The agricultural community of Thunder Bay has much to be proud of as a cooperative and resilient food producing region, stated speaker Kelsey Banks at the 2016 Thunder Bay Spring Farm Conference. This year’s conference was once again held at the Kakabeka Legion on March 30 and 31 and was a great success, showing the highest number of exhibitors and attendees in recent years. One of the new exhibitors stated that they had a very welcoming and open crowd and couldn’t remember attending a more enjoyable show.
Among this year’s key speakers was Ryan Boyd, a beef farmer near Forrest, Manitoba, who shared his strategies for keeping a ground cover while providing excellent feed for his cattle throughout various seasons of the year, including waist-high snow drifts. Ruminants need to have a constant feed source, especially in stressful conditions, or it could have long lasting impacts on their health, according to another presenter, Rae-Leigh Pederzolli, a Masters student at the University of Saskatchewan. Other speakers included cereals specialist Joanna Follings, who made her first trip to Northern Ontario since being hired by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Peter Jeffery from Ontario Federation of Agriculture gave a perspective on how we need to be aware of new regulations surrounding wetlands. And Alex Graham, a Masters student at Lakehead University, provided us with the findings on his research in using drones to monitor barley crop yields.
Both the Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Association and the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance hosted sessions at the conference, aimed at improving connections with agricultural research and farmers. Suggestions for the future including ideas for speakers, topics and exhibitors should be relayed to the Thunder Bay Soil and Crop Improvement Association directors as they start planning for 2017. Thank you to the community of Thunder Bay region for making this event a success!