January 2014



January 2014
News from the Office
In This Issue
News from the Office........... 1
Computer Classes Offered
to WCFA members............... 2
Runoff Water Quality........... 4
Farming in the
SmartPhone Age.................. 7
Direct Sales Options............ 8
For those of you that are newer to the
Association, WCFA was incorporated
March 22, 1978. This year, at our Annual
General Meeting we will be celebrating
the 35th Anniversary of WCFA. So, bring a
friend or a neighbor and meet us at Manly
Hall to participate in a walk through the
years¬tell us stories of the tours you went
on, the trials that you participated in, and
the laughs that you shared!
The Board has made some revisions to
the bylaws to shorten and simplify the
document. A motion will be put forward
to repeal the existing bylaws and a vote
put forward regarding the adoption of the
revised bylaws. If you have any questions
or concerns with regards to the proposed
bylaws, please contact the staff at the
WCFA has worked with a number of
funders and partners over the last year
and we would like to acknowledge their
support of the work of the organization.
griculture Opportunity Fund (ARD)
gricultural Initiatives Program (ARD)
ellowhead County
arkland County
oodlands County
estern Beef Development Centre
B Seed Growers Association
ssociation of AB Co-op Seed Cleaning
g & Food Council of Alberta
griculture Canada
• L and Stewardship Centre
evin Shaw-Pickseed
uPont Canada
• J eff Rucci and Leslie Schaltz – UFA
Spruce Grove
ar-De Agri Services Evansburg
• L one Pine Ranch
We would also like to express our
gratitude to the many co-operators that we
partner with to complete field scale trials.
Without the support of our membership,
we would not be able to carry out the
diversity of projects that we do.
Remember to check out our website
regularly www.westcentralforage.com as
project updates are added as soon as we
have all the information wrapped up. And
join us on FaceBook for upcoming events
and industry updates!
Members of
WCFA: Are you
Computer Classes
WCFA is partnering with Catherine David, of
CD Business Solutions, to help you improve
your skills.
WCFA Board of Directors
Vice President
Grant Taillieu
Bob Kidd
Don Barry
Henry McKinnon
Tom Thompson Ted Commandeur
Eric Vanderwell Jeanette Brown
Jesse Smith
Dale Engstrom
John Fearnley
CD Business Solutions
Forage & Livestock Program Manager
Fito Zamudio
Catherine David
[email protected]
Opportunity Fund
This publication is made possible
by funding from our major sponsor,
the Agriculture Opportunities Fund
(AOF), Alberta Agriculture and Rural
computer skills?
For more information contact the WCFA office at
780-727-4447 or [email protected]
Conservation Agriculture Program Manager
Tina Pultz
ph: 780-727-4447
#1 5013 50 Ave
Box 360, Evansburg AB T0E 0T0
improving your
WCFA will cover the cost of up to four lessons per
member on a first come first serve basis (limits apply).
Lessons can be provided at the office in Evansburg or
in the Carvel area. Services provided must help you
enhance your business skills in regards to your forage
based agricultural business. This can be website design,
Microsoft programs such as Excel for managing livestock
inventories, use of social media platforms for direct
marketing, basics of internet and computer usage etc.
Carla Amonson
interested in
Errol and Barb
Verbeek and Family
Box 649,
Evansburg, AB
T0E 0T0
Ph: 780-727-2775
4th Annual Ranch Raised
Multi-Breed Bull Sale
MARCH 22, 2014 • 1:00 PM
Kristine Lange & Geza Szucs
Henry & Michelle Roy
Ralph & Lorree Erdell
Andy & Darlene Becker
Dave Holroyd
Larry, Nola & Sara Van Sickle
Errol & Barb Verbeek
If you have any questions please call (780)712-1295 or (780)786-4341
Auctioneering By
Yellowhead County
Woodlands County
West-Central Forage
Runoff Water Quality
Tina Pultz
When rain falls or snow melts, it moves according to
the laws of gravity. Some of this precipitation seeps into
the ground and replenishes groundwater sources, and
the rest moves over the land as runoff. As this runoff
moves downhill it picks up and carries away pollutants
and deposits them into wetlands, lakes, rivers and
underground sources of drinking water.
Agricultural operations, if not properly managed, can
elevate concentrations of a wide variety of contaminants
and emit them into the environment. According to
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agricultural
nonpoint source pollution (NPS) – that coming from
many diffuse sources – is the leading source of water
quality impacts on surveyed water bodies, the second
largest source of impairments to wetlands, and a major
contributor to contamination of surveyed groundwater.
Agricultural activities that cause NPS pollution include,
but are not limited to, overgrazing; excessive tillage;
improper, excessive, or poorly timed fertilizer and/or
pesticide applications; and poorly located or managed
livestock feeding sites.
Cattle feeding and wintering sites are often located
near streams, ponds and dugouts. Runoff from these
sources can carry nutrients, bacteria and viruses, and
oxygen-demanding organics and solids that contaminate
the water. There is enough dissolved phosphorus in the
manure from one cow, over one day, to cause an algae
bloom in more than 1 million litres of water, and to
deplete all of the dissolved oxygen in more than 30,000
Overgrazing or cultivating steeply sloped pastures
increases runoff speed and the potential for runoff and
sedimentation in streams. Sedimentation is the most
prevalent source of pollution from runoff; when soil is
washed off of fields, carried by the moving water and
deposited into nearby water bodies. Sedimentation
affects water quality physically, chemically and
biologically; clouding the water, altering a stream’s
ecology and reducing aquatic plant and animal life.
Pollutants such as
pesticides, fertilizers,
heavy metals and manure
are often attached to
these soil particles
and are subsequently
washed into the water
with the sediment. These
contaminants can be
significant sources of
nitrogen, phosphorus,
arsenic and diseasecausing pathogens.
Nitrate is used to
monitor impacts of
agricultural activities on
groundwater. Most natural
concentrations of this
dissolved form of nitrogen
are not of concern, but
when excess amounts
get into water, it can
become a health hazard
to humans, especially
infants and pregnant or
nursing mothers.
Phosphorus is in short
supply in most fresh
water systems, so even
a modest increase
can, under the right
conditions, have many
negative consequences
in a water body. Excess
phosphorus can cause
accelerated plant growth,
algae blooms, reduced
dissolved oxygen levels,
and the death of fish and
other aquatic animals.
Arsenic is a metal that
occurs naturally in the
earth’s crust. Erosion
and the dissolving of
rocks and minerals,
fossil fuel combustion,
and industrial wastes
can cause arsenic to
enter water supplies.
Long-term exposure has been linked with high rates of
lung, bladder, skin, liver and kidney cancer, as well as
diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Coliform bacteria are microscopic organisms originating
in the intestinal tracts of animals, as well as being
present in soil and vegetation, and their presence in
water supplies indicate fecal contamination. While most
strains coliform bacteria are harmless, some strains
such as cholera, hepatitis, diarrhea, giardiasis (beaver
fever) and E. coli can cause illness, infection, and death.
Contaminated surface runoff threatens water supplies.
Proper management techniques are necessary to avoid
adverse effects to water supplies, meet water quality
standards and provide for a healthy ecosystem.
Good water quality is vital because it is essential for the
health of humans and other living organisms. It is also
critical for agricultural success. Impacts from agricultural
activities on surface and ground water can be minimized
through management practices that are adapted to local
condition. Many practices designed to reduce pollution
also increase productivity and save money in the long
February 26th, 2014 at Manly Hall.
located on Highway 16 Yellowhead, just west of Range Road 23
4:00-5:00 Meeting
5:30 Drinks & Registration
6:00 Supper
7:00-8:30 Speakers
Jeff Nonay, Lakeside Dairy
Wayne Skelton, bioTrack
RSVP Kindly confirm attendance
by the 18th of February
Cost: $25
780-727-4447 We look forward to celebrating with you !
Porter’s Bull sale
March 21, 2014
Several Sire Groups
CWP 911Y
Selling 12 Red/Black
Max Simmental Bulls
Selling 50 Red/Black
Simmental Bulls
Bulls Developed On A
Forage Diet
Ultra Sound Carcass Data
CWP 111A
Bull Fertility & Semen Tested
CWP 125A
Call or email for the 2014
bull sale brochure!
CWP 138A
R.R. #1 Site 2, Box 17
Stony Plain, AB T7Z 1X1
[email protected]
View our catalogue online at www.porterranches.com
Homesteaded in 1903...CSA #841... A Fifth Generation Family Farm
Farming in the Smartphone age
Throughout history,
technology has changed
the way humans interact
with the world; however,
there has been no time in
history where technology
has evolved as fast as it
is currently. There is no
denying that we live in a
technological age, and
even more specifically, a
digital world. We now live
in a world where mobile
technology is everywhere,
providing more access
to information than ever
According to Statistics
Canada, nearly 85%
of homes in Alberta
had Internet access in
2010, with 35% of those
households solely using
wireless handheld devices
(smartphones and/
or tablets) to go online.
They also found that,
as of 2012, Alberta had
a cell phone adoption
rate of 87%, with nearly
two-thirds owning a
smartphone. Though we
still lag behind almost
all other developed
nations, Canada is
on track to achieve a
wireless penetration
rate exceeding 100%,
80% of which will be
smartphone users, within
approximately three years.
The computer desktop
encyclopedia defines a
smartphone as “a cellular
telephone with built-in
applications and Internet
access. In addition to
digital voice service,
modern smartphones
provide text messaging,
e-mail, Web browsing,
still and video cameras,
MP3 player and video
playback and calling. In
addition to their built-in
functions, smartphones
run myriad free and paid
applications, turning
the once single-minded
cellphone into a mobile
personal computer.”
Compared to other
industries, uptake of
mobile technology in the
agriculture sector has
been slow, but growing
rapidly with Alberta
having the highest use
in Canada. Both farmers
and software experts
see the benefits to the
ways that technology is
transforming agriculture.
As farm sizes continue
to grow, managing them
requires a great amount
of detail and efficiency.
Smartphones and their
apps can help make that
The Mobile Farmer
Farm Management Canada is putting on a webinar
on February 24.
For more information visit agriwebinar.com
For anyone fairly new to the technology world, “App”
is short for “application” — a computer program
designed to operate on smartphones and tablets.
Apps can let a phone or tablet do almost anything that
the programmers can imagine, within the technical
limitations of the device. With farmers being a relatively small market (only about
2% of the population), finding farming-related apps has
been difficult, but more and more are being released all
the time. Existing agriculture apps have been designed
to give producers hand-held, out-in-the-field access to
a wide range of farm management tools. Among the
most popular of agricultural applications are those used
for field mapping, field scouting, weed identification
and management, and forecasting the weather. Other
available apps can give the ability to track crop quality,
estimated yields and even daily prices. They have also
been designed for records management of gestation
calendars and due dates, doctor records, cull lists, and
general herd data.
Here at WCFA, we strive to serve the needs of forage
and livestock producers by sharing and demonstrating
new agricultural technology and knowledge. In order to
help producers stay up to date with current technology,
our newsletters will feature a different farming-related
smartphone application that we believe may be
beneficial. This month we feature iCalve, by Meyer
Cattle, Inc.
After dropping his calving book in the mud, for the fourth
time that week, southern Alberta rancher Jake Meyer
had an idea for a smartphone application, and iCalve
was born.
iCalve is exactly what your paper record keeping calving
booklet is, only with more features. Calving records,
treatment records, herd data, gestation calendars, etc;
iCalve has everything for keeping track of your cattle
operation. iCalve is also easy to navigate; designed by a
cattleman for cattlemen. The app automatically backs
itself up to iCloud and you can print or export full sized
.pdf records for branding, CCIA tagging, heifer retention,
culling, etc.
iCalve is currently only available for iPhone and iPad, but
an Android version in currently in the works. This app
can be purchased, for $9.99, through the App Store on
Direct Sales Options
As consumers become
more aware of how
and where their food is
grown, they are seeking
ways to be more directly
linked to how their food
is raised than is possible
in conventional and
commercial systems.
Many producers are following
this trend and directly marketing
themselves and their product to
these customers.
Direct (farm-gate) sales are
increasing as many producers
find ways to broaden their
market. Some of these marketing
options include online farm
shops, farmers’ markets,
both physical and virtual, and
community supported agriculture
Building a retail outlet on the farm is
unrealistic for most producers so many are
creating online farm shops. Using a website
to exhibit their products, producers can sell
their goods from home which allows the
consumer to shop when is convenient to
them and have the product shipped directly
to them.
Nearly three-quarters of households shop
at the province’s 130 approved farmer’s
markets. In 2012, Alberta Agriculture and
Rural Development conducted a study to
assess the value and opportunity for growth
of these markets. They concluded that
since 2004, the average spending per visit
increased 57 percent and annual sales
have more than tripled in value.
Besides the typical farmers’ market,
there is a new trend emerging – the
virtual farmers’ market. The Lacombe
based company, The Green Pantry
(www.thegreenpantry.ca) is one such
online marketplace. It is comprised of
approximately 40 producers, primarily from
central Alberta, and offers fresh produce,
frozen meats, dairy products, grains and
cereals, and pulses. Cofounder Susan
Crump explains, “It’s a place for you to get
your local food, but instead of being able
to get it once a week at a farmers’ market,
you can go online and order your product
any time you want to.” Crump and her
partners, Sheryl Rae and Colleen Woods,
see that many of today’s consumers who
now average three generations removed
from the farm/ranch want a more direct
connection with the people raising/growing
their food. “A lot of people are interested
in supporting that local concept as well,
whether it’s farmers in your area or shops
in your town. I think people like the idea
that that keeps money in the community.”
She adds that her business offers an extra
level of service to the producers; it provides
a new market, without having to do the
marketing. “We thought we could take on
a bit of that burden and do some of the
marketing for them.”
Community supported agriculture was
originally developed as a system to
benefit the community, the environment,
and the farmer. While this philosophy
still holds true, most current CSAs are
commercial ventures with a customerproducer cooperative benefitting both
parties. Consumers provide farmers with
a guaranteed market for their goods and
support the farm budget either through
prepaid annual sales or the purchase of
CSAs are similar to a farmers’ market in
the sense that they bring the public one
step closer to producers, but it also gets
them closer to the inherent risks involved.
Customers understand that if one of
the animals dies, their share will also
decrease proportionately. To many, the
shared risk is part of what creates a sense
of community between the producer and
the shareholders, as well as among the
Blake Hall, from Prairie Gold
Pastured Meats near Red Deer (www.
prairiegoldmeats.ca), didn’t grow up on
a farm, and said that following a CSA
model allowed him to ‘boot-strap’ his way
into agriculture. With no land base or
assets, getting a loan to start farming was
impossible, but by selling shares in his
saleable animals, he was able to leverage
that social capital, to provide him the cash
flow to enter and remain in the industry.
Blake believes that the culture of food is
changing, especially in the cities, where
customers are increasing looking for
specialty niche market meat that has
attributes not typically offered to the public
with commodity beef sales; in addition to a
growing interest in heritage breeds. Every
year Blake’s shares sell out, and every
year his waiting list grows, building his
community of customers and allowing him
to grow with each subsequent year.
He also sees that people are looking for a
renewed connection with the land and the
food system, so he offers pasture walks,
where his customers can visit the farm, see
the inner workings of Prairie Gold, and ask
questions about the herd.
Having farm-budget support, as well as a
guaranteed market for their product can
level the playing field, making small-scale,
local food production a sustainable and
economically viable option.
Continued next issue

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