been good at growing malting barley over the years – we have to be. We know what we don’t like.” Cover Photo and Above: Kevin Hruska is the sole owner of Hruska Farms, his 45,000-acre grain farm in southern Saskatchewan. Photo Credit Denae Woytas


He prefers Glenn, a CRWS variety known for its excellent rust resistance, very good lodging rating and high yield. He exclusively grows Nexera canola, which features zero trans-fat and is virtually identical to olive oil in composition. “There is a yield drag with Nexera, but there is a premium if you’re good at growing it … it’s a buck a bushel at least.”



Got unwanted pesticides or livestock medications?

Farmers: safely dispose of unwanted or obsolete agricultural pesticides and livestock medications – no charge! Take them to the following locations on the dates noted between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN FOAM LAKE October 1 Richardson Pioneer Hwy 16 West (3 miles west of Foam Lake) 306-272-3344 PORCUPINE PLAIN October 1 Nutrien Ag Solutions Hwy 23 West 306-278-3444 SASKATOON October 1 Richardson Pioneer South of junction Hwy 5 & 41 306-249-2200 SPIRITWOOD October 1 Cavalier Agrow Hwy 24 North 1/2 mile 306-883-2476 BIGGAR October 2 Rack Petroleum Hwy 4 South 306-948-1800 HUDSON BAY October 2 Nutrien Ag Solutions Highway 9 South 306-865-3999 TURTLEFORD October 2 Turtleford and District Co-op Highway 303 West 306-845-2222

YORKTON October 2 Yorkton Distributors 191 York Rd West 306-782-2645 LLOYDMINSTER October 3 Lloydminster & District Co-op 1 Upgrader Rd (Hwy 16) 306-825-4661 MELFORT October 3 Nutrien Ag Solutions 810 Saskatchewan Ave. W (Hwy 3) 306-752-4711 NORQUAY October 3 Norquay Co-op #13 Hwy 49E 306-594-2215 UNITY October 3 Richardson Pioneer Hwy 21 South 1 Stephenson Rd 306-228-2619 CHOICELAND October 4 Pineland Co-op 1/2 mile south of junction 55 & 6 306-428-2028 HUMBOLDT October 4 Richardson Pioneer 10 km west of Humbolt Hwy 5 306-682-1730

KINDERSLEY October 4 G-Mac’s Ag 907 11th Ave East 306-463-4622 NORTH BATTLEFORD October 4 Cargill 12202 Durum Ave 306-445-3621 306-481-3806 OUTLOOK October 5 Nutrien Ag Solutions 220 Railway Ave 306-867-8702 PRINCE ALBERT October 5 Lake Country Co-op 4075 5th Ave East 306-922-2476 WALDHEIM October 5 Nutrien Ag Solutions 2003 1st Ave East 306-945-2233 WATROUS October 5 Blair’s Fertilizer 2 miles south of Watrous on Hwy 2 306-946-3150

Next collection in Southern Saskatchewan in 2020.

SOUTHERN ALBERTA CLARESHOLM October 22 South Country Co-op 4123 3rd St E 403-625-4088 HANNA October 22 Fox Lake Agro Services 305 South Municipal Rd 403-854-2820 OLDS October 22 Richardson Pioneer 1.5 km north of Olds - Hwy 2A 403-556-6606 VAUXHALL October 22 South Country Co-op 205 1st Ave N 403-654-2137 CARDSTON October 23 Cardston County Admin. Bldg. 1080 Main St 403-634-9474 CROSSFIELD October 23 Nutrien Ag Solutions 21185 Hwy 574 403-946-4588 FOREMOST October 23 W. Buis Holdings Ltd 199 1St Ave West 403-867-2436

OYEN October 23 Richardson Pioneer Township Rd 280 1 mile East of Oyen 403-664-2620 BOW ISLAND October 24 Parrish and Heimbecker Hwy 3 1 mile west of Bow Island 403-545-2748 CORONATION October 24 Nutrien Ag Solutions 36130 Range Rd 110 403-578-3302 STIRLING October 24 Richardson Pioneer Hwy 61, 1 mile east of Hwy 4 403-756-3452 STRATHMORE October 24 UFA Strathmore 58 Slater Rd 403-934-6684 MEDICINE HAT October 25 UFA Medicine Hat 1467 30th St SW 403-529-2424 THREE HILLS October 25 Kneehill Soil Services Ltd 204 1st Ave W 403-443-2355

INTERIOR BRITISH COLUMBIA TABER October 25 UFA Taber 5813 60 Ave 403-223-8917 VULCAN October 25 Richardson Pioneer 1/4 mile west of junction Hwy 23 & Hwy 534 403-485-6696 BROOKS October 26 Nutrien Ag Solutions 145074 Joanne Trucking Rd 403-362-2072 HIGH RIVER October 26 UFA High River 2006 10th Ave SE 403-652-2733

KAMLOOPS October 15 Purity Feed Ltd. 471 Okanagan Way 250-372-2233 VANDERHOOF October 15 Glen Dale Agra 1055 Hwy 16 W 250-567-4225 PRINCE GEORGE October 16 Foothills Landfill 6595 Foothills Blvd 250-962-8972 VERNON October 16 Grower’s Supply 1200 Waddington Dr 250-545-1278

KELOWNA October 17 Grower’s Supply 2605 Acland Rd 250-765-4500 QUESNEL October 17 Four Rivers Co-op 1280 QuesnelHixon Rd 250-992-7274 OLIVER October 18 Grower’s Supply 5911 Sawmill Rd 250-498-6406 WILLIAMS LAKE October 18 153 Mile Fertilizer # 80 5101 Frizzi Rd 250-392-5333

CRANBROOK October 30 Top Crop Garden 2101 Cranbrook St N 250-489-4555 CRESTON October 31 Grower’s Supply 754 35th Ave S 250-428-2125

Next collection in Peace River Region in 2019; Vancouver Island & Fraser Valley in 2020.

INNISFAIL October 26 Central Alberta Co-op 35435 Range Rd 282 403-227-3466 IRON SPRINGS October 26 Nutrien Ag Solutions 100 Railway Ave 403-732-4585


Next collection in Northern Alberta in 2019.

No sharps or needles please.

For more information: 1-877-622-4460

COVER STORY | SELF-MADE MAN His malting barley preference is AC Metcalfe and these days he’s cutting it down at 26 per cent moisture and custom drying it before selling it to Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Budweiser, Corona and Alexander Keith’s. With 45,000 acres of crop, it has to go somewhere. That somewhere is into Hruska’s three-million-bushel storage system. He sells to Louis Dreyfus Commodities and custom stores for the grain handler, as well. Much of his canola oil ends up at the Frito-Lay company, maker of Doritos, Lay’s, Cheetos and many other snack foods. As a result of his regimented crop plan, he’s simply uninterested in blazing trails with other unproven grains and oilseeds. As an extension of his farming, Hruska sits on an advisory panel for a major agriculture company and is seeing first-hand the rise of so-called “smart farming,” a general term for automated processes on farm and precision agriculture. He knows it’s coming, but it may still be as many as 20 years away before there is widespread adoption on all Prairie farms. “It is getting more technical, but you don’t want to get too technical too fast,” he says. Hruska believes it to be a true long-term play possibly of more than 20 years before Western Canada’s fully automated. “The autonomous is going to be real slow coming. I would say go cautiously. Equipment isn’t more efficient if it’s wrapped around a power pole,” he says. It might not be Hruska who is embracing smart farming and


digital technology, but perhaps his children. Hruska and his wife Pauline have three boys, “small, medium and large.” The oldest two are involved— Sawyer, 26, manages the farm operations and Cassidy, 24, runs the shop – while at 19, Jade is currently attending post-secondary and not involved in the day-to-day business of either venture. “It’s going to be different and I do realize that,” he says of his farm transition. “I hope to be pretty damn silent in even five more years. My goal is to successfully engage the next generation. We’re halfway there, [Cassidy and Sawyer] do all the day-to-day stuff already. It’s all set up that if I die tomorrow they carry on with it. I don’t want to steer it from the grave.” Hruska talks openly about friends his age who still are not allowed to make the decisions on their farms, vowing that will never be his legacy. “I’m 54 years old, I’ve already put in 37 crops. It’s easy for me to pass on the business because I’ve already done two life sentences. I could be out on parole already.” He believes his post-succession role in the farm will be as an “ideas man,” saying it’s instinctive behaviour for him to think of new products and want to create them. He adamantly states that such desires are strictly for the love of the game. “I was never trying to make money. I was doing it because I wanted to succeed at something,” he says of farming and Bridgeview. “I’ve had the system beat because I’ve always loved what I am doing.”



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And that translates directly to lower the easier cycle help farmers push for From in- Case new 2-speed electric shift ground creased efficiency. ” Now, more anddrive operating costs. toofadjustable rotor vanes on and an more that focus fallscage squarely higher to your “The reduces New Quadtrac Axial-Flow®system 250 series combines fromlevel Caseof IHefficiency are equipped withopoptional AFS Harvest Command™ improved feeder house design, 250 globally-proven track technology. combine automation ground pressure, ” Kaisersystem. says. “The eration. “Our tracked tractors can series combines build on the Case IH It starts under the hood Magnum Rowtrac keeps four points handle everything from primary and legacy of high-capacity, high-efficiency Automatically optimize settings laxed in the cab as conditions change, Selective Catalytic Reduction of ground contact, which reduces secondary tillage to planting and with AFS Harvest Command improving output and grain quality. “Labor is important. combines. (SCR) helps make Case IH tractors surface pressure and means less spraying row crops to side dressing Fine-tuning settings and adjust- Each mode of automation prioritizes Whether you’ve run a among the most fluid-efficient weight transfer from front to rear fertilizer,” Kaiser says. “You truly can The 2-speed electric shift ground ments can test even the most different harvesting outcomes and available, which translates directly than typical two-track systems.” capitalize on the efficiency and bendrive increases efficiency in all ter- experienced combine operator. continuously optimizes machine combine for 50 years or to lower operating costs. Case IH tracks also oscillate and efits tracks deliver during every The exclusive Case IH five-axle rain and ground conditions. With New from Case IH Advanced performance based on the power 50 minutes, this machine “SCR technology allows us to pivot to maintain a flat footprint that phase of the growing season — im- design provides more even increased tractive effort and a wider Farming Systems (AFS), AFS limits set by the operator. is super The tune our engines for maximum keeps the power on the ™ground. proving the tilth of your soil profile power to theuser-friendly. soil for less ground speed range, much like cruise control Harvest Command automation horsepower, without compromis“With constant contact to the year-over-year.” pressure in all applications. in a car or pickup truck, the ground — available only on the new 250 The fours modes of automation fact you can grab someone ing efficiency for emissions,” Kaiser ground, tracks provide optimal presoff the street and get the drive maintains precise ground speed series Axial-Flow combines — uti- include: explains. “Fine-tuning the combus- sure, ideal flotation and better tracup or down hills for more consistent lizes 16 sensors to automatically • Performance — Maximize grain same results as someone tion process and eliminating ex- tion that is unaffected by hitch or savings and grain quality while harvesting. It also reduces the fre- adjust seven combine settings. haust gas recirculation provides drawbar load,” Kaiser says. thattechnology has run one forever Case IH incorporates its award-winning track across multiple optimizing throughput. quency to shift in the field or on the substantial improvement in fuel efThe exclusive track design feaproduct lines, including Steiger Quadtrac tractors, Steiger Rowtrac road by having one gear for harvesting Initially available for corn, soybeans, • Grain Quality — Maximize grain is extremely appealing to ficiency.” tures five sets of wheels and five axRowtrac tractors, Axial-Flow® combines and, most quality Magnum while saving grain and us.” — Mark Bartlett of and another gear for road transport. wheat and canola, AFS Harvest tractors, Combining SCR engines with les to better distribute weight and recently, Early Riser® planters. Many of the same benefits introduced in optimizing throughput. Optional in-cab adjustable rotor cage Command proactively adjusts the 1996 continue to draw producers to today’s track offerings: Quadtrac® and Rowtrac™ systems avoid pressure spikes in the soil. The Kansas, running an Throughput OperatortracksColby, vanes eliminate the need to manu- combine as crop conditions change • •Fixed individually driven,—oscillating maintain a flat footprint, helps Case IH Steiger and Magnum™ units independently pivot up and Axial-Flow 8250 combine can fix thepower machine ally remove bolts and pivot the cage based on patent-pending technolkeeping to thethroughput, ground. series tractors transfer more of that down, allowing them to better foland the machine will adjust to vanes. This both saves time and allows ogy. Operators just choose the axle design better distributes weight. • with 3162 draper head efficient power to the ground and low ground contours, yet turn tightly grain maintainpivots a quality the rotor to more efficiently handle modecausing of operation toor match their •save each unitand individually so it better follows ground contours. to the implement you’re pulling. without berming disturband farming 5,000 acres varying crop conditions and change harvesting Wide track options and a longer wheelbase increase flotation and •sample. ing the soil. goals. From there, AFS a gentle footprInt produce aThroughput smoother ride. — Opera- of mixed crops, including from one crop to another. The stan- Harvest Command takes over. This • Maximum tracks fortechnology any task With flotationa and exclusive, self-tensioning, maintenance-free track system with can maximize the throughput dardgreater feature includes gangless of cage advanced turns a driver •tor

Time-tested, field-proven

matter which track option soil vanes compaction, IH tracked that areCase manually adjustable No into a skilled operator whilebest expemeets your needs, tracks tractors on the soil. withgo an easy easy turnbuckle. rienced operators cancan be bring more are-

corn, wheat and milo.

clear-bearing-cap sight gauges keeps you in the field longer. while automation adjusts combine settings to save grain.




GET MORE OUT OF EVERY ACRE. For the last 40 years, the Case IH Axial-Flow® combine has made productivity simple. We’ve packed every inch of each Axial-Flow combine with more high-efficiency features — such as our residue management system, Cross Flow™ cleaning system and two-speed electronic shift transmission — while finding ways to reduce the components that can help you reduce maintenance time and costs. So you put more grain in your tank and more profits in your pocket. Learn more at

©2018 CNH Industrial America LLC. All rights reserved. Case IH is a trademark registered in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates.


Benefits of Environmentally Smart Nitrogen Come at a Price

By Jennifer Blair Above: ESN is a type of enhanced efficiency fertilizer that improves nutrient uptake and reduces nutrient loss by controlling the release of nitrogen throughout the growing season.

The next big thing in sustainable crop production could very well be environmentally-smart nitrogen, or ESN, if you ask Ray Dowbenko. “Over the last five years, there has been a lot more awareness of environmental issues,” says the senior agronomy specialist at Nutrien. “Things that control the release of fertilizer are a lot more in the forefront when people talk about sustainability now. Products like [ESN] are gaining greater adoption as a result.” In short, ESN is a type of enhanced efficiency fertilizer that improves nutrient uptake and reduces nutrient loss by controlling the release of nitrogen throughout the growing season. Urea granules are coated with a plastic-like polymer material that responds to temperature and moisture. Once moisture begins to move into the soil, the urea starts to dissolve inside the coating and slowly seep out. Then temperature takes over as the growing season progresses and “the warmer it is, the faster the release. It will release as the plant needs it,” says Dowbenko. This type of slow-release fertilizer has been gaining traction in Western Canada in recent years as farmers have become more educated about its benefits. From the time ESN was registered in 2006, product sales have gone from about 10,000 tonnes a year to about 230,000 tonnes a year today.


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Above: Ultimate nitrogen protection image: ESN’s uses has expanded in recent years across the Prairies. Since 2006, product sales went from about 10,000 tonnes to more than 230,000 tonnes today.

“The adoption rate has grown very fast in recent years,” says Dowbenko. Agronomist and farmer Steve Larocque has seen interest grow on his own farm near Three Hills, Alta., and among the clients he works with. “We’ve used it sparingly throughout the years and in certain cases for logistical reasons. That’s where the uptake has been the strongest [among clients],” says Larocque. “In general, there’s been a relatively slow increase in [ESN] uptake, with people using it in different ways. I’m not sure people are using it to its full potential yet.”

Benefits of slow-release fertilizer First and foremost, ESN is a seed safety tool when farmers are using seed-placed fertilizer, says Larocque. “It allows you to apply a little more nitrogen as a starter fertilizer, with a little less toxicity,” he says. 24

Farmers that are using between 60 to 70 per cent ESN in their starter blend can apply twice the suggested safe rate. If they decide to use it as 100 per cent of their starter nitrogen, they can go three times the recommended safe rate. “Because this material has a polymer coat, there’s a physical barrier between the seed and the fertilizer,” says Dowbenko. “The safe rate is much higher than what they could do with regular fertilizer.” The polymer coating also protects against nitrogen loss to the environment through leaching or volatilization – one of the key benefits of the new-school nitrogen. “You can rain on it as much as you want, and it’s not going to wash it out through the root zone or cause it to be lost to the atmosphere,” says Dowbenko, adding that it can be applied in the spring before seeding or in the fall after harvest. “It’s going to stay where it is in the soil.” And because there is more nitrogen available to the plants

BENEFITS OF ENVIRONMENTALLY SMART NITROGEN COME AT A PRICE | FERTILIZER “It may not add protein. It may not add yield. And you may not get the release timing that you want,” says Larocque. “You can use it as a delayed-release tool, but because it depends on moisture and temperature, you could have it become available too quickly if you have warm, moist soils. So, you’ve just spent $0.12 a pound more on your nitrogen costs and not received any real benefits.” Because of the added cost, which pencils out to $12 to $14 per acre or more, Larocque uses a combination of ESN, ammonium sulphate and urea. “That helps reduce the cost.” Dowbenko also encourages farmers to think about the dollar-per-acre cost rather than the dollar-per-tonne price tag. Since the nitrogen isn’t really intended to be used across all fields on the whole farm, farmers may begin by identifying the best places to use the product and they may find the premium a little easier to swallow. “It’s not going to replace other nitrogen fertilizers. It’s a tool to be used in the face of adverse conditions,” he says. When we start to look at how we’re going to use that on the farm, it works out to be more like $2.50 to as much as $6 an acre.” Farmers may also want to consider the cost of an in-season fertilizer application when trying to decide whether ESN will work on their operations.

during the growing season, some farmers see a protein boost in their wheat of 0.3 to 0.5 per cent when they blend ESN and regular nitrogen in equal amounts. Farmers could also see a yield bump. In corn crops in the United States, farmers are seeing around a 10 per cent increase in yield from ESN. Closer to home, farmers may have increased canola yields of between eight and 10 per cent and wheat yields that are between five and seven per cent higher. Those higher yields translate to a return on investment of roughly $3 to $5 a bushel in wheat and $5 to $8 a bushel in canola for every dollar spent. “That’s a pretty decent return,” says Dowbenko. “If you make a few more bushels, that’s more money in your pocket.”

Where to use environmentally-smart nitrogen But – and there’s always a “but” with new technology that seems too good to be true – ESN comes at a premium and might not give farmers the benefits they’re after.

“For in-season fertilizer, I’m paying for the fertilizer, but I’m also paying for the application costs,” says Dowbenko. “So, I could spend $4 or $5 on the [ESN] blend, or I could spend up to $9 to go out in season. If you think of it that way, the grower is much further ahead if they use a controlled-release fertilizer in the beginning of the season as opposed to going out in season.” Although using ESN to increase protein or yields might be hit or miss, it works well in wet soils in areas that are prone to heavy rainfalls or flooding. That’s the best bet for preventing nitrogen loss. “Start with your high-risk areas. That’s where you’re going to get your biggest return,” says Larocque. “Put it in the areas where you’re going to get a return from it, not just by rolling the dice and paying $0.12 a pound more for environmentally-smart nitrogen to increase yield or protein. It may do neither.” That’s why it’s critical for farmers to crunch the numbers for their own operations and figure out whether ESN has a fit. “It’s expensive, so you really have to watch your costs and the returns you’re going to get from a delayed-nitrogen product,” says Larocque. “You’d get a decent return on investment from the lack of leaching or denitrification. That’s where you’d want to spend the extra money when margins are tight.” 25


Manage Fertilizer Price Risk with On-Farm Storage By Jennifer Blair

Farmers almost need a crystal ball to figure out where fertilizer prices will go. “It can be a bit of a guessing game,” says Leigh Anderson, senior agricultural economist for Farm Credit Canada. “There’s a lot going on in global markets right now that could really push things in either direction.”

of these farms are looking at significant per acre savings.” That’s the story on Albert Wagner’s 4,400-acre grain farm west of Stony Plain, Alta. “We generally buy our fertilizer up to a year in advance,” says Wagner. “The past few years, we’ve ended up with next year’s fertilizer on the farm in July and August.”

Over the past five years, farmers have seen a 10 per cent dip in fertilizer prices because of a drop in natural gas costs, which spurred investment in fertilizer production. But that downward trend may not continue, Anderson cautions.

Wagner began storing his fertilizer in grain bags more than 10 years ago when he decided to take advantage of seasonal input price trends.

“Just recently, fertilizer prices have edged up a little bit in the U.S., so there’s becoming a balance between supply and demand.”

“Usually the price of fertilizer drops after seeding when the plants are looking for a place to put product,” says Wagner. “It costs money to store it, so if the retailer can move it to the farm, they usually offer a fair discount.”

Right now, there are three factors that could cause fertilizer prices to rise. The first is the proposed federal carbon tax, which could increase fertilizer prices by $1 to $2 per acre as fertilizer manufacturers pass their increased costs on to farmers.

For Wagner, grain bags were the ideal low-cost way to potentially have unlimited fertilizer. “It’s cheap storage. We can just keep adding grain bags.”

The second factor is the ongoing trade war with the United States. Currently, both countries have applied tariffs on one another – the U.S. has hit Canada with steel and aluminum premiums while Canada imposed countermeasures totalling $16.6 billion on July 1 on a host of products. “With the trade issues that are going on with the U.S., I think we probably will see fertilizer prices edge higher,” says Anderson. And finally, the predicted spike in American corn acres next year could drive up prices. “Corn uses a lot more fertilizer than other crops, so that will really impact the demand for fertilizer.” If prices seem uncertain right now, that’s because they are. Some, all or none of the three factors may end up becoming as pivotal as they seem today. To that end, some farmers try and do the next best thing to protect themselves from price risk, and that is to invest in on-farm storage. “Farms have invested in some storage to take advantage of buying fertilizer at any time of the year,” says Anderson. “Some 26

However, as with anything, there are some risks to this approach. “When you’ve got 600 tonnes of fertilizer sitting there, that’s a lot of money tied up,” says Wagner. “You take on the risk. If something happens to the bags and you get moisture in there, you’ve got a problem.” Farmers need to decide whether the return on investment is worth the risk. Wagner calculates the carrying cost for his fertilizer inventory, then uses historical pricing trends to determine whether buying early will pencil out or not. “Normally, we use about $35 a tonne as our base cost. So, whatever we pay, plus $35, gives us our estimate,” he says. “If the price in the spring is higher than that, we’re in the money.” And so far, the return has been worth the calculated risk on Wagner’s farm. “When we started doing this, the difference between what we paid [versus] the spring price was significant,” he says. “It’s worked really well for us.”


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Digging into Tillage Depending on farm goals and geography, tillage types still vary By Geoff Geddes

Depending on who you talk to, tillage can be good, bad, ugly, or all of the above. Like any tool, how and why you use it will determine whether tillage is an asset or liability for your business. Conventional and conservation tillage are the primary types and are simply measured by the amount of crop residue or vegetative material left on the ground post-harvest. Knowing the ins and outs of tillage and the different options is important, but only if you can answer a burning question: “what’s in it for me?” “Tillage loosens and aerates the soil, which allows for the deeper penetration of roots,” says David Lobb, professor in the Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the University of Manitoba. “It controls weeds and mixes organic matter, fertilizer, and manure with the soil. Other benefits include seedbed preparation, seed placement, soil-seed contact, incorporation of nutrients and crop management (hilling and harvesting). Additionally, tillage can accelerate both the breakdown of excessive crop residue and the warming and drying of the soil.” Yet as everyone knows, there are two certainties in life: you can’t control the weather, and for every upside there’s a downside. Tillage may lead to the loss of soil moisture, increased wind and water erosion, and consume significant amounts of fuel. Of these, soil erosion may be the biggest concern. 30

Save our soil “If farmers adopt conservation tillage, the health of the soil might not be protected,” says Lobb. “Conservation tillage, by reducing soil disturbance and increasing crop residue cover on the soil surface, can effectively control soil degradation by wind and water erosion. That said, there is another erosion process, called ‘tillage erosion,” which complicates the conventional understanding of how to conserve soil through tillage practices.” As Lobb explains, tillage erosion is the net loss and accumulation of soil that occurs within a field due to variability in soil movement during tillage. Soil movement and its variability are affected by several factors: type of tillage tool, speed and depth of tillage, operator’s manipulation of speed and depth during tillage, and soil conditions, including the amount of plant residues. Over time, tillage progressively moves soil from upper slope to lower slope landscape positions within a field. Tillage erosion is often found to be the major cause of soil loss where cultivated soils are most severely degraded by soil erosion. “One commonly used practice in conservation tillage is the employing of a chisel plow for primary rather than a moldboard plow,” says Lobb. “Although the chisel plow reduces the risk of wind and water erosion, it can result in greater tillage erosion. Another commonly used conservation tillage practice is the reduction in number of passes of discs and field cultivators used


in secondary tillage operations. This can be an effective means of reducing soil erosion by wind, water and tillage. However, some forms of crop production, such as potato production, or tertiary tillage operations such as seeding, hilling, and harvesting, may result in more tillage erosion than primary and secondary tillage operations combined. Consequently, some crop production systems would need to go well beyond conventional conservation tillage to maintain or restore a healthy soil.” To avoid erosion problems, many farmers just opt for no-till seeding. The no-till approach avoids any mechanical tillage of the soil and pushes for zero soil disturbance. In contrast to the multiple passes of equipment in the conventional approach, no-till can involve just one pass through the fields for planting.

Pick your spots Still, there is a role for tillage to play if used in moderation. “At one time, tillage was a standard practice on the Prairies and elsewhere for growing crops,” says Jim Halford, professional agrologist and farmer in Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Halford invented the Conserva PakTM, a patented zero till seed opener. “I advise today’s farmer to use tillage very selectively,” says Halford. “For example, if you have areas of your field with very heavy residue or that need smoothing out, you might do some harrowing to address that. Also, with the wet years we had recently in Saskatchewan and Alberta, some parts of your field could have been flooded and started to grow grass, bullrushes and cattails. Then the water finally disappears, and you want to get that land back to farming. If you just have limited residue out there like short grasses, you can mow it and seed directly, but if you have 4-5 feet of high residue, just mowing it and trying to seed through it won’t work. In that situation, people have used tillage quite effectively.” The key, notes Halford, is to only do those areas that were affected. Otherwise, you risk downgrading the structure of the soil and residue in the rest of the field, thus risking loss of moisture and organic matter and reduction in the ability of the soil to provide nutrients to future crops. The situational use of tillage works well for Adam Gurr, a grain farmer near Brandon, Man. “We practice controlled traffic farming (CTF), a system built on permanent wheel tracks where the crop zone and traffic lanes are permanently separated. When we have wet seasons in this area, the sprayer might make three to four passes in the same spot and eventually create ruts.”

Tillage has proven an effective tool for leveling off those ruts, and the CTF system really lends itself to the selective approach. “The benefit of CTF is that when ruts do form, we know exactly where they are, so we don’t have to resort to full field tillage to renovate them.”

A demanding industry Though tillage may be used less frequently today, at least one equipment dealer is still seeing great demand for it. “We see that farmers are using our machines in Western Canada because higher yielding crops have more biomass,” says Anson Boak with Salford Group in Manitoba. “The stalks, stems, leaves, and parts of the plant that aren’t harvested are left in the field to decompose, and that decomposition isn’t happening fast enough from season to season. After a few years of accumulation, seeding equipment becomes challenged by the buildup of residue, machines start to plug up, and seed placement is affected. Also, matted residue keeps the ground cool and wet, which challenges seeding equipment, and has a major impact on crop germination.” As farmers seek more effective mechanical means to accelerate residue composition, they help drive strong sales of Salford’s tillage equipment in Western Canada. “Producers find their seeding equipment performs better when there is less residue to contend with and that residue has been chopped into smaller pieces, which flow better through the ranks of air drills.” As well, Boak is finding that aggressive tillage models like Salford’s 5200 Enforcer, a disc-based primary tillage machine, are being used in Western Canada for specific purposes. “The most common call we’re seeing for more aggressive tillage units is organic farming where producers cannot use chemical means for weed and pest control,” says Boak. “These units help to control yield-limiting factors like weeds and pests without the use of chemicals. We’re also seeing them used for long-term pasture rotations. After long periods of use, grazing pasture land becomes compacted and heavy tillage is needed to convert that land back into crop production.” Given the varying viewpoints, the issue of “to till or not till” may come down to when, why, where and how tillage is applied. As for whether it’s good, bad or ugly, that’s a lot like the weather outlook: it depends on who you ask. 31

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The Last Straw

Straw management equipment improves over last 10 years, regional differences produce varying needs By Natalie Noble Above: Straw management practices vary throughout the Prairies. What’s a headache on your farm, may be less of an issue on another.

Something many farmers don’t want to think about, but guaranteed is already on their minds, is preparing the land and soil for the best success with next year’s planting. Another question likely will be what happens to all that leftover plant material and straw that doesn’t go into the bin? This is where straw and residue management practices come into play. There are several factors that influence straw management practices, such as moisture, crop type, stand, leafy growth and yield. Perhaps the biggest determining factor to managing crop residue in Western Canada is region. “It’s very regionally specific,” says Bentley farmer Jason Lenz, who farms 2,000 acres of barley, wheat, canola and faba beans. “For example, in west-central Alberta, there’s still a lot of tillage that occurs in the fall. Going into eastern Alberta, they don’t want to till their fields because they need to seal that moisture in until next spring for the best chance to germinate that new crop.” Brent Johnson, who farms 5,000 acres of seeded grain and hay land east of Strasbourg, Sask., adds that weather conditions are also a major factor in determining straw management practices. “In the wetter years, when we were growing big crops, straw management was a bigger issue. But, we’ve had two years in a row now where rain’s been scarce. We’re at the point of trying to save straw to bale,” he says. In addition to region and weather, increasingly larger equipment has added challenges. “Combine headers are getting to be in excess of 40 feet wide, compared with about 30 feet 10 years ago,” says Brunel Sabourin, owner and lead agronomist with Antara Agronomy. “This means there’s more difficulty in spreading straw evenly.”


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Above: Jason Lenz farms in west-central Alberta, where cereals are typically high in yield. Heavy harrowing and deep tillage cultivation are often necessary to break down and spread straw for faster decomposition.

Fortunately, most newer combines and harvesters are coming equipped with fine-cut choppers and straw spreaders with added ability to adjust to issues such as wind.

choppers have been upgraded. He adds that there are several brand manufacturers who offer kits for upgrading straw choppers.

“Sometimes, if the wind is blowing across your direction of travel, the straw will move further on one side than the other. The newer equipment adjusts the speed left or right and the angle at which the straw is thrown out the back of the combine. This helps us get our residue across the full swath of the combine unit,” says Sabourin.

There are also differences in residue management practices according to the crop. Johnson talks about this in his canola, which makes up the largest acreage on his farm.

Johnson says that in his case, having the combine equipped with a good straw chopper means he can often get the job done with that alone. “If there’s any one thing we find works best in straw management, excluding flax straw, it’s chopping it well on the combine to start with,” says Johnson. “We tell our operators to cut lower, take a little more straw through the combine and let the chops deal with it. That’s the best straw management tool we have. They’ve been making straw choppers a lot better over the last 10 years for sure.” Johnson runs Case rotary combines, which he says as long as they have good spreaders, work well. His John Deere combines with original choppers are not as ideal unless the 36

“We don’t have trouble with the straw, but we do have trouble with the chaff residue. We have to make sure the chaff spreaders are all working well,” he says. “Otherwise, in the spring we can end up with lots of chaff row issues and we find they can actually kill the new crop coming up if they’re too heavy.” In these cases, Johnson uses heavy harrows in the spring to remedy the problem. He uses a brand called Flexi-Coil, an affordable option, but perhaps not as tough as some of the products on the market today such as Degelman or Bourgault. “The harrow is the last machine we go to. If there are problems, the harrow will fix them all,” he says. “But, we prefer to keep the chopper on the combine doing the right thing; get it right the first time so we don’t have to go back in.” Johnson also grows flax, and managing its residue brings less options.

THE LAST STRAW | STRAW MANAGEMENT “The only thing we find we can do with that is take the choppers off, drop the straw on the ground, and burn it. Or we bale it. It’s the only efficient solution we’ve found with flax. Harrowing it is awkward and takes a lot of time. We’ve seen neighbours try chopping it and still have to harrow it,” he says. One-third of his baled flax straw is used in a burner Johnson’s father uses to heat his home and shop. The Johnsons also bale about 25 per cent of their cereal straw. The rest is chopped and spread with the combine. Over the last few dry years in their region, straw crops have been lighter and not required more management than that. However, in wetter years, where the crop was heavier and tougher to break down, they were heavy harrowed in the fall or spring. Over to the west, Lenz’s residue management has been a different experience. “For us, wheat and barley straw often come out of the back of the combine in huge volumes,” he says. “Depending on the year and how high yielding the crop is, the more straw and residue we have to deal with.” Lenz’s combines are Case 9230s, which come with chopper options from the “standard” to “Magna-cut” range upon

purchase, with more blades as you upgrade. “We have the Magna-cut chopper and it chops up the straw the most, but when you’re running material through the combine and you have more knives, it takes more horsepower to run,” says Lenz. Because Lenz Farms is located in a region that typically produces high-yielding, denser crops, heavy harrowing is a big part of their straw management practices. The heavy harrow breaks down and spreads the straw evenly across the field for faster decomposition. It’s operated at speeds between 16 and 19 km/h. “That might not sound very fast, but when you’re pulling a heavy harrow across the field in a big tractor, it’s pretty fast,” says Lenz. He uses the Elmer Super 7 Harrow, which has seven rows of harrow teeth, as opposed to the average harrow with only four rows. “With those seven rows of teeth, it’s more multipurpose,” he explains. “It also does a good job of rubbing out the dirt. The tillage can leave the soil a little ridged, so when we go across our fields in the spring with these heavy harrows, it levels the soil almost to the same quality you’d see in your garden.”

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STRAW MANAGEMENT | THE LAST STRAW After Lenz has picked a dry day and gone over his wheat and barley fields with the heavy harrow, he’ll use a deep-tillage cultivator. This tool goes down about four to five inches into the soil, lifting and turning the soil over, burying some of the straw at the same time. Deep-tillage cultivation allows for faster decomposition of residue, which is necessary in areas like his where heavy crops are more common. He estimates that a 100 bushel per acre crop in his region likely means 70-80 bushels per acre to the east, with a lot less residue and where a heavy harrow can take care of it. The next tool Lenz is considering for straw management is the Degelman Pro-Till. “It does a really good job of cutting and mixing up the straw and dirt, producing quicker decomposition. It also leaves a more level seedbed and you can travel at higher speed, almost twice as fast.” Sabourin says this type of tillage has become more popular over the last 10 years. “A lot of farmers are investing in vertical-tillage equipment,” he says. “Vertical-tillage units help us size up the residue and incorporate it better. This is more efficient and removes the need for any heavy tillage or cultivation.” Sabourin also discusses plant growth regulators (PGRs) to ease

straw management. These synthetic compounds are applied just before plants enter the vegetative state of growth, affecting their hormones and preventing plants from growing too tall or leafy. “PGRs are gaining in popularity across the Prairies, mostly for cereals right now,” he says. “They can shorten up the length of the straw, which means less residue to deal with.” While Johnson has not used PGRs yet as he keeps an eye on the progression of regulations surrounding it, Lenz is testing out a brand called Manipulator on an 80-acre CWRS plot. “It’s showing that it’s working,” he says. “In mid-July, there was already an eight-inch difference between where we sprayed and where we didn’t. Visually, it’s almost like a wall going through the field.” Lenz says Manipulator is easier to use than some other PGRs in that it has a bigger window for application. It was passed for safe use this spring and costs about $15 per acre plus about $5 per acre to run the sprayer. As for Johnson, he believes Mother Nature is doing the trick in his area. “Right now, we’ve got the best straw-growth regulator you can get, it’s called no rain. That holds the straw down about as good as anything.”

Below: Jason Lenz runs Case 9230 combines, which offer several enhancements such as chopper upgrades for up to 120 rotating blades and adjustable mass distribution to evenly spread straw across the entire width of header.



To Hail and Back How insurance has you covered

By Geoff Geddes

Naming the worst weather hazard for farmers is like picking out the biggest geek at a comic book convention: there’s no wrong answer. Still, hail damage to your crops can be devastating. Like much of farming, it begins and ends with risk management, and understanding the complexities of hail insurance is a good place to start. “When early settlers came to Alberta in the 1900s, they soon realized that hail was a big risk to their operations,” says Jackie Sanden, product coordinator for Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) in Rocky View, Alta. As they celebrate their 80th anniversary, AFSC sees no signs that the hail threat is decreasing. “Hail damage to crops is one of the top five risks for producers who farm in Alberta,” says Sanden. “Over half of the hail in Canada falls in Alberta, so it’s a real concern here.” That reality may explain why 13 million acres of farmland in Alberta have one of two forms of hail insurance through AFSC. One option is straight hail coverage, where someone buys insurance strictly for hail damage to their crops. There is also a hail endorsement, which is a rider that can be added to a farmer’s crop insurance policy. Yet, just because the insurance is out there doesn’t mean it’s completely understood; it’s still insurance, after all. Wading through language and procedure can help determine what it’s all about and what to expect when you take the plunge. “Each year, AFSC sets premium rates for each township in Alberta for each crop type we insure, whether it be pulses, cereals or oilseeds,” says Sanden. “The actuarial science is like with any other insurance product and is based on two things: history and vulnerability.”

Specifically, the insurer considers how often and how much they have paid out in the past for a certain crop in an area. Since crops like peas and canola tend to damage more easily and cause higher losses than a cereal such as barley or wheat, premiums are set accordingly. “We try and ensure that over the long-term, we are collecting enough premiums to cover all the losses we will need to pay. Every so often, we have a year with more payouts than usual, but we are backstopped by the provincial government and have re-insurance to cover our losses, so producers never need worry that we can’t pay a claim.” When it comes time to pay that claim, the process is an interesting blend of math, science and the human eye. “Once a client reports damage, our inspectors attend the farm to view the damaged crops,” says Sanden. “They perform crop counts in several areas of the field, look at the growth stage of plants and then make conclusions. If plants are at a young crop stage without much plant matter, we consider defoliation and what branches or leaves are damaged. For mid-stage crops, we look at stem damage and whether the plant can still recover and produce a head or pod. Finally, if a plant is mature, we examine pod loss and how many seeds are damaged.” Based on their observations and counts, inspectors calculate a per cent loss and apply that to a dollar amount, trying to determine what yield loss will result from the hail damage in question. For example, if a farmer has $2,000 in coverage and 32 per cent loss, they would receive $660 in payment on their claim. This process begs the question: What happens if the extent of the hail damage varies within a field? Do they look at the portion of the field that is 70 per cent hailed out, or the portion 39

CROP INSURANCE | TO HAIL AND BACK against all natural causes of loss,” says Shawn Jaques, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC). “That can include everything from hail, dry conditions or too much moisture, to frost or insects.” In 2017, SCIC insured 28.3 million acres, which represents about 75 per cent of seeded acres in the province. While every farm is different, the standard approach is for farmers to choose which crop to cover and at what coverage level, as SCIC has several options available. Like Alberta, SCIC sets premiums based on historical losses in the area, previous payouts and coverage levels. Over all crop types and coverage levels, the average premium in 2018 through SCIC was $8.41 per acre. Once premiums are paid and a loss occurs, the wheels of the claim process are set in motion.

Above: Hailed out canola sits in a central Alberta field. Canola takes a heavier beating than cereals during a hail event and, as such, premiums are determined differently through crop insurance.

that is five per cent hailed out? As tends to be the case with insurance, there’s a process for that. “It’s quite common to see a range of damage to a field. Depending on the size of the field, we have a minimum number of plant counts that inspectors need to do. If you have 100 acres, they will do eight counts in different spots. Should the numbers vary, we just split the acres, so you might have 20 per cent damage to 40 acres in this corner and 30 per cent damage on the 20 acres next door to it,” says Sanden.

“When a producer incurs a loss on their farm from a natural weather event, they assess those acres and determine if they will put the crop to another use prior to harvest or wait until harvest is completed and make a claim,” says Jaques. “If they feel they are in a loss situation, they contact their local crop insurance office; register a claim and have an adjuster assess the damage on-farm. The adjuster then determines the actual loss of production, which will vary depending on the time of year. Most claims are registered after harvest, once the producer has completed harvest of all their acres. We measure the farm’s production, consider what is sold or fed to livestock, calculate total production for that crop year and compare it to the coverage level; then, if there’s a loss, we pay the difference.” If the inspection is being done prior to harvest, which occurs when a farmer decides to put all or some of their acres to an alternate use following a loss, adjusters determine the yield for the acres not harvested.

Though the procedures around premiums and claims are well-established, they are also designed to evolve with the industry.

SCIC also pays for quality, such as guaranteeing No. 1 canola even if it’s downgraded to No.2. In that case, an adjustment factor is applied to compensate for loss of quality.

“As producers change how they manage crops, what types they grow and their production capacity, the amount of insurance they can purchase, and which crops are covered has increased, as well. In my 15 years at AFSC we have added 20 crops to our insurable list. Sometimes a producer will ask us to insure a new crop they’re trying, or we’ll hear about something new at an industry event. If we can determine how to do plant counts and assess damage for that crop, we will look at covering it for hail damage.”

Though the hail insurance process is thought by some to be shrouded in mystery, Sanden takes issue with that.

One province over, Saskatchewan also deals with hail issues using an approach that both differs from Alberta and shares some common threads. “SCIC offers yield-loss insurance, which provides coverage 40

“Our inspectors have manuals that literally tell them how many plants to look at, how to count head loss and how broken leaves will affect yield,” says Sanden. “There is observation involved, but there is definitely math and science behind what we do. For producers unfamiliar with how it all works, we encourage them to attend the inspection so they know what we’re doing and how we’re arriving at the final numbers. We also have a calculator on our website, so when producers are up at 10 p.m. wanting to get an exact quote, they can do that.” Of course, when you’re dealing with weather, some things will always be hard to predict, but if anyone chooses a farming career for its certainty, they’d best have a plan B.

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What is Delta T and why is it Important for Spraying? Tom Wolf, Ph.D, P.Ag. Tom Wolf grew up on a grain farm in southern Manitoba. He obtained his BSA and M.Sc. (Plant Science) at the University of Manitoba and his Ph.D. (Agronomy) at Ohio State University. Tom was a research scientist with Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada for 17 years before forming AgriMetrix, an agricultural research company that he now operates in Saskatoon. He specializes in spray drift, pesticide efficacy, and sprayer tank cleanout, and conducts research and training on these topics throughout Canada. Tom sits on the Board of the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association, is an active member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and is a member and past president of the Canadian Weed Science Society.


Delta T, also known as “wet bulb depression,” is an atmospheric moisture parameter whose use in spraying has made its way to North America from Australian operations. It is defined as the dry bulb temperature minus the wet bulb temperature, and provides an indication of water evaporation rate. Higher Delta T means faster water evaporation. With the average tank of pesticide being 90 to 99.5 per cent water, evaporation plays an important role in both droplet size and active ingredient concentration. The recommendations from Australia are to avoid spraying when the Delta T is either too high or too low, with a range of two to eight being described as ideal. Figure 1: Delta T chart used in Australia (Source: Australian Gov’t Dept of Meteorology) Delta T is being reported on an increasing number of weather stations, and it’s time we took a closer look at what it means.

Measuring Relative Humidity In the early days of weather reporting, relative humidity was calculated from psychrometric charts. All one needed was a hygrometer, usually a sling psychrometer. A sling psychrometer is two identical thermometers side by side whose bulbs could be slung in a circle, exposing them to moving air. One bulb was covered in a cotton wick moistened with distilled water, the other was left exposed and dry.

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Figure 1: Delta T chart used in Australia (Source: Australian Government Department of Meteorology)


SPRAYING 101 | WHAT IS DELTA T AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR SPRAYING? Aussies started talking about Delta T because the use of finer sprays under the hot dry conditions found during their summer sprays resulted in significant evaporative losses, significantly greater drift potential, and potential reduction of product performance. The guidelines to avoid spraying when Delta T exceeds eight or ten originate there.

Figure 2: Sling psychrometer (Source: As the bulbs met moving air, water evaporated from the cotton wick and that reduced the temperature of that thermometer. The dryer the air, the greater the evaporation rate and therefore the greater the temperature drop. The dry thermometer was unaffected by this movement.

A few changes have happened since these guidelines were developed. Over the past 10 to 20 years, we’ve observed greater use of low-drift sprays, with the coarser sprays’ larger droplets resisting fast evaporation. In the past five to 10 years, water volumes have increased due to our heavier reliance on fungicides, desiccants, and contact modes of action. These developments have helped reduce the impact of a dry atmosphere. We simply can’t say if a Delta T of 10 is too high with these new application methods. Looking at it another way, if Delta T values are very high, increasing water volume and droplet size will mitigate that to some degree, as the Aussies state in their extension materials.

On measuring the wet and dry bulb temperature, one consulted a psychrometric chart. This chart converted the two temperatures to total water content in the air, compared it to total water-holding capacity, and therefore expressed it as Relative Humidity (RH). Psychrometric charts are useful for many other air parameters such as dew point, vapour pressure, or enthalpy. (Pause briefly to give thanks that we don’t need to know what enthalpy is.)


Pros and Cons of Water Evaporation

Deposited droplets dry quickly, reducing pesticide uptake, which is more effective from a wet deposit.

It’s important to note that our Australian colleagues caution against spraying when water evaporation rate is both too high and too low.

Too Low:

Bottom Line

Water doesn’t evaporate, maintaining the smaller droplets in a liquid state. These small droplets are already drift prone, but are now more potent because of more effective uptake. By the way, overnight conditions that are inverted are usually humid, adding to harm potential from the inversion.

Delta T is definitely useful information when spraying. It will typically rise and fall with air temperature as the day proceeds, and it is wise to consider suspending operations when values are critical. The cautions associated with it may not apply to western Canada due to our spraying practices.

It’s important to note that our Australian colleagues caution against spraying when water evaporation rate is both too high and too low. Too High: Water evaporates rapidly, reducing droplet size and predisposing the smaller droplets to drift;

Delta T in North America The addition of this parameter to our spraying weather lexicon has been useful, but it’s important to understand the context in which it was developed to properly judge its suitability. 44

Pesticide formulation can also play a role in evaporation. Once the water is gone, oily formulations may still have good uptake because the oily active ingredient stays dissolved. This is both good and bad, helping on-target efficacy but also increasing the risk of more potent drift. Solutions, on the other hand, are more likely to leave their actives stranded on leaves once the water is gone.

Take note of the Delta T when spraying the same product throughout these hot days and learn from the experience. Remember, the atmosphere affects not just sprays but also plants and insects, and due to this complexity, we may not be able to attribute success or failure to just one measurement.

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Consider Low-Stress Weaning This Fall Research shows better gains, less issues with improved management techniques Karin Schmid Karin grew up on a mixed farm near Keoma, Alta., raising purebred Simmental cattle and grain, and is still involved in the family operation to a limited extent. She has a master’s degree in agriculture from the University of Alberta, and her thesis focused on the genetic and metabolic factors affecting feed efficiency in beef cattle. Before joining Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), Karin spent just over four years with the Canadian Hereford Association as their breed development coordinator.


It’s easy to see why weaning is stressful on calves: sudden deprivation of milk and social contact with mothers, being handled for vaccinations, changes to feed and water sources, and transportation to a different environment with unfamiliar pen mates is a lot for young animals to cope with. The stress calves experience through weaning depresses their immune systems, making freshly weaned calves the most susceptible to bovine respiratory disease (BRD) infections. Stressed calves also have lower feed intakes. Listening to their bawling, seeing them pace in their pens and dealing with sick calves is also stressful for producers. Minimizing stress during weaning is not only more profitable in the long run for cattle producers, it is also attractive to consumers. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the welfare of livestock and the use of antimicrobials. Low-stress weaning techniques are key to good welfare and disease prevention in freshly-weaned calves, thereby reducing the need for antibiotic treatments. The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle recommends developing a weaning strategy that minimizes stress, such as two-stage, or fence-line, weaning. These practical weaning methods closely imitate the natural weaning process where a cow rejects a calf’s attempts to nurse.


Two-stage weaning In stage 1, calves wear anti-suckling nose-tags. The nose-tags allow the calves to stay with their dams but stop them from nursing. Calves wear the nose-tags for about four to five days and the nose-flaps are removed before the calves’ noses get sore. In stage 2, the nose-tags are removed, and the calves are also separated from the dams. This weaning method requires an extra trip through the chute. Research by Dr. Derek Haley at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, ON found that calves that underwent two-stage weaning with anti-suckling nose-tags vocalized 97 per cent less, spent 30 per cent more time eating, and walked 73 kilometres less than their abruptly weaned counterparts. In addition, the dams of the two-stage weaning calves vocalized 84 per cent less.

Fence-line weaning Fence-line weaning is a lower labour method to reduce weaning. With this method, cows and calves are separated by a fence but can still see, hear, and smell one another, and preferably also have nose-to-nose contact. Dr. Haley’s research found that calves that were fence-line weaned

vocalized 50 per cent less, walked less, and had higher weight gains in the first 10 weeks after separation than abruptly weaned calves. There are multiple ways to set up a fence-line weaning program depending on a producer’s existing facilities. Regardless of the details, cows and calves should be kept apart for at least three to four days and fencing must be sturdy.

Minimizing stress during weaning is not only more profitable in the long run for cattle producers, it is also attractive to consumers. Main office: Phone: (306) 382-8088 Fax: (306) 382-8319 Located 10 km west of Saskatoon on Highway #14 (towards Biggar).

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CATTLE | CONSIDER LOW-STRESS WEANING THIS FALL Dr. Haley’s findings are echoed by a study from Ohio State University that compared confinement weaning (calves separated from cows and put in a drylot pen) and fence-line weaning on pasture. Steers from the drylot weaning strategy lost 1.32 lbs/day the first week in the feedlot, whereas steers from the pasture weaning treatment gained 0.88 lbs/day. Only 15 per cent of the pasture weaned calves required treatment for respiratory disease, but nearly 40 per cent of the calves weaned in the drylot were treated. Low-stress management is relevant to more than just those who retain ownership of feeder calves. For producers who sell direct to backgrounders or feedlots, or through auction to repeat buyers, practicing low-stress techniques can help build a reputation for healthy, high-performing calves worth a premium. The first Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey (WCCCS I, 2014 calf crop) demonstrated that 70 per cent of respondents used the traditional method of weaning—abrupt separation of the cows and calves. Twenty-eight per cent were using low-stress methods with 22 per cent of those utilizing fence-line weaning and 6 per cent performing two-stage weaning. The WCCCS II (2017 calf crop) saw traditional abrupt separation fall to 48 per cent of respondents, and saw a rise in both fence-line weaning and

two-stage weaning to 34 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively. The main reason provided for traditional separation was that respondents sold calves at or very soon after weaning. Other reasons included seeing no financial benefit (related to selling at auction directly after weaning) or lack of time, labour and facilities, which are valid considerations.

Other considerations Try to avoid layering stressful procedures at weaning, such as castration and dehorning. Practice low-stress handling methods, including while loading and unloading for transport (a high-risk time for injury). Gradually, transition calves onto new feed to avoid reduced intakes and potential acidosis. Many areas of the Prairies have been or are currently quite dry. Forage shortages may require management changes, such as early weaning or creep-feeding the calves to take some of the pressure off the cows so they can maintain body condition. If grain, silage, or byproduct feeds are cheap enough, supplementing on pasture or even drylotting the cows can buy time for the pasture to rest, recover, and bounce back if the rain starts to fall.

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Dry Down

Grain dryers may save farmers time and headaches in the field

By Alexis Kienlen Above: Davidson, Sask., farmer Rob Stone has used a grain dryer since 2014 and today cannot imagine life without one. His unit is setup to dry about 300 bushels per hour. Credit: Rob Stone

Grain dryers are becoming increasingly useful in Prairie farming and more farmers are snapping them up. Scott Keller, who farms in New Norway, AB., is a huge fan of his grain dryer, and has been farming with one for years. “We’ve had the same dryer since 1995 and we’ve slowly expanded the system, adding more bins. It’s somewhat automated in that it shuts off automatically if there’s a problem, but you still have to speed it up and slow it down,” he says. “When I figure out our natural gas power to auger the grain, dry it and then cool it off, we’re basically at a penny a point per bushel. If we’re drying three points of moisture out of it, it might cost three cents a bushel, is all. You have the money tied up in the infrastructure. It’s relatively cheap, where aeration can remain quite slow and ineffective, at least in our climate.” In 2014, 2016 and 2017, Keller had snow during harvest. “We basically dried over 90 per cent of the grain we combined. We were able to finish, as well. The grain dryer was quite likely the difference between having grain left out in the field over winter those years or getting it in the bin before winter set in permanently for the year,” he says. Keller’s bin is square shaped and holds 700 bushels. He and his team dry the grain right off the field by filling a 4,000-bushel wet bin as they go. The dryer draws grain out of it automatically if it needs it.


DRY DOWN | GRAIN DRYERS “You set the heat and how fast you want it to run through. We have our own moisture tester on-farm so we’re testing all the grain coming off the field that’s going into the wet bin, so we know what to expect,” he explains. The moisture levels change during the day, so Keller makes manual adjustments to the dryer to speed it up or slow it down, so it continues to dry the grain properly. The combine typically runs faster than the grain dryer can handle, and the dryer itself does between 400 to 500 bushels an hour. “By the end of the day, by the time you quit combining in the evening, usually you’ve got the wet bin full and maybe a semi [truck] full as well that you’ll unload later in the evening. If we start combining at lunch time, the dryer is usually running by 3 p.m. by the time we have a truckload there. Then you’ll dry grain until 4 or 5 in the morning, so that involves checking it every two to three hours once you quit combining for the day. It ends up being a little tiresome, but I guess it’s a little better than just waiting.” Keller says it’s very difficult to achieve the moisture content requested by maltsters if you just let your grain dry in the field. Maltsters want the grain between 13.5 to 14.5 maximum moisture content.

“The only time I’ve seen grain actually dry off is when we get those fall days when it’s just bloody hot—like 30° Celsius. And then the grain still needs to be cooled off anyways, because it spoils in the bin if it goes in the bin too hot. If your temperature is 30°, then the grain is usually five to 10 degrees higher. Thirty-five degrees Celsius barley will cook and wreck the germ in the bin if it doesn’t get air blowing through it. It ends up being really labour intensive.” Keller says that he ends up combining at a steady pace because of the dryer. He’s also able to get into the fields when things might still be a little wet, unlike his neighbours who wait for everything to dry down. “If you’re waiting for grain to be close to dry, you might not combine for three, four or five days and then, boom; conditions will be right and then you’ll run all day and night and then it will rain again,” he says. Having the dryer enables him to keep his barley at a higher grade. Rain could mean stains, chits, or even sprouting, depending on how much rain falls. Keller says that he can dry peas and faba beans, but it doesn’t work as well because they are harder to auger. He mostly sticks to wheat, barley and canola.


GRAIN DRYERS | DRY DOWN “We dry virtually every bushel of wheat and barley that we would grow, and we dry quite a bit of canola now. We’ve switched over so everything we do is straight cut; straight canola can get dry standing, but we’re typically combining it when it’s between 10 to 12 per cent moisture, and 10 is dry.”

allows them to take the grain off at a higher-than-safe storage level for moisture content. It allows them to put it down to a safe level and put it in the bin for storage,” he says.

Mark Cutts, a provincial crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, says grain dryers work well if harvest conditions are poor, farmers need to get the grain off, and the grain isn’t at a moisture level that is considered safe for storage.

The use of grain dryers really varies per region. In the Peace region of Alberta, dryers are used because their falls are pretty rough, points out Cutts. In southern Alberta, producers are able to dry their grain without dryers due to the strong winds. In Central Alberta, it’s a free for all, where some farmers use dryers and others don’t.

“If you put grain in a bin that’s at a high moisture content, certainly the risk for spoilage is higher. Basically, it’s a tool that

“It’s a matter of what kind of falls you have. There are some years where I think everyone would like to have a grain dryer.

Below: Rob Stone’s grain dryer in action. The Davidson, Sask., farmer has a grain dryer capable of processing 300 bushels per hour and he says it has paid for itself since purchasing the unit in 2014. Credit: Rob Stone


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GRAIN DRYERS | DRY DOWN It’s a decision made by the producer. Maybe they don’t feel it’s needed enough to justify it. Lots of thought goes into whether they do or don’t need one,” says Cutts. Farmers often share grain dryers and will sometimes dry their neighbour’s grain. “It’s a valuable tool when it’s needed. When producers don’t have grain dryers, hopefully they have a neighbour or someone who would be willing to help them out when they end up with tough grain,” he says. When there are nasty fall seasons, the interest in grain dryers spikes. Rob Stone, a grain grower from Davidson, Sask., bought his dryer a few years ago in a pinch. “It was a last-minute panic purchase in 2014, to bail us out of a bunch of wet grain that we’d already put into bags,” he says. Stone and his family were faced with wet feed wheat and malt barley at the time. Since then, they typically use the dryer on their malt barley, taking the moisture content down from 16 to 13 per cent.

Above: Grain Drying Credit: Western Grain Dryer Inc.

Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’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. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate and dicamba. Agricultural herbicides containing glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate, and those containing dicamba will kill crops that are not tolerant to dicamba. Contact your Monsanto dealer or call the Monsanto technical support line at 1-800-667-4944 for recommended Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System weed control programs. Roundup Ready® technology contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Agricultural herbicides containing glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for corn (fungicides only) is a combination of three separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, prothioconazole and fluoxystrobin. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for corn (fungicides and insecticide) is a combination of four separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, prothioconazole, fluoxystrobin, and clothianidin. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for corn plus Poncho®/VOTiVO™ (fungicides, insecticide and nematicide) is a combination of five separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, prothioconazole, fluoxystrobin, clothianidin and Bacillus firmus strain I-1582. Acceleron® Seed Applied Solutions for corn plus DuPont™ Lumivia® Seed Treatment (fungicides plus an insecticide) is a combination of four separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, prothioconazole, fluoxastrobin and chlorantraniliprole. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for soybeans (fungicides and insecticide) is a combination of four separate individually registered products, which together contain the active ingredients fluxapyroxad, pyraclostrobin, metalaxyl and imidacloprid. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for soybeans (fungicides only) is a combination of three separate individually registered products, which together contain the active ingredients fluxapyroxad, pyraclostrobin and metalaxyl. Fortenza® contains the active ingredient cyantraniliprole. Visivio™ contains the active ingredients difenoconazole, metalaxyl (M and S isomers), fludioxonil, thiamethoxam, sedaxane and sulfoxaflor. Acceleron®, Acceleron BioAg™, Acceleron BioAg and Design™, Cell-Tech®, DEKALB and Design®, DEKALB®, Genuity®, JumpStart®, Optimize®, QuickRoots®, Real Farm Rewards™, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup Transorb®, Roundup WeatherMAX®, Roundup Xtend®, Roundup®, SmartStax®, TagTeam®, Transorb®, TruFlex™, VaporGrip®, VT Double PRO®, VT Triple PRO® and XtendiMax® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Used under license. BlackHawk®, Conquer® and GoldWing® are registered trademarks of Nufarm Agriculture Inc. Valtera™ is a trademark of Valent U.S.A. Corporation. Fortenza®, Helix®, Vibrance® and Visivio™ are trademarks of a Syngenta group company. DuPont™ and Lumivia® are trademarks of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. Used under license. LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design are trademarks of Bayer. Used under license. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Used under license. Poncho® and VOTiVO™ are trademarks of Bayer. Used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

“It’s really tough to get it to the dry spec. The majority of drying done is malt barley,” he says. If the crop doesn’t dry in the field, Stone and his crew can start combining their malt barley several days earlier to make sure they can get the quality off. “Once it’s in the yard, you’ve got all sorts of options,” he says. If the crop doesn’t dry, it’s easier to fix mistakes with a dryer. “Natural aeration doesn’t dry a lot of things. We’ve had moderate to low success of actually drying things with natural air. It just gives us flexibility on the farm to be more on top of things.” Stone hasn’t used his dryer on canola, but many people in his area have. In 2016, he was able to get everything off before the snow came. “It probably made it so we didn’t have to worry about the snow. We were able to get going on our stuff earlier on and were able to dodge some of the earlier conditions in our cereals and deal with it in October and September instead of October and November,” he says. There aren’t a lot of dryer services in Stone’s area; the closest ones are about two to three hours away. He has a smaller dryer that allows him to do about 300 bushels an hour. It’s definitely paid for itself by now. “In terms of getting into it and having a dryer around the yard, I think it’s been an absolutely wonderful investment,” said Stone.



Sheep: The Tariff-Free Industry Are we in a trade war? I do not think I know what a trade war is, exactly. In my lifetime I have seen disputes over softwood lumber and claims of agriculture products being dumped. Of course, we all remember 2003 when the border shut down to livestock trade with the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis. But as for a trade war, I am puzzled as to how it works and if anyone actually wins. Paul Kuntz Paul Kuntz is the owner of Wheatland Financial and offers financial consulting and debt broker services. He can be reached through

I was recently at a trade show and sale for the sheep industry. Compared to almost all other agriculture sectors, this industry is still trying to feed our domestic market. The sheep industry is unique in many ways but from an economical point of view, the main difference from other Canadian industries is that we only supply 40 per cent of the lamb meat consumed in the country. The other 60 per cent has to be imported. This has and still is creating an exciting opportunity for producers. This opportunity is not being hampered by outside events like trade wars. All this industry is trying to do right now is feed Canada. So whatever happens to tariffs and trade wars, this industry will not be affected. Unlike other agriculture industries, there is not much of a barrier to entry. There are no quotas that you have to purchase. Relatively speaking to cattle, the livestock is inexpensive to purchase as well as the equipment needed to handle them. It can be done on a part-time basis, so you do not have to change what you are doing now. The land base to have a flock can be small in comparison with cattle.

Another unique aspect of sheep is the quick turnaround. First, a lamb is ready for market somewhere between 90-120 days from birth. So this means that in our harsh climate, you can actually have a lamb born on green grass and be ready for market before the snow falls. If you compare that to cattle you are looking at 12-15 months to finish a beef market animal. At six months of age, sheep can begin breeding. With a gestation of approximately five months, you could have an ewe lamb born and in 12 months, that ewe lamb could have a lamb of its own. This is an aggressive practice that not all sheep producers do, but it can happen. That quick turnaround can allow for flock growth in a much faster pace than beef cattle. If your ranch had a heifer calf in the spring of 2018, it will be bred sometime in 2019 and can have a calf in 2020. 55


Operating Costs



FEED COSTS Grain Pellets Minerals






Total Feed Cost






Veterinary Medicine & Supplies



Breeding Costs



Fuel, Maintenance & Repairs





Incl in above

Marketing & Transportation



Death Loss


Incl in lamb percentage

Manure Removal






Herd Replacement


Incl in Above




Subtotal Operating Costs







INCOME Calf at 550 lbs at $2.095


Lambs at 1.8/ewe at 90 lbs at $2.27 Margin

In order for any venture to have long-term success, there must be profit. A lot of us understand the cattle markets. There has been profitability going back 10 plus years with cattle. The past three years have been okay, but nothing like 2013 and 2014 where we experienced record profits. Depending on the hay shortages in your specific area, some of that profit may have disappeared into higher than normal feed costs in the past two years. Regardless of your individual situation, there is profit on cattle. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers. We will compare a sheep operation to a cow/calf operation. The sheep operation will be a 250 ewe operation that is classified as semiconfinement. This means that the operation would have lambing pens set up, the flock would be confined and fed through the winter, and in the summer the flock would be on 56

$367.20 $500.28


pasture. The numbers we are using are courtesy of the Saskatchewan Sheep Development Board. The cattle operation we are going to look at will be a 150 cow operation and the numbers are courtesy of Manitoba Agriculture. The operation will be a cow calf operation. We will assume the cows are on pasture for the summer and we will be selling calves at the 550 lb weight. To make the numbers a bit more universal, we will only include the variable costs. When it comes to facilities and equipment, you can add in your own numbers if you like. Pasture costs will be removed as well because they can vary greatly depending on your situation. We will show the numbers as a per/breeding unit cost, so the sheep will be $/ewe and the cattle are $/cow.

SHEEP: THE TARIFF-FREE INDUSTRY | FARMING YOUR MONEY An easy ratio to compare sheep to cattle is 6:1. So for housing, pasture and equipment, you can have about six sheep for every cow. Based on that, the six sheep would bring you $117.20 X 6 = $703.20, for every cow which brings $500.28. Based on that math, there is an argument that sheep are more profitable. There are many other aspects to consider besides the mathematics of finance. You need a higher level of predator control with sheep than you do with cows. The fencing is usually a lot more intense than a cow fence. Dealing with a sick ewe takes as much time as dealing with a sick cow but now you have six times as many animals to look after. Every area of Western Canada has a market for cattle. Not every area has an easily accessible market for sheep. Another area that is misleading is the weight of the calf being sold. If you have the feed, facilities, and expertise, you can grow that calf much bigger than 550 lbs. There will be additional feed costs but for the most part, your fixed costs will not increase. On the lamb side, there is not a lot of extra weight that you can add. At 100 to 110 lbs, the lamb is finished so there is no real opportunity for back grounding. As of July 1, 2017, Statistics Canada reports that Canada has

12,950,000 cattle and 1,546,600 sheep. So there are almost 10 times more cows than sheep. Regardless of the current trends, sheep are not taking over cattle in this country. They do provide a unique opportunity though. There are not many agricultural commodities produced in Canada that do not require an export market to exist. Canada has a strong reputation across the world and we need not fear relying on sales outside of our border for the existence of an industry. But it is comforting to know there is still a market that is purely domestic. In fact, the international community has been decreasing in sheep so the 60 per cent of our lamb that we rely on from imports will be more difficult to obtain in the future. If you have a few acres of land and the permission of your municipality to have livestock, you might want to look at sheep. If you have a ranch and want to diversify, you might want to look at sheep. If you want your kids to have some animals and would rather have them deal with a 180 lb ewe versus a 1,500 lb cow, you might want to look at sheep. This is a very vibrant growing industry that has a bright future. All of our provinces in the west have associations that can assist you in getting started. Take a look and see if it is right for you.

Driven by our members. You know what drives Affinity? It’s you, our members. That’s why your financial well-being is our top priority. After all, we’re in it together.

1.866.863.6237 57


Herbicide Breakdown and the Risk of Carry-Over Industry The Prairies were exceptionally dry in 2017, with most of the region receiving less than 85 per cent of normal precipitation. Parts of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan that received less than 60 per cent of normal precipitation were classified as under drought conditions. After weathering a wet cycle prior to 2017 and with continued dry conditions in 2018, it’s a good time for a refresher on herbicide breakdown and persistence in soil. Jeanette Gaultier, PhD., P.Ag., CCA Jeanette completed her B.Sc. in Agronomy at the University of Manitoba and continued her studies at the Universities of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to earn her PhD. in Soils & Pesticide Science. She has over 10 years’ experience working in the crops industry, with a focus on weed management. Jeanette lives with her husband and three children near NotreDame-de-Lourdes, Manitoba, where they operate a U-pick strawberry farm.


Herbicides registered for use on Prairie crops strike a balance between effective weed control and limited restrictions on follow crops. This differs from regions in the United States and Eastern Canada that use more herbicides with greater residual activity. The persistence of any herbicide active ingredient can be characterized by its soil half-life (DT50), which describes the time it takes (in days) for half of the product applied to be degraded (Figure 1). Despite the fact that a herbicide is assigned a DT50 value based on numerous studies, the actual soil half-life of that herbicide may vary under field conditions. With few exceptions, herbicides rely on soil microbes for their breakdown. Therefore, anything that affects soil microbial activity will also affect herbicide breakdown, including soil texture, soil organic matter, pH, soil temperature and soil moisture. Studies have repeatedly shown that soil temperature and moisture are the most important factors influencing herbicide degradation, with optimal breakdown occurring in warm (20 to 30°C) and moist but not saturated soil conditions. Because of this, we require adequate moisture in the warmest months following herbicide application – June, July and August – to allow for the product(s) to break down in our Prairie soils.



Increasing DT50

2,4-D Glyphosate Clopyralid Flucarbazone Imazethapyr Atrazine Sulfentrazone Residual

Under dry or drought conditions, herbicide breakdown may be limited and “carry-over” into the next growing season can occur.

Figure 1: Examples of non-residual and residual herbicides

Under dry or drought conditions, herbicide breakdown may be limited and “carry-over” into the next growing season can occur. Herbicide injury may result if a sensitive crop is grown the following year.

Herbicide stacking Research conducted at the University of Manitoba and University of Saskatchewan also found that repeated use of Group 2 herbicides throughout a rotation can lead to an accumulated residual effect known as “herbicide stacking.” In this case, small amounts of various Group 2 herbicides accumulate over several growing seasons to contribute to injury symptoms in a sensitive follow crop. While dry conditions also increase the risk of Group 2 stacking, use of more residual Group 2 products (versus Group 2 herbicides with less residual activity) within a rotation is a contributing factor. Although most of the studies completed to date have focused on Group 2 herbicides, in theory, stacking can happen within any herbicide group with residual chemistries and a target-site mode of action. Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are now looking into this as a possibility with Group 14 herbicides.

Is it herbicide carry-over? Following re-cropping restrictions outlined on a herbicide product label generally prevents carry-over issues. Although, as explained, dry conditions like those experienced in 2017 can lead to herbicide injury symptoms in approved follow crops normally grown without issue. Be sure to rule out other potential causes of crop injury before

alerting your agronomist or crop protection company representative to a potential herbicide injury claim. Symptoms that can mimic herbicide injury include chlorosis, purpling, white or yellow “flash,” leaf cupping or puckering and root pinching that can be caused by drought stress, heat stress, frost, nutrient deficiency, insects and/or disease.

What to do if it is carry-over? This is the hardest question to answer when a follow crop is affected by herbicide carry-over. In most cases, regardless of how dire the field looks at or just after germination, crop condition improves over time. Rainfall can also help a crop “grow out” of injury symptoms. For this reason, it’s usually recommended to continue with an affected crop rather than reseeding. Limited re-crop options and crop insurance deadlines may also support this decision. That said, there certainly have been situations that warranted reseeding. It’s recommended to discuss this decision with crop insurance, a company representative and/or an agronomist before working a field under. Also, be prepared to discuss the cropping history of an affected field. This will include specific information of crops grown, seeding dates, product applications and application dates, soil and fertility information and general environmental conditions. Herbicide carry-over is an unpleasant situation for everyone involved – crop protection companies and their representatives, agronomists and especially the grower. With 2018 looking like another dry year, it’s worth taking a look at your crop rotation to assess potential risks and cropping options. 59



Herbicide Group

Example Active Ingredients**

Group 2

Halosulfuron, Imazamethabenz, Imazapyr*, Imazethapyr*, Metsulfuron

Group 5


Group 2


Group 3

Ethalfluralin, Trifluralin

Group 13


Group 2

Flucarbazone, Imazamethabenz

Group 4


Group 13


Group 27


Group 2

Imazamethabenz, Imazapyr, Metsulfuron

Group 4


Group 13


Group 2

Halosulfuron, Metsulfuron

Group 3


Group 4

Clopyralid, Halauxifen

Group 13


Group 14


Group 27


Group 2

Imazamethabenz, Imazapyr, Imazethapyr, Metsulfuron

Group 3

Ethalfluralin, Trifluralin

Group 8


Group 13



Group 4

Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr

Wheat, Barley

Group 3

Ethalfluralin, Trifluralin


Durum wheat

Field pea




Table 1: Possible herbicide sensitivities by crop. * **


Not including Clearfield canola varieties. Examples are based on re-cropping restrictions and/or cautionary label statements and may not include all potential active ingredients.


KIOTI KIOTI Tractor expands popular CK10SE Series KIOTI Tractor, a division of Daedong-USA, Inc., has expanded its popular CK10SE Series with four new models available across North America. The new models: the CK3510SE, CK4010SE, CK3510SE HST and CK4010SE HST, join the CK3510SE HC and CK4010SE HC cab models introduced in 2017. “The CK10SE Series gives customers a powerful, yet comfortable workhorse,” says Peter DongKyun Kim, president and CEO of Daedong-USA, Inc., KIOTI tractor division. “These tractors are ready for any job and with the versatility in model options, they are perfect for any user.” Operators can choose the machine that best fits their unique needs, with engine gross horsepower options (34.9 hp or 39.6 hp); PTO options (28 hp to 34.9 hp); and synchronized shuttle, hydrostatic ROPS, or hydrostatic cab models. Three-cylinder, in-line vertical, water-cooled, fuel-efficient Daedong diesel engines power all six models. Features include:

hydrostatic power steering, telescopic lower link and stabilizers, rear independent PTO, rear differential lock, mechanically actuated 4WD, and rear dual remote valves with four ports. The CK10SE Series also features high ground clearance and three options for tires, helping tackle the toughest terrain. The HST models come with cruise control and a linked pedal that reduce fuel consumption over long periods of use. The factory-installed cabin features a panoramic view with standard A/C and heat, front and rear working lights and front and rear window wipers for operator comfort in all types of weather.

OLDS COLLEGE Initiatives underway at Olds College to train agriculture students of tomorrow Olds College welcomes the Government of Alberta’s proposed Economic and Diversification Act, and the creation of 3,000 new spaces for technology programs in the post-secondary system. “Today we are seeing an increase in the application of technology in all sectors and Olds College has several initiatives underway to respond to the corresponding demand for graduates who are as adept in the use of technology as they are in the practice of agriculture and food production,” comments Stuart Cullum, president, Olds College. “Our industry is highly competitive globally in optimizing technology and science for the efficient use of land and water in agri-food production. This is essentially the definition of smart agriculture and Olds College is positioning to play a leadership role in supporting the industry by developing

hundreds of new learning spaces in the years ahead for Alberta students.” Initiatives include the establishment of the Werklund Agriculture Institute (a hub for leadership, education and applied research in smart agriculture) and the Olds College Smart Farm (incorporation of commercially-available smartconnected products and data management solutions into an existing farm operation to provide a cutting-edge learning and applied-research environment). 61


SUNWEST Teaming up to promote agriculture education The Canada Equipment Dealers Foundation, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Sun West School Division, and the Western Equipment Dealers Association are working together to introduce Grade 11 and 12 students to agriculture-related careers. Through online delivery, the Sun West Distance Learning Centre will be offering a 20- and 30-level agriculture elective for high school learners across Saskatchewan. Agriculture equipment technician (AET) 20L and 30L will each include 50 hours of online theory, 40 hours of practical work study at an agriculture dealership, and a 10-hour boot camp at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. “The purpose of our Foundation is to support educational programs for dealers and their employees, establish scholarship programs at technical colleges, and raise awareness of the industry,” says John Schmeiser, Western Equipment Dealers Association CEO. “This program checks all the boxes.” Dr. Larry Rosia, Saskatchewan Polytechnic president and CEO, adds, “Agriculture is a major contributor to Saskatchewan’s

overall economy. As global population rises and export opportunities for farm products increase, Saskatchewan Polytechnic is excited to be a part of a high school program that encourages more students to pursue an education and career in the agriculture sector.” “Students often graduate without fully understanding the diversity or abundance of opportunities available to them. We believe that by introducing them to some of these options – particularly those related to key industries in our province – during high school, we can help them to make better informed and more confident career choices,” says Sun West superintendent, Darren Gasper.

SCHULTE New Ground-Breaking Technology The DHX-600 is the next level of performance for post-harvest and pre-seeding. DHX-600 does all that with its double row of wavy coulters and five-bar heavy harrow. The coulters engage the ground, sizing the straw and mixing the chaff within the top layer of soil. The heavy harrow evenly distributes, levels, and breaks up residue that is discharged by the coulters. The DHX-600’s two rows of 20” eight wave coulters on 7.2” spacing, followed by five bars of 5/8” x 26” heavy harrow tines allows it to efficiently chop straw and mix residue with the ground all while spreading and levelling. The coulters are 62

mounted to a four-bolt, service-free hub and a specially designed flat bar shank. The four-bolt hub includes an over cap, a Grasswrap guard, a V-Seal, and a triple lip seal, protecting back-to-back ball bearings that will provide years of trouble-free use. The flat bar shank has been designed out of ½” x 4” 6150 spring steel for long life excellent ground following. The harrow tine coils are designed to get larger towards the outside of the tine to reduce stress during field operation. All harrows are controlled hydraulically for on-the-go adjustment. Schulte Industries is a leader in the manufacturing of rotary cutters, rock removal equipment, and snow removal equipment. We have a proud history spanning more than 60 years.



*See your authorized Polaris ® dealer for details.

With over one-hundred owner-inspired improvements, the all-new RANGER XP 1000 sets the new standard for what a utility side-by-side can do. Its modern, rugged design, next-level in-cab comfort, and industry-leading towing and ground clearance make this the Hardest Working, Smoothest Riding ® RANGER ® ever built. Visit your local dealer today to learn more. ®

WARNING: The Polaris RANGER® can be hazardous to operate and is not intended for on-road use. Driver must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license to operate. Passengers must be at least 12 years old. Drivers and passengers should always wear helmets, eye protection, and seat belts. Always use cab nets or doors (as equipped). Never engage in stunt driving, and avoid excessive speeds and sharp turns. Riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. All drivers should take a safety training course. Call 800-342-3764 for additional information. Check local laws before riding on trails. Polaris ® is a registered trademark of Polaris Industries Inc. ©2017 Polaris Industries Inc.








TruFlex ™ canola | The next generation of farming Contact your seed retailer for details on expected availability.** vv


with Roundup Ready ® Technology

* When compared to Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola. **TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology is not yet commercially available, but current plans are to commercialize for the 2019 growing season. The information presented herein shall not be construed as an offer to sell. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® Technology contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Agricultural herbicides containing glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Genuity®, Roundup®, Roundup Ready® and TruFlex™ are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada Inc. licensee. ©2018 Monsanto Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved.