At Co-op, we work closely with farmers to help maximize their farming operations. One way we do this is through Grown with Purpose™. This forward-thinking agronomic program assesses a farm’s planning, use of crop inputs and safe work practices.
Since the program launched in 2019, our local Co-op Grow Team members have helped develop customized strategies for farmers to improve fertilizer efficiency, optimize production and enhance the overall health of their land.
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“The whole idea of the program is to find out what’s working well and what areas could be improved upon,” explained Jack Payne, Regional Grow Team Advisor at Federated Co-operatives Limited. “Our goal is to improve farming operations so they are more sustainable.”
Manage Your Inputs
Evaluating crop inputs and incorporating simple changes can complement what farmers are already doing and can make farms more profitable, efficient and sustainable.
“When you look at a farm, there are so many components needed to produce a crop,” explained Payne. “What we do is get an overall picture of a farmer’s operation and help prioritize what strategies would give them the best return on the dollar. It’s about making a small change in the right area.”
A Grown with Purpose review will help you explore other options to apply fertilizer blends such as soil-zone application through variable-rate technology. This can improve the bottom line by applying fertilizer at the right rate and time based on specific needs within a field — so you only use as much product as you need.
One farmer that has been using the Grown with Purpose Program on his farm is John Hamill of Hamill Farms Ltd. in Red Deer County, Alta. A fourth-generation family farm, Hamill Farms grows wheat, canola, pulses, malting barley and malting oats.
Hamill meets with his local Co-op agronomist every year to go through a Grown with Purpose assessment starting with a yearly crop plan. “Implementing a crop rotation plan and soil testing into our yearly planning makes life easier because you know what to work with, and it allows us to make decisions based on data,” said Hamill.
During their most recent Grown with Purpose assessment, Hammill's local Grow Team member did a comprehensive review of short- and long-term goals, agronomic strategies and use of crop inputs. One small change that came from that review was the recommendation to include peas in their rotation.
Peas are a crop that do not require nitrogen as they fix their own nitrogen into the soil and put nitrogen back as they break down. Hamill Farms had already included peas in their crop rotation prior to the review, so getting this feedback was reinforcement Hamill was on the right track with implementing sustainable practices on his farm.
Having a strategic plan in place removes the guesswork. “Developing a plan allows you to be proactive and manage farming practices in a sustainable way,” said Payne. “When we help farmers to be more efficient, that translates into a more profitable farming business for them.”
A yearly crop plan can help ensure you have the right products available for a successful year, rather than making decisions in the thick of seeding or harvest.
Be An AGvocate
We want farmers to stand up and be proud that the food they produce is nutritious, safe and grown with practices that are mindful of air, water and soil quality.
“Consumers are telling us they want to know more about their food and where it comes from,” explained Hamill. “Grown with Purpose is going to bridge that gap between farmers and consumers so we can educate and give them the traceability and information they want to feed their family.”
Discover how simple changes can make your farm more profitable, efficient and sustainable. Visit your local Co-op Agro Centre or e-mail email@example.com to get started with your Grown with Purpose consultation.