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Farmers seeking new solutions show CEO mindset

2.5 min read

Canada’s top farmers stand out financially by actively seeking opportunities to learn.

Farm operators who pursue innovative means to get an edge in business and plan for the future demonstrate a CEO-like mindset. Research from Farm Management Canada finds that Canada’s top farmers stand out financially by actively seeking opportunities to learn.

They’re 50 per cent more likely to pursue new information through training and learning opportunities, explains executive director Heather Watson.

“They realize the benefit of connecting with people and facilities focused on innovation, discovering new technologies to feed their entrepreneurial spirit, taking their farm practices to the next level to stay at the leading edge,” she says. “And rise above the competition.”

Accessing agriculture research

Top producers such as these are most likely to be the ones collaborating with centres such as Alberta’s new Integrated Agriculture Technology Centre (IATC), one of 60 Technology Access Centres in Canada.

Created through a renewable federal grant, IATC brands itself as a centralized access point for the agriculture industry — including farm operators — to access customized services and first-hand research data on unique technologies at Lethbridge College.

Areas of expertise include crop production, irrigation science, and post-harvest techniques and technology.

“A company or farmer comes to us with a research and development problem and we create a research project to try to solve it. Or, a company comes to us with a product or service they need to validate,” explains Megan Shapka. She’s the associate dean for the Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Lethbridge College.

Producers and agribusinesses benefit

Until now, the majority of IATC’s clients have come from the greenhouse sector or are companies that created a product or service for primary producers, rather than primary producers themselves, Shapka notes.

One firm that’s collaborated numerous times with IATC is grain storage management solutions provider OPIsystems.

“[IATC] are bringing the more academic aspect, the exploration, at the front end of a number of projects … Basically, helping us fine-tune our craft around delivering storage management,” says OPIsystems CEO Dave Crompton.

If collaborating with a Technology Access Centre sounds like a good fit for you, consider reaching out. Others focused on agriculture include:

  • Agrinova in Alma, Que., concentrates on the dairy sector (milk quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, organic or natural products, comfort and well-being of animals).

  • The Centre of Expertise and Transfer in Organic and Local Agriculture, affiliated with Cégep de Victoriaville in Victoriaville, Que. (organic crop production, consultation on technical, management and marketing issues, training and coaching).

  • The National Bee Diagnostic Centre at Grand Prairie Regional College in Beaverlodge, Alta. (pests, pathogens and parasites affecting honeybees).

  • The Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production at Olds College in Olds, Alta. (production efficiency, animal health and welfare, environmental sustainability). 

From an AgriSuccess article by Richard Kamchen.

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