Enjoying every minute on the farm

By Submitted

October 23, 2017 12:20 PM

It always pays to broaden your horizons, though not necessarily by buying more land. For grower and SaskCanola Board Member Bernie McLean, an open-minded approach has transformed his farming career.
“SaskCanola, for me, was a new thing,” he says of his role overseeing the organization’s research committee. “Boy, did that take me out of my comfort zone.”
Over the years farming his plot in Glaslyn, Saskatchewan, Bernie has always carried a deep respect for quality research—often, the research he conducts himself. This is the first year Bernie has taken a year off from field trials, a break he’s more than earned.
“I do a lot of independent trials to prove products, prove varieties,” he explains. “I do a lot of on farm research, 3 to 5 reps. If it shows that it’s positive, I’ll even do the trials for up to 3 years to take the weather variables out of it and try more replications.”
That kind of dedication just comes naturally to the humble 41-year-old.
“I love everything about the farm. I mean, I wake up in the morning and it’s a morning like this, we’ve had a fresh rain, you’re invigorated you’re ready to go,” he says with a twinkle in his eye.
“You know, the constant change. Even if you’re doing the same job twice, it’s never the same.”
That motivation is apparent to Troy Prosofsky, Bernie’s DEKALB Agronomist, and Roger McComas, his DEKALB Representative.
“It’s great working with passionate people who just love agriculture,” Troy says about Bernie, as the three of them chuckle. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation under 20 minutes.”
“The best advice Troy ever gave me was to stick with him for another year,” says Bernie, describing their conversation after Bernie’s crops hadn’t yielded what he’d hoped. “This was back when 74-44 was pretty new.” That was five years ago, and 74-44. still makes up about 50 per cent of Bernie’s brilliant canola fields. The other half are beautifully standing fields of 75-45.
His preference for the two varieties hasn’t slowed Bernie’s drive for research, though. With the future of his farm, his family and his community always in mind, Bernie has a renewed focus on the developments in the industry to preserve the land he loves.
“In the last 6 to 8 months I’ve been questioning myself,” explains Bernie, “I believe what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years has benefitted me greatly. But is what I’m doing for my land as good as I perceive it to be? What about for my kids? Or my grandchildren 30 years from now?”
In his process of questioning old methods, Bernie has been keeping an open mind to new tactics, like straight-cutting his canola and using tank mixes to control resistant weeds. But trying new things doesn’t mean rolling the dice—every decision Bernie makes takes the needs of his plants into account.
“I do a pre-seed burn off, I do a tank mix there and an early application at cotyledon, 1-leaf stage, and a 2nd application at 4-leaf. I always half rates with whatever product I’m using,” Bernie explains. “I try not to go past 4-leaf. The recommendation is that you’re good until 6, but at 6 leaf you might have buds forming and the product can make it into that bud.”
With this kind of attention to detail, it’s no wonder why Bernie has earned so much respect from his DEKALB team. Bernie’s depth of agricultural knowledge keeps them on their toes.
“Bernie’s a real positive guy, he’s a real advocate of agriculture - an ‘ag-vocate,’ but he’s also willing to challenge your recommendations,” Roger laughs, “We need to be on top of our game in the sense of knowing how our products are going to perform, how are they doing locally, how does it fit on your farm, what makes sense to do.”
That hardly comes as a surprise. After all, Bernie has never been a fan of sticking to one’s comfort zone.
We thank the McLeans for choosing DEKALB brand seed for their farm and wish them a safe and successful harvest this year and for many generations to come. Check out the results of farmer-managed DEKALB Market Development trials on DEKALB.ca this fall.

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