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A New Way to Seed

By Collections Curator Ruth Bitner
October 2012

Bechard’s Experiment

"It looks like nothing else that has been seen on the Western Canadian resembles a travelling milking machine more than anything else."
Gerry Wade, Regina Leader Post, May 13, 1969

The first experiments with air seeders on the prairies began in the early 1950s. But it was not until much later that air seeding technology took root.

Lajord farmer Jerome Bechard experimented with an air seeding system in the 1960s and 1970s, building on an idea from Germany. Bechard’s machine consisted of a pull-behind tank that carried seed and fertilizer in separate compartments. Forced air propelled seed and fertilizer through long tubes to the seeding boots or spouts. A metering system on the tank adjusted the flow.

Bechard Seeding Systems were manufactured in Winnipeg, Manitoba and in Langford, North Dakota in the 1970s.

Bechard's air seeder pulled by a tractor through a stubble field Bechard’s first air seeder, Lajord, 1970s.
Western Development Museum, Bechard Collection

Prophetic Words

"While the system needs further developing, it offers possibilities...that might someday be widely used on prairie farms."
Bill Reed, U of S agricultural engineer, The Country Guide, November, 1975

The Idea Grows

Air seeders took off in the 1980s with Bourgault Industries of St. Brieux, Morris Industries and Leon’s Manufacturing of Yorkton, Friggstad Manufacturing of Frontier, Flexi-Coil of Saskatoon and Conserva Pak of Indian Head. New in the 1990s were Seed Hawk of Langbank and SeedMaster of Emerald Park. Some companies adapted and improved German or Australian designs.

Figgstad air seeder Friggstad air seeder, Frontier, 1980.
Saskatchewan Archives Board, 80-1528-14, Menno Fieguth photo

Morris Industries air seeder behind tractor in field Morris Industries air seeding system, Dalmeny, 2006.
Ruth Bitner photo

Saskatchewan Know-How

Where once Saskatchewan farmers relied on equipment produced in eastern Canada or the United States, today’s producers have embraced home-grown, state-of-the-art technology that maximizes efficiency and soil conservation. Saskatchewan know-how has spread far beyond our borders, to grain-growing areas around the world.

Related WDM Research Papers:

Get Adobe ReaderResearch Documents are in PDF format and require Adobe Reader to view.

Changes in Farming Practices in Saskatchewan by Amy McInnis (WDM)

Innovative Implements: The Strength and Legacy of Saskatchewan's Manufacturing Industry by Amy McInnis (WDM)

Saskatchewan Farm Facts by Ruth Bitner (WDM)

Saskatchewan InnovationYou might also be interested in:

- More Saskatchewan Innovations

- About the WDM Collection

- How to donate an artifact