Director Profile: Sarah Hoffmann (PCN Winter 2016) JAN 11 2016 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Pulse Crop News.
Sarah Hoffmann (nee Weigum), APG Director-at-Large (Non-Bean)
Sarah Hoffmann lives in the Three Hills area. She was elected to a second one-year term as an APG Director-at-Large (Non-Bean) in January 2015.
Pulse Crop News: Please tell us about your family and your farm.
Sarah Hoffman: I farm with my parents at Three Hills. We grow mainly pedigreed seed and retail the seed directly to customers. My dad started the farm about 35 years ago and I returned to work with my family full time in 2011. I am also a newlywed, and my husband and I also manage his family farm north of Oyen.
PCN: What has been your experience with growing pulse crops?
SH: We have been growing field peas since 1990. They have become a mainstay in our rotation and are usually the largest crop kind, by volume, that we retail to customers. In 2013, we grew our first crop of faba beans. We had an excellent crop that year and had lots of fun learning about all the challenges and benefits of this new crop. To be honest, I can’t imagine not growing pulses. Our cereal yields show considerable improvement following pulses. Our wheat has higher protein after pulses. We believe we keep disease levels at a minimum when we mix pulses in with cereal and oilseed rotations. We like that peas are hardy in the spring and can be seeded earlier than other crops. This allows us to start combining earlier and spread out our harvest workload.
PCN: What percentage of your crop was made up of pulses last year, and what did you grow?
SH: We grew CDC Meadow and CDC Amarillo peas (both yellow varieties) and Snowbird faba beans. Pulses made up just over 15 per cent of our rotation, which is quite a bit considering that most years we had six other crop types in the rotation.
PCN: What sparked your interest in APG?
SH: Initially my friend Allison (Ammeter, now APG Chair) asked me to let my name stand for a Zone 2 advisor position. I really enjoyed that experience and when a position for director-at-large was open, I thought I would take the next step up and run for that seat. Having an outlet for my creative, social and problem-solving energies off the farm has made me enjoy farming so much more.
PCN: APG directors sit on various committees. You are a member of the Extension committee and serve as APG’s representative on the Agri-Environmental Partnership of Alberta. What attracted you to serve in these roles?
SH: Research is the backbone of what Alberta Pulse Growers offers to its members, but often the fruits of that labour are not easily or quickly observed by farmers. Extension is the forward-looking face of APG. I feel personally fulfilled when we can show our members the possibilities that pulses present and solutions to their challenges. Extension is also about community—whether we’re bringing neighbours together at crop walks or pulse experts to provincial meetings, we are creating a space where new ideas can blossom and connections and relationships can grow which are bound to help improve producers’ lives and farms. Working on the Agri-Environmental Partnership has been interesting because it is a board of members from across all sectors of agriculture, so you get to see the diversity of production in Alberta and also collaborate with different members in solving our shared problems.
PCN: What was the biggest issue facing your farm last year?
SH: Dryness in the spring and early summer was a challenge on our farm. Our pea plants were very short and although our yields were below average, they weren’t terrible. Faba beans were a bit of a different story. In 2013 and 2014 when we had adequate to above adequate moisture, the beans out-yielded the peas. This year, the faba beans were considerably lower yielding than the peas, proving just how much this crop loves moisture.
PCN: What has been the biggest benefit of your involvement as a director?
SH: Getting to know my fellow board members has been a lot of fun. They have all been farming longer than I have, so they are a source of advice and insight.
PCN: Why would you recommend that pulse producers attend the Annual General Meeting on Jan. 27 during FarmTech in Edmonton?
SH: This is your organization— your money is being spent. This is your chance to ask questions of the board and management team so that you feel you are getting value for your money.
Thank you, Sarah. We are looking forward to continuing to benefit from your contributions to the board.