A unique demonstration farm in Vernon held a successful open house August 24 and 25 for farmers interested in the latest equipment and crop growing technology.
At the TOP - Technology, Opportunity and Profitability - farm on Concession Road 8, David Acres of Acres Equipment, Winchester, gave planting demonstrations from Flexi-Coil air-cart spreaders. Prior to that, participants were taken around the farm to view the progress of corn and soybean plants made with Roundup Ready seeds and herbicides.
TOP is a partnership; among Monsanto, Dekalb, First Line, Flexi-Coil and David Acres Equipment of Winchester. The group has purchased or leased 17-0 acres on which the farm community can judge for itself the results of the combinations of inputs and techniques used on the demonstration farm, where there is an emphasis on no-till techniques.
Soil types on the property - ranging from clay to loam - represent a typical Eastern Ontario farm, giving local growers the added advantage of not having to re-jig statistics from other areas to match the realities of this region.
TOP is the first of "working farm demonstration plot" in Ontario and is larger than similar experiments in the U.S. It may be expanded to Western Ontario, Acres has hinted.
Mark Foster from Western Ontario, a representative for Monsanto at the demonstration, explained to a group of 40 farmers the reason Eastern Ontario is emerging as an important marketplace.
"East of Toronto has had a superb year for growth, but this area of the country is usually forgotten about when it comes to the latest in technology. We are here to showcase for you the leading edge of technology that can be implemented next year."
There are reasons why the number of bio-tech farms are on the rise across the continent. The window of opportunity to spray crops is much wider, from first trifoliate to early flowering. Monsanto’s sprays, also, are effective in killing a wide variety of weeds common in the area.
Despite opposition to Monsanto’s products - the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians met the following week to demand independent testing and labeling of the company’s products - it has the endorsement of Agriculture and Agrifood Canada.
"I worked on the performance standards for Roundup Ready products," says Steven Yarrow, a scientist with Agri-Can. "It is known in the community (of scientists) as one of the more benign herbicides."
Foster says it is merely for "political reasons" that most Roundup Ready products have been banned in Europe, effectively freezing out that market for North American farmers.
Mike Stewart of Flexi-Coil, a Saskatoon-based company, began the afternoon by telling farmers that his company produced 4500 tractors last year.
Stewart says these $85,000 machines average a three-year payback, are known for multi-use and are created with simplicity in mind.