Inducted: November 17, 2015
Gerald Ruhnke was born in Kent County on November 21st, 1898 of Nelson Charles Ruhnke and the former Margaret Drummond. He died in 1957, after a long and fruitful career as a teacher, scientist, and ardent conservationist.
Gerald married Myrtle Jane Sommerville of Ridgetown in 1924. They had two boys, Paul and Bryce, both now deceased.
Gerald was a graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph in 1923, and joined the Department of Chemistry and became involved with the Soil Survey in Ontario. He was appointed Head of the Department in 1936.
Gerald was instrumental in formalizing an agreement between the federal and provincial governments which led to the co-operative soil survey programs which still exist today.
In 1945, the Department of Soil Science was created and Professor Ruhnke was named as head.
In 1948, he was appointed Chair of the Ontario Agricultural College Program of Graduate Studies.
In 1951, Gerald became the Director of Research for the Ontario Department of Agriculture and was appointed a fellow in the Agricultural Institute of Canada in 1950.
Gerald was considered an International leader in soil science research. He was devoted to helping farmers utilize their soil resources conscientiously.
He was a teacher, scientist and ardent conservationist and made an outstanding contribution to the theory and practice of soil conservation with the Soil and Crop Improvement Association and the Fertilizer Advisory Board of Ontario.
Throughout his career, he also had a farm in Dover Township, Kent County, and this direct connection with farming made him very credible with Ontario farmers.
Professor Ruhnke is credited with organizing the Ontario Soil Survey and introducing soil testing services to Ontario farmers.
He was also internationally recognized for his work as a researcher and ardent conservationist.
Gerald was inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1988.
Professor Ruhnke’s thought was “For a while, we are custodians of the soil, which we hold in trust for generations not yet born."