March / April 2018
VISION IN AGRICULTURE
Returning to His Roots
A rare interview with Jim Pattison on Pattison Agriculture
Crop Insurance Grain Futures Spraying Technologies
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Returning to His Roots If you live in Canada, Western Canada in particular, the name Jim Pattison is no doubt very familiar. Through a rare in-person interview, Farming For Tomorrow explores the Pattison Ag empire and its rise to excellence.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
6 10 18 28 33 4
A Farmerâ€™s Viewpoint
What you may not know about crop insurance - by Kevin Hursh Grain Market Analysis wait and see - by Scott Shiels Spraying Technology
Here comes the boom - By Trevor Bacque
Making the most of your risk management options - by Melanie Epp Sprayers 101
Cleaning Your Sprayer Tank, with Math as Your Guide - by Tom Wolf
Better Farming Through Chemistry - by Geoff Geddes
Farming Your Money
Can We Plan To Lose Money In 2018? - by Paul Kuntz
Those Wily Weeds
Corn Herbicides for the West by Jeanette Gaultier
News & innovations
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What you may not know about crop insurance
A Farmer’s Viewpoint
Kevin Hursh, P.Ag. Kevin Hursh is an agricultural consultant, journalist and farmer. He has been an agricultural commentator for more than 30 years, serving as editor for Farm Credit Canada’s national bi‑monthly magazine AgriSuccess, and writing regular columns for Canada’s top agricultural publications. Kevin is a well-known speaker at agricultural conferences and conventions. Kevin and his wife Marlene own and operate a grain farm near Cabri in southwestern Saskatchewan, growing a wide array of crops. Twitter: @KevinHursh1
Crop insurance programs have some significant differences from one Prairie province to the next. Plus, there are a number of important details many producers don’t know about the programs. You never really know an insurance program until you use it and since I farm in Saskatchewan that’s the program I’m most familiar with. While on a speaking tour in Alberta, I was surprised to find that a contract price option is not available to Alberta producers.
Contract price option Many Saskatchewan farmers are probably unaware of it as well. On a selected number of crops, a producer who has a price locked in for some or all of their production can use that information to increase their insured price. Last year, for example, I grew some high-erucic acid rapeseed. The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance insured price for IP canola/rapeseed was $11.22 a bushel. My flat pricing contract was for $14 a bushel. By providing a copy of that contract to crop insurance I was able to change my insured price to $14, greatly increasing my coverage and thereby taking some risk out of growing the crop. In cases where you have only a portion of your production locked in, they will blend that information with their insured price to provide improved price coverage. In the past, the contract price option has only been available on a few crops. It should be available on many more. However, in Alberta there were only blank stares at meetings where I mentioned the contract price option. This is something Alberta growers should lobby for. It isn’t a big program change and it makes a lot of sense. 6
Provincial agriculture departments preach against seeding canola on canola stubble. It’s widely considered a ticking time bomb from a disease point of view.
Farming For Tomorrow thanks the
farmers and ranchers, and their families, who shared their insights about farming for tomorrow.
Publishers Pat Ottmann Tim Ottmann
Earlier details in Manitoba Meanwhile, I’m always envious of Manitoba where the crop insurance program details for the upcoming year are typically announced at Brandon’s Ag Days in January. In Saskatchewan, we usually have to wait until the first part of March. The announcement always includes the insured price levels for the various crops. Saskatchewan uses a January estimate of crop prices for the upcoming year. Manitoba must use a December estimate to allow the earlier program announcement.
Test your knowledge Here’s a quiz for you. Saskatchewan farmer John Doe grew a 50-bushel-per-acre crop of durum in 2016, but it was heavily damaged by fusarium. After quality factors were applied, John Doe’s durum yield for crop insurance purposes was factored down to just 10 bushels per acre. Which yield will be used in John Doe’s long-term average-yield calculation for future coverage – 50 or 10 bushels per acre? I was surprised to learn that 50 would be considered John Doe’s yield for 2016. Yield averages always lag a year, so 2018 coverage will include 2016 yields for the first time. And that most recent year is weighted at 10 per cent in the long-term yield calculation. Having crop insurance use 50 rather than 10 bushels per acre no doubt seems like a good deal for producers. However, I would argue that it sends an unfortunate signal. If your durum crop is regularly downgraded by fusarium or other factors, maybe you’re in an area that shouldn’t be growing durum and maybe that fact should be reflected in your long-term yield average.
Some bad policy There is one commonality between the three crop insurance programs in Western Canada. As far as I know, none are being used as a tool to discourage bad canola rotations. Provincial agriculture departments preach against seeding canola on canola stubble. It’s widely considered a ticking time bomb from a disease point of view. Meanwhile, crop insurance programs have no qualms about providing coverage with government-subsidized premiums even if a producer seeds canola on canola on canola year after year. Crop insurance should not be encouraging unsustainable practices. We should be debating these sorts of issues and requesting crop insurance changes that make sense. And we need to take the time to understand what the program can and can’t do for our farming operations. 8
Editor Trevor Bacque
Marketing Kristen Mowat
Design Andrea Espinoza- Espi Designs
Regular Contributors Trevor Bacque Jeanette Gaultier Kevin Hursh Paul Kuntz Scott Shiels Tom Wolf
Editing Lisa Johnston
This issue’s Contributors Geoff Geddes Melanie Darbyshire Melanie Epp
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 403-264-3270 /FFTMagazine /farming4tomorrow /farming-for-tomorrow /farmingfortomorrow www.farmingfortomorrow.ca
Disclaimer This publication is based on information available as of the publication date. References to particular products or services should not be regarded as endorsements. © Spring 2018
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Grain Market Analysis
wait and see
Scott Shiels Scott grew up in Killarney, Manitoba 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, Saskatchewan with his wife Jenn.
As we have crossed over into 2018, we have not seen the markets react in the traditional way for this time of year. Generally, as we get into the new year and trade-show season, cash bids start to come out looking to encourage seeded acreage into each crop. This year, we have noticed very little of this, and that is somewhat concerning as we inch ever closer to seeding time. The general feel is uneasy, as traders and farmers alike seem to be unsure on a direction going into spring. The big issue across Western Canada continues to be dryness in much of the growing region. While there are areas that had decent moisture in the fall, and some that have had good snowfall this winter, the majority of the Prairies is drier than we would like it to be. The area south of the Trans-Canada in Saskatchewan is especially dry, and has had basically no snow cover this winter. Some timely rains will be very necessary for this area to have a chance at a decent crop this year. We saw very little change in the grain futures markets throughout the past few months. All eyes seem to be on the weather, and potential changes in seeded acreage, which is typical for this time of year. The projection for oilseed, mainly canola, acreage to increase in the coming year seems to be in line with what producer feedback has been telling us all winter. With prices in the $10 and up range, canola seems to be a crop with definite profitability potential. It also looks like we could see an increase in flax acres across the Prairies, as prices in the $12.50 to $13 range have attracted some attention. With the import tariffs that have been announced out of India on peas (50%), lentils and chickpeas (30%), one has to expect that those acres will be significantly reduced across Western Canada. I would expect that we will see some come into oats, and most likely a bunch will go into canola, for the acres that aren’t already following that crop. Organic markets are holding up very well at this time, with demand steadily increasing for organic food on store shelves. Currently organic milling wheat with 13 per cent or higher protein is bringing over $20 a bushel at the farm gate. Another organic crop that is seeing a nice increase in demand, and holding high prices, is organic brown flax. The health-food market has been touting the omega-3 benefits of flax for years, and now, with the surge in organic product demand, flax is looking to lead the way in that market as well. Prices in the $35 to $40 a bushel range have become the norm in the past few years, and we don’t see that changing any time soon. The largest acreage for organic crops, at this time, is held by oats. Organic producers have made oats a staple of nearly every rotation, and with its agronomic benefits to the soil, and great weed competitiveness, not to mention excellent yield potential organically, it can be one of the most profitable organic crops to grow on the Prairies. Generally speaking, the markets will take a “wait-and-see” approach for the next couple of months. We have been flat through the early winter, and without some huge weather rally, there won’t be much change until we get closer to spring. There may be some buyers that will take a run at buying seeded acreage, but I believe those premiums won’t be very significant.
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Returning to His Roots
Jim Pattison on Pattison Agriculture - His Latest Expansion in the Canadian Prairies
By Melanie Darbyshire If you live in Canada, Western Canada in particular, the name Jim “Jimmy” Pattison is no doubt very familiar. Patriarch to one of the country’s largest private companies – the Jim Pattison Group (JPG) – Pattison’s empire includes car dealerships, grocery stores, radio stations, food and beverage products, entertainment and advertising divisions, to name just a few. Not only do these businesses permeate the day-to-day lives of millions of Canadians, they employ over 45,000 people at 545 locations worldwide. With sales totalling $10.1 billion in 2017, JPG’s impact, under the guidance of a sprightly 89-year-old Pattison, is unparalleled.
across Saskatchewan (17 locations) and Manitoba (two locations). According to Pattison, they’re only just beginning.
That impact has grown again, with JPG’s recent expansion into the agricultural equipment business. Starting with the acquisition of Saskatchewan’s Maple Farm Equipment in 2014, the newly-minted Pattison Agriculture has, with almostlightning speed, established itself as one of the largest John Deere dealers in Canada, with 19 locations and 530 employees
He’s just returned from the grand opening of Pattison Agriculture’s Yorkton location, where over 600 people attended. He’ll fly back the following week to attend the North Battleford Pattison Ag Day. “We built a new building [in Yorkton] and went down to dedicate it,” he explains, “and now we’ll do the same thing in North Battleford.” He adds they just
“We go to Saskatchewan a lot these days,” he reveals during a rare in-person interview at his Vancouver office in early December. “We like dealing with the people in Saskatchewan. You won’t get better people anywhere in the world than in Saskatchewan.” Quite the compliment from a man who has an entire office hallway wall covered in half-a-century’s worth of photographs of he and his wife with internationally famous people ranging from the Queen, to Oprah (a good friend of theirs), to President Donald Trump.
Above: Pattison Agriculture’s Yorkton location, which held its grand opening last December. Photo courtesey of Pattison Agriculture
They eventually settled in Vancouver where Pattison Sr. got a job selling used cars. Above: Dave Cobb – Managing Director Corporate Development. A key figure in the formation of Pattison Ag. Photo courtesy of Bob Hewitt
built a new facility in Kindersley, and will likely build new ones in Leader and Humboldt soon. Pattison Agriculture is not his first venture into the Canadian Prairies. “Recently, we’ve really sunk our teeth into getting more involved,” he says. Since April 2016, he’s opened three Save-OnFoods grocery stores (located in Regina, Yorkton and Saskatoon) and in 2015, he purchased seven radio stations in Prince Albert, North Battleford and Meadow Lake. In addition, JPG’s outdoor sign division has been active in the Prairies for several years. His easy familiarity with the region – impressive for an apparent Vancouverite – comes naturally: he was born in Luseland, Saskatchewan in 1928. It was one year before the Great Depression, which, once underway, precipitated the Pattison family’s move to Prince Albert. His father worked as a sales manager for a Ford dealership there but business was tough, so they soon moved to Saskatoon. In 1935, during the height of the economic malaise, the family of three moved to the West Coast.
“We’ve been here ever since,” Pattison reflects. “But my parents sent me back in the summers to the old homestead in Major, Saskatchewan, where my mother came from, to work on the farm. They both thought I should learn about farming. I did everything you do on a farm in my teens.” When not working on the homestead, Pattison travelled around the province playing the trumpet at children’s Christian summer camps. “We played all over the province at these church camps,” Pattison – who still plays the trumpet every once in a while – recalls. It was at the Swift Current church camp where Pattison met his future wife Mary (from Moose Jaw) when they were both 13. They’ve been married 66 years. “The secret [to a successful marriage],” he offers with a smile, “is to marry somebody from Saskatchewan. Then you won’t have a problem!” Growing up in Vancouver, the enterprising young Pattison worked various jobs. “I didn’t have any money unless I worked,” he says matter-of-factly, “It wasn’t complicated; I realized early on that if you wanted to do something you needed a few dollars.” He started out selling garden seeds door-to-door at the age of seven. He then sold magazine subscriptions, delivered the paper, and, at the ripe age of 11, got his first “real job” delivering groceries. “The biggest problem I had,” he 13
Above: “It all started right here.” Jim explains the corporate structure and how it all started with his first car dealership. Farming For Tomorrow writer Melanie Darbyshire and Farming For Tomorrow Publisher Pat Ottmann look on at the numerous divisions and companies that form Jim Pattison Group. Photo courtesy of Bob Hewitt
recalls of the gig, “is when I got to someone’s house with ice cream and no one was home!”
just short of finishing his degree – business at Bowell-McLean was too good.
His first experience selling used cars, in the summer of 1948 on break from his commerce studies at the University of British Columbia, happened only after much persistence on his part. “It was at Richmond Motors,” Pattison says, “and I applied for a job to sell cars there. They already had a salesman, but they needed someone to wash cars, so they offered me that job for $25 per week.” Pattison was also allowed to sell used cars provided the salesman was away from the lot (at lunch or dinner, for example) at the time. “My boss gave me rubber boots and a hose and said go to work, and I did. In the first week I sold three of the eight cars [on the lot] – with my rubber boots on!”
In 1961, the 32-year-old Pattison purchased his own GM franchise. “I financed it,” he says of the $40,000 loan he got from the Royal Bank. The loan was secured by his life insurance policy and the equity he had in his house. “I agreed to sell my house which had $7,000 equity. I assigned to them the cash surrender value of $7,000 in my insurance policy. My wife gave a personal guarantee, as did I. And they took 100 per cent of the shares of the company for security. They had everything but my furniture!” GM also loaned him $190,000 for preferred shares in the company.
“They already had a salesman, but they needed someone to wash cars, so they offered me that job for $25 per week.” Pattison was also allowed to sell used cars provided the salesman was away from the lot (at lunch or dinner, for example) at the time. “My boss gave me rubber boots and a hose and said go to work, and I did. In the first week I sold three of the eight cars [on the lot] – with my rubber boots on!”
The following summer, with experience under his belt, he landed a job on the Kingsway (the mecca of used-car dealerships in Vancouver at that time) at Bowell-McLean. “I worked there all summer,” he recalls, “and then [my boss] gave me a car to drive to university. So I then started to sell used cars at UBC.”
He paid his way through university by selling used cars – on campus, during summer, Christmas and Easter holidays, and by buying and selling the odd used car himself. He left university 14
“The first month, I sold 25 cars and lost $13,956.96,” he reveals, reading from the company’s very first balance sheet, dated May 7, 1961. “But the end of the year was a happy story – I made $29,922.72. And that company – Jim Pattison Ltd. – is the same company, with all of the divisions, we have today.”
Out of necessity, Pattison soon expanded into other businesses. “In those days GM would only allow you to have one car dealership,” he explains. “And when I had the first one paid for, I wanted to grow, but they wouldn’t give me another dealership. So I wound up going into the radio business.”
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Does he have a favourite business? “No,” he replies, “how many favourite children does your mother have?” When local Vancouver AM radio station CJOR lost its licence, Pattison and five partners applied for and got it. Pattison eventually bought the partners out. Today, the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group is Canada’s largest western-based radio and TV company and includes 43 radio stations and three TV stations. The Jim Pattison Auto Group, meanwhile, encompasses 25 locations in Western Canada, representing 12 automotive brands.
57 years. And a lot of it is similar – franchisee, factories, manufacturing, parts, service, taking in used – all of those things are fundamentally similar to what we’re familiar with. Other than that it’s very different.”
His other 22 operating divisions are likewise successes. The food, beverage and pharmacy division includes Buy-Low Foods, Overwaitea Food Group, Save-On-Foods, Urban Fare, Canadian Fishing Company (Canfisco), Ocean Brands, SunRype products, Quality Foods, Everything Wine and Pure Integrative Pharmacy. The Pattison Sign Group is the second-largest signage and visual communications company in North America, and his entertainment brand Ripley Entertainment (acquired in 1985) operates over 90 attractions in 10 countries. The Jim Pattison Packaging Group operates 24 manufacturing facilities which provide packaging for everything from food to cosmetics to pharmaceuticals.
Partnering with the John Deere brand was an easy decision. “John Deere is a very special company in this business worldwide, has an excellent reputation, and so we went with what we thought was the best. We’re very happy with our relationship and what’s happened so far.”
JPG also owns the Guinness World Records, Westshore Terminals (Canada’s largest export coal facility), TNG (a periodical wholesaler), Canfor, Great Wolf Lodge and Peterbilt Pacific. Expansion into agricultural equipment was, according to Pattison, a logical step. “First of all, it’s food. We are a little bit familiar with the franchise system, having been car dealers for 16
He adds that Western Canada is, he’s been told by his John Deere partners, one of three high-growth opportunities for agriculture in the world (the other two are Brazil and Ukraine).
On the receiving end of countless deal pitches, Pattison and his team admit they tend to prefer opportunities in areas JPG is already in. “Because we know it, we’ve got management teams in place,” explains David Cobb, managing director, corporate development at JPG and who, according to Pattison, deserves much of the credit for the birth of Pattison Agriculture. “A lot of what we buy will get tucked into the existing management team, because we have that infrastructure in place with leaders who have been with Jimmy for a long time and who he trusts.” He adds that management teams are given a lot of autonomy, and are visited by Pattison and the rest of the executive every quarter “to see how we can help them.”
Indeed, management of the entire JPG conglomerate would intimidate even the bravest of leaders. Pattison is unflustered. “It’s all people, just the same as a public company,” he says plainly. One of these people, albeit key, is Maureen Chant, Pattison’s administrative assistant since 1963. “Maureen has been involved in every major decision,” he says. There’s no big secret to his success either. “We’re just trying to be successful. I don’t know of anybody who’s made more mistakes than I have. Mostly bad judgment; bad timing some times. Timing is hugely important. There are a lot of opportunities that have come along and we’ve been very grateful – the fact that we live in Canada, that we live in Western Canada, that I had good parents who taught me good values – honestly, integrity, work hard.” Pattison Agriculture, for example, came about because certain families wanted to sell their businesses. At the same time, John Deere was looking to consolidate the Prairies territory. “If everybody hadn’t wanted to sell out we wouldn’t be in business today,” Pattison says. He also believes growing up poor was a great gift. “The best thing that ever happened to me was that I had no money.” With plenty of money now – his estimated net worth is $6.41 billion, making him Canada’s 10th richest person – Pattison gives a lot of it away. Though he declined to discuss it, his
Above: Pattison Agriculture’s Swift Current location. Photo courtesy of Pattison Agriculture
Below: Jim shares a story about how he covers so much ground between his many companies. Photos courtesy of Bob Hewitt
philanthropic giving, particularly to the health-care sector, is, of late, well documented (for years he gave money away anonymously). He donated $20 million to the Vancouver General Hospital in 1999, $5 million to the Lions Gate Hospital in 2008, $5 million to Surrey Memorial Hospital in 2011 and $5 million to Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital in 2013. Last March, he donated $75 million to the new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, and in May, announced a $50 million donation to the new Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. It is the largest private donation in Saskatchewan’s history. The hospital is expected to open in 2019 and will be named in his honour. Does he have a favourite business? “No,” he replies, “how many favourite children does your mother have?” And despite all he’s accomplished in over five decades, he’s nowhere near finished. “We’re just getting started by the way,” he says quite seriously. “We’ve got the base of our company – it’s taken us 57 years to build – where we can do some serious things and give serious money away as time goes by. The bigger we get the more money we make, and the more we can give away. We’re just getting into it.” 17
A Farmer’s Viewpoint
Here comes the
boom Sprayer technology continues to evolve
Above: In a sprayer system with pulse-width modulation, the rate is controlled by the “duty cycle” of a nozzle. A solenoid can interrupt the flow 10 times per second, or faster, depending on the manufacturer. This differs from traditional pressurebased systems where rate is controlled using pressure. Photo courtesy of Alberta Barley/ Michael Interisano
By Trevor Bacque To some farmers, spraying is a difficult science and one that is never exact. That’s because there are so many variables when we look at this critical task on any farmer’s checklist. One must deal with uneven ground, wind, sprayer speed, relative humidity and a continued list of factors that never seems to shrink. The good news is that farmers in 2018 have the ability to succeed at spraying like never before. As the years roll on, so do technological improvements, just ask Josh Umscheid. The 36-year-old operates Big Slick Custom Spraying Ltd. out of Vulcan, Alta., where he also farms 3,000 acres of grain. 9 years into custom spraying, Umscheid has earned his stripes when he thinks back to what his limitations in the sprayer were. “The first sprayer I had, we had no auto-height control on it,” he says of his old AGCO RoGator 1074SS. “Many people don’t realize how nice that is until you see some of the hills we spray. The first year … you have to be on the ball. You’re doing 22-25 kilometres per hour down a field and you don’t have much ability to slow down because you’re limited to certain pressure ranges in order to stay on rate and looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re not too low or too high.” Thankfully for Umscheid, spraying technology rarely stagnates. 1 year into his custom operation, Christmas came early when his sprayer was outfitted with hydraulic boom height control with a wheel under the boom. It afforded him the rare ability to observe what was happening inside the machine like never before. “My thumb wasn’t as sore at the end of the year and my neck wasn’t as sore at the end of the day,” he says. “It was so much more relaxing for the operator to be able to sit back and let the booms take care of themselves.” By 2012, Umscheid made another upgrade, this time to an ultrasonic setup. 1 year after that, he retired the RoGator and switched to a Case IH 4440 with 5 sensors on a 120-foot boom, which automatically measures and maintains constant boom height. “If I want it 28 inches above the [crop] height, that’s where the ultrasonic tries to keep that height at all times,” he explains. “Before, your boom was constantly trying to feel on the ground. Every
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time it touched ground, you added friction to the machine, things were breaking. Now, you weren’t touching, and booms were trying to stay as level at all times.” For a custom operator like Umscheid, all the bells and whistles advertised by a company best ring true and blow clear because he’s a busy man partial to minimal risk. The young farmer sprays a minimum of 60,000 acres annually and up to 80,000 when everything’s clicking along well. As the technology improves, Umscheid and others are becoming increasingly nuanced in their approach to be as efficient as possible, and it’s clear to see why. “What’s changing is the efficiency and productivity,” says Jason Deveau, application technology specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “The question is how can we do more with less? It’s the never-ending battle of any operation—become more efficient with less.” Deveau observes that as sprayers continue to expand in size and booms are wider than ever, he does have reservations. “While some of these advantages are interesting, it’s possible they’re moving us in the wrong direction,” he says, explaining that each year farmers learn more about soil damage through compaction, driven by increasingly larger equipment. A flurry of issues may accompany the ‘bigger is better’ mindset. “When you’re driving quickly it negatively impacts spray coverage,” he says. “Your coverage uniformity goes right into
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the can. There’s a wake behind a sprayer, just like a speedboat. It can draw fine sprays from the pattern, increasing drift potential and preventing them from landing where we intended. Plus, a consequence of fast speeds is higher booms to prevent mechanical damage, which also reduces coverage and increases drift. We encourage people to slow down. It lets us drop our boom and be more efficient. A boom lower to the ground will improve coverage and reduce drift.” For many of the ails farmers face during spraying, Deveau points to pulse-width modulation (PWM) as a possible answer. The main difference between traditional pressure-based systems and PWM is that the former controls rate using pressure. However, it may affect droplet size and pattern stability. With PWM, the rate is controlled by the “duty cycle” of a nozzle. A solenoid can interrupt the flow 10 times per second, or faster, depending on the manufacturer. The duration a nozzle spends in the “on” position is its duty cycle, or pulse width. The longer it’s on, the higher the rate. Nozzles operate independent of one another. When an adjacent nozzle is on, the neighbour is off, blending the flow and filling in the pattern to prevent skips. This frees pressure to be used independent of rate to make minor changes to droplet size, according to Deveau. “Pulse width has an advantage because it can hold the rate of spray from a single nozzle over a greater range of speeds than using pressure changes per a conventional rate controller,” he says. “It can be used with field mapping systems to do precision spraying. It can perform turn compensation, where the outside of the boom covers more ground than the inside of the boom on a turn, and the duty cycle can compensate, except on really tight turns.” Deveau believes PWM systems will be linked with weed detection systems that will determine how much spray is needed for each specific target, or even which on-board product is applied. “It’s gone from rare 20 years ago, to 7 different companies making [PWM systems] in the last three years,” says Deveau. “A constant issue dogging them is that you cannot use airinduction nozzles. What’s needed now is a set of pre-orifice low-drift nozzles developed for the PWM system.” Gary Moffat agrees that nozzles are integral to strong in-field results, calling the small plastic implements one of the most overlooked components on a modern sprayer.
However, Moffat estimates only 40 per cent of Prairie farmers are using a PWM system, and, of that, only about 5 per cent are using proper nozzles. “The farmer is trying to learn about pulsing systems. To my feelings, the farmer has been oversold [on PWM] and does not realize that he needs a proper nozzle to make it work,” says Moffat.
“The biggest thing is the nozzle because the end result of all the technical stuff is that [what you are spraying] has to go through a nozzle to give us proper droplets and coverage,” says Moffat, president and spraying analyst of Specialized Spray Systems in Lethbridge, Alta. He works with operators to drive their efficiency up, and nozzles are central to operators’ success. Moffat says it was normal that operators used to have up to 20 per cent drift and evaporation loss due to a variety of reasons, including droplet sizes that were either too light, weighing less than 150 microns, or too heavy—more than 600 microns. The perfect weight, he says, is 300-500 microns.
“We can apply way better with these new technologies, and have way less environmental damage,” says Moffat, adding that with proper nozzles and a sprayer tune-up, farmers can expect to reduce drift to less than 5 or 6 per cent. “Most of the farmers today at least have speed control and GPS, autosteer, autoboom height control, autoboom shut off, separate boom shut off, and individual nozzle shut off,” says Moffat. “That can all help them spray better, but they still need the proper nozzle on it. It’s the nozzle that forms the droplets.” Despite PWM technology still evolving and changing, Umscheid believes it is here to stay, despite naysayers. “When we first got pulse width, big companies would talk it down, say it’s an expensive upgrade and be making excuses why you didn’t need it. Now I laugh because it’s just about standard on sprayers. Obviously, it was a huge leap in technology. People have seen its value.”
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Take to the skies
Drone technology being tested in Canada
Above: The drone created by Kray Technologies is currently being tested by Don Campbell in Manitoba. The 77-pound drone is made of mostly carbon fibre and features eight rotors as well as a fixed wing that carries a 16.5-foot boom. Photos courtesy of Kray Technologies
By Trevor Bacque Don Campbell thinks life on the ground is boring. The Elie, Man., airhead has been working on his drone skills when it comes to in-field spraying. He owns and operates ROGA Drone Ltd., which stands for Remote Operated Green Application. Campbell is the first person in Canada to receive a special flight operating certificate from Transport Canada, for the purpose to aerially apply pesticides and herbicides. Since 2017, he has worked with Kray Technologies out of Kyiv, Ukraine, ultimately hoping to introduce the concept into Canada sooner rather than later. “We were on the same page with what we wanted to accomplish,” says Campbell, who tests pilot projects and will begin distribution for Kray drones in the fall. The 77-pound drone he’s testing boasts eight rotors and a fixed wing that carries a 16.5-foot boom. The 10-foot wide drone is constructed mostly out of carbon fibre and comes complete with a prop nose, much like an airplane, to generate forward thrust through its one propeller. Campbell is currently testing ultra-low volume spray as it zips along three feet above the crop canopy while simultaneously detecting terrain variations. The black beast can spray 40 to 50 acres per hour and is linkable to normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) maps for spot spraying systems. When Kray’s drone is in flight, it has the capability to move at speeds of up to 112 kilometres per hour. Despite not flying at top speed all the time, Campbell is in the process of 22
discovering the optimum pace to spray while minimizing drift as much as possible. ROGA Drone has also applied for fungicide test funding and works closely with chemical companies to ensure the best results are produced given the exploratory nature of these trials. “I think this year is going to be a lot of testing, side by side, just to prove that this concept is going to work. We are going to try and walk a little bit before we run. Hopefully by fall, we’ll have these tests completed,” he says. Campbell doesn’t think drone technology is in direct competition with ground rigs and he says regular wheel-andchassis sprayers have their place, until you get into wet conditions. “I think if we can prove this technology is efficient, just for the cost of them, I can see farmers having their own units on their farms; maybe not to spray the whole farm, but definitely certain parts or tight spots.” The Kray will run you about $62,000, which Campbell thinks is a bargain compared to a $500,000 high-clearance sprayer, or perhaps $1 million for an airplane. “I can see this being adopted fairly quickly if we can prove this is doing the same job as other spray applications,” he says. “Just from a cost perspective it makes sense. We had just a tremendous response. There’s a lot of interest in it.” For more information, visit rogadrone.com.
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GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES NEW RULES ON CARBON CREDITS DEADLINE APRIL 29TH
Effective Jan. 1, 2018 the Government of Alber ta announced changes to the Emission Offset System Program. Farmers wishing to generate credits must be registered with a project developer by April 29th, 2018 - or lose them. Carbon credits are cash in farmers’ pockets! Farmers are stewards of the land they farm. Carbon credits are designed to reward farming sustainable practices, such as “no-till” farming or nitrogen emissions reduction programs (NERP). By following these practices, farmers are recognized for their efforts and add additional revenue to their businesses. In Alberta, carbon credits created by farmers are sold to the energy sector to help them offset greenhouse gas emissions. Good for you, good for the environment! Win-win! What does this really mean? It means as a farmer you earn both recognition and extra income for your planet-positive efforts. Government changes to the program are significant. It used to be that farmers had some flexibility on timing and still get paid for their credits. Not now. As Ed Alfke, CEO and Chair of Carbon Credit Solutions Inc puts it, “Farmers who are farming sustainably in Alberta must register before the April 29th deadline or lose their chance at additional revenue. If they don’t, they won’t receive money from their credits earlier than 2020, losing any revenue they could earn from the creation of 2018 carbon credits.” It may be surprising, but Alberta is an environmental leader in the world of carbon markets: It was the first jurisdiction in
North America to legislate greenhouse gas reductions and implement a carbon levy - now being replicated around the world. CCSI has become the largest and most experienced carbon aggregator in the country, having helped farmers earn more than $36 million in additional revenue in the sale of agricultural carbon credits. In the past decade, farmers in Alberta have seen the value of their carbon credits rise from $6 per credit in 2007 to $20 per credit today. The value is expected to rise over coming years as federal and provincial governments push the price of carbon emissions to $50 per tonne. Alfke goes on to say, “For farmers watching carbon markets waiting for the price to go up or for those not yet registered with a carbon aggregator, February through April of this year are “Do it or Lose it” months.” As the world transitions to a low-carbon economy, increased participation of the Ag sector in the carbon credit marketplace will make the difference in moving us to the low carbon economy. To help farmers who aren’t yet registered but who would like to be, CCSI is committed to supporting them through the registration process. For more information on CCSI go to www.carboncreditsolutions.ca or call 1-855-980-8886.
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Making the most of your risk management options By Melanie Epp
Understanding insurance and risk management solutions Choosing the right risk management solution for your farm is no easy task. And while it’s probably easier to just continue doing what you’ve always done, there are benefits to shopping around. How has the situation on your farm changed? What’s new in the marketplace? And what might you be missing?
Time to re-evaluate Kevin Hursh, longtime agricultural commentator, agrologist and farmer based in Cabri, Sask., has a real head for these things. He thinks farmers should be assessing their risk and the programs available to them on an annual basis. “I think you have to keep your head up and look for other options,” he says. “It also relates to the things you do marketing-wise … and whether you try to lock in profitable crops in advance. It’s all part of a plan as to how you want to manage and what risk mitigation measures you want in place.” The bulk of Prairie grain farmers participate in crop insurance programs, which are funded provincially and federally to cover a major portion of the premium cost and all of the administrative costs. These programs look at long-term average yield and cover a percentage of that yield. While a lot of farmers will cover 70 or 80 per cent of their long-term average yield, they do have the option to cover less (as low as 50 per cent yield coverage). The higher the yield coverage, the higher the premiums. “The thing about crop insurance that I don’t think people fully appreciate is that it works pretty well when grain prices are good,” he says. “When grain prices are lower, crop insurance sets its price per bushel based on market conditions.” New prices, based on last December’s prices and estimates going forward, are available well in advance of seeding. (story continued on p.30) 28
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Above: The bar graphs model a complete income statement in dollars per crop acre, with dark green bars representing income per crop acre and brown and tan bars representing different types of expenses per crop acre. Graphs courtesy of MNP
Other government programs to consider are AgriStability and AgriInvest. AgriStability protects you when your net farming income falls below 70 per cent of your recent average. According to Hursh though, the program is complicated, not bankable, highly debated and much maligned. “When crop insurance is working well, it’s unlikely that you’ll actually trigger an AgriStability payment, and a lot of producers have dropped out,” he says. “It’s a whole farm income thing, and it’s got a lot of problems.” AgriInvest is one of the business risk management programs under Growing Forward 2. Each year, the program allows you to deposit one per cent of your allowable net sales into your AgriInvest account and receive a matching government contribution. The program has a cap of $1 million, so pays at maximum $10,000 a year. Farmers in supply management industries are not eligible to participate in AgriInvest. When choosing the right coverage for your farm another factor to consider is your current financial position. “Maybe you’ve bought a bunch of land and you’re more highly leveraged, so you’re less able to survive a kick in the pants caused by lower prices or a poor crop,” says Hursh. It’s not just prices and circumstances that change, though; offerings change, too. Global Ag Risk Solutions (GARS), for instance, although still relatively new to the marketplace, takes a unique approach to insurance and risk management that might interest some farmers. A one-of-a-kind private crop insurance company, what makes Global Ag Risk Solutions unique is that it guarantees a gross margin on your production. To explain, gross margin is basically revenue, which is determined by yield multiplied by price, minus production expenses, including fertilizer, seed and chemicals. Government crop insurance programs cover production or yield, but don’t insure margins – so excluding the cost of the 30
inputs the farmer may or may not want to use. Essentially, what this means is that every time that farmer makes a decision in favour of the crop he takes on more risk. “Margin insurance can change farmers’ behaviour,” says CEO Grant Kosior, who explains how cash-strapped farmers cut costs by using inputs sparingly, even when they could improve the crop’s condition. “Whenever you start cutting inputs, you also start cutting yield,” he says. “There’s a direct correlation to the amount of inputs that you put into the ground to the yield that you get. “Where we really fit in the marketplace is that we stack the deck in favour of the plant and the banker,” he explains. Hursh feels that GARS is advantageous when it comes to protection from the risk of falling prices. “It encourages you to use inputs and farm the best way you can because, at the end of the day, you’ve got coverage for seed, fertilizer, chemical, plus your chosen margin,” he says. But GARS might not offer a solution under some situations. In 2017, for example, while Hursh had a pretty good crop overall, one crop didn’t turn out well. “I actually had a crop insurance claim on it and received a crop insurance payment,” he says. “If I had have been just in the GARS program, I wouldn’t have received any payment because it’s a whole farm gross revenue insurance. “Either way, I always encourage producers to run their numbers through the GARS program and do some noodling on what works best for their farm operation, and look at all the eventualities and the risks you want to cover,” says Hursh.
What crop insurance doesn’t cover There are a number of things crop insurance doesn’t cover, including price drops, admixtures and hail. Hursh highlights an
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18ACU006_Ag Print Farming For Tomorrow example where coverage was negatively impacted by a price 7” x 4.75”
drop. Let’s say your average canola yield is 40 bu/ac and you take 80 per cent coverage, which is 32 bu/ac, he says. “And then let’s assume that the crop insurance price for canola is $10/bu,” he says. “A lot of producers look at that and say I’m guaranteed $320/acre. I can’t do worse than that. Well, that’s not really the case. “What happens if you grow 32 bu/ac, the same as your crop insurance yield coverage level, but the price of canola drops to $8-9/bu?” he asks hypothetically. “There’s no revenue protection under the crop insurance program.” Admixtures are also not covered under crop insurance, which means, for example, if crop quality drops because of a management decision you make on-farm, you might not be covered. Hursh provides an example where a mustard farmer planted a crop where canola volunteers led to the mustard crop being downgraded. “Insurance won’t cover because they say that was a management decision,” he says. “That was improper management putting that mustard on where there was going to be canola volunteers or where there’s going to be weed seeds that cause a grade to fall.” Finally, spot loss hail insurance isn’t covered by federal and provincial crop insurance either. Both private and non-profit
companies provide insurance for hail. Hail insurance, says Hursh, can be expensive, especially in often-hit areas.
Assessing options As any good farmer knows, assessing options takes time and effort. Still, it may be hard to know which questions to ask and where to look. To address this issue, MNP LLP, Canada’s fifth-largest accounting and business advisory firm, created the Ag Risk Management Projector tool. The tool is designed to assist producers in making farm business risk management decisions. “Farmers today are faced with four different choices,” says Steve Funk, national lead, Farm Income Programs, pointing to AgriStability, crop insurance, GARS and Just Solutions. “They’re difficult choices. And the calculation of their benefits is very different, and so it becomes very confusing to understand.” Looking forward, the decision-making tool asks farmers what they’re going to grow, what kinds of yields they expect and what price they’re going to get. “We plot that on a graph to give us their most likely scenario,” explains Funk. Following that, they look at the expense side of the equation, including input costs. “And then we use various other means of estimating all of their other expenses,” says Funk, who includes 31
salaries, repairs and depreciation. “We try to model their entire income statement.”
person. “We want to help our clients make good decisions, and
Once an entire picture of their income has been created, Funk says they shave it down in 10 per cent increments and create a graph that shows everything from 100 per cent income to zero income. “We’re able to then program in their various options for insurance,” says Funk. “We encourage people to get all of the quotes that they can so we can do a full comparison of these different programs.
decisions,” Funk concludes.
“We show them how some of these insurance programs actually fill in some of those losses,” he says.
“It’s a dynamic situation out there,” says Hursh, who strongly
In order to use this tool, farmers do not need to be MNP clients, but they must make an appointment to meet with someone in
think it needs to figure into the equation every year when you
this is another area where we can help them in making good
With the deadline for making decisions about insurance and risk management solutions approaching, it’s high time to think about all the things that could go wrong and come up with a plan to protect your farm business as best you can. It’s not a simple task, but it’s an important one.
dissuades farmers from doing what they’ve always done. “I make decisions.”
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Cleaning Your Sprayer Tank, with Math as Your Guide One of the more perplexing questions in tank clean out is knowing when the cleaning process is good enough to prevent harm. This question is especially relevant to producers that grow canola and use Group 2 herbicide products, or grow soybeans and use dicamba on some of their area. In both of these examples, crops can be extremely sensitive to very small residues.
Tom Wolf, Ph.D, P.Ag. Tom Wolf grew up on a grain farm in southern Manitoba.
When does an applicator know that the cleaning job was good enough? In about two weeks! There is no easy way to tell, except to be precautionary.
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.
A bit of math can help put us in the ballpark. First, we need to know the tolerance of a crop to the herbicide, preferably expressed as a proportion of the tank mix to be cleaned. Let’s use dicamba as an example. It’s been reported that non-dicamba tolerant soybeans can show leaf-cupping symptoms from dicamba at rates as low as 1/20,000 of the label rate.
The volume of this “remaining liquid” is likely somewhere between three and 30 U.S. gallons.
Recall that sprayer clean out is really two separate processes that we’ve written about in Sprayers101.com. The first is dilution of the remaining volume in the system. The second is decontaminating specific sprayer components (filters, boom ends, hoses). We’ll focus on dilution in this article. If you’re diluting, the second piece of information you need is how much liquid is left in the sprayer when you start cleaning. All sprayers have a certain amount of liquid left in the tank and associated plumbing after the tank is empty. The sump, the suction line feeding the pump and the lines returning to the tank via agitation or sparge are most common. Even when the pump no longer draws liquid, those lines retain some volume of product. This volume can’t be pushed out to the boom; most of it goes back to the tank.
The remainder volume depends on the sprayer, and also how the tank is emptied. Some applicators simply spray until the solution pump pressure drops; others choose to drain the remaining liquid from a sump valve. When draining, product should be captured in pails rather than allowing it to flow on the ground where it will harm the soil and possibly make its way into runoff. It’s always preferable to spray the tank empty in a field. As we’ll see below, a low remaining volume greatly improves the efficiency of the dilution process. It’s a sprayer feature that should be considered at purchase. 33
Remaining Clean Water Volume (A) Volume (B)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
10 10 20 20 10 50 50 10
Dilution # Rinse Total Clean Factor Batches (C) Water ((A&B)/A)C
150 50 150 50 30 150 50 1,200
1 3 1 3 5 1 3 1
150 150 150 150 150 150 150 1,200
Single Rinse Volume Equivalent
16 216 9 43 1,024 4 8 121
150 2,150 150 860 10,230 150 350 1,200
The table above has some sample calculations. Note that the
Let’s return to the dicamba example with a 20,000-fold dilution
paired cases (1&2, 3&4, 6&7) all use the same total water volume,
requirement and a 1,200 gallon tank. We’ll consider two
but compare a single versus triple rinse of three different
examples. In the first, the operator wants to prime the boom in
the soybean field without any harm to the dicamba-susceptible
Comparing Case 1 to Case 3 or Case 6, (remaining volumes of
beans. A 20,000-fold dilution is needed.
10, 20 and 50, respectively), it’s clear that minimizing the
We’ve looked at five options that each assume a remaining
remaining volume is important.
volume of 10 gallons. Note that our goal is the same – dilute by
It’s also striking that the same amount of clean water,
a factor of 20,000.
subdivided into three smaller repeat batches (Case 2, 4 and 7), is
The maximum amount of dilution possible with a 1,200 gallon
much more powerful than using single batches with the same
tank and a 10 gallon remainder is 120 (see Row 8, Table above).
total clean water amounts. Reducing the size of each batch even further and increasing the number of batches (Case 5) approaches what a properly executed continuous rinse can do. Is it necessary to dilute to the level that’s safe for the next crop? Not always. The next product in the tank acts to dilute the remainder once again, possibly by a factor of 100, depending on the remaining volume and the tank size (Case 8). The material in the boom, however, won’t be diluted by this additional volume, and therefore may harm the crop unless it is first sprayed out elsewhere, especially when section ends are not drained and rinsed. This is where a recirculating boom is valuable, providing an opportunity to charge the boom without spraying. The penalty
• One rinse diluting by 20,000 – impossible with a 1,200 gallon tank (max achievable is 120-fold). • Two sequential rinses each diluting by a factor of 20,000^(1/2) = 141. Also impossible with a 1,200 gallon tank. • Three sequential rinses, each diluting by a factor of 20,000^(1/3) = 27. A volume of 260 gallons can do this (27*10)-10=260 gallons. For three rinses, the total volume is 780 gallons. • Four sequential rinses, each diluting by a factor of 20,000^(1/4) = 12. A volume of 110 gallons can do this, for a total volume of 440 gallons. • Five sequential rinses, each diluting by a factor of 20,000^(1/5)
is that the boom volume is then returned to the tank in the
= 7. A volume of 60 gallons can do this, for a total volume of
process, increasing the amount that needs to be diluted.
THE FORMULAS: 1) Dilution per Rinse = final dilution ^(1/# of rinses) 2) Rinse Volume = (dilution per rinse * remaining volume) – remaining volume
B:3.375 in T:3.375 in S:3.375 in
The first two examples don’t work because the tank isn’t big enough. But the three remaining examples all work equally well, they just consume different amounts of clean water. If that doesn’t seem like a lot of work, then repeat this calculation with a 30 gallon remainder volume, common on many sprayers. Second, let’s assume the operator is prepared to prime the boom where it doesn’t harm soybeans. Now the first new product tank takes care of the last dilution, lowering the clean-out dilution requirement by 1,200/10 = a factor of 120. Now the clean-out dilution requirement is only 20,000/120 = 166.
YOU’RE EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE.
• One 1,200 gallon tank rinse can only achieve 120-fold dilution. • Two rinses, each diluting by 166^(1/2) = 13. Rinse volumes of 120 gallons are sufficient, for a total of 240 gallons. • Three sequential rinses, each diluting by a factor of 166^(1/3) = 6. A volume of 50 gallons can do this, for a total volume of 150 gallons. The math is simple, and can be done using the formula in the first table, or the Tank Dilution app on Sprayers101.com.
Cross Section Hose ID
1 1.5 2 3
2.54 3.81 5.08 7.62
5.07 11.40 20.27 45.60
0.041 0.092 0.163 0.367
0.51 1.14 2.03 4.56
And remember, diluting the remaining liquid is only one part of
Just because you can’t walk every acre, doesn’t mean you can’t be there for your farm. Using in-season satellite imagery, Zone Spray enables you to make a more informed decision on which parts of your field are best worth protecting. Once uploaded to your sprayer, Zone Spray maps control the sprayer’s nozzles automatically, turning sections on and off to selectively protect the highest production zones of your crop while optimizing your fungicide application.
To learn more about Zone Spray, and sign up, visit digitalfarming.ca Always read and follow label directions. Bayer CropScience Inc. is a member of CropLife Canada.
a cleaning process. 35
An alternative is to estimate the length of hose in this circuit, using the following table as a guide:
- James Jackson, Grower, Jarvie, Alberta
In the meantime, you can estimate on your own. Add water with surfactant to your tank, and spray it empty. While spraying, turn the agitation on and off to fill and activate the sparge, if equipped. Once the tank is empty and the spray pressure drops, stop and drain the sump into pails. Ensure that the pump suction line and the pressure line up to and including the agitation and sparge lines also drain. Disconnect these if necessary. If there is a filter housing in this circuit, remove it as well. Avoid collecting liquid from the pressure line beyond where the agitation or sparge split off, as this will be pushed out to the boom.
The hard part is knowing what the remaining volume is. It would be very useful for a manufacturer to provide this information.
“I think it was a great decision to use Zone Spray, it’s a very efficient way of applying fungicides and I’d recommend it to other farmers.”
Better Farming Through Chemistry
Right: An example of wheat that has been infected with Fusarium head blight
How to protect your crops against the toughest weeds and diseases this year
Photos courtesy of: Bayer CropScience.
By Geoff Geddes Like uninvited guests, weeds and diseases are intrusive, destructive and hard to get rid of. Fortunately, there are cutting-edge solutions to protect your crops. There’s no such thing as a “good” weed or disease, yet some are more needing of attention than others.
A blight on the landscape “One to always be on guard for is Fusarium head blight (FHB),” says Mitchell Japp, provincial specialist, cereal crops, crops and irrigation branch with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. Though Saskatchewan hadn’t encountered FHB much in the past, that all changed with the wetter and warmer conditions in 2016 that are conducive to the disease. “FHB is a tough one to manage as the controls we have are weaker than for other diseases and FHB can affect crops for years through the side-effects of mycotoxins,” says Japp. Because the disease impacts both yield and quality, many agree the reprieve in 2017 with drier conditions is no reason to let your guard down. 36
Window on the future The challenge with fungicides is the short window for effective application during the flowering period when the head is emerging from the plant, so here again Humphris stresses a proactive approach. He advises farmers to watch the weather forecasts and if they know there are wet days ahead, they may need to go in early with their application. Also, farmers can adjust seeding rates and fertilizer application to make crops more uniform, increasing the odds of a properly-timed fungicide application across the board. It’s not an easy task with farmers working so many acres today and the window for treatment being a small one, but Humphris says that mustn’t dissuade from action. “FHB affects quality, which continues to be a key factor for all commodities these days. Consumers want to know they are getting safe, quality food and that sentiment is not about to change, so we have to help make that happen.”
Sclerotinia as bad as it sounds The fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, which occurs in all the canola growing areas of Canada, causes stem rot of canola. “Year after year, sclerotinia stem rot continues to be one of the most destructive, yield-robbing diseases for canola,” says Clinton Jurke, agronomy director for the Canola Council of Canada. “It’s a pretty well-designed fungus that can infect just about any non-grass plant.” When the sclerotinia fungus infects a plant, it secretes an acid that kills any green part of the plant – including leaves, stems and flowers – and allows the fungus to grow into the “death zone” it creates, consuming all the plant’s nutrients. Since most plants have a lack of natural defences against it, they need help. “As a lot of growers prepare to re-enter fields that had FHB two years ago, they need to be proactive,” says James Humphris, crop manager, cereals at Bayer CropScience. “We advise a multi-pronged approach that includes genetics, seed treatments and fungicides.”
According to Jared Veness, field marketing manager for Bayer CropScience, it’s hard to get that help from rotation with so many crops affected by the disease. Given that reality, he says the best source of assistance is fungicides.
For seed treatments, Humphris recommends Raxil PRO, a new generation product for controlling a broad spectrum of seed and soil-borne pathogens in cereals. For fungicides, a strong option from Bayer is the recently launched Prosaro XTR, a powerful cereal fungicide that allows farmers to achieve their best yield while maintaining superior quality and disease control.
“Sclerotinia costs canola growers an average 10 per cent loss or more depending on the severity of infection, so it can wreak havoc on the bottom line. With that much to lose, we suggest the No. 1 brand choice of canola growers in Canada – Proline® fungicide. Simply apply a timely application to your canola from 20-50 per cent bloom stage and you can effectively reduce infection rates.”
Another option is Caramba fungicide from BASF. It offers suppression of FHB and leaf disease control at heading. For leaf disease control prior to heading, apply before the appearance of symptoms.
A leading option from BASF is Cotegra® fungicide, which combines two leading sclerotinia actives in one liquid premix for strong disease management across a broad range of crops, including canola, pulses and soybeans. 37
Blackleg can bring red ink Some diseases remind you of those horror movie monsters: just when you think you’re rid of it, you’re not. “Back in the 1980s and ’90s, blackleg was the No. 1 disease concern,” says Jurke. “While we managed to control it for several years, by the early 2000s evidence of virulence changes in the pathogen was observed. In recent years, some producers have reported higher-than-expected disease severity in previously resistant varieties. Blackleg is a serious disease of canola and can cause significant yield losses.” Though it’s common to seek a “silver-bullet” solution to such problems, Veness says it’s not realistic in this case. “We feel your best results will come through a holistic, integrated approach using the best agronomic practices to minimize yield loss and maintain the effectiveness of genetic resistance in your varieties.” With canola being a cash crop in Western Canada, Veness has seen a real tightening of rotations which may have increased blackleg incidence. He suggests increasing the number of years between canola crops in the rotation to reduce the incidence and severity of blackleg in fields. “If you’ve had concerns in a particular field, maintain a minimum break of two or three years between canola crops to protect against the breakdown of current blackleg resistance in hybrids and allow effective long-term disease management,” says Veness. It’s also important to walk the fields and monitor infection levels, ideally in the fall prior to harvest. Scout crops for accurate identification of the proportion of plants affected by the disease to estimate economic impact and assist blackleg management planning.
canola causes swellings or galls to form on the roots, which ultimately leads to premature death of the plant. “It’s incredibly challenging with a number of factors in play,” says Veness. “The fact that it produces millions – and in some cases even billions – of clubroot resting spores within a single canola plant and the spores have such longevity is very problematic. Clubroot has now spread into northwest Saskatchewan and the Peace Region. Once it is established, Veness says farmers don’t always want to be transparent if their field has issues as it can cause concerns for neighbours. And with no crop protection products currently available, it may be time to think outside the sprayer. “The University of Alberta, the Canola Council of Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry are working on a patch management approach where they are attempting to quarantine the impacted area when it is first discovered in a field,” says Veness. “Liming of the soil to adjust the pH levels, potential use of fumigants [at least in vegetable crops] and sowing the patch to a perennial grass can limit the spread of clubroot.” As with any tool, chemicals may play a major or minor role in addressing weed and disease issues. When that role is a minor one, it’s vital to explore other options as well. “Crop protection products should not be used in isolation to manage these issues,” says Veness. “A comprehensive plan – including crop protection products – will provide the best long-term results and ensure the farmer maintains all the tools they have available to them today.”
From a chemical standpoint, BASF’s Nexicor fungicide aims for high-level control of blackleg in canola and enhanced, broadspectrum control of key cereal leaf diseases, including rust, septoria and tan spot. It combines three powerful modes of action for more consistent and continuous control.
Welcome to the club(root) “Clubroot is one that keeps us up the most at night here,” says Veness. A serious soil-borne disease of cruciferous crops, clubroot in 38
Left: A canola plant overtaken by clubroot.
Farming your money
Paul Kuntz Paul Kuntz is the owner of Wheatland Financial and offers financial consulting and debt broker services. He can be reached through wheatlandfinancial.ca
Can We Plan To Lose Money In 2018?
As someone who helps producers financially plan for their farms, this question might cause uncertainty with my credentials. It is a valid question that needs to be asked. There are many answers to the question: can we plan to lose money? One answer is, not every year. Sometimes in business there are times when you have to prepare to go through the entire year knowing it will not be profitable. It is important to distinguish a few terms regarding making money. The Income Tax Act defines profit as income left over after eligible expenses. As an agriculture financial adviser, I am not interested in your farmâ€™s profit. I want to know if there is money left over after all of the obligations are paid. Some of these obligations do not affect your profit but they do affect your farm. When I measure the financial performance of a farm, we look at all the money that leaves your bank account. Not only do we look at common expenses like fertilizer, chemical, seed, fuel, feed and veterinarian fees, we also look at equipment payments, land payments, personal drawings and agreement for sale arrangements with family. Any expenditure that relies on the farm is included. Looking at 2018, there is a chance that some farms in Western Canada will have more money leave their bank account than the farm will produce. If we look at the crop guide for Saskatchewan for 2018, there are more negative returns than positive. The Ministry of Agriculture looks at 15 crops. Of these, six show they will produce enough cash to cover all costs where nine will not. This reasonably negative look at our industry is not new. Almost every year there are more losers than winners in this publication. What concerns me about the financial analysis in the 2018 guide is that even though the numbers are pessimistic, the income projections are overly optimistic based on current moisture trends. The prices for production seem realistic. The yields also seem realistic, but we will need more moisture in my area than we received this year to achieve them. All of the producers I deal with are worried for 2018. Saskatchewan received less-than-normal rainfall for our growing season last year. Excess subsoil moisture allowed for a surprisingly great crop in 2017. That will be impossible to pull off with the same amount of rainfall. Where I live, we received less than two inches of rain during the growing season. Moisture patterns have continued and we now have less than normal amounts of snow. We all know we canâ€™t grow a crop on snow, but the fact remains that moisture patterns tend to continue from season to season. What if production on farms falls below the cost to produce it in 2018? This is a question some 39
farms will have to answer. I think it is important to put some aspects of the balance sheet in perspective. We can be in a tough financial spot but not really be suffering. If you were in a workplace and you saw a co-worker eating a very frugal lunch, wearing the same clothes day after day, not participating in anything that requires money and generally being very poor, I am sure you would be concerned. Let’s assume you engaged in conversation with the co-worker and told them you were worried about their financial plight. The co-worker reveals to you that although they were earning a good salary of $1,800/biweekly net, they had decided to save $1,500 biweekly for their RRSP and TFSA so they could accelerate their wealth. So they only had $300/biweekly to try and live on. Would you feel sorry for this person? I think all of us would feel that this unrealistic financial predicament was of their own making. We would not have a lot of sympathy for this person. This can sometimes be the financial situation on a farm. If you have excessive principal payments on assets, you are building wealth. And although this is an obligation the farm has to make, it is not the same as not being able to pay for fuel on your farm.
So all of this brings me to one main recommendation: your operation needs to have sufficient working capital in case you run into a year where you spend more than you earn. Take a look at your current assets at the end of the year and your current liabilities. If you subtract the liabilities from the assets, what you have left is your working capital. This is the easiest way to fix a bad year. The financial concept is that we are really just moving assets from one category to another. You take assets like cash, grain and market livestock and they get moved into longer-term assets like equipment, cows and land. This is the justification for planning for a loss on the farm. If you need to spend $1.5 million on your farm in 2018 and you only earn $1.3, the $200,000 can come from previous years’ cash excess that is built up in your working capital. Because some of the money will be going toward principal payments, your wealth is growing as your cash shrinks. Hopefully the rate will be the same so at the end of the year, your net worth is the same.
If you need to spend $1.5 million on your farm in 2018 and you only earn $1.3, the $200,000 can come from previous years’ cash excess that is built up in your working capital. Because some of the money will be going toward principal payments, your wealth is growing as your cash shrinks.
We need to take a look at what line items on our expenditures are production expenses and which ones are building wealth. I would argue that a principal payment on a combine is a true expense, but only to the extent of the loss of value on the combine. If you have a 10-year-old combine that you put 50 hours on each year, I would estimate the depreciation for that year is close to zero. If you have a two-year-old combine that you put 250 hours on, I would estimate the depreciation to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. You need to compare what the principal payment is on this asset as compared to depreciation. And let me clarify when I talk about depreciation: I am not speaking of a Canada Revenue Agency table, I am referring to the loss of true market value. A perfect definition of an expenditure that builds wealth is the principal payment on land. That payment does have to be made in order for you to keep the land, but it also increases your wealth once you have made it. Another asset that follows this is cattle. This example is actually more exaggerated than land. Most lenders only allow for cattle to be financed over five years. This can lead to very high principal payments. There is an argument that each year the cow does lose some value but cattle producers would tell you that a cow should last longer 40
than five calves. Most will last eight to 10 calves. Plus there is the natural retention factor that one of these calves will most likely be a heifer suitable for breeding thereby naturally replacing itself. So although the farm has a big cattle payment each year, it is actually building wealth.
I realize it is easy to say you should just have a large amount of working capital. If your farm does not have sufficient working capital, consider making different decisions in years of prosperity. If you have cash left over at the end of the year, you have several choices for it. You need to prioritize where it goes. There will be demands to upgrade equipment and temptations to purchase land. You need to ensure your working capital is at an optimum level before you look at equipment or land. This is not a sexy option, but it is a very important part of the longterm success of the operation. How you manage the risk of income loss is also part of this conversation. If you do not have sufficient working capital, or you do not wish to risk losing your working capital, do you know what options are out there? Do you participate in the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program? Do you participate in crop insurance? How much do you know about Global Ag Risk Solutions? All of these can help when we have production issues. Having a strong knowledge of your financial situation will greatly improve your chance of survival in a tough year. You need to be able to determine what your cash shortfall might be and compare that to your working capital.
Those Wily Weeds
Corn Herbicides for the West Corn acres on the Prairies have been steadily increasing, in part due to reliable shorter-season varieties with yield potentials rivalling the northern states and Eastern Canada. Despite this growth, corn is still a niche crop supported by agronomic recommendations adopted from traditional corn-growing regions.
Jeanette Gaultier, Ph.D., 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 Ph.D. in Soils & Pesticide Science. She has over 10 yearsâ€™ 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.
Weed management is no exception. A critical weed-free period (CWFP) from the third leaf (V3) through to the sixth leaf (V6) in corn, based on research conducted in Ontario, is often cited in Western Canada. Many Prairie agronomists tweak this CWFP to begin at corn emergence (VE) and extend through V6, which is likely more accurate for our region given the prevalence of cool-season weeds coupled with research findings from Minnesota and North Dakota indicating that corn is less competitive with weeds under cool conditions (< 2250 corn heat units). And we know that corn is a relatively non-competitive crop to begin with. For example, the economic threshold for foxtails in corn is four to five plants per metre row when they emerge with or within a week of the crop. In contrast, the economic threshold for foxtails in spring wheat, when emerging within a week of the crop, is 100 plants per square metre, suggesting that wheat is nearly 20 times more competitive with these weeds than corn. This is in part due to cornâ€™s dislike of a crowd, be it weeds or other corn plants. Researchers from the University of Guelph have shown that corn alters its growth pattern based on light waves reflected off neighbouring plants. Dense or weedy corn stands negatively impact corn leaf architecture, decreasing photosynthetic efficiency and increasing the potential for yield loss. Fortunately, weeds populations are controllable. In traditional corn-growing regions, weed management centres around a two-pass herbicide program that combines pre- and postemergent herbicide applications and multiple modes of action. Depending on the application rate, many of these herbicides provide residual weed control. Atrazine, dicamba and glyphosate are the base herbicides used in combination with other corn herbicides to target specific weed issues. The two-pass program maintains weed control for the duration of the CWFP while managing the risk of herbicide resistance and existing resistant weeds. This program would address the same issues in the West, although many eastern Canadian herbicide products are either not registered or used at the lower rates. Also, until recently growers had moved away from pre-emergent soil-applied herbicides in favour of post-emergent, foliar applications. Corn herbicide trials were run in Manitoba in 2016 and 2017 to demonstrate the weed-control properties of registered pre- and post-emergent herbicides for corn production in the Prairies (table 1). 41
Pre-Emergent Corn Herbicides Pre-emergent herbicides typically require one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch in rainfall after application to become activated (actual amount varies by herbicide). However, excessive rainfall shortly after application can wash certain herbicides from the application zone, reducing efficacy and increasing the risk of crop injury. Manitoba was extremely wet in 2016, which resulted in good activation and residual weed control from the herbicides Focus and Frontier Max. It’s likely that Dual II Magnum was washed from the root zone given poorer-than-expected weed control and slightly set back corn. The opposite was true in 2017, which was very dry. Although it rained just less than one-quarter inch after application of the pre-emergent herbicides, it wasn’t enough to sufficiently activate Focus or Frontier Max resulting in relatively poor weed control. On the other hand, Dual II Magnum was among the cleanest plots with excellent residual control. The above are all Group 15 herbicides with residual activity on grassy weeds and some broadleaf weeds. Their mode of action is shoot inhibition in emerging weeds but they have no efficacy on emerged weeds. As such, these herbicides are best paired
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Not included in the demonstration trial were the Group 14 herbicides saflufenacil (Heat LQ) and pyraflufen (BlackHawk, GoldWing). Unlike the Group 15 herbicides, these provide little grassy weed control but typically target a broader spectrum of broadleaf weeds, including volunteer canola. These particular herbicides are also non-residual, although at registered corn rates Heat LQ gives residual suppression of volunteer canola and other select weeds.
Post-Emergent Corn Herbicides In 2016, plots treated with the non-selective herbicide glyphosate were among the cleanest. A double-stacked Pioneer variety with tolerance to both glyphosate and glufosinate also allowed for the use of Liberty 200SN. Applied in 12 gallons per acre water, the Liberty treated plot was comparable to glyphosate, including good control of grassy weeds. Not surprisingly, atrazine, applied at 0.8 litres per acre, also yielded a weed-free plot with residual weed control. The site was dominated by green and yellow foxtail with some lamb’s-quarters, redroot pigweed and wild buckwheat. As such, the plots treated with post-emergent herbicides with no
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Table 1. Corn Herbicide Registered for Use in Western Canada***
Pre- or Post-Emergent
Active Ingredient(s) 2,4-D + pyraflufen carfentrazone + pyroxasulfone dimethenamid-p MCPA + pyraflufen s-metolachlor saflufenacil atrazine rimsulfuron topramazone 2,4-D 2,4-DB bentazon bromoxynil bromoxynil + MCPA
dicamba dicamba + diflufenzopyr foramsulfuron glyphosate glufosinate halosulfuron MCPA MCPA + MCPB nicosulfuron
* Depending on rate.
Product(s) BlackHawk Focus Frontier Max GoldWing Dual II Magnum Heat LQ Aatrex Sortan IS Armezon, Impact Cobutox, Embutox, Caliber Basagran Forte various Buctril M, Badge II, Mextrol 450 various Distinct Option** various Liberty 200 SN Permit Various Clovitox, Topside, Tropotox Accent
Herbicide Group(s) 4 + 14
14 + 15
15 4 + 14 15 14 5 2 27 4
4 + 19
2 10 11 2 4
** Manitoba only. *** This table is just a guide. Refer to individual product labels for more information.
Top: Dual II Magnum exemplifies the benefit of a residual pre-emergent application 52 days after treatment. Middle: Post-emergent products containing Group 4 herbicides, like Distinct, were among the most effective in 2017. Bottom: Baseline post-emergent glyphosate application 21 days after treatment . Photos courtesy of Manitoba Agriculture, 2017.
activity on grasses – the Group 4s, Group 6s and Permit – remained very weedy highlighting the need for an effective tank mix partner. Activity on broadleaf weeds was good. The Group 4 herbicides 2,4-D and MCPA, applied at V2, also caused injury to the corn, a known side-effect of late application timing and/or varietal sensitivity. Although the corn leaves outgrew their symptoms, weakened roots caused lodging and snapping later in the growing season. For the 2016 season and site, the Group 2 herbicides Option (Manitoba only) and Sortan IS and the Group 27 herbicide Armezon (Impact), were the best post-emergent choices, providing excellent grassy and broadleaf weed control. In 2017, weeds at the field site included green foxtail, lamb’squarters, redroot pigweed, wild buckwheat and Canada thistle. Surprisingly, although the glyphosate-treated plot was again the most weed-free, some lamb’s-quarters and wild buckwheat escaped. Similarly, the lamb’s-quarters and Canada thistle was poorly controlled by the Group 2 herbicides Option, Permit and Sortan
IS and by the Group 27 herbicide Armezon. In this case, with less grassy weed pressure and under dry conditions, the Group 4 herbicides shone. Plots treated with 2,4-D, dicamba, Distinct and MCPA had less weed competition than even glyphosate, once the escaped lamb’s-quarters continued to grow. And the particular Maizex variety grown showed no Group 4 injury.
Recommendation Weed management in corn is necessary to maximize yields. Given our cooler springs and corn’s long CWFP, the two-pass herbicide system is something western corn growers can readily adopt from warmer, more traditional-growing regions. The key is figuring out which herbicide(s) to pair with glyphosate. Unfortunately there’s no simple answer because, as evidenced from the Manitoba trials, the right recipe varies depending on weed species, corn variety and environmental conditions.
A big thank-you to the cooperators at the University of Manitoba Ian N. Morrison Research Farm in Carman (2016) and Ronald Farms Inc. in Portage la Prairie (2017). 43
News & Innovation
BIOAG TagTeam® LCO is the only triple-action granular inoculant that combines the plant-growing power of increased phosphate availability, nitrogen fixation and LCO (lipochitooligosaccharide) technology. These three powerful technologies combine to build a better crop. Nitrogen Fixation (Rhizobium): A specially-selected strain of nitrogen-fixing rhizobia that helps ensure effective nodulation and supply of nitrogen. Early-Season Phosphate Availability (Penicillium bilaiae): Penicillium bilaiae, the active ingredient in JumpStart® inoculant, is a naturally occurring soil fungus which grows along plant roots, releasing phosphate bound in the soil, making it more available for the crop to use. Penicillium bilaiae does not eliminate the need for phosphate fertilizer, but provides crops access to more phosphate for higher-yield potential. Earlier Nodulation Development - LCO (lipochitooligosaccharide):
When the LCO molecule is present at the time of planting, it allows for the nodulation process to begin, independent of soil and environmental conditions. The benefit of earlier nodulation initiation is nitrogen availability to the plant which supports plant growth such as root and shoot development. The result of this early-season activity is improved plant performance. Key Benefits at a Glance: Greater opportunity for the development of nitrogen-fixing nodules; increased nitrogen fixation and uptake through nodule formation; greater availability of soil and fertilizer phosphate; improved phosphate availability, which supports root and shoot growth; and ultimately higher yield potential. TagTeam® LCO is available in a granular formulation for pea and lentil. For more information, visit www.monsantobioag.ca.
LETHBRIDGE COLLEGE From the field to the plate, Lethbridge College’s newest program addresses the needs of a changing agricultural and agri-food sector by focusing on business solutions relevant to the industry. The agricultural enterprise management (AEM) program is an innovative, integrated credential that has been developed in partnership with the University of Lethbridge’s faculty of management. Agricultural enterprise management was developed as part of the southern Alberta agriculture and agribusiness program, made possible by a transformational $5-million gift from Cor Van Raay to Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge in 2014. “This new programming does more than just fill a gap identified by the agri-food industry in southern Alberta,” says David Hill, director of development for the programming between Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge. “By focusing on the business and management side of a rapidly44
changing global agri-food industry, students will be prepared to be business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.” The program differs from the college’s long-running agriculture sciences program by focusing on the business and management decision-making aspects of the agri-food sector. Mandy Gabruch has been hired as the first AEM instructor. Gabruch grew up on her family’s ranch near Consul, Sask., before attaining a master’s degree in agricultural economics at the University of Saskatchewan. She will draw upon a knowledge base that includes experience in hands-on production, research and economic analysis.
“To the consumer, our story doesn’t exist until we tell it.” Andrew Campbell, Agvocate Dairy Producer
Be somebody who does something. Be an agvocate. Learn more at AgMoreThanEver.ca.
News & Innovation
SCHERGAIN Is your combine set to harvest the most or do the most? How do you measure combine performance? Acres/hour or bushels/acre? You have worked all year to get the crop to harvest, the question now is: are you getting it all to the bin? ScherGain believes taking the time to properly set your combine could be the most money you can make per hour farming. They have made this process as simple, safe and easy as possible with a device that allows you to quickly check the losses coming from your combine. Once you know your losses, you can quantify how much they are and if it is worth trying to minimize them. ScherGain believes that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Few growers take the time to properly set newer, larger combines for the certain crop and conditions they are facing. Growers have worked all year and spent big dollars to get the crop to this point so why throw profit back into the field.
The ScherGain Solution System can be used on multiple combines with no extra wiring or brackets as the drop pan houses the power as well as the magnets that hold it to the combine. ScherGain eliminated the need for scales, calculators or phone apps. The pan mounts in four seconds on any combine and then you simply drop the pan using the remote control, screen the losses, and pour the grain into the “grain gauge.” From there the number on the gauge transfers to a chart allowing the user to quickly see losses in bu/acre by individual crop. Now that you have measured your losses, you can try and manage them. Fast, easy and safe. Visit Schergain.ca or follow them on Twitter @schergain.
LED Message board
Ticket Printer Scan area
Precision Scale is a manufacturer and technical solutions provider of truck scales and technology-based measurement solutions throughout Western Canada. Looking for a cost-effective, data-focused and highly-accurate solution to measure load volumes while removing crops from the field or trucking out of bin yards? Precision Scale is pleased to introduce a complete 3D load volume scanning system utilizing laser technology measuring the dimensional and spatial information for open-topped trucks and trailers producing a volumetric reading. The system is a non-contact based measurement where trucks are driven underneath the scanner and transactional information is 46
uploaded to a stand-alone or secure cloud-based portal to track all loads. Available in permanent, portable and mobile configurations, the platform is capable of load data collection by manual input or autofill and can convert the measured volume to weight. The technology is engineered to work with “particulate” materials and is suitable for a variety of materials extending the applications where it can be utilized. Data is stored in an onboard database and can be accessed or exported several ways (Web, USB, API). Integrate your truck weigh scale or connect directly to third-party software. For more information, visit www.precisionscale.com or call 1.800.831.5657.
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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. ©2018 Polaris Industries Inc.
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Farming for Tomorrow March April 2018