Saskatchewan’s Outstanding Young Farmers Nominees 2017:
Derek and Tannis Axten
Axten Farms Ltd.
Derek and Tannis are grain farmers from Minton, Saskatchewan with a passion for improving their greatest resource…soil!
Derek was raised on Axten Farms, and after completing his diploma in Farm and Ranch Management at Olds College, Derek moved back to the family farm, to take over as the third generation operator. Tannis attended the U of R and received her Bachelor of Education majoring in Biology. In 2002, Derek and Tannis were married and moved onto the farm yard site. Derek has taken over managing the farm from his father, and Tannis, while doing some substitute teaching, also helps manage the farm. They have also added a fourth generation to the farm, Kate and Brock.
After farming for a few years, Derek and Tannis became frustrated with dry, depleted soils and they sought out for innovative ideas to improve their farm. While attending many workshops and conferences they met many farmers and scientists who taught them to change the way they looked at farming. This led to their journey towards soil health and regenerating their farmland. Learning about how soil functions and soil biology, has renewed their passion for farming, and improved the farm’s productivity.
Derek and Tannis operate a no-till farm and have improved their soil health by seeding intercrops, companion crops and cover crops. Increasing their plant diversity and intensity is feeding the soil biology, which in turn is regenerating the land. Improving soil health has allowed them to reduce synthetic inputs, increase water retention and build organic matter. They have also implemented controlled traffic farming and grazing into their farming system.
Derek and Tannis are excited about what they are doing on their farm and still have many new ideas they plan to try. Derek enjoys sharing their successes and failures with others throughout Western Canada and the United States, with the hopes of inspiring others to regenerate their farm’s soil health. They also enjoy being involved in the community 4H club, church, farming for the future project, swimming pool board and volunteer fire department.