Lorne Grieger, director of technical sales, Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute

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Say hello to Lorne Grieger, director of technical sales at the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI).

Grieger studied bioresource engineering (formerly, agricultural engineering) at the University of Manitoba and has worked with PAMI in both project management and ag research related positions. He grew up on a farm in Swan River where his family still farms, and he and his wife live near Birds Hill, close to his wife’s family. They have two daughters.

Where did you work before PAMI?

I’ve worked for PAMI on two separate occasions. I previously worked for a pharmaceutical company. When I look at what we’re doing for the livestock sector, biosecurity principles are very similar in terms of managing disease or daily livestock operations. I’ve used a lot of background from my time there and applied it to the work we do with the livestock sector at PAMI.

I also worked in a consulting firm for a few years. From that experience, the machinery design side is very applicable to some of the work we do now for industry clients. As an organization, we work in two areas: the industry side, where we help companies do innovation testing, design and engineering work prototyping, and the other side is public research.

What got you interested in this area of work?

I’ve always liked equipment – it’s intriguing. I love working with tractors and big iron, but also the technology piece that goes with it. You have these large pieces of steel with control and guidance, the technology is remarkable. When you think it hasn’t changed or can’t get any better, somebody comes out with a new concept or idea. It’s ever changing, ever evolving and ever improving.

Tell us a bit about what you’re working on at PAMI.

In my current role, I oversee proposals. I collaborate with grower groups to understand their needs and see how we can address those needs through PAMI’s expertise and experience. We look at implementation of technologies or understanding technology features, and how to use it on farm.

Some of our work that Manitoba Crop Alliance recently funded was looking at seed damage from large air seeders, for example. If you understand what that seed moisture is and the germination impact, you can adjust your seeding rate accordingly to get the stand you’re looking for. After all, when you’re investing millions of dollars in equipment, you want to understand the best fit or how to use it effectively for your current operation, because equipment is not one size fits all.

On the grain drying side, a lot of the work we’ve done is looking at current practices and measuring or understanding what farmers’ baselines are in order to make decisions, or find ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This could refer to new technology as well, understanding grain drying aspects both in the bin as well as dedicated drying systems. By using different pieces of equipment or looking at different practices as a whole, we are looking at the best ways to manage risk or ways to increase profitability.

If we can understand some of those details, we can provide both simple and more complex ways of working with equipment or modifying current processes to allow farmers to be more efficient and more profitable down the road.

What can you say about the value of farmers providing funding and support to your organization?

Producer funding is critical for the work we do. We don’t want to just do research – we want to do work that’s applicable to people that are feeding their families and looking to pass down a farm to the next generation. If you put money behind a project, that means it’s important to you, and as a result, it’s important to us. We want to work in those areas.

Having open dialogue with grower groups helps us understand what is important to members, so that, as we look at the future of our organization, we can invest in the right resources, people and expertise to be able to answer the questions that grower groups are asking.

How does that farmer funding and support directly benefit farmers?  

We aren’t telling people how to do their craft or run their business. We want to provide information that can be used to make good decisions. That could be in terms of operational or equipment investments, to modifications or investments on a capital side as well. It is a little bit of de-risking when you look at adopting a new practice, what exactly does this mean? If we can answer that on an individual basis so everybody can learn and understand it, it lowers the risk for all involved.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Camping, and being outside as much as possible. The Duck Mountains are where my heart is. I just love being up there, as well as Whiteshell and further on into northwest Ontario. It’s a gorgeous country that we live in.

What is the best part about your job?

The best part of my job is constant variety and working with new ideas and new concepts. If we do a certain practice, what does that mean for farmers? Does that make a difference in terms of their operations, revenue and sustainability on a farm level? That’s what I really enjoy, working out the applicability down to the farm gate difference, including how economics, different practices and equipment choices can be affected as a result of the work we do.

What are you excited about for the future of agriculture?

The future of agriculture is ever changing. We always find ways as an industry to innovate, problem solve and rise above challenges. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something else comes along, and we find ways to adapt and to be successful as a result. Moving forward, seeing the next generation come online along with new technologies and advancements is remarkable.

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