Canada’s largest trade show, the Farm Progress Show, played host to over 600 exhibitors who showcased the latest in agriculture technologies.
Pushing innovation in the agriculture industry can take some surprising forms. Known mostly for making figurines and models, 3-D printers have unlocked exciting opportunities for farmers.
Sales manager with Thor 3D Printing, Steven Phorstad, said the small machines can create useable, mechanical parts when farming equipment breaks.
“They can be used for prototyping, recreating broken parts that otherwise might not exist, might be tough to source, or might be cheaper to make themselves,” he said.
Airborne drones have exploded in the agriculture market, a useful tool for detailed mapping of fields.
Vice-president of AgCon Aerial Corporation, Dale Knock, said while farmers were mostly curious about drones last year, demand for the product this year has been high. “It’s very, very common. It’s almost if you don’t have a drone, you’re just catching up,” he said.
Also on display was an unmanned tractor outfitted with a GPS navigational system, developed in part by Caleb Friedrick.
In his final year of engineering at the University of Regina, Friedrick and team of two others entered into the AgBOT challenge in Indiana.
The goal of the competition was to develop the most efficient unmanned crop seeder. Up against six other American universities, Friedrick and his team won the $50,000 top prize.
“There [were] the CEOs from a lot of companies like John Deere, Monsanto and Yamaha. They had a lot of big people there and sponsors,” Friedrick said.
While many veteran farmers are working to implement innovative technologies on their farms, some — like farmer Greg Nicklen — are enlisting the help of the next generation to make the most of new and emerging tools.
“Technology is changing so fast, it’s hard for my age group to stay up with it. Whereas younger people seem to grab the technology and run with it,” he said.
Nicklen leaves his son, Connor, in charge of the new tech.
“I’m kind of the guy who looks after the all GPSs and get [them] going for everyone because I’m the one who can learn it faster,” he said, laughing.
Canada’s Farm Progress show runs from June 15-17 and annually attracts 45,000 visitors.
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