For most of his career, Gordon McPhee has played a major role in preserving one of our most precious resources, the soil and working with the agricultural industry towards sustainable development. Together with his wife Mary, Gordon has always been able to look at what was happening on farms and then be quick to acknowledge that there had to be a better way. He saw that farms were getting so big that he realized he needed to get his work done with less effort. Renowned for his determination, he also realized the significant responsibility he had in ensuring soil conservation.
As one of the pioneers of zero tillage in Manitoba, Gordon was a believer in the economic benefits of working with nature instead of against it. Gordon was involved in the formation of the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero-Tillage Association (Man-Dak). Man-Dak has recognized Gordon for his work with the organization both for the association’s formation and for contributions he made to two of their Zero-Tillage Manuals. He has played an integral role in establishing that association’s Zero-Tillage Research Farm near Brandon.
Gordon has been instrumental in several environmental and sustainability committees and has served as co-chairman of the Crop Protection Advisory Committee of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
As one of the founding executive members of the Keystone Agricultural Producers in 1984, Gordon has extended his involvement in agriculture to the Dauphin Agricultural Heritage Club.
Gordon views good farm management as always balancing the benefits of particular procedures and methods against their risks. While he recognizes that for some farmers zero tillage is an uncomfortable risky change he notes that to do nothing is maybe even more risky.
For his belief that to be sustainable, agriculture must meet the community’s needs for a variety of competitively priced goods and services while producing an adequate economic return all while protecting the ecosystem, he received the L.B. Thomson Conservation Award in 1997 for outstanding work promoting soil conservation and pioneering zero tillage.
Gordon is known as a true innovator, an inventor, a thinker and a question-asker. But most of all never content with the status quo.