Award of Merit
Andrew Harbers (left), 2017 President of DSCIA, with Ault Van Bokhorst (right), winner of the Award of Merit.        Courtesy Winchester Press photo

by Robert Byvelds
Director, DSCIA
Special to the AgriNews
CHESTERVILLE – The Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association held their annual general meeting on Tues., Dec. 12. The meeting included the presentation of a number of awards for the local producers.

Awards were presented as follows:
Forage Masters: 1st Tibben Farms – Mark Tibben; 2nd Brabantia Farms – Robert Byvelds; 3rd Toyeshill Farms – Ryan Devries and 4th Bergridge Farms – Brian Vandenberg.

High Yield Competition: 1st C Double J Harvesting + Farms – Joe Jansen (256 bus/ac); 2nd Bycrest Farms – Steven and Andrew Byvelds (244 bus/ac); 3rd Tibben Farms – Mark Tibben (234 bus/ac); 4th John Brugmans – (229 bus/ac); 5th Jim + Dan Byvelds (224 bus/ac); 6th Peter Byvelds ( 223 bus/ac) and 7th Mark + Glendon Shay (210 bus/ac).

Award of Merit
The Award of Merit was presented to Ault Van Bokhorst. Van Bokhorst began his career at Weagant Farm Supplies in October 1975. He left the home dairy farm in Osgoode in the capable hands of his brother and 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 sales 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 ones. Van Bokhorst had 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.

Van Bokhorst, 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, Van Bokhorst believes that your integrity at the end of the day means a lot more than money in the bank.

Michel Thurler (left) accepted the Innovative Farmer award on behalf of Thurler Farms from Andrew Harbers. Courtesy Winchester Press photo

Innovative Farmer Award
The Innovative Farmer Award was presented to Thurler Farms. This year’s recipient 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 farm. The free-stall 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.

Over 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 2,500 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 soys 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.

Farmer of the year winners, Paul (middle) and Gord Empey (right) of Maple Dale Farms accepted the award from Andrew Harbers (left). Courtesy Winchester Press photo

Farmer of the Year
The Dundas Farmer of the Year (Eric Casselman Award) was presented to Maple Dale Farm, located east of Iroquois. This year’s Farmer of the Year recipient defines a family farm. The 2017 year marks the 200th year Maple Dale Farm has been in the same family. The original 200-acre farm was granted to Captain George Thompson from King George III. Twenty years later he sold the farm to David Zeron. On 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.

Maple Dale Farms not only deserves this award for its 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 the 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.