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Farmers embracing digital technology in modern farming

February 3, 2022   ·   0 Comments

Farming still means getting up early, plowing the fields and harvesting a crop, as well as many other different activities depending, on the type of farm.

The modern farm has changed considerably over the past 20 years, as those who work the land have embraced digital technology to help them be more efficient.

The Climate FieldView Canadian Farmer Panel hosted an on-line event last week to discuss innovation in Canadian agriculture and how it applies to multi-generational farming families across the country.

While older family members learned how to use digital technology, many younger members grew up with it and consider it a normal part of the job.

The panel consisted of family members from Alberta and one family from Bronhom, ON, just northwest of Stratford.

In the case of the Alberta farmers, they operate huge grain operations consisting of as much as 7,000 acres.

“The next revolution that is happening in agriculture is digital farming,” said panel host Matt Eves of Climate FieldView. “Data and analytics to optimized decision making – that’s going to make the biggest impact and difference for farmers here in Canada as well as our retail channel.”

With a short growing season in Canada, digital technology can help with decisions that will have an impact on farming operations. Digital technology can help with everything from predicting weather patterns to in-cab information when in the field.

This can include information such as satellite imaging. 

“We understand that for farmers there is more pressure on their bottom line,” Mr. Eves said. “We need to make the most out of every acre that we grow on. We feel that Climate FieldView and digital farming solutions is going to help farmers make those better decisions.” 

Farming operations have changed over the past few decades.

“I started in the mid 80s,” said Brian Witdouck, from Lethbridge, AB. “It’s the bigger equipment, better equipment. It lasts longer and the quality is better. The tech advances have been phenomenal – as simple as computers and cells phones.”

Willie Banack, who operates a 7,000 acre grain, cereals, and oil seeds farm in Camrose, AB, said they have increased the size of their farm due to new innovations.

“The simplicity of moving into the digital age has changed the way that we operate,” Mr. Banack said. “Our farm has expanded almost three-fold in that time-frame. The introduction of the digital tools has allowed us to move into operating the equipment and keeping it functional and away from just steering the matching down the field. Instead of just going out and driving the tractor, you’re going out there to operate a very complex digital tool.”

The use of digital technology allows farmers to know how much product they have loaded, the type of yield, as well as changing settings on a combine while operating in the field. This allows for maximum productivity.

Digital technology has allowed farmers to transfer data to a computer.

“Prior to running Climate FieldView, we had a lot of binders,” said Tony Deblock, who farms cash crops including wheat and beans in Bronholm. “A lot of information we had to record was all in binders in the tractors and the combines. Afterword, we would go into the office and put all that information into the computers and bill it out accordingly. Now we are able to go to the field and focus on areas and take the iPad with us and take soil samples or look at the crop that is growing there and dissect what the issue is.”

Keeping track of data is a big part of farming. Digital technology allows farmers to track it all in a much better format.

“One of the biggest things that has changed for us when keeping track of data is the ability to really look at where our input costs are,” Mr. Banack explained. “Making sure we are putting the right amount of product on the right fields at the right time and the right place. There’s a tremendous amount of information that is available through the Climate system that the decision-making around it is way easier that it has been in the past.”

Digital technology has changed the way farms operate making them more efficient from the machinery used to data collection and soil analysis.

By Brian Lockhart
Local Journalism Initiative Report

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