Ontario Forage Expo draws 300

Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association President Andrew Harbers (left) and Ontario Forage Council Manager Ray Robertson, at the July 7 Ontario Forage Expo, west of Winchester.

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

WINCHESTER — The eastern edition of the Ontario Forage Expo made hay while the sun shone July 7. Lots of it, and in a hurry.

Demonstrated in a field west of Winchester, the latest and greatest in agricultural hay mowers, cutters, tedders, rakes, mergers and balers drew an audience of about 300 area farmers and agribusiness operators, many of whom sifted the cut alfalfa through their fingers to compare the performances.

The biggest mower on site, made by Pottinger, cut a swath more than 37-feet in width — capable of cutting about 35 acres per hour. And that was just one of the competing manufacturers at the event. Over 50 pieces of equipment took part in 35 demonstrations.

Put on by the Ontario Forage Council in partnership with the Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association (DSCIA), it was technically the 11th provincial Forage Expo but only the second since the organization began hosting two events for the east and west ends of the province during the same week. This year’s eastern edition took place at Eric and Christine Van Den Broek’s farm (Crebroek Holsteins) west of Winchester.

“It’s really neat to see all the dealerships come together,” said Andrew Harbers, DSCIA president. “Without them, it wouldn’t have been able to be this big. Every dealership brought at least two different pieces of equipment,” added Harbers, estimating the number of actual manufacturers represented on site at a dozen.

Across the road from the event, Weagant Farm Supplies demonstrated equipment for the day, as did the others from the Winchester-area nexus of tractor dealerships. Among them were Dan R Equipment, Reis Equipment, Green Tech, and Topline Trailer and Equipment Sales, Harco, as well as custom operators Raats Custom Farming Services, Klein’s Agri Services, Tim Jaquemet and Ventnor Excavating.

DSCIA director Graham Duke credited Harbers and past president Mark Tibben for “taking the bull by the horns” and building upon last year’s eastern Expo, held at the Westervelt family farm in South Dundas.

Ontario Forage Council (OFC) manager Ray Robertson described the event as “a real tribute to the [forage] industry.”

Robertson explained that participating dealers paid $250 for the first machine demonstrated and $50 for additional ones. Proceeds helped offset costs and raise money for the OFC, an organization promoting the betterment of the province’s forage industry, including export opportunities.

Ontario hay, according to Robertson, is second to none as well as being “softer, greener and a different texture than hay from western Canada.”

And while humid Ontario has a reputation as a challenging place to consistently produce quality dry hay — although not this summer — Robertson reported that a few producers in Elmira are testing a new and potentially game-changing technology. “They cut and bale dry hay in two days rather than five days.” Expecting the technology to be on the market “before too long,” it has “the potential to revolutionize the haying industry,” he said.

In the first video below, haying equipment and mowers taxi down the field at the Ontario Forage Expo on the VanDenBroek farm, the second annual edition held in Dundas County (but the 11th provincially). Located in the Township of North Dundas, the event was put on by the Ontario Forage Council. More videos follow.

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