While comic book superheroes use X-ray vision to fight crime, a research facility in Saskatoon, SK, is taking sub-surface sleuthing to a whole new level, shining light on new possibilities for agricultural research.
Over seven-plus decades, Alberta farmer Charles Sherwood Noble developed and promoted new farming practices and technical innovations. Of these, the Noble blade cultivator was used around the world as a low soil disturbance weed control tool. For his work, he was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1943.
Pushing the technological envelope, the streamlined tractor cabs of today increasingly resemble the cockpits of Hollywood science fiction space ships. Luxuriously ergonomic and digitally decked out, they are often described by big manufacturers as control centres. The term suggests once you’ve eased into the seat of a cab, the universe is yours to conquer. GrainsWest talked with three manufacturers about how technological change is reshaping tractor cab features and controls.
In Canada’s short growing season, having the ability to make quick decisions based on accurate information is a plus. In recent years, revolutionary new sensor technology has come to market. Its aim is to aid grain farmers in making decisions that improve crop production and quality. These new technologies allow farmers to assess soil quality and fertility in real time and evaluate the results of their fertility plans. This writer attended Agritechnica 2019 in Hannover, Germany, and discovered three such systems that may have applications in Western Canada.
Until recently, the concept of a digitally connected farm seemed far off. In fact, it is the emerging reality for modern farming. From sensors that offer constant soil analysis, to software programs that provide real-time crop data for tractor cabs, the technology is at a farmers doorstep, bringing with it a host of opportunities and challenges.
Farmers require PPE for themselves and their employees during daily operation as well as to satisfy Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) requirements where necessary. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on the healthcare sector as well as a greater volume of use by the general public has created a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) in the agriculture sector.
One of the non-COVID-19 challenges we faced on our farm this spring is dealing with flax straw—a tenacious material that needs to be removed from the field before seeding. We had dropped it in windrows behind the combine last fall but it blew all over the field in a windstorm before the baler arrived. We finally accumulated it into bunches suitable for burning this spring, but then we faced dry conditions, strong winds and a county fire restriction that prevented us from burning.
Canada has seen a growing number of positive tests for COVID-19 among employees at meat processing facilities, which has resulted in slowdowns and closures. This has been most pronounced in Alberta where the Cargill plant in High River is to resume production May 4 following a two-week shutdown. In contrast, agri-food processors have fared much better. Just as seed plants, elevators and farm-to-export transportation links have weathered the pandemic remarkably well, grain-reliant food manufacturers have continued to function, even upping production to meet an aggressive surge in consumer demand.