Turning Waste Into "Black Gold"
Having the right mindset and a can-do attitude are critical attributes for success in any type of business. In the agri-food world, it often makes all the difference. When you’re able to turn risk into opportunity and transform what was once perceived as waste into a valuable commodity, you can literally strike “black gold”.
“It’s all about thinking differently and being open to new ideas,” said Jake Kraayenbrink, who operates a high-health herd of 500 sows near Drayton. “I’ve always been interested in the biology of soil and finding ways to enhance production while protecting the ecosystem. We were an early adopter of injecting manure into the ground and embracing innovation in this area has been a huge part of our growth.”
Nutrient management has been an industry buzzword for quite a few years now, but it is often misunderstood, partly because it is both a science and an art. The basic principles are designed for the farmer to increase the efficiency of all the nutrient sources a crop uses while minimizing the environmental risk.
In being a part to reduce the industry’s water, air and carbon footprint, Kraayenbrink turned his attention to an unlikely type of footprint: his manure tanker’s tire footprint!
“With the help of a truck mechanic and a professional engineer, we developed an automatic air inflation-deflation system where the farmer can quickly adjust the tanker tires’ pressure without leaving the tractor seat, which allows the tire to have a larger footprint at a lower pressure and so reduces soil compaction,” said Kraayenbrink, who was awarded the 2011 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.
This development reduces yield loss, soil damage, crop damage, tire wear and fuel consumption. In short: the classic definition of a win-win.
As a director of Innovative Farmers of Ontario, Kraayenbrink knows the work is never done, but he’s determined to keep pushing the industry to find sustainable solutions to age-old questions.
“As stewards of the land, we have a great responsibility and we take it very seriously. Ultimately, there are no economic benefits that outweigh the value of soil health.”
One could call it the footprint to success.