2010 Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmers
Ryan and Lauren Maurer, Land and Sky Grains Inc., Grenfell, SK
at the awards luncheon Friday, June 18, 2010
at Canada’s Farm Progress Show.
The 2010 Nominees were:
Gordon and Sonia Decker
East Mount Farms, Strasbourg, SK
Gordon & Sonia Decker of East Mount Farms have made a firm commitment to continuing education and professional development. They chose to liquidate their cow/calf herd and concentrate on the operation of 4480 acres of grains, oilseeds and pulses at Strasbourg, Saskatchewan.
Gordon purchased his first quarter and owned 8 cow/calf pairs within a few years of graduation. Soon thereafter, he began farming full-time with a small share in the operation. In 1998 Gordon and Sonia were married. By 1999, Gordon & Sonia had 44 cow/calf pairs, 1168 operational acres, and considered beef production to be their focus for the future. In 2001, Gordon’s brother decided to exit the industry and Gordon stepped up to take his portion of the business. BSE in 2003 caused a drastic decline in value of the beef herd. In 2004, terminal cancer in Gordon’s father led to the purchase of the remaining land and equipment. By 2005, Gordon & Sonia were at 78 cow/calf pairs, 3200 operational acres, (100% of the farm operation) and faced a critical decision to choose between beef production or grain/oilseed/pulse production.
Beef production had been part of the family heritage for over 100 years, but Gordon & Sonia chose to liquidate their beef herd in 2007. The couple participated in a CTEAM class that changed their lives and met a network of producers from across the country. During these years, they continued to upgrade and change equipment, and add land – expansions that fit the operational needs of the business.
Today, the couple operates 4200 acres and has not yet added permanent staff to their operation. They are able to access seasonal staff comprised of local retired farmers and students from abroad. The couple has produced a wide variety of crops including: spring wheat, winter wheat, feed wheat, canola, oats, malt barley, durum, flax, canaryseed, yellow peas, green lentils, red lentils, chickpeas, IP canola and flax.
Community involvement includes the local marketing club, local fire department, church, school community council as well as children’s activities including: music, 4-H, Girl guides, curling, soccer, swimming and downhill skiing with their children Courtney (9) and Colby (5).
Chad and Carissa Haaland
Chad & Carissa Haaland operate a 4960 acre purebred livestock custom grazing farm as well as train and market ranch horses at Hanley, Saskatchewan.
The Haalands’ dream was to run 100 cows on enough land to sustain them while providing for their family. Looking back, they realize they would have needed five times the land base to sustain their family’s needs, so the couple decided to “go custom” with Chad’s experience as a pasture rider for the PFRA. Today, they run 250 cows year round and up to 1500 cattle in the summer for two suppliers of custom cattle, on 1280 acres owned and 3680 acres of rented land. Chad has become very involved in the purebred cattle business, providing a service to Blairs Ag Cattle Company raising top quality Red Angus and Horned Hereford seed stock and exhibiting for them at cattle shows throughout western Canada and the USA. As time allows, the enterprising operator trains and markets broke ranch horses and trains customer horses.
The Haalands practice intensive rotational grazing moving animals through paddocks rapidly in the early growth curve of the growing season to just clip the top 10 – 20 % of the plant allowing the feed plant to remain vegetative and growing rather than set seed. Grass species are selected for soil types to improve soil health, increase moisture retention and improve plant biomass. In winter, forages are brought in from outside to improve the land with 75% of the nutrients being returned back to the land after the cow has retained 25%. A new production practice of shallow buried pipelines enables five quarters of land to be supplied from one system enabling the cows’ access to clean water which increases herd weight gain and at the same time provides better grass management.
The most important component of the Haaland’s operation is family: Cadence (6), Cassidy (5) and Cohen (4) who are blessed to be living near their grandparents and taking part in the daily management of the farm animals as a family. In addition to church & Bible study for this couple, Carissa is kept busy with a large garden, school, preschool, and playschool as well as the business records while Chad has been an instructor, judge, speaker and consultant for various components of the cattle industry.
Ryan and Lauren Maurer
Land and Sky Grains Inc., Grenfell, SK
Lauren & Ryan Maurer of Grenfell, Saskatchewan operate 11,280 acres of grains, pulses, oilseeds and spices as Land and Sky Grains Inc. bordering the beautiful Qu’Appelle valley.
Lauren & Ryan became a team in 1992 when they invested their farm backgrounds and agriculture commitment into the farm founded by Lauren’s grandfather. At that time, they purchased 320 acres, farming a total of 740 acres by partnering with Lauren’s parents. Since then, they have acquired 8400 acres and rent another 2880 acres, of which 1435 acres are dedicated to the environment.
To accommodate this expansion, on yard storage has increased from 50,000 bu to 370,000 bu and the Maurers are currently doubling their grain drying capacity. Increasing the number of straight cut crops, blocking land into larger fields, the purchase of a grain cart to increase harvest efficiency, and improved residue management to reduce spring frost risk to early seeded crops are management practices that have enabled their expansion.
Up to 75% of their acres are dedicated to Identity Preserved food markets, growing for Warburton’s Bakery, Canada Malt, as well as diversifying into niche spice and micro forage markets. An international team of workers includes six full-time and numerous part-time talent. Community investment into a local ethanol initiative, Blue Sky BioEnergy, and local feedlot, Pipestone Feeders, plus farm tours for provincial, national and international visitors contributes to sharing ideas beyond the farm.
Education has played a key role in Lauren & Ryan’s success through valuable courses provided by the George Morris Centre, Ivey School of Business and Sask Agrivision as well as networking through AgMpower Executive Producer Group. Ryan is an executive member of a local conservation and development board under the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority and Lauren is a volunteer with local church & community Tae Kwon Do, dance and music organizations.
The family enjoys scenic and agricultural holidays together with their children Cassandra (12), Danyka (11), Levi (8) and Mariah (6).