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General observation suggests more farmers have been using some degree of tillage in recent years. It’s not a landslide movement toward full-tilt conventional tillage, nor the season-long black dirt of summer fallow days, but farmers are looking at various tillage operations to fix certain field problems such as smoothing ruts, managing heavy crop residue, controlling weeds and breaking up compacted soil.

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New crop missions form the practical foundation of Canada’s strategic wheat marketing efforts. And they have proven invaluable in developing and maintaining markets. Forming the delegations that carry out these postharvest sojourns, Cereals Canada, the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi), the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) as well as grain companies and farmer representatives work together to cultivate and sustain relationships with traditional and emerging customers.

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Modern farming in Alberta is based on a thin sliver of soil with a thick history. The story of every field in Alberta begins over 180 million years ago when the province sat, smooth and flat, inside a geological plate that began slowly crashing into islands and belts of land to its west. The collision, which ended about 50 million years ago, lifted the mountains of B.C. and Alberta and tilted this province down to the east. Since then, sand, silt and gravel poured down the slopes and laid the bedrock basement beneath our rubber boots.

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When it comes to gambling with nature, irrigation may be a Prairie farmer’s ace in the hole. While competition for water resources between users is increasing, innovation in irrigation technology is
providing new tools to help farmers stack the deck in their favour.

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Outside Canmore’s JK Bakery Cafe on a bright and pine-scented day, the snow-capped slate-blue Rockies circle the alpine town. Inside, the oven-warm waft of fresh-baked bread and the comforting buzz of café conversation completes the undeniable draw of this artisanal bakery. The soup-and-sandwich combo prepared with fresh bread is a bestseller, and customers sitting for coffee and pastry walk away with loaves of German rye, Danish sourdough rye or ciabatta buns, all appealingly basketed behind the main counter.

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Darrell Bricker sees opportunity in farming and the food industry. The CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs says Canadians are living longer, eating healthier and welcoming immigrants like never before, bringing new residents hungry for a taste from their former homelands. The changing nature of the country’s consumer demographics presents open doors for farmers and agri-food entrepreneurs.

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On a sunny morning in the Origin Malting & Brewing taproom in Strathmore, co-owners Meleah Geeraert and her husband, Kyle, took an uncharacteristic break from what has been a crazy work schedule. Meleah is a fifth-generation member of the Hilton family whose farmstead is located just down the road. While she handles digital marketing, office management and taproom operations, he handles product development. They’ve overseen off-the-hook growth in sales following the outfitting and August 2017 launch of their business, which they carried out in record time. Invoking their “farm-kid work ethic,” they manage the endless tasks commensurate with this undertaking while raising their two-year-old son, Easton, and a second child is on the way. They’re overworked but clearly thrilled with their success thus far.

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