Grainswest - Tech 2022

Tech 2022 Grains West 6 Bigwheelskeeponturning DURING HER JULY VISIT TO Alberta, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the creation of nine new liv- ing labs in various parts of the country. Joining several now in operation, one of these will be set up in Alberta. The lead partners for the province are Alberta Bar- ley, the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Beef Producers. More a system than a singular facil- ity, these working farms are composed of individual networks of agricultural sites. Farmers, scientists and additional stakeholders will use these resources to co-develop practices that will reduce Canada’s environmental footprint and enhance climate resiliency. A facet of the federal government’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, the expansion of this national initiative is yet another indicator the world is serious about sustainability. Figuratively, as the big wheel of emissions reduction gains momentum, this line of policy torque now shapes developments across the ag sector. It is certainly present in many of the stories in this, our annual farm technology issue. For instance, the pros and cons of on-farm renewable energy projects is a timely topic, with numerous initiatives now at the proposal stage. With the proliferation of wind turbine projects and solar arrays across Alberta, “Power play” (pg. 32) asks what’s in it for farmers and rural communities? Also on the topic of energy, we look at the findings from a three-year grain drying study conducted by Team Alberta Crops in “Hot takes” (pg. 10). The project compiled data on the efficiency of various systems as well as the economic implica- tions of the federal carbon tax on the use of dryer fuel sources. In “The Henry Ford of fenceposts” (pg. 22), we meet a wizard with recycled materials. Farmer and inventor Danny Farkash has a unique vision of circular economics for farm plastics. The operator of an on-farm ironworks business, his latest machine ingeniously converts used grain bags into durable fenceposts. A second farmer-inventor with an im- pressive track record, Vincent Pawluski has long held a fascination with remote controlled devices. He discusses his own invention, a wireless tractor PTO control system in “Remote possibilities” (pg. 14). Our cover story, “Help wanted” (pg. 28), examines the push to maintain another type of sustainability. To keep the literal wheels turning on farm equipment requires the assistance of a large work- force of technically skilled mechanics. This has proven difficult to maintain in recent years. While the equipment industry and ag schools work hard to draw young people into this increasingly rewarding field, it has proven difficult to fight old grease monkey stereotypes. In addition to technology focused stories, we have made sure to include a healthy dose of bread-and-butter agro- nomics in this issue. Herbicide resistance in weeds is a constantly growing concern for farmers. The industry is increas- ingly forced to consider non-chemical strategies to control resistant weeds. In “Chemistry and beyond” (pg. 38), we hear from agronomists on the front line of this complex and challenging fight. EDITOR’S MESSAGE On-farm innovator Danny Farkash invented iron fabrication devices that power his thriving ironworks business and is now fine-tuning a machine that makes fenceposts from plastic waste. Photo:ZoltanVaradi