One of Wilton’s local farmers is sharing his experience of being out in the field and preparing for harvest this year.
Devon Walker, local agricultural producer in Wilton, said his farm had to adapt to the new regulations of COVID-19 while facing inconsistent amounts of rain this season.
Walker oversees nearly 2,800 acres of land and has been working in farming for almost 20 years.
He claimed while moisture has been inconsistent at times throughout this season, his crops have received an ample amount of rain to allow for healthy development.
“We’re sitting very nice, the crops look good, and we’re cautiously optimistic that we can have a good harvest this year as opposed to previous years. I think in our area, most of us are in the same boat. But you don’t have to go far to the east or west of us to see areas that are flooded.”
Addressing the challenges of COVID-19, Walker stated he had concerns with any mechanical issues that would require him to order parts in from the United States because of the border closures and increased procedures implemented at customs.
“Any parts or machinery items that we need from the States, there are extra delays on anything coming up because of customs and all of that. You’re sitting there hoping that you don’t need tractor parts from the States, because the farm stops as soon as the tractor stops.”
This year, the Government of Saskatchewan developed a new app “Avail” that is set to compliment the Farm Stress Line that helps farmers with any mental health inquiries.
Walker said he is appreciative that the government is making an honest effort to assist people living in rural areas that may not have the contact and resources that people in more densely populated areas have.
“Mental health in agriculture has always been on people’s minds. In agriculture and rural living in general, you’re isolated, you’re away from services, doctors, and family that can pick up on things that you have going on in your life or changes in your character and energy. To have the government do more looking out for farmers, and having dedicated apps and programs for them to check in, vent and reassess themselves with a genuine, honest look without stigma is huge.”
Walker mentioned his farm has adopted a form of “herd isolation” that allows the farm workers to stay together and work while protecting themselves from the virus.
“We’re all trying to stay extra careful. That way, if one of our households gets sick, we’re not impacting another one or impacting the farm. We have such narrow windows to get crop off, we don’t want anyone to get sick.”
He noted while some farms are acting with an abundance of caution for COVID-19, others don’t see the virus as a threat and have carried on with their typical day-to-day routine.
“I think overall, everyone is thinking that it is what it is, the sun’s coming up tomorrow and we’ve got food in the fridge. Things have been a lot worse in North America for the average citizen, and we’re all learning to put it into perspective.”
Walker said he expects this year’s harvest to outperform ones from previous years.