Ag and Jerry Maguire?

Grads (and their parents and grandparents), earlier this week we gave you some ideas for the what and where of post graduation options in agriculture. Today, we want to talk about the WHY?


Ag is big business - so, as Jerry Maguire shouted back in 1996, “Show me the money!” (language warning)

In actuality, there is a great possibility that you will not make pro-athlete type money in agriculture.

Most of the people who work in agriculture will tell you that they do it to honor family legacy, to work for something greater than themselves or to feed people. The WHY is feeling proud of contributing to something more. Something lasting. Something important for all of humanity.

So, whether you play a role as a primary producer or as a supporting function in an ag-adjacent industry, being part of the global food system is important work. It is hard to measure the job satisfaction of being able to say that you help to feed the world. #zerohunger

Grads - we need you!

Graduation season is a long one - especially in Canada!  University grads started their celebrations in early May and our local high school graduation occurred yesterday. Congrats to all of the graduates on their hard work!

If you are a recent grad, no doubt you have been asked about your future plans a million times!  If you are still wondering about how to answer those questions this message is for you…consider ag.

Agriculture is a very diverse field that needs a diverse set of skills to continue to advance practice, technologies and equipment.  The links below are shared so that you get a sense of HOW MANY ways there are to further your education and contribute to feeding the world.  If you are interested in Machine Systems Automation Engineering, Robotics, Aeronautics, Food Safety, Animal Health or Meteorology agriculture needs YOU.

25 Best Colleges for Precision Agriculture


South Dakota State University - the first B.S. Precision Agriculture offered in the United States

University of Minnesota - Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering (8 areas of research focus including, Environmental Management and Sustainable Systems, Food and Biotechnology and Bioprocessing)

University of Manitoba - Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (7 departments including Animal Science, Plant Science, Food Science and Agribusiness)

Community College

Lakeland College (9 programs including four types of Animal Science Technology)

Assiniboine Community College (8 programs including Agribusiness, Heavy Duty Equipment Technician, Manure Management Planner and Geographic Information Systems)

Why Driving Rules Matter to Farmers


The debate about the usefulness of mandatory training in the farming sector is an interesting, complex and nuanced one.  If you have been reading this blog for any period of time you know that we are extremely committed to safety and creating a culture of safety on our farms.  Having said that, many farm kids experience driving opportunities at a very young age - for instance I remember driving the quad and riding lawn mower before I reached double digits.  

Now, as I seek to obtain my Class 1, my whole goal is to be able to safely bring a load of grain to the elevator. I do not want to do any hauling that requires mountain driving, international driving, securing loads or maintaining a log book.  The training that would meet these needs differs from that needed by a full time commercial driver.

Saskatchewan and Alberta have rules in place to require Mandatory Entry Level Training; both provinces have provided some flexibility for farms, although each took differing approaches. It is important to recognize that farms face challenges in finding skilled labor and additional requirements add to these challenges. By acknowledging that a farmers’ ability to transport their goods has a ripple effect across industries and on the economy as a whole we can work with regulating bodies and training providers to make sure we are all safe without disrupting our food systems.

Although my desire to complete my Class 1 licence was motivated by personal timing, I can see that the demand for formal training is high.  I am scheduled into the first available time for my selected training course - July. I guess that gives me a lot of time to practice my shifting!

Read below for other provincial requirements.

There are currently no Class 1 training requirements in Manitoba.  The government is in the process of consulting with industry in order to develop training rules or regulations.  Estimates of a January 2020 implementation date have been circulating.

As of March 15, 2019, Saskatchewan requires a Mandatory Entry Level Training of 121.5 hours of training, however those with licences before the new rules came into effect do not have to complete the training and farmers driving within the province are exempt.  

As of March 1, 2019 Alberta requires a Mandatory Entry Level Training of 113 hours of training, not including air brakes.  Those with a Class 1 licence prior to October 11, 2018 will not be required to take the training, while those who obtained their licence after that date will be required to participate.  Farmers may apply for an exemption, which will be available on March 15th and be valid until November.

Ontario requires 103.5 hours of training.  This requirement came into effect July 1, 2017.

New Driver on board: Lessons Learned

So far in the journey of learning how to get a Class 1 licence in Manitoba I have learned a few things.  Of course, some of them have to do with driving, but there are also some things I have learned about the process.

  • You may purchase physical copies of the manuals OR you may download them for free. Professional Driver   AirBrake

  • You must book a written test for your Air Brakes and for your Class 1, each costing $10.  You can complete these tests back-to-back, but you require two different access codes. You can book these appointments at any insurance office that works with Manitoba Public Insurance, but they are completed at an MPI service center.

  • Driving quizzes are available online to help you study/practice.

  • It makes life easier if you pick up your medical form from MPI or any insurance office and complete your medical before you pass your written tests.  Request a copy of your completed medical, so you don’t have to wait until it is processed in the MPI system. This allows you to get your temporary licence printed out right after you pass your written tests.

  • Your eye exam can be completed at an MPI office, free of charge.  (Your doctor’s office may charge you to complete this part.)

  • The tests are multiple choice and are completed on a computer.  You have the option to skip questions one time, but they may reappear in which case you cannot skip them a second time.

After you have successfully completed your medical and written tests you can being practicing behind the wheel!  Requirements differ significantly from province to province. Check back in tomorrow to get an overview of the differences, and why they matter.

Sold! to the highest (online) bidder


The look, and sound, of auctions has changed in recent years as more companies provide buyers with the opportunity to participate in online bidding.  As an auction buyer this has changed the auction experience, in obvious, and not so obvious ways.

Why attend in person?

You just can’t get the same thrill of the auction if you aren’t there live.  Plain and simple. We want to attend local auctions in person because they give us a great opportunity to socialize and network with neighbours.  Although we always have an eye out for a deal that is too good to pass up, the items for sale are not always the main reason we attend local auctions.

Why attend online?

Some auctions are provinces away, but have one very specific item that we are interested in purchasing.  Online bidding allows us to participate in a larger number of auctions than ever before. As a buyer, we can find specialized items while saving time and money on travel. As a seller, it is great to increase your buying audience outside your immediate geographical area.

Purchasing at a distance has changed the dynamics at auction sales, both in the demographics and geography of those who attend.  Both in person and online auction services are valuable. We, personally, shop for different items when we are buying online, since we haven’t had the opportunity to get a close look or listen to the item.  It is also somewhat easier to avoid the emotion of competitive bidding when it feels like you are bidding against the computer and not the person in the camo hat. However, it can be challenging to remind yourself to be realistic about post-sale transportation for large items or long hauls.

It really is great to have the best of both auction worlds.  Buyers and sellers benefit when potential markets expand.

Auction purchases can be memorable because of the item, the price or the experience. Comment and tell us about your best auction purchase.

Prep Week: Digging into the office side of farm work

February is a month of anticipation, preparation and planning. This week we will drive into the thinking, and documentation, that we use to help us collect, capture and communication our thoughts. It is important to be able to capture what is in your head for a few reasons:

  • no one else can read your mind

  • you can be more objective if information is collected into one spot

  • sharing information with your trusted circle helps plan and guide future action

Irregular Field Shapes2.PNG

This year we are using a different company to help us capture data, map and plan for our precision applications and analyze the impact on productivity. Our first task in this process was to update our land list. Our land list includes:

  • legal land description (section - township - range)

  • the common name (the farmer who owned it 3 generations ago or the name of the one-room school that was located there)

  • the number of acres

  • the crop to be planted there (more about crop rotations later this week)

This may seem like a “no-brainer” for some farms with a very stable land base. However, for us this process is complicated by things like:

  • changes in rented land base

  • land exchanges (for physical location convenience or crop rotational purposes)

  • the sale of a decommissioned rail line that runs through our property

  • land improvement projects that changed the boundaries and acres of existing fields

  • irregular natural boundaries

  • fields that do not align with legal descriptions: fields divided and farmed along natural boundaries (ravines, elevation changes) rather than by legal descriptions

Why Does it Matter? Updating your land list can seem like a make-work project. But it is important for at least three main reasons:

  1. To accurately capture data from application of inputs through analysis of harvest, so that the analysis and calculations that result from this data are as accurate, and therefore useful, as possible.

  2. To be able to accurately communicate about field locations, shapes and sizes with employees, product vendors and custom applicators.

  3. To develop complete and current emergency and safety procedures plans.

If you have any questions about our land list process, just drop us a comment or direct message! Or email

Check back for prep work conversations about crop rotations, orientation manuals and safety plans later this week.

Santa' Workshop for Farmers

This week we have been posting lists of ideas to help you ensure your farmer has a smile on their face when they open your gift. Yesterday we posted the first half of our low-tech farmer’s shopping list. Scroll down to get the first ten items or keep scrolling down for our tech-based gift recommendations.

Here are ten more items on the every-farmer wish list:

  1. First aid kit

  2. Cab air fresheners

  3. Bungee cords

  4. Grease fighting hand soap or laundry detergent (Fast Orange or Worx).

  5. Batteries for every remote or portable device you could imagine.

  6. Odor eaters for boots (just sayin’).

  7. Zip ties for every size of job.

  8. WD-40 and Duct Tape

  9. Bright orange pylons (high-vis signal that children are playing outdoors).

  10. Ag swag (hats, decals, tea towels, Christmas ornaments). Check in on Facebook and Instagram (@FarmFemmes) to get some ideas of where to shop for Ag Swag and comment with your own Ag Swag favorites.