Usage of feed grain and forage listing service picking up

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food’s Feed Grain and Forage Listing Service remains available to match producers with feed for sale with those with a feed shortage.

The service is available to farmers throughout Saskatchewan, as well as those from neighbouring provinces and states like Alberta, Manitoba, Montana and North Dakota – all at no charge to users.

The tool also provides postings for popular custom farm services such as grazing and feeding, cutting and baling, seeding, spraying, trucking, combining, grain drying and manure hauling.

“The season usually starts with the standing crops that are for sale,” said Andre Bonneau, a Forage Conversion Specialist with SAF. “I’m getting the sense this year that there is more interest in putting up custom grazing listings.”

The listing contains interactive maps that enable users to see, by rural municipality, where there are postings for available baled forage, standing forage, feed grain and various custom services. A complete listing for the entire province is also accessible.

“The nice thing about it is you can look at the whole province and compare prices,” Bonneau stated. “You can also get very close to home, to the point where you may very well know the person who is selling to you through the site.”

To advertise a product or service, or to browse the listings, internet users can visit the SAF website at www.agr.gov.sk.ca and click on “Feed Grain and Forage Listing Service” under the “Programs and Services” link.

Farmers who do not have internet access can call SAF’s Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 to have items posted for sale on their behalf or to have a copy of the listing sent to them.

For more information, contact:
Andre Bonneau, Forage Conversion Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 694-3721

Irrigated pastures offer many benefits to producers

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

With the expansion of the livestock industry in Saskatchewan, many producers are searching for new ways to meet their forage and pasture needs. Depending upon the region of Saskatchewan in which they reside, irrigated pastures may be a good option for them.

Charlotte Ward, a Forage Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, states that a good irrigated pasture in Western Canada can produce more than 25 times the forage per acre that native grassland yields, and seven to 10 times more forage than cultivated dryland pasture.

“Irrigated pastures may still experience yearly and seasonal variations in forage yield and quality, but not to the same extent as dryland pastures,” Ward said. “The greatest potential for increased forage production is on good, well-drained soils where water supply is not restricted throughout the growing season.”

Grasses are quite often used as the basis of irrigated pastures because they are predictable and easy to manage. Legumes such as alfalfa have also been included, since they provide added nutritional value and decrease the need for nitrogen fertilizer. Using a legume such as cicer milkvetch eliminates the risk of bloat, which may be a concern if livestock are grazing young, vegetative alfalfa.

“Pastures need about 60 centimetres of water during the growth season,” Ward noted. “Very few areas in Saskatchewan can meet that requirement without the use of irrigation.”

On established pastures, the amount of water applied at once will depend upon the system’s capabilities. Ward says most producers have their systems set to administer between three-quarters and an inch of water in one application, usually applying 12 to 14 inches of irrigated water throughout the growing season.

“Because soil’s water-holding capacity varies with soil type, irrigation strategies will have to account for the fact that grasses get most of their water from the top 30 centimetres of the soil,” she said. “As a result, in sandy loam, the soil may only be able to hold a four-to-six-day supply of water to that depth at the peak demand of the season.”

It is also recommended that irrigation be timed to occur after grazing, haying or fertilizer treatment in order to ensure that moisture stress does not limit pasture regrowth. Watering can occur while cattle are grazing other paddocks to ensure that the soil-water capacity is being met.

On grass pastures, multiple nitrogen fertilizer applications will be required to maintain high yields. If legumes are included in the pasture, nitrogen fertilization will favour grass growth and decrease the quantity of legumes in the pasture. Pastures which contain at least 50 per cent legumes should not need nitrogen fertilization, but may require phosphorous and other nutrients if soil tests reveal deficiencies.

“Producers will want to carefully weigh the cost of fertilizer and application in relation to additional forage and animal production,” Ward noted.

Intensively grazed systems where livestock are moved frequently provide an opportunity for greater overall animal production per acre compared to extensively grazed, irrigated pastures. According to Ward, the timing of rotations is important to maximizing productivity.

“If cattle are allowed to graze forages too close to the ground, recovery after grazing will be delayed. If cattle are allowed to graze too lightly, forages will mature too quickly before the next grazing cycle,” she stated.

“A number of producers have had success limiting cattle to only two to four days worth of pasture at one time, which allows for longer plant recovery periods compared to pastures that are allowed to be grazed for durations of greater than a week.”

Some producers divide their pasture into multiple paddocks to allow for management of surplus forage in the spring. Another strategy to maintain the same herd size throughout the grazing season is to set aside one-third to one-half of the pasture area to be harvested once as silage or hay. This will allow usage of the forage before it is fully mature and allow timely regrowth for grazing later in the season.

Another suggestion is to avoid grazing while the ground is still wet from irrigation. “Grazing wet ground will result in greater trampling and soil compaction, and may lead to a loss of desirable species,” Ward said.

“Also, as with all grazing, herd health must be monitored continuously, as concentrating livestock on a small area may lead to an increase in the incidence of diseases such as pink eye or foot rot.”

For more information, contact:
Charlotte Ward, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 867-5559

Partnership a win-win for agri-businesses and students

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A sustained partnership between the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development (SCCD) and the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will continue to benefit both the provincial agri-food sector and post-secondary students this year.

Since the demand is high in the agriculture and agri-food industries for individuals with knowledgeable and creative marketing skills, the SCCD and the U of S are once again teaming up to provide agri-businesses with the opportunity to have a professional business and marketing plan crafted for their operations.

SCCD Value Chain Specialist Bryan Kosteroski says the demand for marketing skills is coming from a positive place.

“The agri-food industry in Saskatchewan is growing. A lot of product development has happened, and these companies are now looking at developing marketing strategies to move their commercialized product to the retail marketplace,” he said.

The program, the Agri-business Student Business and Marketing Plan Program, allows enterprises to access a comprehensive but affordable business or marketing plan, while at the same time allowing

U of S students to gain valuable hands-on experience.

Kosteroski says that is a win-win for both the students and the businesses.

“The students are doing a great job on these marketing plans. They are a stepping stone for the development of more in-depth marketing plans, so they are also giving some good focus to Saskatchewan agri-food companies,” he stated.

The plans are formulated by third- and fourth-year U of S students from the College of Agriculture and Bioresources who have studied this area of expertise. The students work alongside the clients to structure a plan that is tailored to the individual needs of their specific enterprise. The initiative is supervised by professors Bill Brown and Tom Allen.

The program will expand this year to include 15 business plans and 15 marketing plans produced in each of three upcoming school terms.

Participating businesses will pay $250 of the $500 total cost of the service, with the other $250 subsidized by SCCD through funding from the federal Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) initiative.

A further opportunity for both agriculture and agri-food businesses and the students is the new partnership between the Agri-business Student Business and Marketing Plan Program and the Agri-Value Marketing Internship Program funded by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF). This valuable link will connect graduates of the program with businesses looking for marketing assistance.

The Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP), which is administering the initiative on behalf of SAF, will keep a database of names and contact information on U of S graduates that businesses will be able to access when seeking employees.

Application forms for the Business and Marketing Plan Program will be available on the Value Chain section of the SCCD website at www.sccd.sk.ca/valuechains. More information is available by contacting SCCD toll free at 1-800-641-8256 or by e-mailing info@sccd.sk.ca.

Agri-food businesses requiring more information on the marketing assistance available through the SAF-funded Agri-Value Marketing Internship Program can visit the STEP website at www.sasktrade.sk.ca or call 1-877-313-7244.

For more information, contact:
Bryan Kosteroski, Value Chain Specialist
Saskatchewan Council for Community Development
Phone: (306) 975-6851
E-mail: kosteroskib@sccd.sk.ca

Grants available for rural women to make positive changes

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Grants are now available to rural and farm women who are willing to take action and make positive changes in their communities.

The main goal of the Rural Women's Issues Committee of Saskatchewan (RWICS) Action Grant program is to enable women to address the main concerns of their specific communities, create a vision and a plan, and then put that plan into action locally. Further steps include interacting on a provincial or national level to realize those visions on a larger scale.

RWICS released a report in 2004 entitled "Rural, Remote and Northern Women's Health," encompassing a study conducted across Canada. The report contained a number of recommendations to increase the body of research pertaining to rural and farm woman.

It was found that the role of rural and farm women often consists of a triple or quadruple workload, including duties such as care giving, managing farm employment, helping on the farm themselves, looking after the household, and contributing to the community.

One of the key concerns identified was that the health of rural and farm women is often adversely affected by where they live. "Negative effects such as lack of confidentiality and fewer choices for services play a part," said Joanne Havelock of RWICS. "In rural, remote areas, women are also more dependent on primary industries, which tend to experience a variation in income and often income difficulties. This has proven to be very stressful for women."

To further explore the area, RWICS organized several workshops that were held in the province over the past two years. These workshops looked at the concerns brought on by the report and uncovered further challenges that rural and farm women commonly face.

Among the topics discussed were leadership and networking among women, focusing on caring for themselves, the farm income problem, community kitchens, the environment and recycling, and the need to build links between farmers and city consumers, seniors and youth of all cultures.

"The women involved showed a great appreciation to get together, talk out these issues, and think about what they might do to act on them in a positive way to create a positive change," Havelock said.

"Our intent in providing the grant program is to give women in those communities an opportunity to take that action and start making those positive changes required for their local community."

Grants vary from $250 to $500 per project. "With these amounts, we are not expecting a huge initiative, but some local action that relates to the issues identified in the workshops," she added.

The type of projects that will receive funding will be focused on creating positive action towards a situation that enhances the wellbeing of women and their communities.

Havelock says it is important to give rural women a chance to do something that focuses on their needs. "Rural women are doing a lot of things for other people. I think they appreciate that role, but we need to look at issues from their viewpoint," she stated.

"These grants will give them an opportunity to work locally and to address some of the issues facing rural communities that have been identified as being significant."

Over 300 recommendations were generated by participants at the workshops. The report from the exercise is posted on the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence website at www.pwhce.ca. Readers are also able to look at the specific report for their particular area.

Rural and farm women who are interested in applying for the grants can contact Joanne Havelock at (306) 585-5727 or e-mail pwhce@uregina.ca. A short application package will be sent to them.

The final deadline to apply for funding is September 14.

"It is important that rural and farm women have a voice and that the diversity between them is used to promote positive changes in their local communities," Havelock said. "This program is giving women the opportunity to do just that."

For more information, contact:

Joanne Havelock, Policy Analyst
Rural Women's Issues Committee of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306) 585-5727

Saskatchewan fruit orchards: enjoy a mouth-watering experience

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The time of the year has come to prepare for a mouth-watering adventure. The Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association (SFGA) is once again presenting its annual Summer Tour and Field Day, to be held on July 7.

The event focuses on bringing awareness of the province’s commercial fruit orchards.

This year, the tour will highlight two farms in east-central Saskatchewan: one in the Preeceville area and one near Yorkton.

The first stop is Fatikaki Farms of Preeceville, owned by Pat and Jeanette Meerholz and managed by Herman Meerholz. “The farm offers quite a site – over 60 acres of Smokey, Thiessen, Honeywood and Martin saskatoons,” noted SFGA Executive Director Charon Blakley.

The farm also grows five acres of Valentine, Evans, Carmine Jewel and Mongolian sour cherries, and one-and-a-half acres of blue honeysuckle, as well as apples for their personal use.

A variety of equipment will be displayed, including a mechanical harvester and a tree planter, plus other equipment required for orchard management.

After a lunch served at Chris’s Place in Preeceville, attendees will head to the second stop, Prairie Dome Strawberries just outside of Yorkton. The farm is owned and operated by Elwin, Marie and Tonia Vermette and Kirk Flaman, and features a variety of fruit.

Attendees will experience the two-and-a-half acre deep-planted Smokey and Martin saskatoon orchard in various production stages, as well as two acres of newly planted and five acres of established Kent and Cavendish strawberries.

The farm will also display several pieces of equipment, including a complete line of strawberry production equipment, saskatoon spraying equipment, and drip and overhead irrigation systems for strawberries.

The tour welcomes both SFGA members and non-members. Blakley stated that the purpose of the event is to create a hands-on experience for individuals. “They will learn what it takes to grow a successful orchard and see how an established orchard functions,” she said.

“If individuals are looking to establish their own orchards, they will be able to take some good information home and apply it themselves. Even experienced fruit growers find they can pick up a few tips.” Individuals will also have a chance to speak with other attendees during the tour and learn from their experiences.

The tour will be led by Clarence Peters, the provincial specialist for fruit crops with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food.

“Individuals who have an interest in growing fruit and would like to learn more about what it takes should attend the event, as well as those who are just interested in taking a look at the processes used to establish a fruit orchard that grows produce available to the national consumer,” said Blakley.

The SFGA has been incorporated since 1988, and currently has over 150 members. It is a grower-directed association dedicated to the production and marketing of premium quality Saskatchewan-grown fruit, and the development of a strong and vibrant fruit industry.

To meet industry needs, the SFGA works with researchers, government, processors and consumers. They collaborate with these stakeholders on research, market development, quality standards and other initiatives.

If you are interested in learning more about the SFGA or registering for the annual Summer Tour and Field Day, visit the association’s website at www.saskfruit.com, or call toll-free 1-877-97-FRUIT (1-877-973-7848).

For more information, contact:
Charon Blakley, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association
Phone: (306) 743-5333

Conference Board report finds promise in life sciences

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada for Ag-West Bio Inc. has concluded that Saskatchewan—already a national leader in the life sciences sector—can become a significant global player.

The sector refers to the science and technology being developed to transform renewable feedstocks such as agricultural and forestry materials into new sources of energy, industrial products, health-related products and other products or services.

The study was funded by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, Saskatchewan Industry and Resources, the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority, Western Economic Diversification, and Industry Canada.

Ag-West Bio Inc. President and CEO Dr. Ashley O’Sullivan says the study is intended to give focus to life science efforts in the province.

“The province needs a strategic direction to understand where the opportunities are in the emerging bio-economy,” O’Sullivan said. “We need to know what our comparative strengths are and how we can build on those.”

The study was conducted through consultations and surveys with over 100 life science leaders in Saskatchewan, including representatives of business, producer organizations, and the research community.

“They also looked at other jurisdictions and their strengths compared to ours,” said O’Sullivan. “So it’s not just a look at Saskatchewan, it’s a look at Saskatchewan in the context of other jurisdictions and their capacities, as well.”

The Conference Board report comprises a Life Sciences Strategy for Saskatchewan, with a list of 20 recommendations aimed at establishing an industry-led biofuels and bioproducts centre to champion the industry within the province and enable world-leading research and commercialization efforts.

The strategy indicates that Saskatchewan should focus on a few key areas of development in life sciences. It deals with the substantial capacity that already exists to convert crops and forests into biofuels and other products.

“Obviously for Ag-West, the whole area of bioproducts and biofuels is an important area. We’re moving ahead with that right away in the sense that we’re looking at doing an analysis of what the sector should look like and working with stakeholders to make that happen,” O’Sullivan said.

In addition, the strategy looks at Saskatchewan’s opportunities to take a leadership role in developing products in the nutrition, health and wellness sector for both humans and animals. These include food and feed with added nutritional value, functional foods, natural health products and nutraceuticals.

The study also highlights the large supporting sector of the highly-respected research community, and a number of early-stage companies in Saskatchewan working in the areas of immunology and vaccines. It discusses assets such as the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, and the National Research Council’s Plant Biotechnology Institute, among others.

Dr. O’Sullivan says that plans have already begun to put the Life Sciences Strategy recommendations into action.

“We have a steering committee that was established to oversee this process, and we’ve had one meeting to look at the recommendations in terms of who would be best to deliver on what,” he noted. “The strength here is that the steering committee also involves different levels of government, so they are an important part of it, too.”

A copy of the Life Sciences Strategy report is available at www.agwest.sk.ca.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Ashley O’Sullivan, President and CEO
Ag-West Bio Inc.
Phone: (306) 975-1939
E-mail: ashley.osullivan@agwest.sk.ca

New president at the helm of Biofuels Council

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

She says the challenges are many, but so are the opportunities.

Judie Dyck, the new president of the Saskatchewan Biofuels Development Council (SBDC), is optimistic about the future of the industry in Saskatchewan, but realistic about the work ahead.

An agrologist and past co-chair of the Saskatchewan Biodiesel Task Force, Dyck says the SBDC will bring the efforts to build an ethanol and biodiesel industry in Saskatchewan under one umbrella organization.

She feels there are a number of advantages to combining the two efforts, beyond the cost savings of having just one organization spearheading the effort.

“I think it was good to initially keep things separate, because there are some differences between ethanol and biodiesel, and the industries were at different stages. Ethanol is much further ahead than biodiesel,” Dyck noted.

“However, it now makes sense to pull them together. There are only so many associations and so many resources and, for example, when you are dealing with government, you can now approach them as a single entity with a consistent message.”

The SBDC is the successor of the Saskatchewan Ethanol Development Council.

“The SBDC’s goal is to develop an inclusive and comprehensive biofuels industry that employs a diversity of feedstock and technologies towards establishing Saskatchewan as a leader in biofuels production in Canada,” Dyck explained.

She says there is no shortage of tasks ahead for the new organization.

“I look forward to the new challenge and working with both industries, pulling them both under one umbrella and moving them forward. I am very passionate about the industry and I think there are still a lot of opportunities,” Dyck said. “There is a lot of hard work ahead, too. But if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”

Those challenges include finding new markets beyond our own borders.

“If you look at ethanol, the three existing plants we have already meet the Saskatchewan mandate, so we will have to be looking for markets outside the province,” she stated. “That is critical, because if you don’t have the ability to market the product, you are going to have a hard time going to the bank.”

On the biodiesel side of the equation, Dyck is confident that construction of new plants will get underway by next year.

“There is interest in building biodiesel plants in this province. The feasibility studies will dictate what the producers will be able to build, and their ability to market will dictate the size,” she said.

“One of the challenges is that the players are all at different stages. Some are just starting and other groups are already raising capital. It’s an enormous task, but we are well on our way.”

For more information, contact:
Judie Dyck, President
Saskatchewan Biofuels Development Council
(306) 221-6954

Grazing tour coming to Stockholm

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Pheasant Hills Grazing Tour will be taking place in Stockholm on July 4 and 5, offering tours, workshops, panel discussions, a trade show, and terrific entertainment to those wishing to attend.

Consistent with the tour’s theme, “Bringing Youth into Ranching,” the two-day event is being offered free of charge to anyone 18 years of age and under. The registration fee for adults is $30 for a single day or $40 for both days, which includes the full program and meals.

Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) Livestock Development Specialist Naomi Paley says organizers wanted to particularly focus on getting the younger generations involved in the event, in addition to those already established in the cattle industry.

“The average age of our farmers is now over 50 years old, and wanting to make sure that agriculture is a viable and desirable career option for their children is something that we often hear from the current generation of producers and ranchers. So we wanted to make that a special focus of this year’s grazing tour,” Paley said.

“We’ve even built some sessions into the program that focus specifically on strategies for assisting young producers to get established in ranching, or setting them up to take over an existing operation from their parents.”

To better enable those with younger farm families to attend, children’s activities (non-supervised) have also been arranged for kids five years old and up.

A number of practical aspects of cattle production and grazing will be discussed over the two days through presentations and tours, including alfalfa and forage rotations, grass establishment, bale grazing, switching fields from grain to grass, winter feeding options, and watering cattle through deep and shallow buried pipelines.

In addition, speakers will conduct information sessions on important business topics, such as succession planning and financial transition options for outgoing and incoming generations of ranchers, as well as what investors look for when partnering with young entrepreneurs.

Concurrent workshops will also be held in areas such as fencing, working with stock dogs, intensive grazing management, forages and soil health, cattle marketing, and investors working with youth.

Paley says that participants will have a chance to hear from a range of experts in various fields, coming from the local area, other Prairie provinces, and even neighbouring states.

“The speakers that have been lined up are producers and ranchers themselves, or have a lot of practical experience in the agricultural industry,” she stated. “So those attending will have a great opportunity to hear from people just like them who have actual hands-on experience in grazing, cattle production and agri-business.”

Part of the social aspect of the event will be an evening entertainment and jam session with local musicians that will be featured after supper on July 4.

The events occurring as part of the grazing tour will be based out of the Stockholm Skating Rink. Those interested in learning more about the program can contact Naomi Paley at (306) 786-1686, Stuart Cairns with Ducks Unlimited Canada at (306) 782-2108, or the Yellowhead Regional Economic Development Authority (REDA) at (306) 743-5176.

Registrations are also being handled through the REDA. Participants are encouraged to register early, as space is limited.

For more information, contact:
Naomi Paley, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 786-1686
E-mail: npaley@agr.gov.sk.ca

Literacy support helps rural Saskatchewan flourish

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Literacy support programs can help rural communities attract and retain immigrants to build a stronger labour force in their manufacturing and agricultural industries.

With an increase in the immigrant population coming to Saskatchewan, there is a need to offer many services to these families, including literacy support.

Shaun Haskey is a Community Literacy Co-ordinator for the Humboldt Region with the SaskSmart Literacy Project. She says that setting up literacy programs in Saskatchewan communities will specifically address two areas of concern.

First, it will address the needs of the immigrant population moving into rural communities to work in the province’s manufacturing and agricultural industries. “These families usually have English as a Second Language (ESL) challenges because they come from countries such as the Ukraine, China, and the Philippines,” Haskey stated. “We want to provide support services for them, and literacy is certainly one of them.”

Second, it will address the need to develop the potential in Saskatchewan’s existing labour force. “There is always an opportunity to provide support to adults who would like to improve their reading and writing skills so that they are better suited for the workforce,” she added.

The SaskSmart Literacy Project is focused on setting up literacy programs in various communities around the province.

“The biggest need in the Humboldt region specifically is for the immigrant families that are coming into the area. My job was to identify what the literacy needs were, to recognize gaps in the existing literacy services in our communities, and to set up a volunteer tutor network to help address those issues.”

One of the goals of the project was to recruit volunteers in the region who might be interested in working one-on-one with other adults. “In this manner, we look to partner people who need help with their reading or writing skills, whether they are immigrants or adults in the community wanting to improve their literacy skills. We also focus on conversation skills for ESL adults.”

Haskey says the work done through the SaskSmart project to develop the viable workforce and improve the literacy levels of immigrant workers coming to the province is benefitting on Saskatchewan’s rural and farming sectors.

“These literacy programs allow immigrants to experience a smoother transition into our culture. They ensure that we are better able to support them so that they remain in our rural communities while working in our agriculture industry,” she noted.

Immigrants bring several opportunities to small-town Saskatchewan, the biggest being an addition to the labour force in areas that have experienced chronic shortages. They also provide a means to revitalize rural communities that have perhaps experienced population declines.

But Haskey says is it is important for rural communities to set up support systems and services for immigrant families if they hope to not only attract, but retain newcomers.

“We want immigrants to stay in our rural communities. We don’t want them to be lured away by the services that are available in bigger centres. To make this a reality, services need to exist in the rural communities so that the needs of immigrants will be met and they will be comfortable with having a future in our small towns.”

Volunteers who might be interested in helping out with the SaskSmart initiative can get involved by contacting Shaun Haskey at (306) 231-6596. “We provide training to our tutors, as well as ongoing support,” she said. “But we are also looking for those interested in being on the learning side of the equation. Those who would like some help with their reading and writing skills can also contact me.”

Haskey feels the work being done through the project holds a lot of potential for the future of the province. “We have a tremendous opportunity to bring in a new wave of immigration and to revitalize and repopulate our rural communities,” she stated. “I think we have a great opportunity to get it right, to provide support services and to create an environment that immigrants are going to want to stay in and be a part of.”

For more information, contact:
Shaun Haskey, Community Literacy Co-ordinator, Humboldt Region
SaskSmart Literacy Project
Phone: (306) 231-6596

Yorkton's annual summer fair: 124 years of enjoyment

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Yorkton Exhibition and Summer Fair celebrates 124 years of agricultural and entertainment excellence this year. The 2007 edition will be held from July 4 to 7.

The annual four-day event will take over the Gallagher Centre and exhibition grounds. It will include such crowd-pleasers as the midway, nightly entertainment in front of the grandstand, horse racing, cattle shows and sales, and a wide variety of commercial exhibits and sales booths.

“The Exhibition and Summer Fair started out as an agricultural society and has grown up with the town through the years since then. It has been around for a long, long time,” said Don Kunkel, the General Manager of the Yorkton Exhibition and Gallagher Centre.

“This year marks the 125th anniversary of the settlement of Yorkton, and the fair has been around one year shy of that. So it is a big part of Yorkton’s history.”

Kunkel says the Yorkton Exhibition started out as most other fairs did in those days, “as a gathering point for rural folks to exchange farming ideas and practices.” It then evolved into a venue to compare farm practices and included livestock shows. From there, it progressed to incorporate entertainment attractions.

While organizers today try to ensure that a wide variety of entertainment is featured at the event, they still work hard to uphold the program’s agricultural flare. “Although most summer fairs are now more entertainment-oriented then they are agricultural-oriented, we still try to maintain that agricultural component,” Kunkel noted.

“We host a large 4-H Regional Beef Show and Sale in conjunction with our Summer Fair. We have a 4-H horse show, a miniature horse show, and a boar and dairy goat show that all tie into the agricultural component. We also have chuck wagon and chariot races, as well as standard-bred horse racing all at the same time.”

The event’s ties with the 4-H organization have become particularly strong over the years. The group’s Beef Show and Sale has been an annual component of the Yorkton Exhibition for roughly 30 years now.

Kunkel says the timing and history of the event always make it a popular draw, and he expects that to continue again this year. “Since everybody goes to their local exhibition in the summer, we are expecting another large turnout. There will be a million different things to do and a million different things to see,” he stated.

The annual fair is organized and hosted by the Yorkton Exhibition Association. More details surrounding the event’s program and activities will be made available as the date approaches. Additional information can also be obtained by calling the Exhibition office at (306) 783-4800 or searching the Gallagher Centre website at www.gallaghercentre.com.

Inquiries about booking commercial booth space can likewise be forwarded to the Yorkton Exhibition Association at (306) 783-4800.

For more information, contact:
Don Kunkel, General Manager
Yorkton Exhibition and Gallagher Centre
Phone: (306) 783-4800

Consisency is first priority for new VIDO director

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Continuing an outstanding track record of research and development of new vaccines for both animal and human diseases is the goal of Dr. Andrew Potter, the newly appointed Director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan.

Potter was appointed to replace Lorne Babiuk, who has accepted the position of Vice President of Research at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Potter has been a member of the VIDO team for 22 years.

“It’s certainly an honour to be chosen for the position,” he said. “It’s a bit of a change for me, but former director Lorne Babiuk really has established such a team culture that it makes for an easier transition.”

In announcing Potter’s appointment, U of S Vice President of Research Steven Franklin stated, “With the growing threat of emerging diseases in both animals and humans, the U of S is extremely fortunate to have someone of Dr. Potter’s calibre to lead VIDO, and soon InterVac, as these world-class labs assume an increasingly important role in the development of Canada’s national infectious disease-fighting strategies.”

InterVac is the new $100 million International Vaccine Centre now being built at the university.

In assuming the new position, Potter says he will be seeking to maintain the tradition of excellence at VIDO.

“I think all of us have bought into the vision for VIDO’s future and where we’ve been in the past, and I believe continuity is what it’s all about now,” Potter said. “In terms of the research we do, I think we’re on track, and with InterVac coming on stream three years down the road, we’re really building towards that.”

Potter is highly respected for his previous work on animal diseases. His research is said to have generated world-firsts in disease prevention, and more than 40 patents for animal vaccine developments and therapeutics. He was the first scientist to develop a licensed animal vaccine through the use of biotechnology.

Potter says the progress on animal diseases has been remarkable. “It’s the switch over to some of the chronic diseases that really excites us,” he said. “On BSE specifically, and some of the work on CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease), we have seen phenomenal progress over the last six to eight months.”

Recently, Potter has overseen new research on the application of genomics to the animal health field, as well as the forging of links between the animal and human infectious disease research communities to ensure that technologies common to both fields can be used.

The massive InterVac laboratory building is a bio-secure facility that will allow advanced study of some of humanity’s greatest disease threats, including pandemic influenza, West Nile Virus and tuberculosis.

“The funding for InterVac is all in place now,” Potter said. “We actually have our first employee, the bio-safety officer. We are looking at a ground-breaking in late June, with a scheduled completion date around January of 2010.”

In the meantime, Potter expresses confidence in the VIDO staff.

“VIDO is only as good as the people who work here, and we have just an incredible group of 142 people,” he stated.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Andrew Potter, Director
Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization
University of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306)966-7484
E-mail: andrew.potter@usask.ca
Website: www.vido.org

Saskatoon seminar to address new rules for SRM disposal

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) has organized a seminar for the various cattle industry stakeholders that are affected by new disposal regulations for Specified Risk Materials announced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The new limitations come into effect July 12, and deal with the handling, transportation and disposal of a list of materials, including skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, tonsils, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia of cattle over 30 months of age, plus the distal ileum from cattle of all ages.

The new controls are aimed at preventing any of these materials from being used in livestock feed, pet food or fertilizers, as part of the overall, goal to eradicate BSE from the Canadian cattle herd.

Wendi Dehod, Environmental Engineer in the SAF Livestock Development Branch, says the seminar should be useful for a wide range of industry players.

“We’re hoping this seminar will address the concerns and some of the information requests being put forward to the department from both the slaughter and processing industry here in Saskatchewan, as well as large livestock operations such as feedlots and larger cow-calf operations,” she stated.

Registration for the seminar is open to all interested parties. “Anyone who is going to be dealing with Specified Risk Material is welcome,” Dehod added. “It could be anyone from a local landfill operator to someone thinking of being a regional solution provider.”

While the agenda includes a review of the new regulations by CFIA, the emphasis will be on discussing the various solutions that are available for destruction or containment of SRM.

“We have invited technology providers from incineration companies to in-vessel composters to speak, as well as gasification companies and those who employ processes such as anaerobic digestion,” Dehod said. “We also have Sask Power on the agenda to talk about independent power generation.”

SAF is similarly opening the door to companies that are offering new disposal solutions to the industry.

“Although we’ve made some invitations to some specific disposal companies, it’s only because we have had contact with them in the past,” Dehod noted. “If there is anyone who has a technology they would like to debut or present information on, we’re willing to hear from them.”

The seminar will be held June 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Travelodge Hotel in Saskatoon. Registration forms can be obtained by calling Debbie Meriam at (306) 933-5992, and may be returned by fax or mail before June 12.

There is no charge for the seminar and it is open to the public.

Dehod says the information at the seminar is timely.

“We need to prepare our industries and place some technology on the ground to make sure that Saskatchewan is ready” she stated.

For more information, contact:
Wendi Dehod, Environmental Engineer
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 933-5357
E-mail: wdehod@agr.gov.sk.ca

Jared Ward, Environmental Engineer
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-4692
E-mail: jward@agr.gov.sk.ca

Sunflower session explores future of industry

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Sunflowers will be in the spotlight at an upcoming event.

The day-long information session and tour will be held June 27 at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Experimental Farm in Saskatoon.

Ray McVicar with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food says the session is targeted to both producers who grow sunflowers already and those who are interested in adding sunflowers to their crop rotation.

The recent Census of Agriculture indicates there were 15,800 acres of sunflower grown in Saskatchewan in 2006, and McVicar feels the crop has a lot of potential.

“It has been a crop that has regularly provided a good economic return, and it is a broad leaf crop that could fit well into rotations with cereal crops,” he stated.

McVicar says building local markets for sunflowers would help boost the acreage.

“We have a few good sunflower processors and buyers in the province, but we need additional markets and uses. Much of the product has to be shipped out of province, so freight costs are a factor holding back the crop,” he noted.

That is one of the issues the information session will get into, with discussion about new uses and new varieties to drive the future of the sunflower industry in Saskatchewan.

“There will be a presentation on potential new uses for sunflower, such as livestock feed, bio-diesel and other possible applications. Then we will also have a chance to look at the variety trials and the research plots that are going on at the Agriculture Canada Research Station at Saskatoon,” McVicar said.

The free session is hosted by the Saskatchewan Sunflower Committee and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and sponsored by NuFarm Canada.

It runs from 10:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and also includes a tour of the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Engineering Laboratory to look at processing research.

Anyone interested in attending should pre-register by June 22 by contacting Ray McVicar by phone at (306) 787-4665 or e-mail at rmcvicar@agr.gov.sk.ca.

For information, contact:

Ray McVicar P.Ag
Provincial Specialist – Specialized Crops
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-4665
E-mail: rmcvicar@agr.gov.sk.ca

Blue-green algae blooms may be toxic to cattle

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The spring runoff from melting snow recharges dugouts and other surface water bodies with much needed water, while at the same time bringing nutrients to the soil. With the warm weather of summer, these soil nutrients can act as the perfect food for algae growth.

The appearance of algae on surface waters such as dugouts, dams, sloughs, and lakes should be treated by livestock producers as an indicator that conditions may be right for the growth of potentially toxic blue-green algae, also known as Cyanobacteria.

“Cyanobacteria are capable of producing toxins, which in high concentrations can actually kill livestock and companion animals,” warned Bob Klemmer, a Beef-Forage Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food.

“Commonly called blue-green algae, these organisms are quite often mistaken for true algae. However, they are, in fact, a type of bacteria called Cyanobacteria.”

Several factors increase the risk of toxic blooms to livestock. In addition to spring run-off or heavy summer rains, which wash soil nutrients into surface water bodies, direct watering of livestock introduces nutrients from urine and feces into the drinking area. Extended periods of hot weather increase the temperature of nutrient-rich surface waters during summer. As well, if blue-green algae is present, wind can cause the bloom to concentrate on one side of the water body.

“The combination of readily available nutrients and warm weather provides the optimum conditions for both algae and Cyanobacteria growth,” Klemmer explained.

“When Cyanobacteria are predominant, there is a higher degree of risk for livestock. Many animal deaths that occur each year are due to toxins released from the Cyanobacteria when the bloom dies off.”

But Klemmer says there are several management practices which can reduce the risk of algae and Cyanobacteria growth.

“Installing remote watering systems and restricting livestock from direct access to the body of water is one method of prevention,” he stated. “Properly designed aeration systems can also reduce the levels of nutrients available for algae and Cyanobacteria growth.”

Producers are able to find more information on the appropriate sizing and design of aeration systems through the water quality publication website maintained by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) at www.agr.gc.ca/pfra/water/quality_e.htm.

Planting forage buffer strips along water runs and around dugouts, streams, sloughs, and dams will help to reduce the amount of soil nutrients entering these water bodies and helps to clarify the water.

Producers are encouraged to monitor algae and Cyanobacteria growth, and to be prepared with alternate fresh water sources during times of higher risk.

However, Klemmer says that the best approach to reducing the risk of Cyanobacteria poisoning is to learn how to recognize it. Cyanobacteria, unlike true algae, are single celled organisms, and do not typically stick together. “Using this habit of growth, producers are able to identify Cyanobacteria by running their hand with fingers slightly open through the bloom,” he stated.

“Cyanobacteria will largely flow through their fingers, or individually stick, whereas algae will clump together and not flow through.” Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after doing this.

Klemmer points out that some Cyanobacteria will also form a thick, pea-soup-like appearance, while others look like a shimmering blue-green sheen across the surface of the water.

Algae and Cyanobacteria blooms cause off tastes and smells in water bodies, as well. This side effect may cause a reduction in livestock water intake and poor cattle performance.

There are several treatment products containing copper sulfate that can be used to control algae and Cyanobacteria blooms in dugouts and smaller water bodies. The PFRA fact sheet “Copper Treatments for Dugouts” lists the products available, the amounts of product necessary for given water volumes, and the methods of treatment. This fact sheet can be found at www.agr.gc.ca/pfra/water/copper_e.htm.

For more information, contact:
Bob Klemmer, Beef-Forage Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 848-2380

Moose Jaw hosts annual hometown fair and horse show

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The time has come to once again discover the fun, food and magic of the Moose Jaw Hometown Fair and Horse Show. The 124th annual fair will be held from June 22 to 24 this year, on the fair grounds in Moose Jaw.

“The Moose Jaw Hometown Fair and Horse Show has been around since 1873,” stated Glen Louis, General Manager of the Moose Jaw Exhibition Company Ltd. “The fair started back in the 1800s as an agriculture society event and then progressed. As time went on, entertainment and amusement rides were added.”

This year’s theme is “Saluting 90 years of 4-H” to represent the partnership the fair has built with the

4-H organization over its many years. Organizers continue to partner with the 4-H club, which holds its annual beef show and sale in conjunction with the event.

“As usual, we have a little taste of everything this year,” Louis said. “We have the original miniature to light and heavy horse shows, and this year we have added a couple of different events.”

A colt-breaking demonstration will be put on by Garry Hunt, a very well known and reputable expert in this field from Calgary. He will be demonstrating how to break a colt that has never been halter-broken or ridden before. The presentation will take place in a five-hour timeframe over a three-day period. By the final day, Hunt says the horse will be broken. More information on his work is available on the website at www.breakingcolts.com.

“Other attractions include a llama show and cattle shows,” Louis added. “The livestock events recognize the best in the agricultural backbone of our community.”

A number of different main stage shows will also be taking place. They include a MuchMusic Video Dance Party and a singing competition entitled “Moose Jaw Idol.”

Louis highlighted other unique demonstrations that will be featured as part of the fair. “Rick Mahone, a chainsaw carver, will perform a fascinating show through the weekend, cutting designs into 10-inch round logs. As well, the West Coast Lumberjack Show features a repertoire of lumberjack-type activities that are very exciting to watch. It’s definitely something you don’t see everyday in Saskatchewan!”

The fair will also explore old-fashioned pleasures through its “Lifestyles” displays, including the best in baking, canning, sewing, photography and handicrafts. As a tribute to seniors, a Seniors’ Tea will be held Friday afternoon, as well.

“The intent of the fair is to provide education and entertainment to area citizens of all ages. Everybody has an opportunity to participate and enjoy the event. People are encouraged to come down and take in the rural flavour,” Louis said.

More information on the Moose Jaw Hometown Fair and Horse Show can be found by accessing the Moose Jaw Exhibition Company’s website at www.moosejawex.com, or by e-mailing moosejawexh@sasktel.net.

For more information, contact:
Glen Louis, General Manager
Moose Jaw Exhibition Company Ltd.
Phone: (306) 692-2723

New exhibits spice up Canada's national farm show"

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Canada’s largest dry land farm technology and equipment show will feature a variety of spicy new exhibits this year that will be of great interest to producers and their families.

The Western Canada Farm Progress Show is being held at IPSCO Place in Regina from June 20 to 22.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the internationally renowned event, but the show is still leading the way in innovation, technology and education for producers, buyers and sellers from here at home and around the world.

Two specific exhibits, the Heartland Woman’s Expo and the Energy Centre, will be the focus of this year’s event.

“The main stage will be dedicated to the needs and interests of prairie women as featured in the Heartland Women’s Expo, an exciting event dedicated to providing value, entertainment and education to all women of the prairies,” said Rob O’Connor, Show Manager for Western Canada Farm Progress Show.

The keynote speaker is Elaine Froese, an author and certified coach, who has been working with farm families for over 25 years. Elaine is presenting a specific topic each day at 1:00 p.m. Topics include: Living an Intentional Life – extreme self-care in a complex world; Discussing the Undiscussabull™ – tools for talking about tough issues; and Encouraging the Heart of your Family and Business – know what young families and farmers want.

The Heartland Women’s Expo will feature more than 175 exhibiting companies on more than 40,000 square feet of exhibit space, and is specifically tailored to meet the needs and lifestyles of today’s everyday women. Areas of the expo include fashion and beauty, travel and leisure, food and beverage, health and wellness, transportation, home improvement and d├ęcor, and financial planning.

“The second stage is dedicated to various types of renewable energy, as well as green issues,” O’Connor stated. Through trade displays and educational seminars, the Energy Centre will highlight the positive impact that ethanol, bio-diesel, solar, geothermal and wind energy will have on agricultural practices.

“It’s important for producers to learn how different forms of renewable energy have the ability to affect their operations as this growing industry creates opportunities,” he said.

According to O’Connor, “What makes the farm show so unique in Canada is that it is so relevant to the industry. The dealers bring with them the newest of new… technology that pertains to efficient agricultural practices that will make the producer more profitable. The types of equipment and technology showcased will be improved over models from previous years.”

He pointed out that a New Inventions area will highlight between 30 and 40 innovative products and devices that have been created within the past two years. “These inventions are totally new to agriculture,” O’Connor said.

Since 1978, the show has grown from approximately 70 exhibitors to over 700. It now features over 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space. “We have expanded to include an International Business Centre which brings in about 400 international buyers representing 30 different countries,” stated O’Connor.

Over 40,000 people from nearly 30 countries attend the show every year.

“The purpose of the event is to give associations, manufacturers, and dealers of farm equipment and technology the ability to highlight themselves and showcase their products to attendees,” he said. “Producers should attend the show to look at new inventions and techniques geared towards improving their farming operations.”

In addition to the treats for the eyes, there are also treats for the ears. Two concerts have been included in this year’s show, featuring country legend Willie Nelson on June 20 and Paul Brandt on June 21. Tickets are available for purchase and include the price of admission to the show if they are purchased in advance. Regular admission is $10 and can be paid upon entry.

Producers can find more information on the Western Canada Farm Progress Show by visiting the website at www.myfarmshow.com.

For more information, contact:
Rob O’Connor, Show Manager
Western Canada Farm Progress Show
Phone: (306) 781-9219
e-mail: roconnor@ipscoplace.com

Monsanto offers scholarships for rural graduates

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Monsanto Canada is offering some help to graduating students from across Canada who plan to pursue post-secondary studies pertaining to agriculture or forestry.

The 2007 Monsanto Canada Opportunity Scholarship Program will award an estimated 50 scholarships valued at $1,500 apiece to students entering their first year of post-secondary education at a recognized Canadian educational institution.

“The scholarships falls under our corporate giving program, which is really meant to help out the communities and the people who help make our business successful,” said Trish Jordan in Monsanto’s Public Affairs office. “Because we’re an agricultural business, and we’re successful when farmers are successful, that’s what we’ve chosen to focus on in our giving program.”

In order to qualify, students must come from a family farm or have a forestry background, and must have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership capabilities, and a keen interest and involvement in their rural community.

“We’re looking at kids from rural areas or from farm families who actually want to explore a career in agriculture,” Jordan said. “That doesn’t mean they necessarily have to go into farming. There are a wide variety of opportunities in the agricultural sector, from things like business, marketing and accounting, to science, agronomy and agricultural engineering.”

Monsanto has been offering the scholarship program for 16 years. Over that time, Jordan says about $825,000 has been provided to deserving students across Canada.

“The scholarship program falls into one of our top priorities, which is science and agricultural education,” she stated. “That’s obviously the foundation of our business. We feel that by encouraging kids to explore careers in science and/or agriculture, ultimately that’s going to benefit not only our company, but the industry as a whole.”

Jordan added that Saskatchewan students tend to do very well under the initiative. “Historically, I would say Saskatchewan has been the highest recipient of our scholarships. There are a lot of kids from the province who want to explore agriculture, and the University of Saskatchewan has a very strong program.”

Students interested in pursuing a Monsanto scholarship need to submit a completed application, including an essay outlining what area of agriculture or forestry they would like to work in and why.

Application forms will be distributed to high schools, 4-H clubs, provincial and federal agriculture offices, farm retail outlets and seed companies. Forms are also available from Monsanto’s CustomCare line at 1-800-667-4944 or can be accessed online at www.monsanto.ca.

Applications must be postmarked no later than July 16. They will be reviewed by an independent panel of judges, and winning entries will be announced in September 2007.

For more information, contact:
Trish Jordan, Public Affairs
Monsanto Canada
Phone: (204) 985-1005

The Taste of the Southwest is back: register today

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

If your business contributes to the food industry, do not miss your opportunity to market your products at the second annual “Taste of the Southwest” on August 11. This year’s event will take place on Main Street in downtown Swift Current.

The Taste of the Southwest was started to help promote food products being made in southwestern Saskatchewan by agricultural producers, processors, caterers and restaurants in the region. The event creates exposure and new markets for those in the region whose service area may currently be limited.

“This event is a very inexpensive way for businesses to feature their food products to a wide range of the public,” said Gerry Holland, Regional Business Planning Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food. “Last year’s event served over 900 clients.”

The event also creates a level playing field by requiring each booth to be of a similar size and appearance for a consistent cost structure. Taste of the Southwest allows booth participants to sell samples of their products to current and future customers, all done in a fun atmosphere. Participating booths will be limited to serving three of their specialty food items.

“The goal is not to provide meals, but to allow attendees to sample as many food products as possible,” Holland stated. “Not to mention providing businesses with a fantastic marketing opportunity.”

Food tokens will be sold to the public for $1 each. These tokens can then be exchanged at the booths for the customer’s desired food items, with a maximum charge of four tokens per food item. Ten per cent of the sales are kept by the organizing committee to cover event advertising and rental costs.

The event is organized by a non-profit committee. As a result, any profits following the event will be retained for the next year’s function. This year’s organizing committee includes Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, producers, the Southwest REDA, Community Futures Southwest, Saskatchewan Regional Economic and Co-operative Development, Tourism Swift Current and Golden West Radio.

“A variety of entertainment will be available, such as face painting and games for the children, as well as a mixture of live entertainment,” Holland said. The event will be featured as part of the Swift Current Fun Fest Weekend.

The deadline for early bird registration is sneaking up quickly. Until June 15, participants interested in renting a booth may register and secure their spots at the event for $100. After that date, booths will cost $150 apiece, with the final registration deadline being July 15.

The registration price includes access to approximately 1,000 potential customers, as well as a 10-foot by 20-foot booth with tables, chairs and electricity.

Holland encourages people not to miss this wonderful marketing opportunity for your food-related business. To obtain a registration package, contact one of the following individuals:

Britney Blackmore
Southwest REDA, Swift Current
Phone: (306) 778-4243
e-mail: bblackmore@southwestreda.ca

Sandy Garrett
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, Swift Current
Phone: (306) 778-8285
e-mail: sgarrett@agr.gov.sk.ca

For more information, contact:
Gerry Holland, Regional Business Planning Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-4051
e-mail: gholland@agr.gov.sk.ca

On-farm experience program stressed in green certificate program

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Experienced farm workers and young students alike are benefiting from the Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) Green Certificate training program.

The SAF Livestock Development Branch administers the program, which operates like an apprenticeship, with the learning taking place right on the farm.

SAF co-operates with Alberta’s Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Department, which has offered a similar program since 1975.

“We have two types of trainees in the program – students and adults,” says SAF Human Resources Development Specialist Jim Birch. “The administration of the program is similar for each, and the competencies for each are similar, as well.”

The program covers several skill areas, including cow-calf production, feedlot production, sheep production, dairy production, crop production, and irrigated crop production. There are three levels of training available, imparting the skills required for technicians, production supervisors, and managers/owners.

“The trainee receives most of his or her education through on-the-job training under a competent farmer-trainer,” said Birch. “The farmer is also responsible for the major assessment of the trainee’s proficiency in farm skills, while a tester provides verification of the reliability, validity, and uniformity of the training and testing.”

Central Butte is one of the schools that offer the training modules in cow-calf and field production. The facilitator, Kim Paysen, is not only a teacher, but also the operator of a cow-calf ranch and livestock equipment business in the area.

Paysen first offered the program as a special project, but in 2003 it was accepted as a province-wide course elective by Saskatchewan Learning. It is now known as the Agricultural Production Technician curriculum.

More real-world experience is evident in the main tester for the Central Butte area, Deb Oram. She and her husband Mark operate a purebred and commercial cattle operation, and practice dry land and irrigated crop production. The Orams have put their own children through the program.

Pat Jahnke, a teacher and trainee tester from the near Morse, has also been a long-time cow-calf producer. These individuals demonstrate how highly valued actual hands-on experience is for those helping to deliver the program.

SAF officials developed the Green Certificate program after extensive consultation with their counterparts in Alberta. Trainees are allowed to progress at their own rate, and the Green Certificate is awarded only after the trainee has been tested and deemed competent in all of the required skills.

“The specific skills which form the basis of the curriculum were identified by farmers in various specializations,” said Birch. “Training content and proficiency standards were also established with the majority of input from producers.”

One of the objectives of the program is to equip farm owners and managers to train others in the core skills required to be successful in various farming activities. This will create a supply of skilled workers for the industry in the future.

“Training employees can improve their production by improving their self-esteem and their own work ethic,” Birch noted. “It also tends to encourage them to seek further education and training on their own.”

For more information, contact:

Jim Birch, Human Resources Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-8191
e-mail: jbirch@agr.gov.sk.ca

Forage and grazing field day set for Swift Current

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Cattle producers and forage experts will be interested in a forage and grazing tour taking place at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Research Station in Swift Current on June 26.

The tour is a joint effort of Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), AAFC, the Southwest Forage Association and other industry partners.

SAF forage development specialist Trevor Lennox says that previous forage and grazing tours at the research station have been very successful, and organizers are expecting another great event for 2007.

“This is an excellent opportunity for participants to see first-hand the forage and grazing work going on at Swift Current and to interact with the researchers,” Lennox stated.

Among the research activities that tour-goers may see are an intensive legume grazing study, a crested wheat preference study, rotational grazing of seeded native mixtures, establishing native grasses in combination with various legumes (alfalfa and purple prairie clover), AC Saltlander, intermediate wheatgrass, pubescent wheatgrass, and a comparison of warm and cool season perennials for forage.

One of the tour organizers is Dr. Alan Iwaasa, a research scientist at the Swift Current station. He says the field day has been offered since 2000, although, in recent years, they’ve moved to holding them every two years.

“This gives producers a better opportunity to observe how the forages they saw on a previous tour have progressed and matured over that time,” he said. “So it makes everything more relevant and more interesting, because they’re always seeing something that’s changed a little bit.”

Iwaasa says forage practices have evolved in recent years, with native species becoming commercially available. “A large part of our program now deals with native species,” he noted, “how they can be re-established on land, some of the advantages they have in terms of quality and growth characteristics, and how they can be an important complement to the existing pasture and forage system that we have.”

Native and tame forage species have often been looked at as separate choices for forage stands. However, Iwaasa indicated that research is now starting to study different possible combinations and their benefits.

“If we can combine them to see how cattle will graze these potential species, we can help producers reduce their feed costs and keep the animals on the pasture longer into the year,” he said.

Another focus of research is to study the actual animal interaction with the forages being tested. Iwaasa says forages have sometimes been selected and bred without observing their response under a grazing scenario.

“You not only want forages that are productive and palatable,” he said. “You also want to see if these stands can stay viable under animal impact and grazing pressure. It’s not going to do you any good if you have to reseed every couple of years.”

Part of the animal interaction that tour participants will be introduced to is a study looking at the production and economic impact of moving cattle to a summer calving date. The research station has shifted half of its cows in this direction, and will be discussing some of the observations witnessed.

The tour will also offer a glimpse at new forage species that have been developed by AAFC. “This gives producers a good chance to see some of these new varieties that are just coming out. They can come out and view how they’re being grown and what kind of production we’re getting out of them,” Iwaasa said.

“It’s an invaluable opportunity for producers to see how the species have performed for a couple of years before they might make that investment themselves.”

Registration for the forage and grazing tour will take place in the Thomson Room at the Swift Current AAFC Research Station, starting at 9:30 a.m. The tour runs until 5:00 p.m. The cost is $5 per person, which includes a hot beef lunch.

Those wishing to participate in the tour are asked to pre-register by June 22 at the Swift Current SAF office at (306) 778-8285.

For more information, contact:
Trevor Lennox, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 778-8294
e-mail: tlennox@agr.gov.sk.ca
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