Local farmers acknowledged at DSCIA annual award presentations

Seen in image above: Outgoing DSCIA President Andrew Harbers presenting Ault Van Bokhorst with the Award of Merit. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

CHESTERVILLE — Yesterday farmers of the Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association (DSCIA) met for their Annual General Meeting and award presentations. The morning included several presentations about safety and a look back at events of the past year. The occasion also served to handout annual awards for crop production, innovative farmer of the year, award of merit, and highest crop yields.

Dundas Farmer of the Year (Eric Casselman Award): Maple Dale Farms

This year’s Farmer of the year recipient defines  a family farm . 2017 marks the 200th year Maple Dale Farms, located east of Iroquois has been in the same family.  The original 200 acre farm was granted to Captain George Thompson from King George the third.  Twenty years later he sold the farm to David Zeron . March 29, 1817 Peter Zeron bought the farm from his brother David and so it began.   The farm was passed on for three more generations  to Mahlon Zeron. In 1945 Mahlon’s daughter Marie married Carl Empey.   Carl and son Gord would continue with farm expansion and improvements. In 2013, Gord’s sons Peter and Paul took over ownership. 

Andrew Harbers awards the Dundas County Farmer of the Year award to Maple Dale Farm. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

Maple Dale Farms not only deserves this award for it’s deep and rich history.  Brothers Peter and Paul have modernized the farm with a state-of-the-art dairy barn built in 2013.  Now the 45 cow dairy herd ranks among the highest in production per cow per day in Dundas.  Cows are milked with a VMS milking robot and daily production per cow has surpassed 40 kg.  Peter is mainly responsible for the dairy herd while Paul focuses on the management  of the cropping on the farm’s 450 workable acres.

Gord returned to the farm after completing university and teaching for four years.  Gord and wife Helen stressed the importance of education for their two boys.  Both Peter and Paul got their education, worked off farm but returned to their roots at  Maple Dale.  They complete the seventh generation and are hopeful their children will be the eighth.  Thus ensuring the farm will continue in the family for many years to come.

Innovative Farmer Award: Thurler Farms

This year’s recipient of the Innovative Farmer award is also one of the largest farms in Dundas. Thurler Farms of South Mountain is owned and operated by brothers Nick and Oliver Thurler and Nick’s two sons Robert and Michel. Employing six full-time people and one part time person, 500 cows are milked three times a day on this dairy.  The freestall barn features a double 12 parallel parlour and cows lie on waterbed stalls.  The farm produced DHA milk for a time to take advantage of that market when it was available.

Thurler Farms is awarded the Innovative Farm of the Year by DSCIA President Andrew Harbers. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

The last few years the farm has also invested in some very high genomic tested Holsteins for potential sales or to rapidly increase genetic gain in their own herd.  A new barn was built this past summer to house these extremely valuable offspring.

Crops grown on the farm’s 2500 acres are corn and soybeans. Alfalfa survival on their flat land was very difficult so about five years a switch was made from alfalfa to forage soybeans for the dairy herd. This feed is comparable to alfalfa for feed value and yield per acre is similar to three cuts of alfalfa. The soya beans are chopped just before corn silage making September a busy harvest season.

To eliminate any chance of compaction the manure is all spread by the farm’s dragline system.  

The Thurler farm also does some custom harvesting. The family has also diversified their business by acquiring a milk trucking company with 10 trucks and also operate two grain trailers.

Award of Merit: Ault Van Bokhorst

Ault began his career at Weagant Farm Supplies in Oct. 1975. He left the home dairy farm in Osgoode in the capable hands of his brother. He started as a part time truck driver. He thought the Weagants were always trying to get rid of him in different jobs but somehow it kept working out.  

Trucking, service and salesman were roles at Weagant Farm Supplies. He is now sales manager and is certainly not ready to take the next step out the door.

His career highlights include the acquisition of  the New Holland line of equipment and Trioliet feed mixers, especially the self propelled.  Ault ha made several trips to Europe with Trioliet and is amazed with the ingenuity of farmers here and abroad. He is also fascinated by the introduction and advancement of technology in farm equipment.

Ault, with the support of a wonderful wife of 40 years and a strong faith lives by the golden rule — Treat others the way you like to be treated. Despite playing a key role in the many sales awards won by Weagant Farm Supplies, Ault believes that your integrity at the end of the day means a lot more than money in the bank.

Forage Masters Awards:

First Place: Mark Tibben

Second Place: Robert Byvelds

Third Place: Ryan Devries

Joe Jansen (centre) is presented with the Highest Yield Competition Award. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

High Yield Competition Winners:

First Place: C Double J Harvesting + Farms –  Joe Jansen (256 bushels/acre)

Second Place:  Bycrest Farms – Steven and Andrew Byvelds (244 bushels/acre)

Third Place: Tibben Farms – Mark Tibben (234 bushels/acre)

The event’s guest speaker, the CEO and Co-founder of Instant Weather Canada, Adam Skinner. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

The association hosted special guest speaker Adam Skinner, CEO and co-founder of Instant Weather Canada.

Skinner spoke of his past as a storm chaser and the storm that changed his life for good. 

The CEO also entertained the room of farmers with his musical talent, including a tribute to the late Gord Downie.

Skinner’s colleague Kevin Ramage also spoke. Ramage is the DSCIA company’s Lead Seasonal Forecaster. According to Ramage’s research this winter will be cold with plenty of snow. To the dismay of many, the winter will last well into the month of April.

Kevin Ramage explains the seasonal forecast for 2018. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

The cold extended winter will end abruptly and “start right into a very warm and humid summer,” he explained. 

Instant Weather Canada CEO and co-founder Adam Skinner says his affiliated Facebook page Ontario Tornado Watch has managed to send out advance notification on 76 percent of Ontario tornados between 2013 and 2016 — compared to Environment Canada’s notification rate of 26 percent. At the Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association’s Annual General Meeting in Chesterville this week, Skinner highlights a rather jarring example and the firm’s most “prolific” moment: An Aug. 24, 2016 tornado that hit LaSalle, near Windsor, dramatically ripping the roof off an occupied factory (and causing other significant damage in the city). Instant Weather Canada put out a text message and a related Ontario Tornado Watch post about the likelihood of a tornado before 7:10 p.m. — several minutes before the tornado struck — while Environment Canada’s warning came out at 7:28 p.m. — several minutes after the tornado was over.

The association also held it’s annual elections. Current DSCIA president Andrew Harbers will step down after completing his 2-year term. Michael Roosendaal was announced as the new DSCIA President and Brian Vandenberg will step in as Vice President.


Other Board of Directors positions are as follows:

Township Directors

Matilda Township: Joe Jansen

Mountain Township: Wray Holmes and Dave Zollinger

Williamsburg: Ron Toonders

Winchester: Tim Moher

Directors at Large:

  • Peter Byvelds
  • Marty Derks
  • Paul Empey
  • Tom MacGregor
  • Brent Vanden Bosch



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