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Feb 3

Lots to learn at FarmTech 2015: Day Two

Posted on Feb 3 By: Sydney Duhaime

Alberta Barley’s directors and staff headed to Edmonton this week for the 16th annual FarmTechTM conference. Communications coordinator and ag novice Sydney Duhaime tagged along to see what this conference was all about.

Day Two

What better way to start my second day at FarmTech (click here to read about day one), than at the “Barley Power Hour”— a farmer feedback session about Bill C-48, The Modernization of Canada’s Grain Industry Act, and a discussion regarding the grain contract provisions that were introduced in August 2014.

The ‘Barley Power’ Hour
Presenter: Jim Smolik

Our presenter, Jim Smolik, assistant chief commissioner at the Canadian Grain Commission, began the session by explaining the nuances of Bill C-48: The Modernization of Canada’s Grain Industry Act. 

The goal of this bill is to update the Canada Grain Act (CGA) to fit better with our modern grain industry. As Smolik explained, the CGA was last reviewed in the 1970s.

The changes proposed by Bill C-48 will better align the CGA with the needs of today’s grain industry, one of which includes enhancing producer protection through the introduction of a Producer Compensation Fund.

Under Bill C-48, binding authority would be given to the Canadian Grain Commission to establish a producer compensation fund. The goal of this fund would be to improve and enhance the current bond-based system.

So what does this mean for farmers? Good question.

Well the benefits of the establishment of a fund would include the possibility of cost savings in the long-term, but only if licensees pass the savings along to farmers.

In the short-term the operating costs for licensees, and the cost to farmers, will increase as licensees continue to secure required insurance coverage and contribute to the newly established fund.

The good news is that this fund will give farmers more access to increased coverage if a grain company owes more than their coverage amount.

The session wrapped up with a lively discussion on the mandatory grain contract provisions. A common concern among farmers was that after the contract provisions were introduced last August, many grain companies extended their delivery window in order to avoid paying the penalty to farmers.

Despite the fact that almost everyone in attendance agreed that the introduction of the mandatory provisions was necessary, it was tough to gauge the net benefit to farmers.

As the conversation continues, a discussion on the need for standardized contract provisions, including delivery windows and penalties could be addressed.

Seed-Row Placed Sulfur and Phosphorus Fertilizer
Presenter: Jeff Schoenau

My second session of the day was called, “Seed-Row Placed Sulfur and Phosphorus Fertilizer” presented by Jeff Schoenau, professor of Soil Science and Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture chair at the University of Saskatchewan.

Schoenau explained that when it comes to seed-row placement of fertilizer, it is important to perform a lot of samples for testing prior to fertilizing.

He then went on to say that the variability on the micro-scale can be huge—there can be as much variability in samples taken two feet apart as samples taken from different sides of the field.

My interest was peaked when, later in the presentation, Schoenau introduced a technology that that can be applied to identify how effectively fertilizers are used.

Canadian Light Source Inc. is a centre in Saskatoon that uses X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (XANES) technology use to study wavelengths of light on an atomic level. This technology can be applied to show elemental S (sulfur) oxidation and help researchers understand what happens to the fertilizer in the soil.

I am interested to see how the application of XANES technology to fertilization will change fertilizing practices and yields here at home.

Headed Home

When it comes to learning new things, I have always been eager to jump right in and test the waters.

After a day of soaking up detailed, intricate subject matter, I am happy to say I survived. It may have been a doggy paddle through the last session, but I stayed afloat none the less.

As I look back on my final day at FarmTechTM, I have but one final thought: I can’t wait for next year.

Until next time,

Sydney

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