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Prairie Farm Crop Production Future Changes

Amaethon’s March Report examined future changes prairie farm crop production could face.

The main objective was to identify the most concerning issues facing prairie farm crop production.

prairie farm crop
The increasing size of farms requires more labour and equipment to maintain.

As farms continue to get bigger, autonomous equipment is seen as a natural development that would also help address labour shortages. However, without stable internet in all corners of the Prairies, farmers crop production management is at a great risk.

Through conducting interviews, and a survey, with participants representing all regions of the Prairies, including the BC Peace, Amaethon looked to assess how western field crop production would change in the next 5 years. The report also investigated the changes that would come in 10-20 years.

The report suggested there is more work to be done on crops that could be grown profitably in rotations that would allow more crop diversification and longer rotations, as well as reduced disease pressure. Plant disease such as Aphanomyces in peas and lentils, clubroot and blackleg in canola and fusarium head blight in wheat were frequently cited as needing further research.

Biotechnology was thought to be the future to problem-solving on the farm.

Products of biotechonolgy for crop production and protection, developed like gene editing, were regarded as essential and should be included in research programs. However, there was concern over regulation or consumer acceptance that risked preventing future commercialization. 

pulse crop seeds
Many interviewed in the report thought pulse acreages will be more popular due to an increasing global demand for plant protein.

Organic agriculture and low input agriculture were discussed as farming practices that were associated with sustainability. Additionally, regenerative agriculture is thought to aid in sustainability, but lacked definition and required more work to understand its impacts on profitability and soil quality.

Respondents thought there is a potential for corn and soybeans, as well as winter crops with longer and warmer growing seasons, to become more prominent in prairie farm crop production. 

Of special note was the loss of government extension positions across the prairies and the need to study more effective ways of knowledge transfer with products aimed at the new generation of farmers who were technically savvy.