Right before coming to BC, I had the chance to visit the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute in Humboldt. It is a nice drive in the summer, with lots of chance to see lots of crops coming along. Along with two Masters students from Queens, our host Les took us to a local farm machinery dealership to check out the merchandise. This is like a car dealership, except everything is over $100,000. Lots are over $500,000! When you think that you need probably 4-5 of these things to outfit a modern grain farm, it reminds me that lots of farmers are working for the mortgage – and not just on the property. Here are some photos, along with notes on what the things do. Les was outstanding in that he told us what everything did, but also where the dangerous parts are, and how injuries happen.
The scale of modern agriculture and the technology required to keep up is pretty daunting. The average farm size in Saskatchewan is around 1200 acres, compared to Ontario’s 230. The average farm size all over Canada (but especially SK) keeps growing, and the number of farms goes down. The number of farmers goes down, and the average age of operators is going up. There are more and more ‘corporate’ farms, which are crowding out the family-owned farms. When there are fewer people to do the work, there needs to be more automation, since our demand for food commodities is only increasing. As an example here is a mega-combine that harvests a 24-METRE path: