Q: What’s your best advice for young farmers?
A. My best advice is not about pest control or nutrient management, but to remember where we farm. Western Canadian farmers are not blessed with a long growing season. We grow crops with maturity that often barely fit between the bookends of the last spring and the first fall frosts. Seeding is often interrupted by weather, equipment failure, and sometimes not enough of a plan. In this sense, farming in Western Canada is like a race. If you’re not prepared, you will be last out of the blocks and behind for the entire race. We also know that fall harvest is unpredictable, so a slow start often leads to extra yards added to the race. When it comes to good agronomy, keep our short season in mind.
To grow a crop in a short season you need to plan in advance. If we hope to have a successful spring season, pre-seed planning should start well before the snow melts. Too often I see days lost in spring due to a lack of planning. And this is definitely a concern as a seeding delay will result in other crop management challenges such as poor weed management, and very often lower yield potential and quality.
If a crop plan is made well in advance of seeding, you can start to complete the puzzle. Time spent with a crop adviser will always help ensure you have not overlooked problems. Reviewing your crop plan may identify crop rotation issues and you may avoid herbicide errors such as residues from the previous year. Ensure you have the right seed varieties and quantities booked for all your acres. Look at your fertilizer plans and consider the most efficient and effective products and application.
These pre-seed crop planning steps will save you time, errors and money. And remember that it’s OK to ask for a trusted second opinion.
Lyle Cowell, P. Ag, CCA, is a manager of agronomic services with Nutrien Ag Solutions in northeast Saskatchewan.