Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Brooke Wareing, CFFO Communications Intern
On January 20th, 2018, I was able to attend the Farm Smart 2018 Conference. Farm Smart is a day-long event featuring workshops and speakers on agriculture and ag-related topics. The conference is an excellent educational opportunity for farmers, ranging from practical workshops such as “Direct Marketing Strategies” to inspirational workshops such as “New Ventures and Diversification.” From learning about how to improve your efficiencies to learning about how others have found success in the industry, Farm Smart has it all.
The first workshop I attended was a panel of farmers, articulating the different ways they had made changes to improve the quality of soil on their farms. There was dialogue on covered techniques, such as cover cropping and no till, and how these changes have impacted soil health and fertility on their farms. This panel was an excellent way to start the event as it was great to hear about real experiences from farmers in the area.
Sticking with the theme of soil, the next lecture I attended was regarding soil compaction led by Peter Johnson, agronomist for Real Agriculture and Alex Barrie of OMAFRA. This discussion elaborated on some discoveries from the Compaction Action event in September, which was hosted by the Innovative Farmers of Ontario. Demonstrations provided a real look at what happens to soils when they are compacted. The speakers presented on the results of their findings from Compaction Action, giving attendees a quantitative look at the effects of soil compaction.
Moving onto research and innovation, a presentation that stood out in my mind was the discussion titled, “Innovative Research on Your Farm: How Applied Research from U of G Is Making a Difference in #Ontag.” This presentation featured a panel of University of Guelph researchers. Christine Baes, a dairy expert, discussed her new and innovative proposed project, which will harness the powerful data that farmers have, and create a database that will provide new and useful information.
The proposed database would take information acquired on individual farms such as changes in feed, changes in animal movement, lactation, etc., and would store and analyze the information to tell farmers key details regarding herd health and the economic viability of their farm. By being able to harness the meaning of all the data, the database will allow for more informed decision-making surrounding everything farm-related.
The Farm Smart Conference 2018 was well run, organized and featured workshops that were innovative, practical and thought-provoking. It was an honour to attend on behalf on the CFFO and I look forward to applying some of my knowledge learned at the conference to my work for the members of the CFFO.