WALNUT CREEK, Ohio — The 2012 drought serves as a reminder as to why soil and water conservation districts were formed over 70 years ago. Years of drought and poor farming practices led to the Dust Bowls of the 1930s, according to Jim Croskey Jr., chairman of the Holmes Soil and Water Conservation board of supervisors.
Croskey, who shared the information during the district’s annual meeting, said, “Soil from the prairies blew all the way to Washington DC to convince Congress that conservation needed to become a priority for our nation, and the Soil Conservation Service and soil and water conservation districts were formed.”
“Conservation has changed the face of our land, improved our water quality, and kept our soils productive, even in times of drought,” he added.
Velvet View Farm, of Big Prairie, owned and operated by Aaron and David Schlauch and their families, received the 2012 Conservation Farm Award.
“The Schlauchs don’t have a lot of flat land on their farm, but they do an excellent job of managing their farm,” said Merle Swartzentruber, SWCD technician who has worked with the Schlauchs on many of their projects.
Over the past several years, Schlauchs have installed heavy use pads; a concrete pad for their silage bags, with curbs to prevent run off; three covered manure storage facilities; access lanes; and a feedlot-settling basin. They have also installed gutters and downspouts on their buildings, installed a 2,500-gallon tank to handle milk house waste, managed their woodlot, used cover crops to prevent erosion and have completed a manure nutrient management plan.
Esther Silvius received the district’s Friend of Conservation Award. Silvius has been a longtime supporter of farming and conservation, and has written countless articles over the years for several area newspapers and periodicals.
She was unable to attend the banquet and her award was accepted by her son, Dan.
One of the district’s annual highlights is the Tom Graham Fifth Grade Conservation Tour, now in its 47th year. This year’s tour, hosted by Tom and Sarah Miller, drew more than 400 fifth graders from West Holmes, East Holmes and Holmesville.
As part of the tour, the students are asked to submit an essay about the tour. The top three winners in the essay contest were recognized at the banquet.
First place went to Eleah Crayton, daughter of Will and Heather Crayton. Second place went to Macin Hager, son of Chris and Susan Hager, and third place went to Caleb Martin, son of Steve and Lori Martin.
Elected to the board of supervisors were Tim Brumme and Robert Hershberger. Brumme and his wife, Angela, along with Tim’s parents, run Big Little Farms near Killbuck. They farm 700 acres in Holmes and Coshocton counties. Their main crop is mixed hay for the horse market. They also raise oats, soybeans, and beef cattle.
Hershberger, of Monroe Township, raises Holstein heifers, corn, soybeans, and hay, in rotation. Conservation practices include contour strips, using minimum or no-till.