Red Deer Agri-Trade started in the mid 80's and I attended my first one somewhere around 1988. Back then I had just graduated from Olds College and was farming with my dad and brother. Going to school had opened my eyes up to many new ideas in agriculture and I wasn't content to just keep doing things the same old way. We were still seeding canola with a John Deere box drill, that limited the amount of seed placed fertilizer and also made it so you needed to cultivate before you seeded. The co-op diskers were used to direct seed into stubble but we only used this on a small amount of acres as we seeded half our land and fallowed the other half.
In the Early 90's air seeders were new technology for me and I was happy to see Bourgault and Flexi-coil tanks and air seeders at the farm show. I was able to study them up close and decide what kind I would like and in the end we bought a Bourgault 2115 tank and an 800 Flexi-coil. This method of seeding still required you to harrow pack after but we could direct seed as well as increase our fertilizer rates. When I installed the controller in our 1980 835 Versatile I remember my dad looking at the two buttons and the small digital display and saying that I would need to do all the seeding from now on because it was too high tech for him.
The 90's brought a lot of new advances in Canola seed. The Polish varieties like Tobin that we had seeded for years were being replaced by the larger seeds of the conventional Argentine varieties. I talked to seed reps at Red Deer about yields and how these varieties were doing in my area. Yielding in the high 30's with some of those first Argentine varieties was a defining moment for Canola on our farm as it went from being a crop you seeded on one field to a part of our regular rotation. Seed placement was still an issue and we seeded it with the John Deere drills which were upgraded to 25' but we still only seeded canola on summer fallow.
Towards the end of the 90's we purchased a second used combine to go along with our L3 Gleaner. The addition of a 1980 760 Massey helped to ease some of the stress at harvest and we were able to consider the purchase of more land. I also purchased my first semi and a B-train and my dad questioned my sanity, but he quite liked that first harvest and the fact one of us didn't have to shut down to dump all the time. I remember going to Agri-trade to look at moisture testers as our local Wheat Pool elevator had been closed and torn down.
The 2000's brought many changes. My dad had started to ease away from the farm. I was having to make more decisions on my own. The changes didn't stop there, farming technology began to evolve at an incredible rate and Agri-Trade recognized this and added technology row. GPS companies were selling some of the first light bars. No more having to drop foam or pull that darn 3 disk marker that always got tangled up if you didn't turn properly. It was so nice to look down and know that you were on course when you were spraying. It went from one of the hardest and most stressful jobs to one of the easier. I soon realized I needed a bigger combine so in 2001 I traded in the L3 for a 1997 8780 Massey. This was also brought on by the fact I had started to grow yellow peas the year before and needed a straight cut header.
Many things have changed over the last 30 years in Agriculture. And many of these changes I first saw at Red Deer Agri-trade.
So how about the 2015 edition.This years Agri-Trade brought a bit of new technology, Air seeders are getting larger, things are going wireless and seed companies have new and better varieties. I see the larger advancements being made more on a human side of things. Farmers are more united than ever to promote all forms of Agriculture. I spent more time this year at the Alberta Wheat, Barley, Canola and Pulse booths then I ever have in the past and so did many others. We all realize that these associations are important to our industry. I stopped and talked to the people I've met on social media, those that have helped me throughout the year to be a better farmer, the people I feel are making a difference to agriculture and to all farmers. So if you ask me what I walked away with from Agri-trade this year it wasn't a new combine or an air seeder but a renewed sense of optimism and pride in our industry.