Better Farming Practices

Better Farming Practices from a Canadian environmental organization is a rarity: A delightful public service announcement. PSAs usually leave the audience a little bit frightened or a whole lot concerned, so it’s quite a trick to get the information across in an entertaining way.

The video is entirely animated in a corporate cartoon style and accompanied by the kind of music one usually hears in bank advertisements — somehow peppy and thoughtful at the same time.

A man, a “Nova Scotia farmer,” narrates the video in a serious yet kindly voice. It starts with a farmer standing in a field next to a hay bale. He is grinning and leaning on his pitchfork. Various fauna flutter and hop in the background. He is concerned that farming practices are endangering wildlife and proceeds to demonstrate a few examples of better practices. He rides his tractor over the hill with a bobalink sitting on the fence. The perspective moves to the bird and its full nest in the foreground as the red tractor approaches. The creators take a moment that could be sobering and give it a light touch. Instead of showing the destruction of the little bird family, it cuts to a tv color bars screen and high-pitched signal (technical difficulties in the 20th century) and remarks that it’s better not to show what happens.

Then the scene returns to the farm, where the farmer meets with a representative of the agricultural association. She’s teaching him some methods that are more wildlife-friendly. One can save many birds this way, as illustrated by colorful blocks containing owls, etc. He reminds the viewers that they want birds around, and then a bird crunches a nearby flying insect.

The most overtly humorous scene is one that features a turtle with lush hairdo. Why does the turtle have hair? So that the farmer can use the metaphor of a haircut to demonstrate better use of motor blades. The turtle grins in relief.

An aerial view shows the farmer changing his tractor pattern. He then presents an easy equipment modification to “scare the bejesus out of these animals.” The piece wraps up with the farmer tousling the hair of a little boy as they watch the ducks in the pond behind the barn.

The video is effective because it blends a sense of bucolic bliss with appealing color animations and humor. It takes a topic that could be dry or unpleasant and creates something that leaves the viewer with a smile... and the message.

Better Farming Practices is a colorful animation, cartoon and commercial video.