It has been great to finally get back to in-person events. Recently, I was invited to speak at the Globe and Mail’s Sustainable Agriculture event about my vision of the farm of tomorrow.
I’ve linked the presentation and the event videos below, but here’s a high-level recap. It’s a perspective that I think is important to share with people across this country and internationally as we try to shine more light on the hard work being done to propel the agriculture industry forward while supporting global demands.
Kristjan Hebert – The Farm of Tomorrow (time code 40:00)
Canadian farms are already leading the way when it comes to sustainability. I struggle with this word because I feel like some companies use it as a marketing term. The truth is that farms, like ours and many others, have been sustainable all our lives and must continue to be sustainable if we’re going to pass them on to future generations. It’s my dream to have my son and daughter running, or at least involved with, HGV one day down the road. Whether they choose that path remains to be seen. Our kids surprise us all the time.
I shared with the audience that there isn’t a single thing I grow on my farm that I wouldn’t feed to my family straight from the field. Canadian farmers work hard to grow safe, healthy and nutritious food and I’m not sure everyone understands or appreciates the efforts farmers make on a daily basis to do it the right way.
I outlined our sustainable practices including:
- Grid soil sampling every four acres – allows for highly customized nutrient prescriptions even on a large field
- Treating all nitrogen with nitrogen inhibitors – prevents nitrogen breakdown and carbon burnout
- Variable-rate fertilizer application – there is no “flat rate” for fertilizer; only use what the soil requires for yield goals
- Precision equipment with sectional control mechanisms – sensors prevent overlap or double applications
- Rotational and fall cropping – increases soil health by lengthening the number of days the land has vegetation that absorbs carbon dioxide
- Zero tillage/low till farming – reduces soil disturbance and carbon loss
- Focus on data to prove rates of carbon sequestration
I also painted a picture of what the farm of the tomorrow could look like – how ag-tech, AI, satellite imagery and selling carbon as a crop, are all huge opportunities to get better at what we do. And, how improvements in soil testing, emissions measuring, fertilizer alternatives and plant genetics, can help us continue to grow more food for the world, with fewer inputs, while continuing to be important stewards of the land where we farm, live and play.
Farming is a lifeline for many small and rural towns across Canada, so it’s up to us to continue making agriculture an attractive career. It’s my hope that more young people will choose to get involved with agriculture and we can breathe life back into rural Canada.
I believe there are big opportunities ahead for our industry, but we need strong federal leadership to keep the Canadian brand strong and help create fair, science-based trade rules that allow us to successfully get our products to international markets.
Thanks again to Petrina, Lisa and the entire team at the Globe and Mail – it was a great event and networking session. I love getting out and telling the story of #CanadianAg!