Is the future in steel weed management?

I love a good farm show. Heck, I’d love a bad farm show, but I can’t say I’ve ever been to one.

My enthusiasm for farm shows began when I was a kid growing up on the farm. It was always a good day to miss a little school and go learn more about something you lived every day.

There weren’t a lot of farm shows to choose from in the early 1970s, but with field days filling in the blanks, new things about agriculture seemed like they were everywhere, in part driven by a strong economic wind in agriculture.

It was about 1977-ish when the Farm Progress Show in Regina was still young and my teenage self was helping Dad and my brother carry a newly acquired shop press from a dealer’s booth to the truck when I saw it. Being that it wasn’t a small press — floor-type, not bench — having something else to take away my breath was a good excuse for a rest.

It was big. Even at a distance, it was big. And white. Very white. An unusual colour for a tractor. At the time there were green ones, light and dark, red and reddish ones, silver ones — but those were White.

It was a Big Bud. A thing of farmboy lore and it was made next door in Montana. On the Prairies, next door is anywhere within 350 miles and Havre, Mont., is 347 miles away from our farm.

It was still rare to see one in the iron. I think it was a KT450. It was the cutting edge weed control technology of the day and possessed the power to pull steel, potentially cultivating a section of summerfallow between sunrise and sunset on a mid-June Saturday. No one knew summerfallow would end, so it was the future of farming for farmers on the Canadian Prairies and the United States Great Plains.

Spraying and spreading is the weed control technology today, making reduced tillage, continuous cropping possible. The power to cover more than a 640 acres in 16 hours comes standard in today’s modern machinery, and per acre, it is pennies on the dollar cheaper compared to the Bud.

At a more recent show, some new steel-based weed control captured my imagination at a Saskatoon event. Local company Redekop has developed an unwanted-seed crusher that can deal with whatever is escaping a combine’s collection.

And, while not 13 feet high and bright white, it did give me that feeling of seeing some of what the future would look like on farm.

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