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Winners sample the best of Canada... and check out some farms

Broadacre
Grain Receival and Out-loading Facility Canada

Canada. For many Australians it’s the promised land of agriculture. That gifted cousin who seems to have it all; reliable rainfall, dependable crops and good access to markets. And, dashing good looks.

But what is this hideous sounding disease, Club Root? And, what farm can afford to employ more than 100 people?

The Syngenta Talinor Study Tour rewarded 10 Australian agronomists with a seven day learning experience out of Calgary, selected for producing these winning videos.

"With the new herbicide Talinor being launched in 2017, Syngenta wanted to find out from agronomists how they were using this new herbicide in their areas to manage hard-to-control broadleaf weeds," said James Considine, Syngenta Teritory Sales Manager – Southern.

"From this the Talinor Study Tour video competition was born; this required agronomists to share via a short video how and why they were using Talinor in their broadleaf weed management plans.

"The 10 agronomists, chosen from all over Australia, gained some valuable insight into the Canadian grain production chain from the initial seed to the end user product [beer], which the group sampled purely out of courtesy to our hosts."

Tiarna Kanny – Great Northern Rural, WA Sophie Hooper – Elders, WA Chris Davey – YP, SA Jenna Brewis – Delta, NSW Richard May – Cummins Ag, SA Lachie Sheridan – BR&C Agents, Vic Albert Gorman – AgGrow, NSW James Jess – Western Ag, Vic Tony Kelly – Advanc

The Tour particiants:

  • Tiarna Kanny – Great Northern Rural, WA
  • Sophie Hooper – Elders, WA 
  • Chris Davey – YP, SA
  • Jenna Brewis – Delta, NSW
  • Richard May – Cummins Ag, SA
  • Lachie Sheridan – BR&C Agents, Vic
  • Albert Gorman – AgGrow, NSW
  • James Jess – Western Ag, Vic
  • Tony Kelly – Advanced Ag, Vic
  • Chris Toohey – Elders, NSW

Back firmly on Australian soil James handed over his diary for all to enjoy.

Sunday, 8th July

The first full day after our welcome last night with the ever-helpful Andrea Stepansky, Syngenta Canada. We drove from Calgary towards Banff undertaking white water rafting on the way, this was followed by dinner in Banff and some rest at the Fairmont Hotel. A great way to break down any initial barriers in the group.

Monday, 9th July

We kick off the formal part of the tour with Syngenta Area Manager Dave Hoare who introduces us to Palin Farms, the most organised family farming operation I have ever seen. Palin Farms operate over 5000 hectares, growing cereals, peas and canola.

Crop protection grain receival Richardson Pioneer Canada

We then visited Richardson Pioneer, a family owned business, which operate a grain elevator and are also ferterliser and crop protection retailers. This was our first opportunity to look through a Canadian crop protection shed, where we found a number of familiar brands including the latest formulation of Axial.

This was followed by a visit to potato growers Perry Produce. It was interesting that they required a lot more infrastructure to store potatoes compared with Australian growers due to the fact they can’t leave them in the ground. Perry Produce was also operating a methane digester using their waste potato products as well as manure from nearby dairy farms. The digester produced electricity which was feed back into the grid for tariffs.

Dave was good enough to join us for dinner in Red Deer to provide further insights on the Syngenta Canada business and answer further questions from the group.

Tuesday, 10th July

We visited Craig Roberts, the owner of Chinook Treaters, who specialise in applying seed treatments (no cleaning) to seed grain with their mobile treaters. Interestingly he used a rotating drum to apply seed treatments rather than methods used here. I would think such a system could be adapted for use in Australia.

Syngenta Seedcare Chinook Barley Wheat

During the stop we saw sweet peas being harvested, sugar beet (used for sugar in soft drinks) and other local crops, this allowed us to really get into the agronomic discussion about what their key issues were, and how they were dealing with them.

We were then treated to a fantastic tour of their family farming operation and a home cooked meal with the Gatez family. Blaine and his family were very open with all of their information including succession planning they were undertaking. It was terrific to see a family so passionate about agriculture.

Sugar Beat gatez Farms Canada soft drink

Wednesday, 11th July

Club Root Canola Canada boot covers

Tylor Hunt, Syngenta Agronomic Services Representative, gave us an excellent overview of agronomic challenges in the Aspen area including Club Root, and how this is impacting canola rotations and profitability. The soil-bourne organism causes large, club-shaped outgrowths on the roots, which can severely restrict yields. 

We then were able to visit a number of paddocks locally including hemp (low in THC unlike marijuana), beans and cereals.

We then were lucky enough to be able to talk to a Hutterite colony and get a tour of their canola crushing operation and extensive manufacturing workshops. The Hutterites work in farm colonies of 100 to 150 people and make many of the things they need in-house. Wages in the colony are quiet low however all accommodation and meal requirements are provided by the colony.

A visit to barley maltsters Rahr Malting Co. was a great insight into how the commodity is value-added along the way, to the finished goods. Standouts were the considerable number and sophistication of tests done on samples prior to delivery, their storage capacity and the fact they pay a neighboring farmer to take their excess water, which had been used to germinate the barley in the malting process. The group also found tasting some local microbrew craft beer an interesting experience, at the conclusion of the official tour.

40 Mile beer Syngenta syngery

Thursday, 12th July 

Brian Ellis a seed crop grower of grains near Olds Alberta, who also specialises in manufacturing the G4 seed treatment applicator, welcomes us to his farm. Brian offers an option for farmers and professional applicators, this is the same design as the old G3 applicators we saw here in Australia five years ago but with considerably higher tonne-per-hour throughput.

We were then lucky enough to visit our second Hutterite Colony. Here, we were enlightened to more of the day-to-day working, with some similarities with boarding school or university. They all eat in a communal hall, share a laundry room and benefit from a commercial-style kitchen and food storage area. Their accommodation is similar to terrace housing but with more of a garden area. They have people dedicated to growing their vegetables and meats as well.

Hutterite life home houses farm

Thursday evening, after traveling back to Calgary, we were treated to Chuck Wagon racing and a concert at the Calgary Stampede. The stage for the concert was dragged out by a John Deer Quadtrac; an impressive sight.

Friday, 13th July

The group went back to the Stampede and spent time talking to the agricultural exhibitors and other international agriculture persons in the international agriculture pavilion. In the evening we enjoyed various types of rodeo competitions, bareback riding challenges and some bull riding, this was an amazing experience to cap-off  the tour and cement some terrific memories in the minds of the attendees.

Syngenta Calgary Stampede study tour Talinor