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Morriss, Pakosh, Streichs named to ag hall of fame

john morriss
John Morriss. (File photo by Dave Bedard)

The Manitoba farmers who developed the rotary separator for combines, the co-founder of Versatile and the long-time editorial director for the website you’re reading are bound for Manitoba’s Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The hall of fame on Monday unofficially announced its 2018 group of inductees, ahead of its annual meeting Wednesday in Portage la Prairie and an official induction ceremony to be held in June.

The hall’s 2018 class includes John Morriss, Peter Pakosh, Fred Streich and Bill Streich.

Morriss, whose first job as a farm writer was with Grainews in 1975, returned to agriculture journalism in the 1980s as publisher and editor of the Manitoba Co-operator, then owned by Manitoba Pool Elevators.

He later co-founded Farmers Independent Weekly in 2002 before returning to the Co-operator, now part of Glacier FarmMedia, in 2007 as editorial director for Glacier’s Farm Business Communications division.

Now semi-retired, Morriss was hailed Monday by the hall of fame for his “significant contributions to agriculture journalism.” He has long been active in Farm Radio International, the Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association and the Canadian Federation of Farm Writers.

Pakosh, who developed several farm equipment innovations before his death in 1999, grew up on a Manitoba farm but was working as a draftsman for Massey-Harris in Toronto when he developed the idea for the grain auger used by combine harvesters.

When Massey rejected the idea, Pakosh began selling it directly to Prairie farmers, then took it to co-found the Hydraulic Engineering Company, later Versatile Manufacturing, in 1947.

The company moved west to Winnipeg in 1952 and rebranded as Versatile in 1963, expanding into field sprayers, harrow bars, swathers and, ultimately, four-wheel-drive and bi-directional tractors. Versatile later became part of New Holland in 1987 and is now the farm tractor arm of Winnipeg’s Buhler Industries.

The late Bill and Fred Streich, who hailed from Beausejour and Niverville respectively, “worked tirelessly to come up with changes and improvements to the way combines operate,” the hall of fame said.

Their best-known such improvement was the development of the rotating screened drum to separate kernels from chaff, improving the quality of separation over the vibrating conveyor systems then commonly used in mechanical threshers.

The rotary separator was put commercially to work in a small run of combines produced by Western Roto Thresh Ltd. in Saskatoon in the 1970s. The company was unsuccessful but the rotary separator ultimately morphed into the axial flow technology used in modern combines.

The 2018 class will be inducted into the hall of fame at a ceremony June 18 at Winnipeg’s Victoria Inn. That event will also include the announcement of the Red River Exhibition’s 2018 Farm Family of the Year and presentations of the Red River Exhibition Foundation’s Agriculture and Agri-Food scholarships. — Network

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