Last week, the Canadian Government announced money for dairy farmers through FCC (Farm Credit Canada), 2000$ for FCC clients that qualify to their criteria. We are not members of FCC, and we do research and development at the farm on sustainability and dairy production. We won’t need this money because we don’t wait after anyone to decide to get better, nor do we need anyone to push us toward evolution. DFC and all dairy farmers associations across the country have identified 2050 for the industry to be carbon neutral and here at the farm, we will be.
When we decided to do some new research, we contacted Agrinova, a research and innovation center created by the College of Alma. We hired them to create protocols for our research programs and to supervise the research. We decided to fund ourselves the 2 studies, one was on BMR Corn silage in our climate where we have less sun time (this brand of corn should have a higher digestibility and enhance milk production, better result in the field; 1 tone per acre silage yield potential and overall, enhance revenue and profit at the farm). The other research is to improve biodegradability of the film we use to grow our corn.
At the farm we use a technology that my partner imported from Ireland more then 10 years ago. It consists of giving a 3-week early start to corn by covering it with a film giving the seed a greenhouse effect start. The film dissolves after 5-6 week due to the sun, heat, water, and microorganisms. Since the weather here is colder and the sun less present, this technology allowed us to grow quality corn to feed the cows. Not only does it reduce transportation from the South of cow corn here, but it also reduced the number of times we have to go in the field, all the nutriments are added in the soil at the same time of the seed, we just need to add azote to the corn during its growth and then harvest it in the fall. So, this technology is sustainable in more than one way. But we want to see, by doing the research, if there are films that would react differently or dissolve faster, or slower, so we have 10 tests right now in the fields, we will do this research for 3 years, 2023 being the first. This year we were made aware that this technology has been used in Alberta for the first time, it is also use in Ontario and in the USA, it is actually used in over 26 countries around the world on all continents.
Agrinova suggested to us some governmental partnership, some we agreed some we refused, but we did not wait for approval and started, they joined a moving train, for us it was easier to do it like that because we set our own protocols and did not have to bend over to fit in any government program, they adjusted to us, since they had the same kind on research in waiting.
We are also evaluating solar panels for the farm, to reduce our dependence to electricity and working on a system to contain rainwater. The rain is so different for the past 2 years, it rains a lot in a very short period of time, you must have experienced it too, in South if the province they got 100 millimetres in less than 2 hours! So, containing rainwater to reuse it (to wash machinery, robots, etc.) has become a passion project that we’re exploring this summer.
My main driver is sustainability, not a government grant. Farmers have always been innovators and are always looking for ways to do what they do while respecting the land they work. In fact, saving the planet and increasing the efficiency of our farm is a win-win. Many farmers have been eco-leaders for years and will continue to be! The future of our industry is bright. This FCC program will help some, for sure. But we’re going to be carbon-neutral by showing the leadership farmers have always shown!
A consistent consumer of Canadian products (food, clothing, furniture, etc.), Isabelle Bouchard is a city girl now living in the countryside on a dairy and crop farm in Lac Saint-Jean, Québec.
Self-employed since 2019, she was previously employed by great Canadian companies and the Government of Canada. Consult her LinkedIn profile for details.
Isabelle is excited to participate with friends in this great project. Both Canadian producers and products need the support and love of Canadians to shine and prosper. There are so many people who denigrate our producers and our Canadian products that she feels it is almost a duty to participate in C3FC.