By Tom Collins
LINDSAY — Encouraging farmers to bring forage acres back into rotation is one of the goals for OMAFRA’s new forage and grazier specialist.
Thomas Ferguson, who started the job May 30 and is based out of the Lindsay office, said the biggest issue facing the forage industry is the loss of forage acres as 500,000 hay acres have been lost since 2008. Many of those acres were switched to cash crops.
Ferguson, 32, grew up in the Smiths Falls area on his dad’s organic Jersey dairy farm. Ferguson was herd manager there and also taught the dairy herdperson apprenticeship program at Kemptville College for four years before moving to Peterborough in 2014. There, he was a seed crop inspector for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and became a certified crop advisor with Northumberland Grain.
He graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc in agriculture with a major in animal science in 2007.
Ferguson is also encouraging farmers to utilize more cover crops.
“I think there’s a good chance to increase the profit for farmers if they put in a cover crop and take it off as either grazing it or, say using winter rye, cutting it in the spring as forage,” he said.
Farmers can contact Ferguson at 705-324-5855 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.