By Connor Lynch
BOURGET — A couple of Eastern Ontario farmers are warning other farmers to be vigilant after finding metal bars planted in their fields.
Cash crop farmer Thomas Wahler, who farms corn, soybeans and wheat 40 minutes east of Ottawa at Bourget, was harvesting his corn crop in late November when he heard a sudden hissing of air. At first he thought it might be a leaking hose in his combine. When he backed up he saw a sharpened pipe sticking out of the tire.
“I was totally shocked. It was totally out of the blue,” he told Farmers Forum. Wahler has been in contact with the police, but so far he hasn’t heard anything promising, he said.
He later lowered the corn head to try and catch any other metal poles jammed into the field. He found three lengths of rebar, and a piece of metal taped to one of his corn stalks.
He estimated the damage to the combine was about $2,000 for the bearings and shafts damaged by the rebar, as much as $4,000 for his knives that were damaged, and another $2,500 if he has to replace his damaged tire next year.
Though it’s the first time Wahler has had a problem like this on his farm, he said that vandalism “has always been around.” A neighbour had a bulldozer that someone broke into, destroying the wiring and the dash.
Plantagenet-area crop farmer Urs Koch had a similar issue. While harvesting his soybeans in October, he found two pieces of rebar in the field, pushed into the ground and angled at about 20 degrees.
“So, whenever you would drive, you would rake them up,” Koch said.
Koch is convinced that whoever did this knows farming, because not only were the metal poles angled to go into a combine, but they were facing the direction a farmer would normally travel through his field.
If they’d faced the other way, the combine would’ve just run them over and flattened them into the ground.
“It’s got to be people with a farming background,” Koch said.
Koch’s brother, Peter, who farms north of Plantagenet, had a similar issue years ago, he said. Retired crop scientist Terry Daynard tweeted about the issue on Dec. 2: “I have heard of this happening, in revenge, when farmers destroy marijuana plants grown illicitly in their cornfields — severe damage to combine harvesters.”