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THE HENRY FORD OF FENCEPOSTS

Like his hero Henry Ford, Vermilion-area farmer, entrepreneur and self-taught mechanical engineer Danny Farkash aspires to reinvent existing machines and make them better. This past spring, GrainsWest visited the sprawling farmyard where he operates the thriving ironworks division of Noralta Farms and works on numerous side projects such as a portable sawmill operation and biodiesel factory.

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REMOTE POSSIBILITIES

Raised on a farm in Peace Country, Vincent Pawluski has always loved to tinker. As a kid, he hot-rodded a Fischer Price boat with a small motor and propellor. Later, as part of an elementary school science fair project, he and his friends created a remote-controlled drill stem like those used in the oil and gas industry.

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YOUTH SPEAK UP FOR AG

The goal of AYSA is to encourage this passion and develop communication, leadership and networking skills in youth. Given a choice between seven pressing agricultural issues, these future farm ambassadors had clearly done their research and impressed the judges with their insights.

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SPLASHY SCIENCE

Of all the variables in agriculture, from prices and pests to supplies and sun, water is perhaps the most difficult to manage. Most Alberta farmers may prefer to forget the 2021 season, which illustrated just how damaging a lack of it can be. In southern Alberta, drought can be mitigated by irrigation, and local scientists are at work to improve the practice.

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GOODBYE TO A COLLEAGUE AND MENTOR

It is with heavy hearts that GrainsWest and Alberta Barley say goodbye to former director and founding GrainsWesteditorial advisory board member Bryan Adam. In the early morning of March 2, Bryan passed at his home in Stony Plain. He was 69 years of age.

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A WORLD OF NEW IDEAS

Amanda Hardman believes the amount of plastic packaging used in the produce aisles of her local grocery store is unsustainable. As a solution, the second-year sustainable agriculture student at the University of Alberta developed a prototype clamshell package made of sugarcane fibre and intended to transport lettuce. Initially a 4-H Canada Science Fair project, it earned her a spot at the Bayer Youth Ag Summit 2021. “People are looking for packaging options other than plastics as it has either been banned in some places or discouraged in others,” said Hardman.

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THE VOICE

In September, as the economic fallout from the 2021 drought continued to hit home on Alberta farms, Pine Lake cattle farmer Kelly Smith-Fraser stepped into the role of Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) board chair. It has not been an easy time to lead the group: insurance needs are high across the ag sector and AFSC has been tasked with administering the $340 million joint federal–provincial AgriRecovery program through the Canada-Alberta Livestock Feed Assistance Initiative.

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THE GRAIN KING OF THE PEACE COUNTRY

In a 1914 Maclean’s story entitled “The Third Chapter of Western Growth,” W.D. Albright, reported a stream of newcomers arrived in the Peace Country with the railroad, which had reached Grande Prairie. Wheat and barley yielded very well, he claimed, but production in the region was hampered by a lack of machinery.

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WHERE THE SKY MEETS THE FIELD

Nearly 38 years after he entered the industry, George Clayton remains fully enamoured with agriculture. From his first position in which he studied soil conservation and no-till to later research on integrated crop management with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Clayton simply loved his work. Even after retirement, leaving the world of crops and soil behind wasn’t an option. He traded one kind of field work for another, and now spends his days, and nights, chasing down the best Alberta farm scenes with a camera. What started as a hobby Clayton practiced in his spare time has turned into a second career as he captures the beauty of Prairie farms.

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HOW TO NURTURE AN INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM

The associate vice-president of applied research at Olds College, Joy Agnew co-leads the development of the school’s Smart Ag Ecosystem, a collection of programs and resources that includes its Smart Farm. She describes the school’s farm program as a “one-stop-shop innovation ecosystem.” While it is comprised of academic programs that provide students with practical, hands-on experience at the cutting edge of contemporary farming, the Smart Ag Ecosystem is also a vibrant research department. In recognition of her industry research and leadership of the college’s programming, Agnew was recently recognized as a Top 50 Innovator in Canadian Agriculture by Canadian Western Agribition.

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