Four industry leaders will be honoured at the 2021 event
By Diego Flammini
The Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame has revealed its four-person class of 2020.
Jay Bradshaw, former president of Syngenta and Dr. Bryan Harvey, a plant breeder from the University of Saskatchewan, are among the inductees.
Douglas Hedley, a former federal ag rep who helped shape industry policy including the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, and James Halford, who helped pioneer no-till farming in the Prairies, round out the honorees.
Being included in the ag hall of fame with other industry contributors is exciting, Halford said.
“I was very surprised,” he told Farms.com. “There are so many people involved in ag in Canada who could be inducted, so for me to be chosen is a tremendous honour.”
Halford started exploring the idea of zero-till farming in the early 1970s on the Indian Head, Sask. farm that his grandparents homesteaded, and he now calls home.
The farm is in a valley, which led to some challenges and the need for new ideas, he said.
“We have sidehill fields, and over the years with (conventional) tillage systems they’ve been subjected to water erosion and some fields subject to serious wind erosion,” he said. “I knew there had to be a different way, and I thought leaving stubble standing and roots anchored would help hold the soil.”
At the time, producers were slow to adapt to this new way of farming, he said.
“It was a pretty radical change from what everyone had been doing up until that time,” Halford said. “There was skepticism from some but, thankfully, there were some that wanted to try it out. When people realized they weren’t going to go broke by doing no till, more farmers started to get involved.”
During the 1970s and into the 1980s, Halford’s Vale Industries invented and manufactured the Conserva Pak seeder with its zero-till seed opener.
The system allowed farmers to band fertilizer while seeding and place seed separately.
“If you put too much fertilizer with seed, you could affect the germination of the seed,” he said. “The system we developed managed to overcome that, keep the fertilizer and seed apart, and have depth control.”
The seeder proved so successful that John Deere purchased the technology from Halford in the 2000s.
The four inductees will be honoured during the 2021 induction ceremony.
Farms.com extends its congratulations to the class of 2020!