Saturday, October 21, 2017
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Start in Sturgeon Blog

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Welcome to the Start in Sturgeon Blog. Check here often for great articles about the County's Economic Development and other relevant issues.


New Prairie Farmer Generation Leanne

In Gibbons, Alberta, you’ll find a unique family who has converted the family hog business into a successful major grain operation called Kalco Farms.

Mike Kalisvaart is the son of a Dutch immigrant, Jack Kalisvaart, who came to Canada in 1969. With training as a dairy farmer in the Netherlands, he started a pig farm in Canada due to the capital requirements and the family started officially farming in 1979.  Fast forward to today, and Mike works with his brother, sister, and brother-in-law to produce canola, wheat, oats, yellow peas and barley. Interestingly, their grain operation in Gibbons is one of the highest rated area in Western Canada for canola yields.

The main farm site, 10 km from his family home, operates a large grain handling facility with 16 hopper bins that hold 350 tonnes each. Eight additional bins hold another 2,400 tonnes. An addition of 10,000 sq. feet of shop space includes room for their office and boardroom, which employs 20 full-time and part-time staff. 

In the early 2000’s, the County classified the area as part of the Heartland Industrial zone which has ensued in major energy companies purchasing hundreds of acres east of their farm. This changing landscape did not affect their business and they even rented land from those companies to continue farming them. Their expansion plans came into focus and today they plant on 13,000 acres with 25,000 tonnes of product being harvested each year. Mike stated that, “Soil conditions are very healthy in the County. A sufficient nutrient supply and small population of insects has definitely created favorable conditions.”

Technology Adoption

A GPS system enables them to focus on a precision farming plan to take advantage of fertilizer placement and variable rate seeding. In addition, the use of tablets with specialized software collects data from the field during spraying, seeding and harvesting. These processes result in the ability to analyze data such as field application records, weather, fertilizer use, production analysis for areas of continued improvement, and planning that begins a year in advance.

Easy Access to Amenities and Infrastructure

Easy access to amenities and infrastructure in Sturgeon County has offered Kalco Farms strength in its central access. In the last fiscal year, with a 70-80 per cent exportation rate to grain terminals, Kalco Farms shipped out 25,000 tonnes of grain. Their peas are utilized in China and India, and their wheat is utilized in Japan, China and the U.S.

Mike said, “I am proud of our family’s farming traditions for nearly 50 years in Sturgeon County. My father took a big chance when he started, but his strength imparted an entrepreneurial spirit for our family that will continue to instill growth and success for our business for many years to come.”




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