Bews has always had a passion for farming. A third generation farmer, Bews and his son, Darren, farm 10,000 acres in west central Saskatchewan. After trying a variety of crops over the years, they now grow primarily durum, canola and red lentils. The name ‘Duthie Farms’ derives from Craig’s paternal grandmother, a nod to the generation that started the farm in 1910. Craig’s uncle believed that the introduction of hydraulics had the biggest impact on agriculture during his lifetime. Today, Bews believes GPS may be the biggest game-changer, and one of the ways GPS helps change agriculture is by facilitating variable rate applications.
Soil variability poses challenges
Soil variability and topography can pose challenges when it comes to determining nutrient requirements and crop needs. Different areas of the farm can provide a challenge as to what crops grow well, with soil types and topography requiring different nutrients and rates. Duthie Farms has soil ranging from sandy loam to heavy clay. The challenge of handling the variability across the farm – and across the field – is one of the reasons Bews began implementing Optimize RX®, a variable rate solution offered from Decisive Farming by TELUS Agriculture.
“Not all fields are the same”
“We can go from three to four times the rate across the board or on a field,” Bews says. “Areas where I thought we should be putting more wasn’t necessarily the way to go.”
Site specific applications improve efficiencies
Before adopting variable rate technology, Bews used two fertilizer rates across the farm: one for the heavy land and one for the lighter land. Even then, he recognized the need to apply different rates in different fields to account for soil variations and crop needs. Now, his fertilizer and seed rates are site specific – one of the biggest successes from adopting Decisive Farming by TELUS Agriculture’s Optimize RX® solution.
“We aren’t over-applying or under-applying on areas in the field as we were in the past,” he says. “We recognize that was certainly a more efficient and more effective way to go as far as inputs.
“It’s not necessarily using more fertilizer; we’re using it smarter.”
Bews has been very happy with Optimize RX® on his farm. In addition to a high level of product satisfaction, Craig says the customer service from both his local territory manager, Brennan Sommerville, and agronomist, Garth Donald, is excellent.
“They have all been really good at helping us work through getting this going on our farm,” he says. “(And they helped) work through the setup and implementation of this different way of farming.”
Looking ahead, Craig is excited about technologies that will advance in-crop applications, such as leveraging drones for weed control or site specific application of desiccants. Bews recently received his drone pilot’s license and enjoys looking at a field from a bird’s eye view.
“If you get an eye in the sky, you get a little bit of a different perspective,” he says.
Changes and advancements in agriculture are part of what keeps agriculture interesting, and Craig shares that he is still having fun.
“It’s been a good life and a good lifestyle.”