Missed TechTour LIVE? Highlights and Haikus from the Four-City Tour


RealAgriculture hit the road in Western Canada over the last two weeks for the TechTour LIVE, visiting four cities — Lethbridge, Camrose, Saskatoon and Brandon.

Hosted together with Dow AgroSciences, the idea behind each event was to inspire conversations about increasing farm productivity and thinking about how you can improve your farm business.

If you weren’t able to make it (all four stops were sold out), here’s a snapshot of the advice each of the TechTour LIVE speakers shared. Also check out the tweets with the hashtag #techtourlive (yes, #techtourlivehaiku became a thing too).

Chip Eichelberger — Get Switched On

Chip Eichelberger TechTourLIVE

  • Don’t let a bad event in your life switch you off.
  • A streak starts with one. Don’t take a day off. As Jerry Seinfeld said, taking one day off makes it easier to take off another.
  • 10,000 pushups a year sounds like a huge commitment, but it’s only 28/day. The key is doing it every day.
  • Falling for instant gratification is a key to failure.
  • What is your farm’s most important asset? You. Take care of yourself. Invest at least 1 hour each day in yourself.
  • Good is not in the same country as great.
  • What are you committed to becoming and what are you willing to do to get there? (If you don’t change your direction, you’ll end up where you’re headed.)
  • Your emotional state in any given moment dictates your actions and reactions.
  • The quality of your questions reflects the quality of your day.
  • Motion creates emotion. Move! Mick Jagger still does sprints before hitting the stage.
  • If you’re lacking energy, don’t be scared to do a fist pump and yell “YESS!!” when surrounded by a few hundred other farmers doing the same thing. It’ll get you fired up.

RelatedGood is the Enemy of Great, so Don’t Settle for Being a Mediocre Farmer — Chip Eichelberger

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Lots of interaction this morning in Brandon #techtourlive

Posted by RealAgriculture on Thursday, March 17, 2016

Garth Baxter and Rob Hannam — Applying Lean Principles to Your Farm


  • Lean – “a practical, workplace-oriented approach to improvement” helps reduce time, costs, mistakes, and increases profits.
  • Lean = common sense^2
  • Five steps: identify value, map value stream, create consistent flow (count, measure, make visual), identify solutions (spaghetti diagram, ask 5 whys), strive for perfection (go back to number 1)
  • “It’s one thing to have data, but do you have any information?”
  • Make information visual – put it into a chart.
  • Look at activities – Can you reduce non-productive steps?
  • How can you make processes mistake-safe? (eg. like a truck requiring the clutch be engaged before to go into gear.)
  • Ask 5 whys – look for facts – dig until you get to root cause – eg. Formula 1 pit stop in the 1950s vs today — Why is it difficult to lift car? Why change one tire at a time? Why hammer on/off nut? Why use small water cup? Why clean windshield 3x?
  • Rob’s LEAN challenge – what do you want to improve on your farm this spring? what about it do you want to improve?

Peter Johnson — Maximum Wheat

peter johnson techtourlive

  • Western Canada should be growing bigger wheat yields. The sunlight is there. Need to do a better job harvesting it.
  • Your number one job is to capture sunshine. Anytime sunshine hits bare ground, you’re not doing your job.
  • You can predict lodging by looking at night-time temperatures during stem elongation.
  • Three factors that I have to look at to increase yield – number heads, number of kernels, weight kernels.
  • For every day that you can advance your planting date you get 1.1 bushel/acre/day – why? Because you push that heading date earlier.
  • Frost seeding – works in some places – something Western Canadian farmers should at least think about.
  • When I seed early, plant emerges and under cool temperatures, it tillers. Move a little later and need to increase seeding rate.
  • Fungicide and nitrogen combo — there’s a complementary interaction between the two — 1+1=2.5 or better (learn more here).
  • We’ve got to get away from only one number as a seeding rate. Goal: Green Area Index = 6.
  • If you’re not using starter phos with your seed, you’re not a real farmer.
  • “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in thirty years… Never starve the crop for nitrogen!”
  • Peter’s Rules for RealFarmers: grow winter wheat, put starter phos down, don’t use a hoe drill

Tom Wolf — Increase Sprayer Productivity

tom wolf techtourlive

  • Driving faster is not the best way to improve sprayer efficiency, reducing idling time for filling is.
  • “I’m going to take away some of your productivity in asking you to slow down, and then I’m going to give it back and double it.”
  • “The sprayer is in fact the most used piece of farm equipment.”
  • Idling doesn’t just cost time, but depreciation.
  • Twin fan nozzles are of no use if you’re boom is 4′ high.
  • Cleaning is the most mysterious part of spraying. You only find out two weeks later whether you were done.
  • New tech — recirculating boom – no boom ends, sectional control by nozzle, easy prime

Panel Discussion — Autonomous Tractors, New Sprayer Tech and Big Yieldstechtourpanelsaskatoon

  • Panel members for the interactive and interesting discussions at the end of each day included Wheat Pete, Tom Wolf, Matt Reimer, Jay Kinnaird and Trevor Scherman.

Thanks to everyone who attended TechTour LIVE. We had a blast. Hope you did to (and most importantly, that you learned something to add value to your farm).

Umm…Peter, you may want to check your syllable count on that haiku.

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