Position: President and CEO, Western Ag Group of Companies
Education: BSc in Agriculture, MSc in Soil Science
Employer: Western Ag Innovations (Entrepreneur and Owner)
How did you become interested in how the earth works?
As a young person growing up on a farm in southern Saskatchewan, I had many opportunities to explore how the natural world fit together. Every spring the sun would warm the earth and life would begin again. The grass, the trees, the pond bugs and frogs would all wake up after being frozen for months. How crazy is that? If you looked closely enough you could see how the earth was always trying to grow something in any open spot! This connected web of life was persistent in its quest to grow whatever would grow, whether it was a weed or a tree or real live green slime!
Why do you think it is important to study soil?
The soil was described to me once as “the skin that covers the bones of the earth”. Walk with me as we follow this path of thinking a bit further. Your skin is the largest organ that your body has. When you get cut or a scrape, your skin regenerates quickly to stop you from loosing too much blood. The speed of stopping the bleeding and skin healing keeps you alive and keeps your muscles protected so they can move you. The soil works just the same way for the body of the Earth. It covers the bedrock, the bones of the earth. It heals and provides nutrients for plants. The plants trap the energy from the sun, fixing it here on the earth for us to use as food, or gasoline, or even plastic! The quick healing soil is healthy. The slow healing soil can lead to a messy and painful death. Just like your skin, the soil protects and heals so the earth can survive.
Is soil a part of your childhood memories?
The afternoon sun broke through the clouds crisp and bright. We were totally bored of being inside. Rain for two days straight. My sister and I decided to get outside and soak up this golden treasure. As we walked down the hill and across the road, the sunlight glistened over the flat black field. The smooth field invited a challenge. In rubber boots and sticky clay, this would be epic, beyond X-games; this would be a test of “toe strength”. You see, if you crunch up your toes really tight your boots will pull out of the muck with a satisfying slurp. This extreme challenge was simple: walk the furthest into the field without loosing a boot. The first steps proved that heavy clay suction was far more powerful than any of our toe scrunching. With the boots now off, the challenge went extreme: who could run and slide the furthest on the slippery Regina heavy clay soil. Wipe outs were many, and needless to say, my parents were not impressed. But hey, they had some fun too, washing the mud off of us at the garden hose. Mental note, heavy clay not easily removed from hair!