FarmTech 2020 Director Highlights

February 18, 2020

Alberta Canola’s directors share one of their highlights from the FarmTech Conference held January 28-30, 2020.


This year was the second FarmTech I have had the opportunity to attend. What I love about FarmTech is that the conference does such a great job of bringing in speakers to address agronomic issues as well as speakers who tackle management issues. It is hard to decide on a favourite speaker or key takeaway.

I enjoyed Nicole Davis presentation on Human Resources for Farm Leaders. As producers, we hear a lot of dire predictions regarding the future availability of qualified farm labour. We need to start taking action to make our operations more attractive places to work as well as learn to be more strategic in our hiring processes. Nicole’s presentation did a great job of driving home, why it is essential to take the time to create strong corporate policies.

According to Nicole, corporate policies are necessary to set clear expectations for farm operations as well as standards for performance and behaviours. The consistency of a strong policy helps facilitate an environment that is fair and consistent for employees as well as helps protect the operation from legal complaints by ensuring compliance with employment laws.
Holly White, Rolling Hills


I’ve lost track of how many FarmTech conferences I’ve been to. In terms of how long the show has been around, I’m still relatively a rookie, but’s it’s been enough that I’ve lost track. The thing that keeps drawing me back is the people.

In my, mind, FarmTech is the premier conference in Western Canada. And it brings together the brightest minds in Ag. There are people that the only time you talk to them is at the show. There are others that you network with throughout the year, but the only place you get face time with them is at FarmTech. I’ve met many wonderful, brilliant people traveling the halls of The Edmonton Expo center. People that I would not regularly have the opportunity to meet are all over the place. This is always the highlight of my FarmTech.
Kevin Serfas, Turin


I filled in chairing a session for a colleague. A session I probably wouldn’t have normally attended, which often turns out to be one of the best. Marilyn Smith’s presentation of Peace, Love & Fibre was a hoot!  As an alumni for the Second City Comedy Troupe, Marilyn told her story in a gut busting fashion that ended with a message about the dangers of not incorporating enough fibre in your diet.

Her impressions, stories and jokes were a great combination to lighten up an important human health topic. If you were looking for one of those non-typical concurrent sessions at FarmTech 2020, this one was a delight. Thank you Marilyn!
John Guelly, Westlock


FarmTech 2020, like those before it, did not disappoint.  The breadth and depth of speakers, the assortment of relevant topics, and timely information represented a fantastic opportunity for producers.

Of note, Merle Good and his daughter Annessa presented together a session entitled ‘Land, Business & Family: Does Your Succession Plan Reflect Reality?’ which explored the question of how farmland can be best managed during succession.

As a young producer, this topic was particularly relevant as land represents the basis of every operation. How land is managed over time, through change, through succession, and how competing interests affect land decisions are of concern to those entering and exiting a family business.  Merle and Annessa analyzed the issue from the perspective of those succeeding out, as well as those succeeding into family farming operations, addressing common concerns, challenges, opportunities and benefits.

Issues of control, ownership, and protecting the continuity of the business were discussed.  Innovative structures and contracts were presented to a highly engaged audience, many of whom couldn’t take down notes or thoughts fast enough.  As many producers are currently engaged in some form of succession in Alberta, this topic was highly relevant, and the presenters brought it to producers in a very engaging, fun, and informative way.  There wasn’t a producer in the room that wasn’t riveted and couldn’t have listened to Merle and Annessa for hours on end.

It was truly a pleasure to participate in their session, and to take in the 2020 FarmTech conference.
Ian Chitwood, Airdrie


FarmTech is where the rubber hits the road!

FarmTech 2020 did not disappoint this year, different perspectives from speakers to your neighbors come together to be debated, challenged and discussed.  The focus on the future, through the different sessions was great. This gave us a good sense of where the future of agriculture and rural communities is going and the incredible opportunity that is available.
Andre Harpe, Valhalla Centre


One interesting takeaway for me from FarmTech 2020 was Ove Karlsson’s presentation on LEAN Management. LEAN is a management concept used by many companies, most notably Toyota, where they analyze workspaces and workflows and to make them more efficient in time, movement and waste of materials. As I get older, this becomes more important through trying to ‘work smarter, not harder’.
John Mayko, Vegreville


FarmTech provides some much-needed fuel to fire up producers to keep on going, enjoy what they are doing, and to grow their business.

Having watched the Oscar’s I find it is hard to decide what would be the highlight of attending FarmTech 2020. It is like being asked, what is the best part of a movie. All the parts are necessary to produce a good piece of work, and FarmTech was a good piece of work.

To have to focus on one area I thought stood out, I would say, the positive attitude of the attendees.  Having gone through a tough growing season and harvest a lot of farmers were worn out and tired but they brought their game face to FarmTech. Over the meals and around the Alberta Canola booth I often heard that 2019 was tough but 2020 will be better. The optimism isn’t gone and FarmTech is the place to rejuvenate it.

None of the speakers I attended projected doom and gloom.  In tough years we have to grow with adversity, and 2019 was one of those years.  Speakers focused on what we can do not on what could have been.  I think that most people went home from FarmTech motivated to give it their best shot once again.
Dan Doll, Fairview


Talked with a group at lunch and everyone liked the atmosphere of the show. Lots of compliments on the food. Very good!

Another discussion that was liked a lot was having speakers as farmers. Especially the dryer discussion and the info that was given out was talked about highly.
Denis Guindon, Fahler



Alberta Canola Connects is your window into the activities of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission as we work both locally and globally to help contribute to the long term success of canola farmers in Alberta. 

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