Meet a New Advisor with Alberta Pulse Growers (PCN Winter 2014) JAN 23 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.
Robert Semeniuk, Advisor for Zone 5
Robert Semeniuk has recently elected as an advisor for zone 5. Robert and Angela Semeniuk are owners of RAS Farms; they are winners of the 2012 Alberta/NWT Outstanding Young Farmer award. They live on a farm near Smoky Lake.
SV: Can you tell me a bit about you and your farm?
RS: It’s a partnership between my wife and I. We started in 2007. I’ve been farming since 1993, and I’m a 4th generation farmer. Right now we crop about 3 600 acres and that’s a mixture of wheat, barley, canola, peas and a bit of oats. We also have a custom fertilizer spreading operation which we started in 2009. We were expanding a fair bit, but it has leveled out now and we are still debating if we are going to continue on with it or not.
SV: What experience do you have with pulse crops?
RS: We have a lot of experience, my dad starting growing pulse crops back in the 80’s and started with maple peas. We’ve had pulses in our rotation for a long time. There was the odd year we did take them out. There were a few tougher years in the 90’s where pulses were not attractive enough to grow. I do remember at one point though my dad actually stopped growing canola because he was doing better on peas but this was before they had the herbicide resistant canola and hybrids. There’s nothing but good things that come out of them. They definitely require more management; there are some tricks to growing them but we can reduce our nitrogen without a question. Some years we reduce it more than others but we always put on less nitrogen the next year. The crops do really well after peas, you just have to have a game plan when you go to harvest them.
SV: Have you been on any other grower commissions and what first got you interested in APG?
RS: I haven’t been on any other commissions, but I chose APG because I thought it was going to be more exciting. There is a lot of potential with pulses, not just on market discovery but even in the types of pulses we are going to be able to grow. In my part of the world, we are so limited in the crops we can grow and to get a good rotation is hard, but every time the benefits outweigh the negatives. There’s a lot going on with APG, I’m hoping to get involved and have a say in the direction it takes.
SV: What part of being an advisor are you excited about and what do you want to get involved in?
RS: I’m excited to be part of the research committee and would also like to get on the marketing committee.
SV: What are your goals for your area and Zone 5?
RS: It’s more of a discovery for me to see what’s going on and see where I can fit in. I am probably one of three pea growers in my area. I would like to be able to be a good advocate for pulses and bring it back to where not every second field is canola anymore. You can get pulses in your rotation in other ways and it isn’t all dealing with flat peas every fall. Last year we had 20 acres of soybeans and next year I will be growing soybeans and faba beans. I think there is still a lot of potential for soybeans and I want to help guide research and varieties to be able to grow more of them in our area.
SV: What direction do you feel the commission should be taking?
RS: I think of where pulses were when we started, it was a feed market, and I look at where APG is now. They are pushing hard to show people how pulses can be part of their diet and the market development is really good. What I would like to see is pushing further on types of pulses we can grow and markets we can access. I think we’ve just touched on the beginning of what is out there.