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Greater adoption of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Framework is central to the federal government’s 30 per cent fertilizer emissions reduction target for Canadian agriculture. According to the most recent 4R Nutrient Use Survey, familiarity and uptake have increased, yet barriers to improvement exist. Ongoing research indicates field practices can effectively curb nitrogen emissions. GrainsWest spoke with industry experts who all emphasized the benefits of 4R principles.

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With its bright fluorescent lights and shiny malting gear that trails tubes and cords, the Hogarth floor-malting room has the feel of a hospital operating theatre. In contrast to its clinical appearance, the air is invitingly fragrant with the sweet and earthy aroma of warm, moist malting barley in the germ stage.

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It is a time of transformation for the Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC) in Lacombe. Owned and operated by the provincial government since its establishment in 1973, the facility is now managed by Olds College, where staff have been tasked with a reimagination of the Centre’s feed and forage barley, malting barley and triticale breeding programs.

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Business practices evolve and shift as new farmers take over from their predecessors. Agrologists were often the sole outside opinion sought by farmers of previous generations, but this is no longer the case. The under-45 crowd is generally much keener to call a consultant for assistance and trust that experts will help them work smarter, rather than harder. This generation may seek expert input in agrology, finance, accounting, business planning, mental health and more.

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For generations, Canadian farmers have been careful stewards of the grasslands, watersheds and cropland their livelihoods depend upon. It is only recently, however, they have begun to receive wider public recognition and financial compensation for the critical environmental benefits their practices deliver.

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A dozen years ago, Devon Walker officially began farming alongside his dad Donald on the family farm in northwest Saskatchewan near the Alberta border. Like many young farmers, Walker was eager to put his stamp on the farm by adopting new management practices he believed would “shed risk.” After evaluating the farm’s fertility plan, he suggested they put partial fertility down at planting and then top up with a foliar application later in the season when the crop needed it most. “Applying foliar is like rubbing a sandwich on your arm when you’re hungry,” advised Donald.

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Art Froehlich’s upbringing in the 1950s and ’60s was modest, but his contribution to agriculture has been substantial and far-reaching. His childhood on the family’s mixed farm was full of fun, family and 4-H competitions. These were years spent learning valuable agricultural knowledge that would serve him well later in life. His subsequent study of soil science at the University of Saskatchewan initiated a lifelong agricultural adventure as an entrepreneur and investor. Known for his role as president of AdFarm during its launch in 2000 and the first thought leader in smart agriculture at Olds College, Froehlich now enjoys his role as a mentor and supporter of agricultural development programs across the world. Awarded both the Alberta Order of Excellence and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal in 2022 for his contributions to the industry, the farm kid-turned-philanthropist is a committed champion of agriculture.

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The chronic agricultural labour shortage shows no signs of abating. Without a sufficient talent pipeline, even the agricultural retail sector has suffered. Working to alleviate the problem with the assistance of industry partners, Lakeland College has developed an innovative apprenticeship program that will prepare students for agri-sales careers. The institution’s agri-sales and customer relations certificate program is intended to produce sales professionals who possess in-demand skills. 

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Those orange and red, blob-like areas on insect survey maps are a farmer’s cue to action. Fields seeded with certain crops and located in and around these hotspots may require individual assessment and population control. Among cereal farmers, the most anticipated of these maps are those for grasshoppers, wheat stem sawfly and wheat midge.

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