Low-tech air drying of grain may be a farming practice tailor made for these wet, financially constrained times. Multiple tough harvests have increased grain drying demands on Alberta farmers at a time when average farm income is down substantially. Can natural in-bin airdrying or natural aeration help Prairie farmers cope, and at an attractive price? Employing differing airflow levels, both involve blowing air into grain bins to dry harvested grain.
Familiar to most farmers, that blue seed tag indicates a grower has produced the high-quality product that will be used to produce the year’s crop. Seed growers are the foundation of Canada’s agri-food industry, helping to maintain the robust selection of crop varieties farmers rely on to grow the best crops possible.
Knowledge is everything in controlling a difficult pest such as wireworm. “You’ve got to know your enemy,” said Haley Catton, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientist. With funding from the Alberta Wheat Commission and the Western Grains Research Foundation, she has led a three-year project that will produce a huge amount of wireworm data and contribute to integrated management approaches.
Alberta’s irrigation districts will continue to receive rehabilitation funding through 2022, albeit less than the historical average. In 2020, the 13 districts will share $14 million of Irrigation Rehabilitation Program (IRP) cash, a drop of about $6 million from the previous year. Next year, the districts will be allotted $10 million followed by $12 million in both 2021 and 2022.
With early snowfalls having impacted harvests in recent years, the time couldn’t be better for Dean Spaner’s wheat breeding program to hit its stride. A University of Alberta professor and plant breeder, Spaner focuses on bringing high-yielding but early-maturing wheat varieties to market. It’s a natural fit for the northernmost wheat breeding program on the continent.
No one ever said farming was going to be easy. Every crop year has its obstacles, and in 2019/20, the biggest challenge is that a significant portion of the crop was left to overwinter. This is estimated to be between five and 15 per cent of total western Canadian acres. Farm economics dictate that every acre that can be harvested should be harvested to ensure financial wellbeing. Assuming that all unharvested acres will be harvested, here are some things to keep in mind.
Research plots dot the Prairie landscape and provide farmers a glimpse of what may come from new crop varieties in yield, disease resistance, standability and more. About the size of a pickup truck and just as numerous across Alberta, these plots are an inescapable component of agricultural research. However, dimensions and conditions continually leave something to be desired. Highly manicured and cared for by research scientists in specialized environments, the plots don’t simulate real life and that’s a real problem for farmers who farm sections, not square centimetres.
The tight farm financial picture that has evolved over the last three crop years has many farmers adjusting capital, operational and agronomic practices. The aim is to push up the profit margin while cutting costs. GrainsWest spoke with three agricultural advisors about such dollar-saving tactics.