Latest articles


Geo-exchange: down but not out

Although lower natural gas prices have taken some 
of the shine off geo-exchange systems, they can still have 
a place in a renewable energy setup

Geo-exchange heating and cooling systems were big a decade ago, but that was before natural gas prices plunged and the payback of using the ground as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer became less attractive. But don’t count this technology out quite yet, said energy specialist Thomas Barr, […] Read more


Which geo-exchange setup is right for you?

Geo-exchange systems come in four configurations: Open well Requires a retention well and a rejection well, which generally requires drilling 40 to 250 feet deep, and that raises the spectre of cross-contamination. “Here in Alberta, when you drill vertically you’re possibly going through five to 10 different kinds of sediment layers,” said Thomas Barr of […] Read more



Alberta producers asking big questions about solar power

There’s huge interest in this technology and issues such as payback, 
fixed costs, and government programs are top of mind

There’s no doubt that the government of Alberta is betting big on renewable energy. The goal is to get 30 per cent of Alberta’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, and it earmarked $5.5 million last year to help farms and municipalities develop solar power projects. With that kind of big money comes big […] Read more


Can producers make money as solar power providers?

The province is currently consulting stakeholders on a framework that could help farmers do this

In many places, farmers are allowed to turn a profit by tying their solar power systems into the electrical grid. Albertans can export solar electricity to the grid — but there are currently no programs allowing system sizes larger than those that meet on-site electrical requirements. “Alberta’s micro-generation law was crafted for homeowners, business owners, […] Read more



Farm buildings getting bigger, but also stronger

Diaphragm bracing has been key as farm buildings become larger and larger

One comment Steven Adema often hears is that his company’s building designs are getting heavier. But the engineer with Tacoma Engineers in Guelph, Ontario argues that heaviness is not the culprit — the buildings are simply getting bigger in order to accommodate producer needs and government regulations. “For comparison’s sake we pulled an old Beaver […] Read more


Province taking wait-and-see approach to new farm building code

Farm buildings are generally exempt from the provincial 
building code, but that’s likely to change in a few years

The growing complexity of farm buildings — not to mention the ongoing threat of fire — has attracted regulatory attention. However, Alberta does not have a specific farm building code nor has it adopted the federal National Farm Building Code. The provincial government is waiting on the results of a new, planned federal code currently […] Read more



Farm buildings are complex and costly, but built to last

Old-fashioned barn raisings are pretty much gone – today you need a team of experts when building an equipment shed or barn

Building a barn used to be relatively simple. Often, family members, and maybe a few neighbours, simply went out and did it. Today, however, construction of a new farm building is an extremely complex — not to mention expensive — process. Regulations, more sophisticated building techniques, and advanced technology have upped the cost and complexity, […] Read more


Safeguard your farm buildings against fire

Emergency plans and regular inspections are key to preventing devastating losses, says expert

Although there are arguably fewer barn and shed fires on farms these days, the ones that do happen are often far more costly. Fortunately, there are also more tools available today to prevent fires. Fire prevention comes down to having a plan, choosing proper materials, and having regular inspections by a licensed electrician, said Dan […] Read more



PRECISION RANCHING: Manage your cattle from your easy chair

New research points to a future in cattle production where 
most decisions will be made at the touch of a button

Imagine being able to manage your grazing cattle at the touch of a button and constructing ‘digital fences’ as you move them from pasture to pasture. Or using drones to track your cattle while at the same time discovering the most nutrient-rich forage on your land. These are just a couple of examples of current […] Read more


High-frequency tags: Easier data reading, happier cattle

Next generation of RFID readers can read cattle tags without having to use a squeeze chute

Using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track and collect information on cattle is fast becoming standard practice. However, the process can be painfully slow and inefficient. But researchers may have found a way to change that. A three-year project conducted by SAIT’s Glen Kathler tested the ability of ultra-high-frequency RFID tag readers to process […] Read more