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.
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.
Low-tech air drying of grain may be a farming practice tailor made for these wet, financially constrained times. Multiple tough harvests have increased grain drying demands on Alberta farmers at a time when average farm income is down substantially. Can natural in-bin airdrying or natural aeration help Prairie farmers cope, and at an attractive price? Employing differing airflow levels, both involve blowing air into grain bins to dry harvested grain.
In 1912, Alberta agriculture minister Duncan Marshall announced the province would construct three agricultural colleges. The Vermilion School of Agriculture, later rechristened Lakeland College, opened first. Olds College remain in operation, while the Claresholm School of Agriculture was shut down in the early 1920s.