Our ultimate aim is to turn this section into a “window” on Prairie Agriculture, to extol our virtues and promote our exports to overseas buyers as the world’s most advanced region with enormous diversification potential to all kinds and grades of crops the world needs.
But we are not there yet; we still have a lot of work to do before we can be confident that we are doing justice to our farm-economy in the best light possible on the world stage. To this end, we need feedback and suggestions from our followers, producers and other stakeholders alike.
In the the last 2-3 decades Prairie farms have undergone considerable consolidation. Now we see many farms larger than 20,000 acres, sectionalized to grow multiple crops -- equivalent of 15-20 containers a week.
Advances in agronomy and equipment have transformed farming from an experience-based-tradition to a science-and-technology driven business. Yields have increased together with crop-attributes and quality standards.
The conditions are in place for further crop differentiation and diversification -- it would not be far-fetched to claim that the Prairie farm-economy is at the cusp of a grow-to-order era for all types or grades of specialty-crops.
You see latest equipment in action using GPS, for position-tracking and automated-guidance. Most machines also have variable-rate-spreading devices to apply the desired amounts of inputs -- seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.
Most farm-equipment have monitors to detect moister-levels and soil-conditions, augmented by drones. Field-data is put to use for planning purposes, and in real-time for decision-support – seeding, fertilizing and harvesting.
Increasingly more sophisticated farm-management-systems are used to track and manage farm-inputs and crop-yields. The MS-envelope is being pushed further by big-data availability, especially on whether-conditions.
As important as all the technology in the field is scientific capacity behind the scenes, agronomy in general and crop-genomics in particular. Prairies have leading universities with research-centers specializing in these academic disciplines.
In this domain we see applied-science in full action; scientists are keen to apply their knowledge in the fields, while producers are equally enthusiastic in embracing innovation and latest advances in farming-methods.
Prairies are uniquely positioned to drive a new wave, if not a tsunami, of crop-specialization. We saw this in pulses not too long ago, and can expect to see the same in driving diversification into new specialty-crop domains.
Prairies’ have a stellar sustainability-record in agriculture -- farms are now absorbing more carbon than they emit. Despite significant increases in crop-yields and exports, green-house-gas emissions have been reduced by more than half.
Significant strides have been made in the last 3-4 decades though genetically-modified-seeds, improved soil-tillage practices, shift to better fertilizers, use of less pesticides, and fuel-efficiency improvements in farm-equipment.
There is no need to encroach on forests for more farm-land; production growth can be achieved through yield increases. Also, Prairies rely on rain; despite Canada's abundant freshwater reserves there is little if any need for irrigation.
We need your input
As we noted in introducing this section, we need your input to enhance our Prairie Profile on the world stage. In addition to your suggestions for improvement, we are looking for farms to profile to demonstrate the truly advanced state of our agricultural sector.
At the outset, we have allocated resources to prepare 10-15 case-studies to showcase the state of advanced-technology, farming-methods, management-systems and sustainability-initiatives, as well as crop variety -- all you have to do is come forward to work with us.
In the same vein, we want to showcase our leading agronomy departments and research centers with active applied-science programs working with producers in the field. Also, we want to profile our government-programs in support of agriculture, particularly with respect to classification-systems, quality-standards, and testing-facilities.