These Ohio farmers keep an eye on soil and water, air and wildlife

COLUMBUS – Seven Ohio family farms were honored as outstanding stewards of the land, air, soil, water, wildlife and other natural resources.

The Ohio Livestock Coalition and Ohio’s commodity groups saluted these farm owners with the 2004 Ohio Environmental Stewardship Awards.

The ceremony was held in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium June 23,

Winners. This year’s recipients include: Scott and Charlene Stoller, Stoller Farm, Wayne County, Ohio Dairy Producers; Randy and Tom Brown, Maken Bacon Farm, Wyandot County, Ohio Pork Producers Council; Val Karikomi/Jorgensen Farms, Franklin County, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association; Don Lohr/Paradise Knoll Farm, Crawford County, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association;

Ron and Kasey Schwieterman/Schwieterman Egg Farm, Mercer County, Ohio Poultry Association; Gerald Hanko/Homelands Farm, Ohio Soybean Association, and John Dunlap/Dunlap Farms, Pickaway County, Ohio Corn Growers Association.

Stoller Farm. The Scott Stoller farm is a certified organic family dairy farm.

Scott Stoller has implemented a comprehensive nutrient management plan and cover crops are utilized to eliminate soil erosion and reduce run-off.

As part of its organic certification process, the farm stopped using commercial chemicals, fertilizer and pesticides and now relies upon microbial bacteria and the application of dairy cattle manure to crop, pasture and hay fields.

Stoller practices intensive, rotational grazing and has developed springs and installed stream cattle crossings and constructed fence along stream banks.

A tile line has been installed to direct all silage leachate into the manure storage area.

He’s also adopted forest stand improvement, upland wildlife habitat and riparian buffer zone management plans.

Homelands Farm. Gerald Hanko received the Ohio Soybean Association’s first environmental stewardship award.

Hanko owns, operates and manages Homelands Farm near New London in Huron County.

He 13 when he installed his first grass waterway to protect farmland from gully erosion.

For the past 21 years, Hanko has raised 600 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat with no-till production. He has hosted many no-till demonstrations for the purpose of educating farmers, elected officials and the public about no-till’s benefits.

To prevent non-point source pollution from entering the Lake Erie watershed, he maintains natural buffers and buffer strips adjacent to all open water on the land under crop production. Stream bank stabilization has been accomplished by placing riprap material on the stream banks.

Jorgensen Farms. Val Karikomi and Jorgensen Farms, located in northeastern Franklin County between Westerville and New Albany, received the 2004 Environmental Stewardship Award sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Livestock Coalition.

Several years ago, one of Val Karikomi’s sons started a flock of Romney sheep and adopted management intensive grazing as a project. That little project has since grown to include an on-farm market and education center.

The market features organic products directly from the 65-acre farm, which has developed a community agriculture research ecology center to provide educational programs to more than 2,400 preschool and elementary school children.

Pastures have been planted with a mixture of cool season grasses and subdivided to manage grass growth and provide high quality feed for the sheep, which have been fenced out of woodlots and riparian zones.

A livestock watering system and a lane for movement of the flock aid in the proper utilization of pastures.

Dunlap Farms. Dunlap Farms, Williamsport, is a Pickaway County grain and beef cattle farm that has been in the same family for more than 125 years.

Dunlap Farms consists of 1,150 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat.

When John Dunlap started installing tile to drain excess moisture from farm fields to improve crop production, little did he know that it would eventually enable him to adopt no-till and conservation tillage practices.

He began implementing reduced tillage practices into the farm’s crop production operations almost 40 years ago that, over time, evolved gradually into no-till farming 20 years ago and achieving his goal of 100 percent no-till 10 years ago.

Five years ago, Dunlap Farms adopted global positioning satellite (GPS) technology and uses grid sampling, mapping and prescription-based fertilizer applications and ensured pesticides are being accurately applied by way of a light bar.

Paradise Knoll Farm. Don Lohr’s Paradise Knoll Farm includes 600 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, 35 beef cows, and a 100-head feeder cattle operation.

Aware of the Olentangy River Watershed in which they live, the Lohr family has developed and implemented many conservation practices, such as no-till crop production, rotational grazing, crop rotations and the installation of tile drainage systems.

Grass filter strips and riparian areas have been developed, installed and maintained along the banks of the Olentangy River that crosses the farm.

A critical conservation practice used on the farm involves the planting of no-till cereal rye as a cover crop after harvesting corn silage. More than half of the farm consists of highly erodible land.

The Lohr family recently constructed a 50-by-80 foot coverall hoop structure that shelters the entire beef cattle feedlot. The roof and gutter system of the hoop structure prevents manure runoff.

Maken Bacon Farm. Maken Bacon Farm is owned, operated and managed by brothers Randy and Tom Brown along with their mother, Anna.

According to Randy, he and his brother Tom “were brought up to be keepers of the land. We both live on the farm and plan to live here for many more years to come.”

To ensure that they are doing the right things right, the farm was the first livestock farm in Ohio to participate in the On-Farm Assessment and Environmental Review Program (OFAER), which provides an overview of overall site management, livestock housing and feeding systems, manure management, and livestock mortality management.

The Brown brothers have significantly reduced the impact of odors originating from their farm, which includes a 500-sow, farrow-to-finish hog operation and a 350-head cattle feedlot by incorporating or injecting manure that is applied to crop fields, as well as planting trees on the eastside of farm’s manure holding pond.

They compost hog farm mortalities in a building designed specifically for this purpose.

A majority of the farm’s 1100 acres of corn and soybeans are planted using the no-till method, and grass waterways and filter strips have been installed.

Maken Bacon Farm follows a nutrient management plan that involves a soil and manure testing and analysis program. As a result, the Brown brothers have not applied any phosphate fertilizer on 800 acres of crops during the past 15 years, and currently have approximately 100 acres of corn that do not require additional nitrogen fertilizer.

Schwieterman Egg Farm. Schwieterman Egg Farm, owned, operated and managed by the father-son combination of Ron and Kasey Schwieterman, became a contract grower for Fort Recovery Equity in 1987 with a 50,000-layer bird barn.

Nine years later, the father-son operation established a second layer facility with a capacity for 120,000 birds, which also required an operating permit from the Ohio EPA.

Schwieterman Egg Farm complies with the standards established by the Ohio Egg Quality Assurance Program and United Egg Producers’ Animal Care Certified Program. The Schwietermans have also completed the Livestock Mortality Composting Education Training program and built a compost storage building last year.

An integrated fly program is the main ingredient of the farm’s manure management plan. Fly bait and residual sprays, along with the use of a good, solid rodent baiting program are utilized to control pests.

Manure produced by the layers is dried and then sold via a brokerage system to either relatives or custom applicators to use as nutrients for crop production and Kasey Schwieterman completed a multi-day, intensive training course offered by Ohio Department of Agriculture to become a certified livestock manager.

Big and small. According to David White, Ohio Livestock Coalition executive director, two of this year’s award recipients are small- to medium-sized, organically certified operations while five of the recipients are medium- to large-sized operations focusing on commercial commodity production.

“This demonstrates that regardless of the size of the farm or the type of production system utilized, with proper management, they can all protect the environment and be good stewards and neighbors.”

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