let's talk farm animals

Studying is regular routine for farmers

by Patricia Grotenhuis, lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

There is a lot of studying which goes into farming. 

Many farmers today have a college diploma or university degree.  Some even have graduate degrees.  Even after school, though, farmers have to constantly update their knowledge to stay on top of the latest research findings and newest technology.

In fact, the education levels of Canadian farmers is on the rise – 38 per cent of men and 48 per cent of women who farm now have post secondary degrees.

My husband has his diploma in agriculture, while I have a bachelor of science in agriculture and a graduate-level diploma in agricultural communications.  Do we use them?  Every day. 

Since my husband has taken over the barn management on his family’s farm, he has also been attending regular industry meetings to keep on top of what is changing.  Meetings like these are becoming part of farming.  Sure, it is possible to farm the way our parents or grandparents farmed.  We just realize now that using the new technology and science which is available will help move our farm forward, increasing production while decreasing our environmental footprint, which will be very important to feed the growing population.

There are courses on herd health. There are mandatory certification courses for farmers wishing to use crop protection products or livestock medicines. There is the Environmental Farm Plan program which is a voluntary program that helps farmers audit their operations for environmental concerns and set goals and timetables for improvements.  And there are many, many more examples.

Farming the exact same way our parents or grandparents did would be similar to businesses today not using computers or modern marketing strategies…it is possible, but not practical.

Farmers clearly understand that what might have been the best method for doing things around the farm 20 years ago may not be the best method today, and we’re anxious to be as advanced and efficient as possible.  I hope that one day if our children begin farming full time, they will first get some type of formal education which relates to agriculture, and will make changes to benefit everyone.

For now, I watch my husband attending meetings. In his free time, he pours over industry magazines and the internet and goes on farm tours to see what technology other farmers are implementing in their own barns. Based on his learnings, I know that he will implement the changes he can.  If there are improvements he wants to make but can’t do so right away, he will keep track of them for future reference.

Although farming is a career steeped in tradition, it is also full of leading edge technology and important business strategies.  As time goes on, more and more education is needed for our farmers who want to stay viable in the industry.


Posted by FFC on April 12th, 2011 :: Filed under Dairy cattle,Education and public awareness,Environmental Farm Plan,Farm life,Innovation and technology
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