2011 Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmers
Franck and Kari Groeneweg, Green Atlantic Farms, Edgeley, SK
The 2011 Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmers were announced
at the awards luncheon Friday, June 24, 2011
at Canada’s Farm Progress Show.
The 2011 Nominees were:
Franck and Kari Groeneweg
Green Atlantic Farms, Edgeley, SK
Franck Groeneweg grew up on a 500 acre grain farm in France with “an impossible dream” of owning a large farm. After completing an agriculture diploma, he helped with the corn & bean harvest in Iowa and saw the future for large scale farming in North America. He returned to the USA and started a tractor parts export business while working for local farmers. Franck met his wife, Kari, from Alberta while she was studying elementary education in NW Iowa. They were married in 2000 with Kari becoming an integral part of the business. The couple negotiated farming arrangements in the USA; but, the “dream” became reality in 2002 when the parts business, then operating in 38 states, attracted the attention of a buyer and provided the financing to purchase 12 quarters of land in Edgeley, Saskatchewan with 1830 acres of tillable clay loam. In 2004, they rented an additional 1500 acres and were hit with a devastating frost. With record quantities of feed grain available, Franck & Kari negotiated a custom farming arrangement on the rental land and began a successful grain burning stove retail business to complement their farming operation. Optimism in farm commodities returned and the Groenewegs steadily increased their land base to its current 9060 acres of which 3110 is owned, 3150 rented and 2800 custom farmed.
Crops grown include: spring wheat, canary seed, canola and peas on a zero till cereal-oilseed-cereal-peas rotation. Acquainted with tramline production in France, the Groenewegs approached Seed Master to produce a prototype 90 foot seeder unit to match their sprayer width. Seeding & spraying equipment is outfitted with sectional control technology paired with auto steer technology to generate savings well over 10% in reduced fertilizer and chemical overlap. One 500 hp rubber track tractor, sourced from Florida at substantial savings, provides traction while reducing soil compaction on sensitive clay soils. The internet, CWB farm weather station modelling and smart phones have proven their value in time and cost savings. Grain bagging is utilized to address limited farm storage while lowering harvest fuel consumption and efficiently employing 3-4 people to keep 2 combines and a grain cart operating at peak capacity.
The Groenewegs’ conservation and environmental challenges include the peculiarity of a 1960’s lake drainage project which collects the drainage from 22,000 acres preventing potential flooding in the Qu’Appelle Valley. In 2005, Franck & Kari completed an Environmental Farm Plan and this year, they have plans to cap three wells and insert subsurface drainage tile on a controlled grade. Kari’s role as home educator of their children is balanced with farm bookkeeping, costs of production and cash flow management which contributes to their incremental selling marketing plan. In addition to trainees from France, Germany and Holland , the Groenewegs utilize their Green Atlantic Farms website and YouTube videos to attract staff and negotiations of opportunities. Each fall, the Groenewegs host an appreciation supper and waterslides for staff, landlords and families.
In December 2008, Franck had the pleasure to become a Canadian citizen, a privilege that came this spring with scrutineer duties for the federal election. Franck has been involved with the local marketing club for 8 years and serves as president on the Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation. He is a director on the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission and the founding chair of the Western Canada Canola Variety Trial Committee. Kari is a member and volunteer with the Association of Regina Christian Home Educators and the Saskatchewan Based Home Educators programs. The greatest position Franck & Kari hold is parents of their 4 children: Luke (7), Julia (5), Emma (3) and Solange (1). The Groenewegs are very active in their church and give credit to God for their success and achievements.
Larry Spratt and Michael Spratt
Donaro Farm, Melfort, SK
Larry and Michael Spratt operate 5000 acres of cropland, 3000 acres of hay/pasture, 200 purebred cows and a 300 head capacity feedlot. The cousins are in partnership along with both of their fathers. Their farming career began in the late 90’s after Larry completed his B.Sc. in Agriculture and Michael obtained his diploma in Agriculture, both from the University of Saskatchewan. Larry’s family consists of his wife Coralie and children Aaliyah (7), Robyn (4), Riley (2) and Jaycee (6 months). Michael and his wife Sandra have two children, Caitlyn (6) and Alyssa (2).
The farm is operated as one unit through one line of equipment. Their crop land follows a set rotation of wheat, barley (malt, feed or silage) and canola. On their marginal land they have incorporated alfalfa into the rotation every fourth or fifth year. Where possible their pasture land is fenced into grazing paddocks to make the best use of the available grass. The land base located near the main farm allows for fall stubble grazing and manure application.
In order to achieve optimum genetics for the cow herd, they use a well managed breeding program that includes artificial insemination. Between January and March their Maine-Anjou and Angus cows will calve, with the top offspring selected for fall stock shows. Every year bulls and replacement heifers are sold to other producers as breeding stock. This past year their feedlot switched from finishing to backgrounding the cattle. A small percentage is still finished to market weight and sold directly to consumers.
Throughout the year both Larry and Michael attend conferences, workshops, trade and stock shows throughout Canada and sometimes the United States. They incorporate any applicable information, technology or genetics that they can into their farm. Detailed crop and cattle production records allow them to know their costs of production and gives them the opportunity to achieve the highest rate of return in the fluctuating grain and cattle markets.
Volunteering is an important aspect in both Spratt families. Larry is active in his church, having served in several positions over the years, is a leader within their 4-H Beef Club and has just finished a four-year term as a board of director for the Saskatchewan Young Ag Entrepreneurs. He also had the honour of being an Olympic Torch Bearer for the 2010 Winter Games. Michael volunteers his time as a board member within his church and currently sits as Past-president for the Canadian Maine-Anjou Association.