Jason and Jenna Ranger, Saskatchewan’s 2019 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF), have over the past dozen years steadily grown their cropping operation, Jaran Farms Ltd., in north-west Saskatchewan to around 11,000 acres, producing primarily canola, oats, wheat and lentils.
After completing a year of his agricultural degree in 2006, Jason had the opportunity to rent a 2,400-acre farm for two years. He put his education on hold to farm. At the end of the two years, he was down to 800 acres, so he has focused on building good relationships with local farmers to grow his rented land base. Today the Rangers, with farm headquarters in the Leask/Shellbrook area, west of Prince Albert, rent 65 per cent of the land they farm from multiple landlords spread over a 75-kilometre area.
“I always tried to focus on making sure my landlords are happy,” says Jason. “I think that goes a long way to a good, long term relationship because everybody wants stability in their land base, so I keep an open line of communication with the guys I rent land from. I think they appreciate knowing what is going on.”
Focusing on efficiency
With cropped acres spread over such a large area, Ranger has focused on measures to efficiently use his land, time and equipment.
Ranger says using AgMpower benchmarking software program has helped him to keep track of important metrics and make better management decisions. “It allows me to track budgets on every single individual field so I know exactly my costs, break evens and revenue is on each field, which is definitely important,” he says.
Ranger has also found efficiencies in spreading his equipment costs over more acres by moving to 24-hour seeding and swathing operations and using variable rate fertilization on his variable land. He soil tests each field every year using PRS (plant root simulator) soil probes on the flat-rate fields — the probes provide a visual reading of key nutrient levels — and uses traditional chemical extraction soil tests for the variable rate fields.
Although Ranger says he likes to track as many things as he can on the farm, he tries to focus on the things that make the biggest difference. “There are some things, like tracking fuel usage in different machines, that take too much effort for the value you get out of it,” says Ranger. “But things like tracking expenses and yields dedicated to every individual field is definitely important.”
Jenna, who grew up on a mixed farm near Manyberries, Alta., graduated from the University of Saskatchewan school of dentistry in 2011. She is head of dental surgery at the Prince Albert hospital, commuting daily from the couple’s home near Shellbrook.
As their two-year-old daughter Bridget grows, the Rangers hope the farm experience will provide valuable life lessons.
“We both think it’s important she learns the work ethic and values that come from working on a farm when you are young,” says Jason.
The Rangers, who are always looking to expand their cropped acres with more good quality rented land, know many of the OYF alumni from Saskatchewan and say it’s an honour to be among them. “It’s like being part of another family,” says Jason, adding the couple is looking forward to meeting the other great farmers at the national event. “The networking opportunities are incredible with the OFY organization.”