The market, defined here as the elements that converge to establish the price for any given commodity or service, has always been hard to discern. Its inscrutable nature promotes the dream of building a “black box” technology that removes human fallibility and emotion from the equation.
The Prairie Provinces encompass nearly 85 per cent of Canada’s total farmland. Given the massive scale of Western Canadian agriculture, several of the world’s leading precision agriculture companies have established headquarters here. These businesses naturally need to hire many precision ag specialists said Angela Bedard-Haughn, dean of the University of Saskatchewan College of Agriculture and Bioresources. Ag research facilities also require
digitally skilled employees, and there is high demand among students for educational opportunities in this area. USask has even identified interest among students from non-agricultural areas of study.
Technology continues to upend agriculture. More and more tasks in a farmer’s daily routine can be carried out using recently developed technology. From input programs and crop scouting to safety logs and inventory management, farmers typically opt for convenience. Grain marketing is no different.
Healthy soil is the foundation of thriving, sustainable grain production. Soil health management is crucial for healthy crop development and also reduces erosion, improves nutrient cycling and maximizes water infiltration. Bettering soil health can even help farmers lower their input costs. With this in mind, agribusinesses and agronomists alike work to provide farmers with the soil knowledge, data and equipment they need to cultivate long-term resiliency.
Harvest is without a doubt the most hectic season, especially on big farms, where sheer volume compounds grain handling problems. Though workload increases with farm size, the time window to complete harvest does not. Setbacks such as labour shortage, harvest surge and inclement weather can be a major source of stress on farms of all sizes. New grain bin technology aims to alleviate such harvest pressures.
Rural Albertans are known for their support of landowner rights and the free market. However, the contracting of farmland to utility-scale renewable energy projects including solar farms has divided communities. Though these projects can create an attractive revenue stream for individual landowners and a lucrative tax injection for municipalities, they can be very unpopular with neighbours. Renewable development is unlikely to stop, but public concern may affect the way in which projects are structured and approved.
Farmers naturally gravitate toward equipment that simplifies their work and is easy to use. The products featured here are intended in some way to make farm operations more convenient and less complex. Some are brand new, while others were launched ahead of their time and have since evolved.
Given the escalating cost of production, it’s more important than ever for farmers to maximize productivity. Farm equipment developers and manufacturers are keenly aware of this fact. Their goal is to make harvest simpler, more efficient and less stressful from field to bin.
On Rob Baerg’s farm near Rosemary, a rectangular array of used aluminum irrigation pipes is nestled within an L-shaped configuration of six hopper bottom grain bins. GrainsWest visited the farm on a day that was not particularly sunny, but the pipes were surprisingly hot. Laid east to west, this is the energy intake of Baerg’s solar grain dryer.
Farmers need to know if new agricultural systems and practices are worth the investment. Canada’s smart farms have stepped up to provide answers. These crop, livestock and horticulture facilities study the use of technologies, data and digital tools as well as advanced practices and philosophies to increase overall productivity, profitability and sustainability. “Smart farms within the Smart Farm Network follow this definition but also have the added mandate or goal of sharing information with all stakeholders,” said Joy Agnew, vice-president of research at Olds College.