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Kristjan Hebert looks to BASF for high-tech help on his Saskatchewan farm.supplied

Kristjan Hebert is a Chartered Professional Accountant. He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is on the Speakers Bureau of Canada’s experts roster. But first and foremost, Mr. Hebert is a farmer managing 26,000 acres in southeast Saskatchewan that produces grain and oilseed.

He was born and raised a farmer and hopes that one day his children, aged six and nine, will follow in his footsteps. But for that to happen, Mr. Hebert knows he needs to bequeath them a farming operation that is financially and environmentally sustainable – and it’s one of the main reasons why he has embraced innovation and digitization.

Recognized as one of the best young minds in Canadian agriculture, Mr. Hebert is dedicated to practising and promoting excellence not only on his own land but also in the broader farming community by teaching, lecturing and supporting fellow farmers through tools such as public presentations, podcasts and Maverick Ag, a risk-management consultancy company, which he co-founded to help grow business mindsets in agriculture.

Jonathan Sweat, vice president, BASF Canada Agricultural Solutions, sees Mr. Hebert as the epitome of the 21st century Canadian farmer.

“Agriculture has become a very high-tech and sophisticated industry in Canada, and that’s probably not widely known outside of the agricultural community,” he says. “It’s an industry with great advantages and great potential.”

BASF Agricultural Solutions uses technology to help farmers like Mr. Hebert advance agriculture in three main areas: crop protection innovation, hybrid seed technology and digital farming.

“Each of these areas of focus supports the advancement of the Canadian agriculture industry and its sustainability. Our actions focus on finding the right balance to contribute, with impact, to society’s fundamental needs and help farmers be successful in times of climate change and societal and economic challenges,” says Mr. Sweat.

From BASF’s perspective, that contribution includes providing the technological innovation to keep building on Canada’s long history of sustainable farming practices.

Product innovation is very closely tied to our ability to grow crops more efficiently and sustainably. It’s about doing more with less in a way that contributes directly to Canada’s environmental sustainability goals.

Jonathan Sweat
Vice President, BASF Canada Agricultural Solutions

“Product innovation is very closely tied to our ability to grow crops more efficiently and sustainably. It’s about doing more with less in a way that contributes directly to Canada’s environmental sustainability goals,” he adds.

Of course, product innovation needs to happen within the context of Canada’s challenging farming environment; a short growing season, unpredictable weather throughout the season – anything from drought, too much rain, high winds or early snow falls.

“These are challenges that require good technology to help farmers cope. We at BASF see it as our job to provide innovative solutions, from seed and crop protection to digital technology, to get them through,” says Mr. Sweat.

Digitization in particular enables farmers to use technology to improve the efficiency and overall output of their operations, he adds, noting that, BASF’s xarvio™ platform, for example, offers digital products that deliver independent field-specific agronomic advice that enables farmers to produce their crops more efficiently and sustainably.

“With information directly from a farmer’s field, recommendations are then made on nutrient management, disease control, variable application maps with automatically integrated management zones as well as wireless machine connectivity,” says Mr. Sweat.

Mr. Hebert says digitization has also been instrumental in marrying the skills of the older and younger generations of agricultural workers.

“In many cases, the younger generations are a lot better with technology; monitors and iPhones, et cetera. It doesn’t make them nervous; they are actually more nervous about running a big piece of machinery, whereas the older generation is comfortable with the machinery but really nervous about the monitors,” he says. “That’s one of the best aspects for me; the way teams can now synchronize because they both see a lot of value in each other.”

Mr. Hebert sees sustainability as more than just protecting the environment.

“My goal as a farm manager is that when I’m done, the next generation takes over,” he says. “But for that to happen, I need to keep improving our land, our financial statements, the industry and my team from generation to generation, which means all four functions need to be more sustainable, and that’s where digitization is helping me.”

Mr. Sweat says Canada has a great story to tell when it comes to the agricultural industry, and it should be a point of pride for all Canadians.

“The agricultural industry represents just under 10 per cent of the overall economy and over 10 per cent of people active in the economy, and its growing at a faster pace than our overall gross domestic product – and much of that is thanks to technological innovation,” he says.

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Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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