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Ag day sees local producers learn new tricks of the trade

The annual Moose Mountain Ag Day proved to be a roaring success, as more than 100 area producers came out to hear top-quality speakers offer their views on ways to improve ag production and profit.

The annual Moose Mountain Ag Day proved to be a roaring success, as more than 100 area producers came out to hear top-quality speakers offer their views on ways to improve ag production and profit.

Moose Mountain Ag Day kicked off at the Arcola Prairie Place Complex on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 8.

The first speaker for the day, commodities market expert Larry Weber, arrived late, postponing his presentation.

When he did arrive, Weber took the podium to share information with producers about the ins and outs of the commodities market, and how best to maximize profits in his presentation entitled, 'Grain Market Update.'

Of course, with wheat availability down significantly over the global markets, exception process for wheat have been a feature of the commodities market since autumn of last year.

Sales and markets weren't the only topics up for discussion however, as holistic management educator Joshua Dukart of North Dakota took the podium next to present some thoughts on holistic practices on the farm, especially in regards to soil health.

Titled 'Enhancing Soil Health with Cover Crops,'Dukart spoke before his presentation about the benefits of holistic practices on the modern producer's farm.

"It has a lot to do with time management for the producer, as well as management for the business," Dukart said. "What you are trying to do is to find a good balance where you are reducing your inputs, including in time and labour, while maximizing the outputs to the operation."

"There are a lot of parts in a producer's operation where the demands seem to contradict each other," Dukart said. "If you want to just out-and-out maximize your production, then it seems to demand more input and labour."

"If you decrease your time input, then your output seems to drop," Dukart said. "That is what holistic management tries to address with its methods."

"It is about finding a natural balance where you will have nature take care of a lot of the work just by the way things work themselves out," Dukart said. "Using a large amount of medicine or hormone, for example, as a preventative measure, creates a problem in that your core herd doesn't build natural resistances to many of the bugs and parasites that prey on cattle."

"With 80 per cent of the pest load being carried by, on average, 20 percent of your cattle, preventative medicating doesn't just keep the health of your herd from improving, it also leads to resistant strains of virus and bacteria," Dukart said. "I know one producer who has been following a holistic management plan who, when he finds sick cattle, he separates and treats just those animals."

"The ones that are separated out and treated are destined for market, and as time has passed he has seen the health of his core herd increase dramatically, meaning he spends less in inputs, and his animals grow up healthier, seeing better returns when they got to market."

Also joining the speakers for the day was a representative of Canada Gold Beef Inc., a marketing collective from Alberta.

The group, which is made up of many individual producers, share common verification protocols, amongst other efforts, to ensure a branded, recognized product of consistent quality.

The final speaker for the day was Brenda Schoepp, a market strategist and publisher of the beef market weekly newsletter, 'Beef Link.'

Schoepp, much as Weber did with the grain market, shared her knowledge of the beef market and trends in an attempt to help producers come to a better understanding of the sales-driven end of their business.

Besides the impressive array of experts who came to speak to the producers at the ag day show this year, 16 trade show booths were filled by a variety of service and equipment providers, as well as organizations such as the Lower Souris Watershed Authority, and Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Sponsors for this year's event included Cornerstone Agri-Environmental, Ducks Unlimited, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, and Solar West.

The coffee and cinnamon buns made available at the coffee break were provided by Plainsview Credit Union, and note pads for attendees were provided by Farm Credit Canada.

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