Monthly Archives: February 2014

Transport Seed Bags With Care (Hint: SLOW DOWN!)

In the past year, I have had two friends that lost canola seed bags off the back of their truck after seed pick up. Blame it on the wind, poor shrink wrap or your speedy driving, but  you need to make sure that you have the seed bags secured on the truck or trailer deck before you hit the road.

In the first anecdote, Southern Alberta farmer, Kevin Serfas was driving at a rather high speed (allegedly) and a bag flew off the truck. There was good that came of this issue though. Kevin mentioned to Canterra that their bags were a bit slippery. No doubt this was his excuse for the bags flying out of the truck but Canterra Seeds listened and re-designed their canola bag which includes new material and ink to increase pallet stacking stability.

CHECK OUT: How Canterra Redesigned its Canola Bag

Here is another example of not having the seed bags secured on the truck while transporting in a strong wind. As Gary mentions in the twitter string of discussion he received a discount for picking up by Feb 28 and this mishap has cut his discount in half.

We all know that seed bags falling off the truck can happen to anyone but this spring take extra care and make sure that you minimize the chance of bag loss. The seed company has gone through great work to make sure you have the top genetics in the bag and in case you haven’t looked at the retail SRP list lately its also expensive seed. All the more reason to use tie downs, slow down and maybe even use extra shrink wrap if you are going a great distance.

As one seed company rep mentioned last week, “when transporting seed you need to handle seed like an egg and not a stone.”

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New Holland’s CR Combines Bulk Up for Bigger Yields

New Holland is introducing upgrades to their Twin Rotor CR combines. The changes touch on operator comfort, with an emphasis on overall capacity, efficiency and durability.

Perhaps one of the most drastic changes comes from a 15% increase in capacity through the “Dynamic Feed Roll.” The updated setup speeds up crop movement through streamlined feeding while also re-directing stones into a dedicated trap. In the CR8090 and CR9090 models, a further increase in capacity is seen in the cleaning shoe, where a larger diameter cross auger speeds the movement of high-yielding corn into the elevator.

The CR8090 and CR9090s also feature a larger grain tank, with 410-bushels of storage, an impressive 17% increase from previous versions. Increasing capacity doesn’t have to mean longer unloading times either; the new augers run at roughly 4 bushels/second, meaning the entire tank can be emptied in right around 100 seconds.

See more: Click here to see all our videos from the National Farm Machinery Show

Wider tires have been introduced to the entire CR series as well, limiting compaction and enhancing traction of the higher-capacity machines. Oh, and why not shed a little light on the situation? The CR range will also see further into the night, with five high-intensity lights, four halogen lamps and a 55% improvement on the spread of light to the front of the combines.

But, we could write all day about New Holland’s upgrades. It’s probably best you see for yourself.

In this video, RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin gets a preview of the upgrades to the CR8090 from New Holland’s Cole Sanford, with a special mention of the newly-introduced 980CF 12-row corn header — available to farmers by fall. Oh, and did we mention the header has a sweet folding configuration and optional chopping row unit? Take a look.

If you cannot view the embedded video, click here.

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This Week on RealAg — The February 28th Edition

Can I just say now that I am SO glad to see tail lights on this month? February may be the shortest month of the year, but the combination of wicked weather (third coldest winter on record that Manitoba has experienced), a busy schedule and a plague-like illness has made this month feel 10 days too long. But before we can kiss this month of mayhem goodbye, let’s do a quick recap of what happened This Week on RealAg.

As mentioned previously, I am plagued-riddled so the action-packed week that was planned got scaled back to a “hey, let’s just get through the week upright!” Luckily, RealAgriculture is run by a team, not just one person, so we still managed to put together some neat stuff on the site. One of my favourite interviews this week is one that Shaun Haney did with Dave Townsend of BASF. This Agronomy Geeks edition covers so much ground, I struggled to write a headline for it. Let’s put it this way, if you farm in Ontario, you should listen to it. And maybe even if you don’t. Honourable mentions got to Debra’s “How to become an auctioneer” interview with Danny Hooper (very entertaining guy!) and Shaun’s chat with Clarence Shawluk from Manitoba Harvest about hemp production. See those interviews here and here.

We got good but not great news out of Leamington yesterday, as an investors’ consortium has announced a signed-deal with Heinz to keep the scheduled-to-close-plant up and running. I say “good not great” because the deal is, as of right now, only a letter of intent and the plan sees the plant running at only about one-third capacity to start. Still, a loss of 540 jobs vs. 800 is nothing to sneeze at, and the consortium has plans for growth. See more on this story here.

Bernard Tobin, Ontario field editor and resident machinery guy, also kept Jason, our video production guy, hopping with all his coverage of the National Farm Machinery Show. If you like combines, planters, balers and other giant pieces of equipment, keep watching this page as we’ll be adding more and more machinery coverage next week. Click here to see it all!

My favourite part of the week, by far, was having the chance yesterday to spend a few hours with the Manitoba 4-H leaders group at the University of Manitoba. This is a pilot project for 4-H, where those who have surpassed the age limit for the traditional 4-H group can continue on. The group asked me to kick off their series of learning events with a few hour discussion on using social media professionally. As a 4-H AND U of M alumni, it was a pretty special evening.

And, I’ll end on a bit of a sad note. The agriculture industry lost a fantastic teacher and even better person this week with the death of Terry Tollefson. I met Tollesfson, a well-liked professor at the University of Saskatchewan, four years ago when he asked me to speak to his third-year students about careers in agriculture. I’ve been back each year since, and this year was saddened to present to the class without Terry there. Upon learning of his death, my Twitter feed was full of kind words and memories from his former students. He will be missed. His funeral is set for tomorrow. His full obituary and details of the funeral can be found here.

— Lyndsey


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Investors Move to Buy Leamington Plant from Heinz

It won’t be business as usual, but if a newly-signed deal goes through, there may be at least some business happening at the Leamington tomato processing plant going forward. A group of investors, Highbury Canco Corporation, has a signed letter of intent with H.J. Heinz Company that will see the consortium take over the plant. Heinz will contract the plant to continue creating and distributing certain products for the company, but would be just one of the customers of the plant, the group says.

Read the back story: Heinz to close Leamington tomato processing facility

A letter of intent is not a done deal, however the potential of the deal is great news for Heinz plant employees and the town of Leamington, as the June closure of the plant will see at least 800 jobs lost. The purchase by Highbury would keep about 250 employees from losing their jobs, and will need additional workforce seasonally, the company said.

The Heinz plant at Leamington uses up to 40% of the processing tomatoes in the area — if the plant is shuttered, the loss for farmers in the area would be devastating.

The post Investors Move to Buy Leamington Plant from Heinz appeared first on Real Agriculture.

There’s No Apology Necessary for Canada’s Vibrant Farm Economy

I suspect there will be a lot of angst over the new federal farm review and forecast – even though statistically, it’s a good news story.

The report, released last week, showed farmers produced 96.5 million tonnes of grain in 2013. That’s a major leap over the previous year’s relatively dismal 76.7-million tonne crop, which suffered from either too much rain or too little rain, depending on where you farmed.

Unfortunately, the grain transportation fiasco on the prairies has thrown a pall over this upbeat review, as well as on the prediction that Canadian farmers’ net income will remain at the historically high levels seen in recent years.

A vibrant farm economy is not bad news. I know, though, some farmers cringe when Ottawa proclaims near-record levels of anything. They’re embarrassed — almost apologetic — by the appearance of such prosperity, not only because they’re generally a humble lot, but because they fear a backlash from consumers who say food prices are too high.

Again, more on-farm anxiety is likely, even though a whack of houses in Toronto, Vancouver and elsewhere also cost that much, and sure don’t provide the same kind of service to Canadians.

There’s more. Ottawa also noted in its review that for the first time, the average per-farm net worth of Canada’s 200,000-ish farms is forecast to reach $2 million.

Again, more on-farm anxiety is likely, even though a whack of houses in Toronto, Vancouver and elsewhere also cost that much, and sure don’t provide the same kind of service to Canadians.

And finally, I wouldn’t doubt that farmers somehow get drawn into or blamed for what is destined to become the calorie-count controversy in Ontario.

Next week, the province is expected to announce large chain restaurants will need to state calorie counts on their menus and menu board. It’s the latest of many dire attempts being made everywhere from Abbotsford to Abu Dhabi to promote greater individual and corporate responsibility for better health, as our increasingly sedentary society slips deeper into a bonafide health crisis.

As fast-food corporations proclaim their innocence and the search for a scapegoat (and magic bullet) intensifies, I predict farmers will be accused of not doing enough to grow crops and raise livestock that actually make people healthy. Some activists will even point fingers at GMOs. We know that’s not the problem – we know that when it comes to food, it’s the volume consumed and the  addition of calories or certain preparation and processing techniques that sink the ship.

But not everyone knows that. Imagine yourself as a member of the public, trying to sort all this out. Naturally, you’re going to look to opinion leaders for advice.

There’s no apology necessary for Canada’s vibrant farm economy

And that’s where I believe farm leaders have an opportunity now to step up and set the record straight.

First, there’s no apology necessary for Canada’s vibrant farm economy. People can be made to understand why it’s OK for farmers to make money, if they can come to appreciate farmers are running a business, not pursuing a hobby. And all businesses, not just farms, must make money to survive.

Second, people can be made to understand not all processing is bad, and that certain preparation and processing techniques can actually make raw commodities produced by farmers better and more accessible.

But farmers can’t let themselves be hung out to dry when a processor adds gobs of sugar and oil — and a bit of bran — to flour, calls it a bran muffin, and then suggests it’s a healthy alternative. That’s where the province’s calorie counter comes in.

People are catching on, and farmers can help them. This weekend through to Monday, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association holds its annual trade show at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto.

The Ontario pavilion, led by and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, is among the most popular draw there, thanks to the diversity of food produced and processed in this province.

Megan Hunter, communications and program manager for, says every year demand grows for local food and beverages from consumers and, in turn, chefs and restaurants.

Who grows local food? Local, Canadian farmers. They’re providing the essentials of life…and they have no reason to apologize for that role.

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The CASE Steiger RowTrac QuadTrac – A Tractor for All Seasons

The Steiger RowTrac could aptly be described as the Hulk…..with bunny slippers. It’s a tractor that CASE designed to tackle the heaviest of farm jobs, yet tread as lightly as possible when needed. It’s highly adaptable as well, with the ability to pull almost any implement you’ve got on the yard, with multiple adjustments for row-spacing as well. It’s all of those features in addition to better fuel efficiency and greater cab comfort that has Mitch Kaiser, CASE IH’s Steiger Marketing Manager, dubbing this “the ultimate tractor for all seasons”.

In this video shot at the 2014 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, RealAg’s Bernard Tobin gets the details on the newest improvements on the RowTrac and why he thinks it is the “ultimate tractor for all seasons” for the Canadian farmer.

If you can’t see the video below click here.

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Danny Hooper on Gettin’ That 50-Dollar bid

If you’ve intentionally found your browser open to this article, chances are you’ve heard the melodious call of an auctioneer and considered, one day, also sitting in the limelight of an auction sale. Either that, or you just really like Danny Hooper.

Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 12.56.15 PM

Quite simply, a floor runner monitors bids during an auction, taking bidder sheets to top-bidders to sign, then running them back to those responsible for the administration.

In 2013, I attended Western Canadian Agribition as both a Cattlemen’s Young Leader and a journalist. It was my first time to the show, and I was excited even before being given the chance to participate in the Winners Circle auction as a floor runner.

For more coverage of Agribition ’13,
click here

Taking that turn running gave me a new view of the auction arena and new respect for the employees, as I suddenly became very aware of just how quick auctioneers, emcees, floor runners and bid spotters have to be. The entire process (when done well), is smooth, it’s successful and — likely to the dismay of the families of perpetual bidders — it’s an absolute blast.

I’d be lying if I said my role in the ring that day didn’t feed my growing interest in auctioneering. I’ve since asked numerous auctioneers about the process and, at the Alberta Beef Industry Conference last week, I finally recorded one such interrogation.

So, what exactly does it take to become a successful auctioneer? Well that, my friends, I’ll have to leave up to the motivational speaker, comedic emcee, celebrity benefit auctioneer and very charismatic, Danny Hooper, to explain…

If you cannot view the embedded video, click here.

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