Aussie farmer jumped on Sask. opportunity

On the Farm: Josh Lade says goodwill and good luck made it possible for him to follow his dreams to Canada

WARMAN, Sask. — You can never be exactly sure what life has in store for you.

Just ask Josh Lade, a transplanted Australian who lives in Warman, just north of Saskatoon.

Ten years ago, Lade was growing potatoes, raising livestock and helping to run the family farm on Kangaroo Island, about 100 kilometres southwest of Adelaide in South Australia.

Today, he’s married, has two sons and is a partner in a large grain farm in the middle of the Canadian Prairies.

Lade smiles when asked about the factors that led to his new life in Canada.

“I was super fortunate to meet some fantastic people who gave me an opportunity,” he says.

“I met a girl that I loved and I had a chance to work at my dream job, so I thought, ‘what the heck, let’s give it a go.’ ”

Lade farms in partnership with John and Janice Wiebe of Osler, Sask., and the Wiebes’ son and daughter-in-law, Rayden and Jenn Wiebe.

Together, the partners grow cereals, pulse crops and oilseeds on about 16,000 acres.

The farm’s land base stretches from Saskatoon in the south to the Hepburn and Rosthern areas in the north, a distance of roughly 65 kilometres.

Additional acres were recently added in the Jansen, Sask., area, about 150 km southeast of Saskatoon.

Lade’s decision to move to Saskatchewan was made possible by equal parts of goodwill and good fortune.

In 2009, he and a friend travelled to Saskatchewan and spent the Canadian summer working as farm labourers — Lade on a potato farm near Outlook, Sask., and his friend as a hired hand on the Wiebe farm, based at Osler, Sask.

Through his friend, Lade met the Wiebes and made arrangements to return the following summer to work on their farm full-time.

“I have a degree in agronomy (from the University of Adelaide) and I’m super passionate about agriculture, so maybe they saw that,” Lade said.

“They invited me back the following year and it’s worked out amazing for me.”

In the years that followed, Lade split his time between Canada and Australia — spending six months in Australia and six months working with the Wiebes.

But eventually, the opportunities in Canada became too hard to ignore.

Another farm couple from the Osler area — Anne and Elmer Guenther — gave Lade an opportunity to rent their farmland.

The Guenthers and the Wiebes were business partners and had farmed together for years.

Lade jumped on the opportunity to rent the Guenthers’ land and made arrangements to share the Wiebes’ equipment.

In 2013, Lade married his sweetheart, Jeannie, a city girl from Edmonton.

Today, Jeannie works as a math teacher at the Warman High School and the couple are raising two sons, Eli, 3, and Tate, 1.

Despite growing up on a small mixed farm in Australia, Lade says he’s always been drawn to broad-acre crop production.

The main difference between growing crops in Australia versus Canada is the length of the Canadian growing season, he says.

“The Number 1 difference is the timeliness of operations here,” he says.

“An Australian coming here (to Saskatchewan) and looking at a 10,000 acre farm with two seeders and three or four combines would probably think we’re overcapitalized. What they don’t realize is that we have such a short window to get the crop in the ground and even a shorter window to harvest it.”

Weed control strategies are also different.

In Australia, problems related to herbicide resistance are well documented.

In Canada, dependence on a narrow range of chemical herbicide products will lead to similar problems in Western Canada, he says.

With Lade’s encouragement, the Wiebe farm is one of the only operations in Western Canada to use the Seed Terminator, an Australian-made machine that uses a hammer mill to crush viable weed seeds after they go through the combine. Details on the Seed Terminator can be viewed online at www.seedterminator.com.au.

Lade still goes back to Australia occasionally to visit his family but his future is firmly rooted in Saskatchewan.

“I didn’t expect to come over here and fall in love, but I guess I did in two ways really — with my wife and with the country.”

“There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for me on my family’s farm back in Kangaroo Island … and I was very fortunate to meet John and Janice,” he added.

“They gave me an incredible opportunity and now I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been super fortunate.”

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