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District farmer expands crops again

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From Pinewood to Rainy River, endless fields of yellow hug Highway 11 for a total of 6,000 acres of canola, among other crops.

The 25 sq. km of fields are roughly the size of Fort Frances and after the harvest, farm owner Timo Brielmann estimates they will generate a total of $2.5 million for Rainy River District.

Some 3,500 of the acres are owned by the Brielmann family, with the other 2,500 owned by North End Farms that contracts the family to grow crops on all of the land.

With the help of four full-time workers, they tend to kilometres upon kilometres of wheat, soybeans, canola, oats, corn, and ryegrass.

Things always are busy for Brielmann and his team. For instance, they're currently focusing their energy towards tile drainage, clearing more land, spraying the crops, and hauling loads back and forth from Pinewood to Thunder Bay.

The 28-year-old farmer first came to Canada when he was just two months old, originally being born in Germany.

Since coming to Canada in 1990, Brielmann and his family slowly have expanded their fields into the biggest plot of farmland in the district.

Since last year, Brielmann said they expanded their farm fields from 4,900 to 6,000 acres—and have no plans of slowing down.

“We've been clearing land with the dozer [and] excavator, moving rocks, and making nice fields for better field efficiency,” he remarked.

“Our business plan is to keep growing.”

After a couple of decades of cattle farming, the Brielmann family decided it wanted to switch exclusively to growing crops so they could have winters off and take full advantage of the lands they have.

“Most of our land is nice lake bottom clay," he explained. "There's very little rocks and stuff in those places, and it just looked like productive land.”

After taking advantage of the province's tile drainage grant, the Brielmann family sold off the last of its cows in 2015 and made the switch to crop farming, with a mere 2,500 acres of land that since has expanded exponentially.

Brielmann said it's been really nice to take a simple piece of land and turn it into something that's productive.

“There's a lot of marsh-hill land in the area so it's nice when you get it cleaned up and working and functioning to what we need,” he enthused.

By contrast, some of the challenges Brielmann faces as a farmer in the north is being so remote. He noted the area is lacking in local agronomy services or places to purchase, as well as to get advice on farming chemicals.

This has forced Brielmann and his family to develop a great deal of agricultural knowledge so they can operate independently in a lot of ways.

This summer's hot weather, meanwhile, has caused his crops to grow at an accelerated rate, making for a quicker harvest.

“It has been really warm so things have been going through the stages really quickly,” Brielmann noted.

He expects to harvest his crops in about five weeks, at which time they'll be shipped off to Thunder Bay and Manitoba, with the oats heading south of the border to a milling plant in Emerson, Ga.

Brielmann is passionate about agriculture and doesn't have any plans to sell his lands anytime soon.

“I have no plans of going anywhere," he stressed. "We're just going to keep going and try to make it better and better every year.”

Next year, Brielmann hopes to clear enough land to seed close to 7,000 acres.

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