Seamless cell service … in African wilderness

When Jeff Penner travelled to Liberia last year, he had excellent cellphone service everywhere, from down in the deepest darkest jungle swamp up to the highest remote mountain peaks. “Last June, I spent 10 days around Greenville, Liberia, in the heart of the African jungle, where Ebola started,” says Penner. “I had four bars on […] Read more


Cell service: a basic utility

Cellular signals have become an anchor for many of the precision agriculture tools that have been or are being developed for the industry. Trouble is, farming is small when it comes to telecommunications. Farming is relatively small for IT in general. Everything for ag costs more because developers and suppliers have to earn enough to […] Read more


Rural cell service: where it’s at — or isn’t

The coloured maps depicting cellular service across the Prairies don’t paint an accurate picture. The dead spots are conspicuous by their absence. Even the Trans-Canada Highway is pocked with no signal pits. Many developing nations have better cell coverage at a lower cost, according to Manitoba farmer and entrepreneur Jeff Penner, who spent time in […] Read more



Cellular connection

Cellular tools on the farm are growing faster than the networks that support them. In the vast, 150 million acres that are farmed and ranched in Western Canada cellular service is often defined by the population and potential data charges it creates. Farmers are becoming fewer and further between, while the technology that supports them […] Read more


Carbon tax Down Under went under

This is the final instalment examining the issues surrounding carbon pricing, greenhouse gas emissions and how farmers can do their share without having to pay more than their fair share 
to do it.

Some Australian farmers saw their costs rise as new taxes shifted money from producers and processors to carbon reduction projects across that continent. However, a change in government put a stop to all that. Half a dozen years ago, a Labour government in Australia brought in an ambitious program that quantified greenhouse gas emissions from […] Read more



Can equipment makers do more to make a greener machine?

Major technological breakthroughs designed to reduce the carbon footprint of diesel engine emissions may not be coming any time soon. “I don’t know of any new technology coming down the pipe,” said Harvey Chorney of the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute in Winnipeg. “I think they (equipment manufacturers) have gone as far as they can in […] Read more


Meeting EU emission standards can be a hurdle

Farmers might find it easier to reduce carbon and phosphate emissions if they live in a country in which the farm sector is stagnant and oriented toward domestic production. But it’s another thing for farmers operating in places like Canada, where agriculture is growth and export oriented. That’s what two European Union countries similar to […] Read more


Alfalfa, grasses top choices to aid in carbon sequestration

Farmers with the goal of sequestering maximum carbon in their soil would plant alfalfa or canola. That was the quick answer to the “best crops to keep carbon” question from Agriculture Canada researcher Brian McConkey. Alfalfa is a nitrogen fixer that puts lots of resources into its roots, keeps the soil dry so it reduces […] Read more



Carbon tax: A bitter pill for farmers

From his west coast vantage point, Stan Vander Waal isn’t sure that carbon taxes do what proponents say: change behaviour to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The chair of the British Columbia Agriculture Council and owner of Chilliwack-based Rainbow Greenhouses has had nine years to observe the tax in practice. He said his operation was already […] Read more


Scientists find surprise in soil’s freeze-thaw cycle: nitrous oxide emissions

For decades, soil scientists have studied nitrous oxide emissions from cropland during the growing season because they assumed that most emissions occurred from May until October. A University of Guelph and University of Manitoba study, published earlier this year, suggests that is incorrect. In cold regions of the Northern Hemisphere, like Western Canada and northeastern […] Read more