It was a warm few days of visiting, walking around, and watching farm equipment in action, as thousands of people from the agriculture community met in a field along Highway 16 northwest of Saskatoon this week for the 2018 edition of Ag in Motion (AIM).
The hot weather certainly put a premium on any space at the show that featured shade or a breeze. Some foreheads may have even surpassed the new machinery on the shiny-ness index on Tuesday, when temperatures soared into the 30s.
While the heat served as a reminder of how refreshing a cold beverage can be at the end of the day, here are some of the other observations/things we picked up at this week’s show near Langham, Saskatchewan:
- The real impact of industry consolidation is still to be determined and understood in several spaces in Canadian agriculture. AIM marked the first major show where Invigor and Bayer were physically separated, as the canola business is in transition between Bayer and BASF. There’s still a combination of excitement and uncertainty when speaking with people working for the brands involved in the current wave of mergers and acquisitions, whether that’s Bayer, Invigor, BASF, Monsanto, or even Corteva. The announcement on Tuesday of Clean Seed Capital’s acquisition of U.S. planter equipment manufacturer Harvest International also drew reaction from farmers — both positive and negative — with questions about what the implications of the deal will be.
- The crop is extremely variable and largely dependent on having had one or two storms systems give it critically-timed moisture, but anecdotally, more farmers were optimistic about yield potential than we expected. With the clear exception of southwest Saskatchewan, where it’s very dry, we were surprised how often we heard the top end of the yield potential described as “excellent” and “very good.”
- Frustration is growing with unresolved trade issues with India and Italy. Pulses and durum are major exports for Saskatchewan farmers and as time passes, growers are increasingly concerned that these files are falling behind other topics for the federal government.
- Steel price increases are hitting manufacturers. Equipment-makers have tried to pre-buy as much steel as possible, but it’s inevitable that higher steel costs will be passed on.
- Row-crop planters are moving north and west. How many planters would there have been at a farm machinery show in the Saskatoon area five, even three years ago? We may have missed some, but there were at least four companies pitching planters and ideas of canola seed singulation/growing soybeans at AIM this year.
- Farmers don’t expect plots to be perfect. This is maybe for the marketing folks more than anyone… Hail hit most of the plots at AIM about 10 days before the show started. Some plots were pulled, but most were kept, and really, everybody understood and sympathized with why they looked the way they did. If nothing else, it showed how the plants respond to hail. None of the plots looked as bad as the west side of the Petro Canada gas station in Langham (the gas station probably did alright this week on sales of ice, water and Gatorade alone.)
- Finally, farmers still want to go to farm shows. While attendance has plateaued or dipped at other farm machinery shows due to multiple factors, the growth in Ag in Motion shows that farmers are still willing to spend a day or two looking at machinery and visiting, even driving long distances to do so. Retailers and manufacturers who want a better way to showcase their products also appreciate the space, plots and demos at AIM.
Were you at Ag in Motion this week? What were your take-homes from the show? Feel free to comment below or send us an email at [email protected].