March 1, 2013
By David Manly
Photo: Innovative Farmer of the Year 2012 winner Mark Brock (left) and Trevor Latta, Business Representative with BASF Canada.
Mar. 1, 2013 - Mark Brock didn't start out wanting to be a farmer. He grew up on a farm, but originally thought he would pursue computer programming at the University of Guelph. When that didn't work out, he instead studied agricultural business, which naturally lead into agronomy.
Then, in 1997, he went back to the family farm and never strayed far again.
"I came back to my roots and realized how much I enjoyed crop production," said Brock. "There was an opportunity there for me to not only grow plants and do real crop stuff, but also incorporate some of the technology I always loved working with and use it on the farm."
On Feb. 25, 2013, his decision to move back to the farm proved worthwhile, as BASF Canada and the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario presented Brock with the 2012 Innovative Farmer of the Year award for his constant promotion of innovation and leadership.
Brock's fascinating with technology led to a few frustrated moments on the farm over the years. But, he never strayed from his belief that technology could help him (and other farmers) find a more efficient and effective way to grow crops.
"I started thinking about applications that we could use that technology for and saw the value in it," he said, which led into investing early and experimenting with new farm technologies. These have included yield monitors, auto-swathing control systems, individual row shut-offs and more. The goal was always to reliably, effectively and efficiently collect as much data on his farm as possible.
Brock, in addition to the use of technology on his farm, is well known for his tireless efforts to find better methods for soil management and nutrient retention. One way in which this is done is through the use of cover crops, which can be used to keep the bacteria and nutrient cycle in the soil going for as long as possible.
"Whether farmers realize it or not, soil is their number one resource," said Brock. "It is such a critical part of what we do that sometimes I think we take it for granted."
Brock is devoted to developing new and sustainable techniques for use in the future of Canadian farming with his wife Sandi and two kids, Jack and Jessica.
"To be chosen to be Innovative Farmer of the Year it was truly an honour," said Brock. "Looking at people who have won the award before, to be put in a category with them, is truly humbling."
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