LONDON, OHIO — Ohio’s top conservation farm families for 2008 were honored for their long-standing dedication to natural resource conservation during ceremonies at Farm Science Review Sept. 18.
The Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards recognize farm families who have gone the extra mile in protecting the environment while producing the food and fiber crops that are such an important part of Ohio’s economy, said David Hanselmann, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Conservation.
The practices these people use to prevent soil erosion and water pollution benefit all Ohioans and serve as an example of what individuals can do to conserve natural resources.
Area 1 winner
The Rethmel Brothers, (Robert, Donald and John) farm more than 2,000 acres in Defiance County. Major crops include corn, soybean and wheat. Conservation techniques used include no-till, precision nutrient management, crop rotation, grassed waterways, managed woodlots and filter strips.
They have been district cooperators for 50 years and were named Defiance County Soil and Water Conservation District Cooperator of the Year in 1993.
The Rethmels hosted the 2007 Conservation Planning Course for Natural Resources Conservation Service involving more than 40 conservationists from around the state. They have also implemented management techniques to improve soil and water quality through the Tiffin River Watershed Special Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Area 2 winner
John Scherer operates a diverse farm in Richland County. Major crops include corn, soybeans and wheat. Cattle, sheep, hogs and dairy cows are also raised. Conservation techniques used include no-till, grassed waterways, crop rotation, filter strips, systematic tiling and managing a forested wetland.
Scherer has hosted farm tours, plot demonstrations and has been featured in newspapers and magazines highlighting his accomplishments. He has served as a 4-H adviser and hosted several soil and land judging contests.
He has served two terms as supervisor for the Richland SWCD and has been a district cooperator for more than 48 years. Scherer was invited to Washington to witness President Reagan signing the Drought Relief Bill.
Robert and Karen Hunter
Area 3 winner
Robert and Karen Hunter operate a unique farm in Holmes County whose fields were tilled for five generations then reforested in the 1990s.
More than 50,000 thousand deciduous and evergreen trees were planted on soils from highly eroded to semi eroded. Forested areas along streams and hillsides have been left uncut for generations preserving the soils in the woodland acres.
The Hunters have been district cooperators for more than 28 years. The farm has been used for environmental workshops for area fifth graders, 4-H students and adults. Pond clinics, stream study, tree an insect identification, as well as natural prairie plant study are part of the environmental course offerings at the Hunter farm.
The Dull Family
Area 4 winner
The Dull Family farms 2,700 acres in Montgomery County. Major crops include soybeans and corn. Hogs are also raised, farrow to finish.
Conservation techniques include no-till, crop rotation and the installation of 6,800 linear feet of grassed waterways.
Ralph Dull has been a district cooperator since 1945. A Future Energy and Conservation Visitor’s Center was been constructed on the farm to provide educational exhibits and material for the general public.
Gov. Ted Strickland, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Director of Agriculture Robert Boggs have held meetings at the Energy and Conservation Center this year.
Six wind turbines produce electricity for the farm. A natural-air bin drying of corn for feed reduces the need for propane.
Bill and Debbie Shaw
Area 5 winner
Bill and Debbie Shaw farm 530 acres in Hocking County. Major crops include corn, bean, and wheat. Cattle are also raised.
Conservation practices utilized include no-till, cover crops, crop rotation, grassed waterways and wetland creation.
The Shaws have been district cooperators for more than 30 years. Their farm has been the site of many tours to demonstrate the conservation practices already being used on their farm and to share plans for the future.
The Shaws received the Goodyear/National Association of Conservation Districts Conservation Award of Merit as Hocking County Outstanding Conservation Cooperator in 1992.
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Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized more than 125 Ohio farm families for their exemplary efforts of conserving soil, water, woodland and wildlife and other natural resources on the land they farm. Conservation farm families also host a variety of educational programs, opening their farms to schools, scout groups, farm organizations and others.
In addition to receiving $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the families are also featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer magazine.