WALNUT CREEK, Ohio — As a commissioner, David Hall was a champion for agriculture and natural resources in Holmes County and he carried that respect and passion with him to Columbus when he was elected to state legislature and a position as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
The passion also gained him the Holmes Soil and Water Conservation District’s Friend of Conservation Award during the annual banquet at the Carlisle Inn in Walnut Creek.
In presenting the award, Harold Neuenschwander, a member of the Holmes SWCD board of supervisors, said that in the past several years, soil and water conservation districts have faced many challenges, and only support from people like Hall has allowed the districts to keep functioning the way they were intended to function.
Neuenschwander added that Hall has fought for every program and every dollar to benefit soil and water conservation efforts in the state.
Piar’s Mineral Ridge Farm was named as the district’s Outstanding Conservation Farm of the Year.
The farm was established in 1954 by Arthur and Betty Piar and is now owned and operated by Larry, Lynn, Jared and Lindsey Piar. They farm 350 acres of corn, corn silage, hay and cover crops in Monroe Township.
The Piars milk 225 Holsteins, and have recently installed a robotic milking system and automated calf feeder. Conservation practices include a 2.3-million gallon earthen manure storage structure, a 550 drip trench and 1500 feet of under outlet used to remove clean water from the area, a sediment basin and sand lane to separate solids, cover crops and a critical area seeding.
The Piars have also hosted numerous farm tours.
Essay contestEach year the district sponsors an essay contest for students participating in the Tom Graham Fifth Grade Conservation Farm Tour. The winners in this year’s contest were Brogan Steimel, first, Katie Sprang, second and Adam Hopkins, third.
In addition to the annual farm tour essay contest, students from Hiland and West Holmes FFA sponsored a safety poster contest for students. Awards were presented for posters in two categories: Farm safety and animal safety.
First place in the farm safety category went to Sprang, while second went to Steimel and third went to Sara Schlabach. First place in the Animal Safety category went to Sprang, while second went to Alexis Weiss and third was tie between Dalton Thorp and Joshua Shrock.
Elected to the board of supervisors were Harold Neuenschwander and Jason Schuch. Neuenschwander resides in Walnut Creek Township, where he operates Harold’s Equipment.
He has assisted many farmers throughout the area in installing manure storage and milk house/parlor waste systems. As a member of the board of supervisors, he is the education chairman, technical committee chairman for the Muskingham Water Quality Trading Joint Board and secretary/treasurer of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Schuch resides in Ripley Township where he is the farm manager for Sweet Breeze Farm and Excavating.
The farm raises 1,300 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay in Holmes, Knox and Wayne counties.
Conservation practices include no-till or minimum tillage, strip cropping and planting on the contours, buffer strips and grass waterways to control surface water and managing nutrient applications to maintain acceptable levels.
Schuch is currently vice-chairman of the board of supervisors and has been involved in implementing the SWCD’s aerial cover crop application and promoting the 4R Tomorrow Nutrient Management initiative in Holmes County.