Spoiling Agronomy Geeks: Gift Ideas for Farmers

Last week we published an article with Christmas gift ideas for the rancher in your life. Though many of the suggestions are fairly universal, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also help those of you shopping for farmers who prefer to be livestock-free.

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I think one of the happiest days of my farmer-life was the day we finally invested in our own soil probe (a gift that would likely be as warmly accepted by a rancher). There’s nothing quite as exciting as the day you see uninjured, unwelded chrome next to your rubber boots. Not only does it mean you suddenly have a sturdy companion, it also means you can stop returning soil probes to your retailer in two pieces… What?! Have you ever tried soil sampling in the Special Areas of Alberta in the fall? Even King Arthur would struggle.

And so it is with great delight that I give the soil probe top honours on my list of gift suggestions:

  1. Soil probe – I’m not going to get into the importance of soil testing, as it’s something we’ve discussed in numerous articles on the site. From a hollerday perspective, a soil probe is relatively economical (unless you’re looking for a hydraulic, truck-mounted sampling device). We typically test 0-6″ and 6-12″, so it’s important that the probe portion is 12″ in length, with the entire outfit a length that is comfortable for the user.Read more: 5 Reasons to Test and Analyze SoilOh, and if your farmer already has a soil sampler, spoil him/her with a soil probe cleaner. They may seem a little unnecessary, but they sure limit the number of spiderman bandaids your farmer will go through trying to pry rocks and soil from the tube.
  2. Soil compaction tester – Soil compaction can have severe consequences, including decreased infiltration, increased runoff, and ultimately lower yields.  A soil compaction tester gives a producer the opportunity to assess his fields for compaction, and determine whether his/her management system is suitable to the crops grown. This gift is a little more expensive than the last, but an impressive tool for a farmer who seems to have it all.Learn more about potential compaction solutions: Three Uses for the Tillage Radish
  3. Indoor growing lights OR camera monitoring system – I just couldn’t decide, so I’ll leave it up to you. If your farmer misses greenery, you could invest in lights and some herbs like dill, thyme and sage and add some color to your house, while also providing fresh food additions. I have never worked with a camera monitoring system, but I asked my tweeps about it. Here are some of the responses:
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  4. GoPro camera and/or accessories – This is for the farmer who is also a twitter/gadget fiend, with a creative side. We’ve started to see some really cool farm-inspired videos online, and a GoPro is arguably the best video camera for situations that demand high durability and good quality, like farming.
  5. Crop Scouting Gift Basket –  Have a tight budget or looking to add a little personality/variety in your gift? Consider building a crop scouting kit containing any of an assortment of goods valuable in crop scouting. Instead of the customary basket, consider using a transparent tupperware container that can be moved easily between vehicles, and back into winter storage. Stumped on what to include? Your local retail or a friendly agronomist could provide specific suggestions. In the meantime, think about an amalgamation of:


1. Plant ID Guides – e.g. “Weeds of the Prairies” and “Weed Seedling Guide”
2. Insect ID Guides
3. Disease ID Guides – e.g. “Diseases of Field Crops in Canada”
4. Crop Protection Decision Tools – e.g. most current “Crop Protection Guide” and “How Herbicides Work”


1. Smart phone
2. Twitter account
3. Relevant app suggestions


1. Small magnifying glass
2. Good quality trowel (with measurements on side)
3. Survey flags
4. Sweep net


1. Sunscreen
2. Insect repellent
3. Water bottle
4. Toilet paper
5. Plastic bags
6. Permanent marker
7. Favourite chocolate bar
8. Snips! (for Blackleg scouting et al)

Can’t afford to spoil your farmer this year?  Put away the Christmas cake recipe and instead: record a book or series of interesting articles to mP3, donate to a good cause in his/her name, make something (not Christmas cake), offer to do the chores, organize a tobogganing party or just spend the day together.

What’s a better gift than quality time?

Happy Holidays!

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