Every farm has its own story. No two farms (or farmers) are exactly alike. Everyone got started in a different way, and every farm has a different combination of family and hired staff who make the decisions and keep things running. But, in general, even after you consider all of the details, Prairie farmers are more alike than different.
In this new feature, we’ll profile farmers from B.C. to Manitoba. We’ll tell you how they started out, and what they see ahead. Maybe you’ll find a story just like yours, or maybe you’ll get an idea for something new to try.
This is the story of Chris and Michelle Rottier’s farm, Southside Rottier Farm, as told by Chris.
Where do you farm?
We farm in the Dapp, Alberta, area, north of Edmonton.
What do you grow?
We grow peas, canola, wheat and barley.
How long have you been farming?
I have been farming my whole life. My wife Michelle and I have been farming together for 19 years.
Who do you farm with?
Michelle and I farm together.
Why did you choose farming?
I’m probably farming because my parents did. I really like the variety in farming. Every day is different, whether it be the weather, the markets or human elements. Michelle always enjoyed visiting her grandparents’ dairy farm when she was younger. She always knew that one day she would move back to Alberta and live on a farm.
What farming season do you enjoy most?
I like the spring. I like to see things turn green and the birds come back. Michelle finds pleasure in the fall, the beautiful colours of the changing leaves. We both enjoy bringing in our crops together.
What’s the farm implement you can’t live without?
I find our Cat Challenger is very reliable. There is very little soil compaction and great floatation, which allows us to get out in the field earlier.
What good decision have you made that turned out well?
Growing peas has been a great choice in our rotation. It allows for some earlier harvesting and is great for the soil.
Have you made a decision on the farm that you regret?
I wish I’d bought more land when I was younger. There was an opportunity to purchase land close by years ago. It was so much cheaper than it is now.
What do you see as the biggest challenge over the next five to 10 years?
I believe weed resistance is our biggest problem. There is getting to be more and more Group 1 and 2 and even some Group 4 resistance. We have to outsmart the weeds and maybe use more mechanical methods for weed control.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity over the next five to 10 years?
Perhaps for us: using technology, for example drones, to monitor our crops. Implementing more legume-type crops which produce their own nitrogen will help the soil.
What do you like to do for fun or to relax?
I like to bike, skate and play volleyball. Michelle enjoys playing hockey, pickle ball, squash and gardening. We both enjoy cross-country skiing as well. In the summer we travel to B.C to visit our parents and siblings.