Agricultural Hall of Fame: Robert McNabb

Five new members of the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame were inducted July 17 at a ceremony 
in Portage la Prairie. We’re featuring a new inductee each week

Robert Clarke McNabb


Robert (Bob) McNabb was born and raised on a farm at Minnedosa, Manitoba. He attended the University of Manitoba where he obtained a degree in agriculture, majoring in animal science. While at university, he took flying lessons and obtained his commercial flying licence. Following graduation, Bob spent eight years in northern Saskatchewan where he was the operations manager and chief pilot for an aviation company.

In 1976, Bob and his wife Elaine (MacCarthy) and young daughter Dana moved to Minnedosa to begin farming. Three more children followed — Lauren, Robert and Michael.

Bob and Elaine currently operate a 1,000-acre farm and have been committed to zero tillage for 36 years. Although starting out as a mixed operation, Bob switched to grains in 1985. In 2005, he moved from strictly zero tillage to a rotation of permanent grasses for custom grazing. Bob wanted to determine what nutrients a pasture system would add to the soil and how such a production system might work under zero tillage.

During this period, the McNabb family spent time in Zimbabwe where Bob co-ordinated a Canadian International Development Agency-funded agricultural project. The goal was to introduce conservation management strategies to a Third World country and monitor the results. Working with the locals, Bob helped write manuals, still being used, on conservation farming and zero-tillage practices.

Returning to Manitoba, Bob worked with Manitoba Pool Elevators on an environmental farm plan idea. This was the forerunner of the Environmental Farm Plans in use today in conjunction with Agricultural Policy Framework programs. Bob was instrumental in setting up a zero-till research farm in Manitoba.

Over the years, Bob has been given many awards for his work in soil conservation. These include the L.B. Thomson Conservation Award, the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Association Farmers Award, the Agricultural Institute of Canada Recognition Award and the Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District Farm Family of the Year Award.

Bob owns and operates Minnagro Ltd., a small feed and farm supply business in Minnedosa. In 2004, the Minnedosa Chamber of Commerce named Bob the Business Owner of the Year. He continues to fly northern-based aircraft, training and mentoring younger pilots throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan, N.W.T. and Nunavut.

In his community, Bob has been active in the Kinsmen Club, the Credit Union, 4-H, and the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. He has also been involved in Canadian Foodgrains Bank projects.

Bob is passionate about agriculture, soil conservation and the wise use of our land resources.

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