Lambton farm innovator recognized with Don Hill Legacy Award
Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association announces first innovation award recipient

February 11, 2020 

By Lilian Schaer for Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

Olivia Lumley accepting the award on behalf of her father (left) with Ruth Hill and Merilee Hill

2020 Don Hill Award Presentation

London ON, February 2020 – A simple solution to a pesky yield and disease problem has earned a Lambton County farmer the first-ever Don Hill Legacy Award.

Mark Lumley of Fairwind Farms in Sarnia received the award at the 2020 Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) annual meeting for an innovation that has made it possible to use a seed-placed tank mix of liquid fertilizer and the fungicide Quadris in sugarbeet production.

The Don Hill Legacy Award honouring on-farm innovation was established in 2019 in memory of past OSCIA president Don Hill.

“It’s an honour to present the first-ever Don Hill Legacy Award to Mark for his innovation,” says OSCIA President Stuart Wright. “It’s a simple, yet effective solution that is reflective of Don’s passion for the Environmental Farm Plan and finding simple yet creative solutions to environmental challenges faced on the farm.”

Sugarbeets face a lot of disease pressure, such as from the fungal disease rhizoctonia. Standard practice, according to Lumley, is an application of fungicide Quadris in a water suspension into the seed trench just before it’s closed. Another proven agronomic practice for the crop is applying a small amount of phosphorus in that same spot at planting, like Alpine 6-24-6.

To be more efficient and effective, Lumley needed a way to use the fertilizer as a carrier for the fungicide so both could be applied at the same time. His solution, a 12V submersible electric pump that he placed inside the planter’s tank, ended up giving him exactly what he needed – aggressive agitation that mixed the fertilizer and fungicide together and kept them from separating and coagulating.

The agitator can be activated anytime by a switch in the tractor cab and can run continually during spraying. Material and labour costs are estimated at approximately $3,000, and the solution can be used in planter spray or sprayer applications in any crop.

Applying fungicide and starter fertilizer together has increased yields by reducing disease pressure. It also allows for precise fertilizer application and more targeted application of the fungicide compared to an in-crop foliar spray later on and has reduced the amount of time that used to be spent cleaning the system and dealing with tip and filter problems.

“I am really honoured to receive this award, since not only can other farmers use the idea easily, but I hope it also encourages people to think just a little outside the box and come up with your own solutions to “pesky” problems,” Lumley says.

Lumely grows corn, soybeans, wheat and sugarbeets on approximately 4,500 acres, has farming interests in Uruguay and is involved in humanitarian farming in Zambia. He is involved in many organizations and committees, including Chair of the Ontario Sugarbeet Growers Association, Chair of the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce and founder and president of the Ontario Innovative Sugarbeet Processors Cooperative.

For more information:
Andrew Graham, OSCIA Executive Director, or 519-826-4216

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