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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Feb 15th Farming - Canadian Style

I met up with agronomist and farmer Steve Laroque, together we visited Cattle Land, a large scale farming and cattle feed lot business.  Our tour also included a local Louis Dreyfus grain elevator. Of particular interest was the increasing issue they are having with Ergot in this part of Canada, a black fungus that affects the grain. It has very low tolerance thresholds, and they have had to introduce cleaning equipment which is capable of detecting the black grains and uses air to remove them. The elevator we visited had a annual throughput of about 250 kt. All grain delivered is cleaned at the elevators prior to export to ensure it meets very tight specs.
Black Ergot infected grains in a sample

A common sight in Alberta, machinery in snow drifts.

Feed mixing plant at Cattle land. The feed mixes are controlled  remotely from a company  in Texas

We also visited a group of young entrepreneurs who are mentored by Nuffield Scholar Brenda Schoepp.  I spoke to them about my research project and about our experiences in Bulla Burra with collaborative farming.  Steve also spoke about his agronomy work. One of the group members shared his experiences of the effect of salinity on the ability of a crop to tolerate drought, and how he had manipulated the salinity in his soils through changing his fertiliser practices.

A three hour drive took us to Rimey in Southern Alberta to stay with Brenda 

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