Into 2023: Planting 24 Hours a Day, Never Getting Tired

Into 2023 we go. For your loyal scribe that almost seems like science fiction. However, as the years go on there are the constant adjustments both on our farms and within our collective minds. Some of us who were educated in the Stone Age continually find it hard to come to grips with the fact that was so many years ago. As farmers, we are always hoping for better things next year and in 2023, it’s more of the same.

A year ago, I thought some of the biggest changes we might see in 2022 would have to do with autonomous farm equipment and the rise of crypto currency.  I got some of that as autonomous farm equipment continued its long march toward relevance, but cryptocurrency suffered a setback with the FTX collapse.  What we did get was a year dominated by the February 24th invasion of Ukraine by Russia. That threw enough monkey wrenches into the mix to keep us busy re jigging our grain marketing plans with each new day.

In 2023 that war will continue to affect us greatly. However, let’s not forget my prediction in autonomous farm equipment which I mused about a year ago.  We have seen advances on many fronts in this realm and as we look ahead, we will have more of it this year and next. One of the most impressive displays of autonomous farm equipment working took place on a farm near me in Dresden Ontario. What I saw was a solar powered autonomous planter plant 50 acres of sugar beets. That field was amazing from start to finish.

I first noticed the strange implement out in the field in early spring just seemingly sitting there. Soon enough, I got to watch a YouTube video on what was going on in the field made by my local grain buyer.  He explained along with a representative of the company who imported the planter how it worked. Simply put, the planter worked 24 hours a day or until it ran out of seed. One person would visit the field for occasional checks or to replenish the seed. The same person would be able to monitor the efforts of the planter through their smartphone or tablet.

That explained what I was seeing. However, it took quite an attitude adjustment to get my head around.  That field got planted in good order and that sugar beet field looked wonderful all year. The question is can I get my corn and soybeans planted in the same manner in 2023 and beyond?  After seeing those sugar beets thrive all year, I think my turn is coming.  That would be quite a disruption for any agricultural economy.

Of course, at this point it’s all hard to imagine, but keep in mind 23 years ago it was the year 2000. That was a year that many of us had dreamed about in the future with all kinds of modern gadgets we couldn’t even imagine.   So, at the dawn of 2023 keep in mind we can’t have limits on what we can imagine for Canadian agriculture based on our own limited perspective.  That sugar beet field last year has made me think hard.

Will we be paid for those sugar beets or are corn wheat and soybeans in some type of crypto currency in the future?  I’m sure I’m losing some of you with that.  Crypto has certainly lost much of its luster in 2022, but I’m here to tell you that in 2023 it likely will make a comeback and is here to stay.  With much of the world working outside of hard currencies, there is just too much room for it not to be real in some societies.  Blockchain technology will help tie it together. Let’s revisit this a year from now.

As I write this, Ukraine is taking more missile strikes in any day going back to February 24th.   Much of Ukraine is without power and you can just imagine what that means for the morale of the people on the ground.  If you could imagine that in a Canadian winter, you can imagine how terrible that might be as we investigate 2023.   There have been peace bubbles floated, but it’s still far away.  This war remains one of the most volatile factors affecting global agriculture as well as our grain markets moving forward into 2023 and 2024. Musing about the war’s end game will be a growth industry, but the hate generated over there will last a lifetime. It will make peace so much more elusive.

If you have better ideas about 2023, let me know. One thing I will be hoping for will be timely rains, something I didn’t get in 2022, ditto for many farmers across the American corn belt.  On top of that, I’m still looking for agricultural policy to increase the value-added content going back to Canadian farmers. I’m also looking for a Canadian agricultural safety net which works.  Add to that a solar powered corn and soybean planter that works 24 hours a day and never gets tired.

Remember, as farmers, change is our only constant.  Into 2023 we go.  Don’t be limited by what’s apparent around you.  Nothing is ever so good; it can’t be improved.