Dennis McIntosh, an advocate of knowledge-based farming, died of a heart attack Oct. 1 at the age of 62. The Melfort, Sask., farmer was recognized prairie-wide for his efforts over the past three decades to make new technology work for producers.
McIntosh was born in Melfort and raised on the family farm in the nearby Mount Forest district. He graduated with a degree in chemistry from the University of Saskatchewan in 1964 and embarked on a career that included chemistry and nuclear instrumentation. In 1974 he moved back to Melfort to take over the family farm. His immediate survivors include Anne, his wife of 36 years and their daughter Shelly.
McIntosh started in the 1970s with his work in reconfiguring the threshing mechanisms on Massey combines so they could handle flax and canola.
While many producers invested in aftermarket kits that didn’t work, McIntosh’s modifications helped thousands of Massey owners convert their combines into efficient harvesters of small seeded crops, without spending money on kits and parts.
It was during this time that he began promoting the concept that prairie farmers could become more prosperous if they had better access to in-depth knowledge on every aspect of their operations, from machinery to plant genetics to the soil itself.
In the 1980s, McIntosh initiated North American nutritional research projects on the health benefits of flaxseed.
He turned his attentions to precision farming in the 1990s. He conducted numerous research projects involving nitrogen efficiency. During this time, he initiated the Saskatchewan VRT Project, which focuses on making precision farming economically viable.
Always eager to explore new technology in the quest for answers, McIntosh would sometimes have as many as seven computers running simultaneously in his farm office, crunching numbers on his various research projects.