The challenge of optimism

A look inside a modern Ontario hort operation finds a farm family wrestling with issues that may soon dominate the farm agenda coast to coast

Some days, farming is more fun than others. Although he’s driven by a belief in agriculture, and although he’s working hard to keep building their farm enterprise, Shawn Brenn, president of Brenn B Farms Ltd. at Waterdown, Ont., admits there are also days when the frustrations can make him wonder. Every farmer knows the feeling. […] Read more

Job descriptions: The right HR tool for our farms

“Self-efficacy” is a concept worth learning for farmers who want to manage their way to better farm productivity

“It’s different than self-esteem,” says Sara Mann, of the University of Guelph. “Self-esteem is your overall belief in yourself. Self-efficacy is task specific… it’s the belief that you can actually do your job.” Self-efficacy is an idea whose time is right, says Mann, who has trained over 120 farm owners and supervisors on how to […] Read more

Taking the farm beyond the family

It takes smarts and determination to use your farm to help a new farmer get their start, but the rewards can be deeply satisfying

Four years ago, Tom and Margaret Towers were facing a dilemma that’s becoming increasingly common for farm couples as they move into what are politely called their senior years. The Towers knew they couldn’t continue to manage alone forever, and they also knew they wouldn’t want to leave the farm near Red Deer, which they’d […] Read more

Corn silage moves west

The prospect of more tons per acre and fewer worries about harvest weather is prompting some cattle producers to park the baler

High land prices and persistent problems with haying weather in Western Canada are prompting more cattle producers to consider corn silage. Acreage has increased steadily in for the past five years, especially in Alberta where producers seeded 110,000 acres of silage corn in 2016, up from 70,000 acres in 2012. “New genetics have made corn […] Read more

Meet in the boardroom

Change Makers: A two-pronged plan helped Stokes Seeds grow its business, despite strong personalities within the family

Wayne Gale never forgot something he heard at a seminar 20 years ago, just after he had made the decision to enter the family business and work with his father. “When there are only two people running a business,” the speaker said, “it’s an argument.” So what do you do when you have two smart, […] Read more

Alberta’s Green Certificate

This high school program lets students graduate by gaining agricultural and on-farm experience

Agriculture is all about cultivating, nurturing and producing, so it’s no coincidence that a unique and highly successful high school training program in Alberta is using those exact words to describe its vision. “The Green Certificate Program cultivates partnerships, and allows us to nurture Alberta’s youth to produce the province’s agricultural future,” says Raelene Mercer, […] Read more

Building a traditional farm for a modern world

Change Makers: Yesterday’s values can still guide their farm today, Jason and Laura Kehler are discovering, but only if those values are re-engineered for efficiency, and for a new business climate

Today’s farmers are change makers. Re-inventing our farms has become normal. So Country Guide asked top ag journalists from across the country to interview farmers who excel at change, taking their farms in very different directions with an eye to finding their best opportunities. Their stories start with our January 2017 issue and will continue […] Read more

A cattle company finding its own way

They’re risk takers who hate to lose and aren’t afraid to trust their own instincts, which is why, on the road to diversification, the Blairs have drawn their own map

Kevin Blair has never forgotten what his grandfather told him many years ago: “When everyone else is on the highway, take the grid.” It’s a message he’s made most of his life decisions by, and in the course of it, Blair Ag has learned how to tackle many of the issues that are moving to […] Read more

Mentorships get real

Today’s mentorships are more relevant than ever, with a focus that includes business management, risk analysis, employee motivation and much more

On the traditional family farm, parents, grandparents and other family members have always been the mentors for those who follow, and agriculture today owes a tremendous debt to them for having trained generation after generation of new farmers. But today is also different. Canada’s farms are more complex than ever, and they’re only getting more […] Read more

soybean plant

Prairie soybeans still heading west

The relatively disease- and pest-free honeymoon may be coming to an end in Manitoba, but soybeans continue their march west

It was yet another record year for Manitoba soybean acreage, with 1.6 million acres of what is now the province’s third-largest crop behind wheat and canola. But as the crop becomes more established, and with the wet conditions this year, diseases are starting to show up, which is presenting challenges for agronomists and changing priorities […] Read more