The Weyburn Chamber of Commerce presented Mark and Bobbie Bratrud with the Golden Sheaf award on Tuesday night at the annual Farmer Appreciation Banquet.
Since 1994, the Weyburn Chamber has been presenting this award to candidates who best meet the criteria of innovation and entrepreneurship, longevity, professional involvement, community involvement and stewardship.
The Bratruds are the fourth generation on their family farm and this year marked their 120th anniversary. The farm couple’s strengths come from using a great deal of innovation on their farm. They have been using variable rate technology for fertilizer and seed application for the past 10 years. They also use soil characteristics maps and implement GPS technology. This allows them to manage their field inputs in a cost effective and efficient way.
The stewardship aspect of farming is a high priority for the couple. For the past 30 years, the farm has been using zero till practices. As well, they effectively use variable rate fertilizer application practices in order to reduce harmful impact to the environment.
The couple both mentioned that while they may be the face of the farm, they owe a lot of credit to their family who started up the farm in 1889 and to the friends and family who continually help with their farm now.
“We both grew up on family farms so we’ve both learned lots from the farms that we came from, but we operate the farm right now with my father who has been a good source of information and guidance for us. We make our own decisions and farm how we want to farm, but we get support from lots of people.”
Along with farming, the couple is actively involved in the community. This includes the Young Fellows Club, 4-H, the Family Place, Queen Elizabeth School, Weyburn Skating Club and the Weyburn Rotary Music Festival. Mark is also a founding member of Comtrax Logistics Solutions, which is working to “build a 260-plus railcar track system with a loop to allow a grain-handling facility to be built near Weyburn on the CP Rail’s Soo Line.”
From 2000-2010, the couple simultaneously worked on and off the farm. Mark worked in the grain industry from working in grain elevators in Alberta to managing facilities, grain buying, merchandising and managing transportation. Bobbie worked as a sales rep and agronomist for numerous companies in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Their previous business experiences contribute greatly to the successful expansion of their farm.
The Bratruds grow canola, durum, hard red spring wheat, red lentils, barley and soybeans on their farm. Bobbie said harvest this year went better than they first expected it would.
“We actually had a pretty good year for harvest weather wise. We were fortunate enough to be done harvest before the weather turned bad. We had average crops which were quite a bit better than what we were looking at early in the year, as it was pretty dry, so we are just thankful for the crops that we did have.”
As for the future of farming, Bobbie says that the area has a bright future. “Farming is continuing to get better and we are getting to be more productive each year.”
In regards to their own farm however, no big plans are in the making. They are just loving what they do and doing what they know.
“We love farming. It’s been a great career choice for us and for our family. It’s great to be able to work alongside with your kids and your family and your parents every day. It’s one of the best careers out there,” said Bobbie. “I don’t see a whole lot of big changes for our individual farm. We’ll keep on doing what we do and try to get better each year that we do it.”