by SUSAN MANN
The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association will have a president from the Sudbury district for the first time when Massey-area dairy farmer Mack Emiry takes on the job next year.
Emiry, currently the association’s first vice-president was acclaimed as president elect at the annual summer directors’ meeting held in the Sudbury district from Aug. 14 to 16. He represents the districts of Algoma, Cochrane, Manitoulin, Muskoka, Nippissing, Parry Sound, Sudbury and Temiskaming in northeastern Ontario.
“I’ve been a member of the Ontario soil and crop association for forever, it seems,” Emiry says of his reasons for seeking the president’s position. “I’ve also been active locally in our district organization for a lot of years.”
Emiry says he was interested in being president and contributing to keep the organization healthy, and when the opportunity came up he decided to accept the provincial leadership position “when it was offered to me.”
The Emiry family operates an 800-acre farm where they milk 110 cows in a free-stall barn and grow forages, silage corn, barley and soybeans. Most of the crops, except for the soybeans and some dry hay, are used for cattle feed on the farm.
The family members involved in the farm include Mack, along with his wife, Beth, their sons, Keith and Alan, Mack’s brother, George, and a few grandchildren.
The farm also has a 10-acre strawberry operation owned by Alan and Joanne Emiry where customers can pick their own or buy already picked berries.
One of the association’s priorities next year includes a continued focus on soil and soil health. Last year, the association established the Soil Health Graduate Scholarship Fund through the University of Guelph that gives a recipient, either a masters or PhD student, a $10,000 scholarship for soil research and soil management work. The association is providing the funding annually for five years, he says.
Association executive director Andrew Graham says the first scholarship was handed out last year, while the second one will be awarded in the fall.
A university committee following guidelines agreed to by the association selects the recipients, he says.
Emiry says, “Soils are important and the Ontario soil and crop association will continue to focus on programs that continue to support good, healthy soil in the province.”
As a northern Ontario farmer, Emiry says one thing he’ll bring to his job, as president is a focus on the need to support farming in the north.
“It’s important to support northern Ontario agriculture,” he says. There’s a huge land area already in use for agricultural production and another large section of land in the north that’s potentially good agricultural land.
Emiry says he supports programs, like the one recently announced by the Ontario government, to provide farmers with grants for clearing land.
“We need to do whatever we can to see that land is brought into production effectively and in the proper manner,” he notes.
Emiry says on their farm they use reduced tillage wherever possible. They use minimum tillage and also use conventional tillage depending “on what we’re dealing with on the land we’re working with. We try to do the most effective job with the least amount of tillage.”
The livestock portion of their operation gives them an advantage of “always having forages in our rotation,” he adds. BF