By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Farming Smarter’s 2023 virtual Global Crop Production Conference will take place on December 13.
“This event connects our audience, primarily located in southern Alberta, with industry professionals from around the world that can provide innovative solutions for the challenges we face,” said Sean Kjos, Communications Coordinator for Farming Smarter. “Our typical audience at this event is farmers and other agricultural professionals who want to learn from these new perspectives.”
The Global Crop Production Virtual Conference, Kjos says, is a holdover from COVID-19 when we had to find new and safe ways to keep our audience engaged with relevant research in 2020.
“The virtual conference persists because it allows us to bring international speakers to you at very low cost,” said Kjos.
Kjos says that this year’s Virtual Conference will consist of six 45-minute sessions featuring our guest speakers followed by a short question and answer session. The six speakers, Kjos says, will be Dr. William W. Wilson, a Professor of Applied Economics and Agribusiness at North Dakota State University; Dr. Anna Cates, Minnesota’s first State Soil Health Specialist in the MN Office for Soil Health (MOSH); John Foley, a Nuffield Scholar and Senior Seed Production Agronomist at PGG Wrightson Seeds (PGW Seeds) in New Zealand, Philip Johan Odendaal, a Zimbabwe-based farmer who successfully managed a dairy farm, oversees 4,660 sows and a feed-mill producing 780 tonnes of finished feed per month at Triple C Pigs, and self-published two novels; Andrew Wherrett, who oversees the Crop Protection portfolio at Living Farm, which is a commercial research and development firm based in York, Western Australia; and Badruun Chadraabal, a Mongolia-based farmer who has 4000 hectares of farmland with 1000 of them under irrigation. More information about each speaker, Kjos says, is available at: https://www.farmingsmarter.com/global-crop-production-conference.
Kjos says that there is also an opportunity for attendees to get six Continuing Education Certified Crop Advisor credits.
“We think the Virtual Conference is a fantastic opportunity for members of our agriculture industry as it allows them to access minds and ideas from around the world from the comfort of their home or office,” said Kjos. “Having the chance to engage with this event without having to travel in the winter benefits attendees, allowing them to avoid poor weather conditions that may cause them to miss out otherwise. It is open to everyone curious about agriculture, especially the researchers, producers, and retailers in the industry.”
Kjos says that the Farming Smarter Association focuses its efforts in on-farm innovation in southern Alberta and as a non-profit organization that relies heavily on grants offered through foundations, provincial and federal programs, and crop commissions, they necessarily conduct research relevant to their largest audience. However, Kjos says, Farming Smarter also knows from their subscriptions and internet statistics that people all over the world follow their research and benefit from the information they share. Any place where they grow the same crops as our farmers can tune in to see what they can learn from us.
“Part of what we do is monitor crop production and its challenges everywhere,” said Kjos. “Although this is an interest of ours and not a core function. Keeping an eye on the global situation is part of farming and we have a passionate team that catches news when we see it. We endeavour to keep ourselves and our clients as up to date as we can regarding research, challenges and successes. We regularly host exchange students from France, tour farmers and agronomists from Brazil and Argentina, and participate in projects with a global focus.”
Farming Smarter, Kjos says, is partnered with Agri-Benchmark, a global network of agricultural specialists that evaluates economic trends in agricultural production around the world.
“Food security, from our perspective, means making sure we help farmers produce abundant crops regardless of climate conditions or market volatility,” said Kjos. “Prairie farms export large amounts of commodities to every corner of the planet. Viable farms here address food shortages globally.”
Their collaborative work, Kjos says, helps to identify and compare costs of production in partner countries across the globe. In addition to that, Kjos says, Farming Smarter’s Executive Director is in the process of completing a Nuffield Scholar world study on innovation at the farm level.
“In the past, we worked on an Agri-Benchmark project that reviewed the economic thresholds for farm operations around the world and worked with our team to identify how operations could run more efficiently and potentially cut costs,” said Kjos. “Additionally, we worked alongside Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists to track the effect best management practices had on wheat yield across the United States and Canada.”
People, Kjos says, can register to attend on the Farming Smarter website at www.farmingsmarter.com/events/