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Nova Scotia farmer honoured for leadership in soil conservation

Indian Head, Sask., April 16, 2008:

Bill McCurdy
Bill McCurdy

A Nova Scotia farmer has been honoured for his outstanding contribution to soil conservation in Canada. Bill McCurdy of Old Barns, Nova Scotia is the newest inductee into the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame. The award, which recognizes the dedication and commitment of leaders in soil and water conservation, was presented at the annual general meeting of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC).

"Bill, along with his son Andrew, is a pioneer in the use of zero-till farming practices in Nova Scotia, a key soil conservation practice that is widely used throughout the country today," says Eugene Legge, SCCC president. "In Bill's opinion, if you lose your soil, you lose your future.

"In addition to his role as a champion of Canadian soil, Bill has also proven himself an all-around leader in his community and in agriculture, both in his province and nationally. Creating opportunities that add to the success of his neighbours and fellow farmers has always been important to him."

Soil degradation is a problem that costs Canadians around two billion dollars a year, says Legge. "Today, understanding the true nature of soils and the long-term implications of soil management practices is more critical than ever. It's a necessary step in keeping soils productive for industries such as farming and in addressing broad environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions."

A lifelong producer, McCurdy entered the dairy industry in 1957. Today, Bidalosy Farms Ltd., a sixth-generation family farm, is home to 135 milk cows and a land base of over 600 acres plus 150 additional acres of leased land. Over the years, Bidalosy Farms has produced forage, corn, soybeans, barley and sunflowers that have been used as on-farm inputs or as cash crops for marketing.

As a member and director of the SCCC, McCurdy played a role in finding solutions to the problem of soil erosion, putting zero-till practices into place on his own farm in the early 1990s. "From day one, Bill has always tried new ways of doing things, experimenting with new crops and new varieties. His belief is that if you don't try different things, you will never know the results," says Legge.

McCurdy's experimental approach to farming has occasionally aroused scepticism among some, says Legge. "Bill is no stranger to adapting ideas to work on his farm, but with zero-till he must have thought he had met his match. However, he persevered and had success. We continue to use many of his ideas today."

McCurdy has also served on many other agriculture-related boards on both a provincial and national basis, including his role as president of the Nova Scotia Milk Producers Association at the height of that industry's supply management debate. "Bill's leadership in agriculture has ranged far and wide, with many of these roles driving industry changes that continue to have an impact to this day," says Legge.

SCCC is the face and voice of soil conservation in Canada. A national, non-governmental, independent organization, it was formed in 1987 to provide a non-partisan public forum at the national level for soil conservation.

Using a grassroots approach combined with the scientific, technical and practical experience of its members, it works with government and private industry, individuals and non-government organizations to address soil degradation and facilitate exchange of information across Canada.

For more information, contact:

Doug McKell, Executive Director
Soil Conservation Council of Canada
Indian Head, SK
Ph.: (306) 695-4212

Jean-Louis Daigle, Executive Director/Directeur général
Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre/
Centre de conservation des sols et de l'eau de l'Est du Canada
Saint-André (Grand Falls), NB
Ph: (506) 475-4040