After being awarded the 2019 Nuffield scholarship, Westman farmer Ryan Boyd has been busy putting that $15,000 prize to good use, travelling all over the world to further his agricultural research.
But tonight, Boyd will finally get the opportunity to showcase his findings in front of an audience of his peers, being one of the last keynote speakers at the 2020 Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association Regenerative Ag Conference.
The third-generation farmer told the Sun on Wednesday that his upcoming webinar will centre around the topic of land management, and how Canadian producers should integrate more grazing ruminants into their farming systems.
Boyd has already tested this technique on his property just north of Forrest, getting his cattle to graze on fallow land so that their manure naturally fertilizes the surrounding area.
While this method doesn’t make money by itself, it reduces the amount of time Boyd has to spend feeding his cattle and buying fertilizer.
This approach to land management eventually attracted the attention of Nuffield Canada, which would go on to award Boyd their 2019 scholarship in the summer of 2018.
With $15,000 in his pocket, Boyd spent the next two years travelling to the United States, Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom in an effort to see how their farming practices compare.
"It was a real eye-opening experience to see what is out there, to see how much we do have in common around the world with people who are involved with primary production and agriculture," he said.
At the same time, Boyd admitted that he missed day-to-day life on the farm during his international travels, especially since he had to be away from his wife and two young children for extended periods of time.
"I’m a farm boy at heart," he said. "I’m out of place in an airport, in the cities. It really did make me appreciate what we have here, not only on the farm but in Canada in general."
That being said, Boyd said the insight he gained during these trips was invaluable and he is looking forward to sharing how he thinks grazing ruminants are a path to increasing agricultural productivity and profitability.
"I’ll be going over some of the highlights of what I saw, what I learned and distil that down to some of my thoughts and ideas on what we could be doing differently here in Western Canada to improve the resilience of our farming systems," he said.
Following tonight’s presentation, Boyd will be submitting his written report to Nuffield Canada, thereby bringing his multi-year study to a close.
But Boyd revealed that his relationship with Nuffield will continue to move forward, since he has built up an international network of agricultural scholars along the way.
"It’s kind of something that once you’re a part of it never really ends," he said. "I’ll try and utilize that network to help shape thoughts and ideas moving forward, both on our own farm and more generally."
Boyd’s presentation at the Regenerative Ag Conference will be streaming live on the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association’s official website and Facebook page starting tonight at 7 p.m.
The video will also be posted to the group’s YouTube channel after the live presentation.
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson