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Man. to offer farmers training on GPS, GIS

Federal and provincial funds will allow Manitoba’s agriculture department to mount a series of precision agriculture workshops for farmers over the next two months.

“Learning to use these systems can provide educational and economic benefits for future decisions on the farm,” provincial Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk said Wednesday, announcing the workshops in Winnipeg during the annual meeting of Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), the province’s general farm organization.

The Manitoba Zero Tillage Research Association, Assiniboine Community College and the provincial ag department in June 2008 picked up funding from the federal/provincial Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative

(ARDI) to develop the training.

The workshops, scheduled in four locations during February and March, are expected to deliver a curriculum to train farmers in “collection, processing and application of information available from precision farming equipment and software” using global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS).

“Technology has changed the processes of conventional agriculture, especially in the way fields are now managed in terms of nutrient concentration, soil type, landscape and environmentally sensitive areas,” Wowchuk said.

Apart from the reduced use of inputs in spots where they’re not needed, thus saving farmers money, the use of variable-rate fertilizer can also reduce nutrient leaching into groundwater and the loss of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere, she said.

Workshops are scheduled for Carman (Feb. 6 and 19), Steinbach (Feb. 10 and 20), Dauphin (Feb. 13 and 17) and Brandon (March 2 and 6). Farmers can contact their local GO offices for more information.

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