Friday, 5 July 2013
Aberhart Farms, Langenburg, Saskatchewan
Terry and Lichelle Aberhart
I arrived at Aberhart Farms to be greeted by the Aberhart family of Terry, Lichelle and their three children Sarrikah, Ascilline and Holden. Terry has a guy from England, John Turner, working with him, who kindly put me up for the night. We had some fabulous Alberta beef cooked on the BBQ, drank Boddingtons beer and sat around a campfire talking farming well into the evening, a fantastic welcome.
Aberhart farms is a family run business, cropping 9500 acres of winter and spring wheat, canola, peas and Flax (Linseed), they have trucks hauling grain all year round, Terry also has an ag consultancy firm, Suregrowth Technologies Inc, which is part of the Agri-Trend group. Terry has been heavily involved with precision farming techniques, for several years, and is using some progressive techniques.
Terry has done extensive work on variable rate application of fungicides on Canola. The method he has uses, is to collect an image of the crop from a plane and then convert it into an application map with 3 zones, full rate, 3/4 rate and zero rate. As the sprayer is working from a prescription and not in real time, a lead time can be set so the rate controller on the sprayer looks ahead. Terry has shown that low yielding Canola does not respond to a fungicide spray but high yielding canola gives a good yield response, which more than justifies the variable rate application costs. The same technique is also being used on peas, and Terry is starting to site specifically apply herbicides, in crop.
After spending a lot of time looking at data and maps, (that's Precision Farming for you), we headed out to look at some crops. Technology was not only limited to the fields and office. Terry has recently put up some more grain silos, which have automatic temperature and moisture sensors in them, which are linked to his office computer.
New 1400T silos with wireless crop monitoring
We went to see some seed rate trials in the field, and as seems to be the norm in canada, you can't go crop walking (scouting) without a phone or a tablet. The trials were not marked out at all, but terry had them mapped in google earth on his ipad, so the gps in the ipad told us where we were in the trial. He uses this same technique when he comes to harvest the trial plots.
Crop Scouting Canadian Style
The trial plots are marked in Yellow and Blue, and we are the blue dot.
Terry was growing both winter and spring wheat, not all of the winter wheat had survived the cold Canadian winter, but what had looked good and was coming out into ear. The winter wheat will be harvested first, before the peas, spring wheat, canola and flax. Flax is grown as it not susceptible to frost and it holds it's quality if the harvest is late.
Ear of Winter Wheat
Before leaving Aberhart farms, I had a look at Terry's yard scraper which is used to grade ditches and water slews in the fields, as well as levelling the farm yard. When you see the size of it, it is no surprise levelling the yard doesn't take very long.
The Yard Scraper