Farmers find support, efficiencies in collaboration

It all started when a drill came up at an auction sale that two neighbours both wanted.

“He wanted to buy it and I wanted to buy it, so I said let’s buy it together instead of trying to outbid each other and lets just farm together,” said Brian Tischler.

Tischler and Will Groeneveld, who farm near Mannville, Alta., became partners in the drill purchase and have farmed together ever since.

All of their farmland is treated as one farm, however taxes are filed separately as two entities.

“He has 52 percent of the acres I have 48 percent of the acres. So I get 48 percent of the wheat off a quarter he gets 52 percent,” Tischler said.

Both Tischler and Groeneveld have their own farm equipment including combines, but they also share equipment such as their large seeding tractor and the drill.

“It works extremely well because we’re able to access more technology and maybe some better equipment than if we were to do it alone,” Tischler said.

Another neighbour, Glen Smith, who has about 1,000 head of cattle and boards another 1,500 also found a place working closely with the two grain farmers. Smith’s involvement became the final piece of what Tischler calls a mixed collaborative farm.

“We grow oats for him and we plant his corn and take care of his plants. He doesn’t like plants, we don’t like animals,” Tischler said.

He said there is an excellent synergy because each person can focus on what they do best.

“We have a market then for our oats, it allows us to have a good five-year rotation on our land, it gives us cropping options. We can grow grazing corn on our land that’s fenced and he can chase his cows on there, and we grow some grain on his land then. So we share back and forth,” Tischler said.

He said farming so closely with other producers provides opportunities the three wouldn’t see on their own.

For instance, a major benefit to working so closely with another person is that if one person has health problems, the other is ready to carry more of the load.

Another benefit is having someone to work through ideas with.

“If two of you come together and talk about an idea and bring things from different perspectives, then you can look at things from multiple sides and think about things that you maybe never would have thought of,” Tischler said.

“There is that huge benefit that you’re probably not going to screw up as much as well.”

He said farmers are fiercely independent and that it may be difficult for some to even admit they could use the help, but there is a cost to farming alone.

“When you really need help, you have to hold the bolt on one side of the combine and there is no one there to put the nut on the other side — man, is that ever handy just to have someone there that you know is going to be there for you to give you a hand. Or someone to text if your ladder blows away and you’re on top of a bin,” Tischler said.

“You can still be independent, you can still be strong, but you can do that together. There is tremendous benefit and tremendous power in that.”

He recommends farmers seek out others to farm closely with, but it’s important that the partners have similar farming philosophies.

“That is absolutely critical, that’s more important than any of the farm benefits you can get out of it. If your philosophies are the same, definitely, find another farmer in the area that is roughly the same size,” he said.

Tischler also supports online communities in the ag sector including with his work on Ag Open GPS, an open-source software capable of driving tractors autonomously with the use of existing GPS.

For video tutorials on Ag Open GPS, Tischler’s YouTube channel is FarmerBrianTee, found here.

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