Keeping the family farm going

Lindsay Masse is a fourth-generation farmer at Masse Bros Farms in Starbuck, Manitoba. He’s joined by his father and uncle in producing corn, soybeans, oat, wheat and flax. They have one full-time employee, and will hire more labour in the spring, “if we can find it,” he says.

New technologies have allowed them to add diversity to their crops over time. “Corn was never in our area before but now that’s possible with GMO making faster-maturing corn,” he says.

For Lindsay and his family, keeping the farm going during the ups and downs of weather and – more recently – inflation, means embracing technology and innovating.

“Technology is always improving, and farmers are always adapting their practices to try to keep up with the times,” he says. At Masse Bros Farms, that includes a lot of soil preparation work in the spring and fall.

“Over the past few years, the moisture just hasn’t been there. So, we are doing a lot of moisture preservation now. This was a high-tillage area, and we are slowly getting out of that.”

The equipment side of things is also changing fast. “John Deere just released an autonomous tractor, so that is coming,” he says. “Farmers will always adapt, and they will always keep doing what they need to do to keep going.”

One thing that’s proven reliable during unsettled times is the propane used for heating buildings and drying grain – especially corn.

“Here corn is 20 per cent moisture and elevators will only accept 14 per cent moisture.”

What most impresses Lindsay about propane is the supply: “It’s amazing. Maybe I’m just lucky, but we use a lot of propane during the drying season. You can call those guys and there’ll be a truck in your yard in an hour or a few hours. We’ve never had to shut something down waiting for propane.”

“We need them,” he says of the propane truck drivers. “They work just as hard as we do come drying season.”