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A QUESTION OF COVERAGE

In recent years, cover crops have been widely promoted as a regenerative practice that offers a range of benefits, both environmental and economical. Many western Canadian farmers are skeptical, though, citing short growing seasons, limited moisture and added costs as reasons they haven’t adopted the practice. Yet, policymakers and agri-businesses continue to push cover crops as a fundamental component of regenerative agriculture and overall farm sustainability. But is the adoption of cover crops a logical move for Prairie farmers?

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HAMMER TIME

Farmer Keith Woynorowski built the Hammer Malt facility and the entire malting system from scratch. He processes the farm’s own malting barley within silver, cylindrical dairy tanks repurposed as combination kilns and germination vessels. The malt is transported from one stage of processing to the next through pneumatic tubes and the entire system is computer automated. Far from being cobbled-together in appearance, the rig looks something like a homey space station.

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THE SHAPE OF WATER

Last November, the province of Alberta, in partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and 10 irrigation districts, announced an investment of $117.7 million to modernize the province’s irrigation infrastructure. The contribution builds on a previous $815-million advance, which brings total investment to nearly $933 million. The funding will be used to modernize irrigation infrastructure and to increase water storage capacity through a series of projects in southern Alberta. It will also create jobs and spur the province’s economic recovery.

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TUG OF WAR

The two-year anniversary of COVID-19 is upon us and many aspects of life are still out of sorts. One step forward often results in one, or two, steps backwards, depending on what aspect of life is being evaluated. Farming, though, has always been a touch more socially distanced and isolated than the rest of society, but it’s not immune from the pandemic and its many ripple effects, primarily through the interruption of supply chain logistics.

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UNCHARTED WATERS

When drought hit western Canadian farms in 2021, it reinforced the truth that water is our most precious resource. The tremendous negative impact of this weather event begged the question: what if it happens again?

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ANCESTRY DNA

Old World malting barley genetics may soon be available to Alberta farmers, brewers and distillers in search of trademark flavour characteristics and carcinogen-free chemistry.

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NEW FACES IN WINTER WHEAT

Prairie winter wheat acres have declined for years, but interest in the versatile crop has been revived. Its renewed appeal coincides with a changing of the guard in wheat breeding circles. Picking up where their predecessors left off, breeders Harwinder Sidhu and Curt McCartney aim to give farmers strong new varieties.

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FERTILIZER TAKES FLIGHT

While fertilizer is critical to keep farmers in the black, many see red as its cost has greatly increased. As prices are on the upswing, industry groups and researchers turn their attention to new ideas that may boost ROI.

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HEAT OF THE MOMENT

It came without warning. Prairie farmers were dealt the environmental version of poker’s 7-2 off-suit: drought conditions not seen in 20-plus years and a heat dome, which may become agriculture’s word of the year for all the wrong reasons.

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HOMELAND SECURITY

Cybersecurity breaches continue to plague major companies around the world, and for good reason: the nefarious “actors” behind the attacks stand to make substantial sums of money if they are able to pinch the right company at the right time in just the right place. 

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