By MPP Toby Barrett
My day at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show last week, yet again, reaffirmed the tremendous mechanical and electronic changes in North American agriculture.
Our area was well represented at the show by the likes of DeCloet Greenhouses, VandenBussche Irrigation, Cadman Power Equipment, Robert H. Laning, Titan Trailers, R.E. Eggar Truck and Machine, Hal-Nor Equipment, Fletcher’s Horse World and Clark Ag Systems – as well as so many other people I ran into on the grounds representing other players in agri-business.
Here are some highlights of my day at the show.
The fact that agriculture is becoming a global industry was reinforced when I learned that Mahindra, from India, is the number one selling tractor in the world. If my old McCormick had feelings – which I don’t think she does – she would shed a tear over that one.
The NUHN Lagoon Crawler was an interesting demonstration. This is an agitation boat for manure lagoons with a twist. The crawler has wheels, and can drive right into a lagoon.
Having grown up throwing hay around, I was impressed with the front and rear unload forage boxes brought in by Meyer Manufacturing from Dorchester, Wisconsin. This is the same principle, but a big improvement over our farm’s old forage harvester system.
Often drivers are frustrated when stuck behind a combine on a back road when the operator doesn’t take the head off. At the same time, I understand the logistics of the farmers who follow the rules, have another operator and tow the head behind with a pick-up. That issue has been resolved with the new foldable head, offered by several combine manufacturers.
The evolution of GPS technology is nothing short of what would be considered science fiction when I was growing up on our farm. GPS-assisted agriculture is not new, but it continues to advance.
Precision farming was featured by Trimble Agriculture, Westminister, Colorado, and Trimble Navigation, Sunnyvale, California.
With margins thinner, farmers need to make efficient use of seed, pesticides, fertilizers and machinery. GPS first gained a foothold by ensuring there is no overlap in application of crop inputs, while saving fuel at the same time. That has evolved to auto-steer and changing the application rates of fuel and fertilizer, dependent on the productivity of a particular part of a field. If a particular area is more productive, more seed and fertilizer are applied. If the productivity is limited, seed and fertilizer input will be reduced since the soil can only support lesser plant density.
And here is what is around the corner. While auto-steer worked for driving straight rows while seeding, the operator needed to take over to turn the machinery in the headlands. Now, equipment will allow not only turning, but also staged shutdown of planters and applicators as the machinery reaches the end of the row.
Seed companies showcased a variety of approaches to the topic of neonics and bee mortality. De Dell Seeds, Canada’s only family-owned non-GMO seed corn company, offers both seed treated with neonics, and untreated seed. Syngenta is researching Best Management Practices for handling insecticide-treated seed to reduce dust during planting. The company is involved in a number of other initiatives to support bee health.
The Outdoor Farm Show illustrates agriculture continues as a tremendously-evolving industry. Contact me at [email protected]