YORKTON - Larry and Kathy Hilworth were presented the 2023 Yorkton Exhibition Farmer Recognition Award at the Grain Millers Harvest Showdown.
“I was kind of dumbfounded and a little surprised, and a little bit honoured at the same time,” said Larry Hilworth of being told of the award.
“A whole range of things go through your mind.”
The surprise element revolved around the fact that the couple are actually very new farmers.
“We just started farming six years ago,” he said, then added quickly “it was always a childhood dream.”
As a youngster Larry said he loved the farm. He said he would hitchhike a ride to Yorkton from Melville to help his uncle and grandpa farm.
In spring and fall he would ride his thumb to the Zellers parking lot, be met by family and spend time helping on the farm, his mother picking him up after work.
“I did that for a long time,” he said. “So it was always a dream to farm.”
But, life took Hilworth of a rather winding path careerwise, also involved in agricultural related endeavours before finally acquiring some land from his uncle in retirement.
“I was able to negotiate a deal with my uncle. He agreed to sell it to me,” said Larry.
Initially Larry rented out the land, but found himself helping out as much as possible.
One day he said Kathy asked “’why don’t you farm it?’”
“I said that made no financial sense,” he recalled.
But Kathy pointed out Larry’s interest in tractor pulling—he once owned eight pullers – didn’t make financial sense either.
Larry listened and started acquiring equipment, and more land.
Today he has 15 quarters, seeding 12 each year.
“It’s a garden in size,” he said with a smile commenting on the large-scale farm operations today.
It is however a dream come true.
“I love harvest. All I want to do is drive a combine,” said Hilworth.
Still, Hilworth focuses on farming as well as he can in spite of the relative limited acres.
In the introduction to the award at the Garin Awards Night last Thursday, Jason Popowich noted, Larry uses variable rate technology on his spring seeding equipment and uses the JD Data centre where he overlays his yield and seed fertilizer maps and uses a professional agronomy service to provide fertilizer prescriptions based on this valuable information.
Hilworth also follows the National 4R Nutrient Stewardship best management practices by addressing the right source, at the right rate, the right time and in the right place that are good for the grower, good for the community and good for the environment.
His equipment is equipped with auto trac and as well sectional control on his crop sprayer to minimize overlap while saving fuel and other operational cost at the same time.
In 2022, Hilworth leased a portion of his cropland with the local East Central research foundation and also worked alongside Bayer Crop Science to allow them to study present and future crop production practices and products.
He has benefited from the data collected by learning more about the present and possibly the future in crop science to make improvements on his farm.
Between his days hitchhiking to help farm as a youth, and finally buying land, Larry Hilworth was busy in business.
Hilworth spent years in the banking business, always having an eye on agriculture.
“When working for the Royal Bank was thinking somehow I’m going to be able to farm,” he said.
While he would leaving the banking sector it was not to farm though.
Hilworth moved to the farm equipment sector with Maple Farm Equipment, becoming one of the owners before finally selling. It is now Pattison Agriculture.
The combination of banking and farm equipment sales in his background has created other opportunities for Hilworth, always connected to the farm sector.
He sits on three farm advisory boards, including Leguee farms and Aberhart Ag bio solutions.
He also sat on an advisory board for the first ever autonomous tractor in the world and also assisted in its sale to Raven Industries. He also sat on the Raven Dot Board till Raven acquired 100 per cent ownership of the company.
Hilworth is chair of the Seed master international manufacturing company management board.
Along the way from childhood dreamer to actual farmer, Hilworth has also been an active community supporter, again, not surprisingly often connected in some way to farmimg.
While serving on the Exhibition Association Hilworth was bringing in the Breeder’s alley to the Harvest Showdown – still a feature today.
Hilworth was also co-chair of the Farming for Health Project for 10-years. Last year marked the highest amount ever raised at $395,036 and over the last 10 years the project has raised more than $2,000,000.
Hilworth also dipped a toe in the cattle business as a partner in Shy Cattle Company, which was one of the longest continual buyers of the Harvest Showdown Commercial Cattle sale.