Farming isn’t what is used to be. In fact, Saskatchewan farmer, Cherilyn Nagel, says farming may be one of the most technologically advanced sectors of the economy.
“Farmers use technology all the time. We use GPS to make sure that when we’re seeding, spraying or harvesting, we’re doing it as efficiently as possible by reducing overlap,” she says. “In the last couple of decades, we’ve also seen dramatic improvements to the quality of seed available to us, as well as to inputs, like pesticides, that we use to ensure our harvests are robust.”
A GPS system in a farm tractor helps map a field.
Dr. Stephen Yarrow, vice-president of plant biotechnology at CropLife Canada, agrees that there is a lot of innovation available to help farmers improve their yields and farm in ways that are better for the environment.
“One example of how science has improved things on a whole range of levels is conservation tillage. When a farmer plants a herbicide-tolerant canola, for instance, the ability to control weeds without tilling the soil helps to improve overall soil quality.
“When soil is not tilled it is better able to resist wind, so the soil doesn’t blow away, it’s better able to absorb moisture, which helps plants to grow,” he explained.
“Plus, because the stubble from the harvested plant is left to decompose in place, additional nutrients are added to the soil as the plant materials decomposes.”
Over 70 per cent of Canadian farmers currently use conservation tillage practices.