Conservation just makes sense for these farmers

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LONDON, Ohio – They don’t do it because it makes their farms “look nice.” Or just because they get government cost-share dollars to install a grassed waterway, a windbreak or a manure storage facility.
The winners of this year’s Conservation Farm Family Awards practice conservation on their land because it just makes sense to preserve and improve their farms’ natural resources.
Five families were honored Sept. 21 during ceremonies at the Farm Science Review near London. Regional winners include: Dwight and Lisa Clary of Seneca County; Gerald and Jan Hanko of Huron County; Jeff and Cathie Kreager of Muskingum County; Dallas Lakes Jr. of Montgomery County; and Steve and Debbie Miller of Fairfield County.
“The Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards recognize farm families who have gone the extra mile in protecting the environment,” said David Hanselmann, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Soil & 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 winners. Dwight and Lisa Clary farm 1,175 acres in Seneca County. Major crops include soybeans, corn and wheat.
Conservation techniques used include no-till, crop rotation, filter strips and the installation of shutoff valves on tile outlets to capture or release rain water during the growing season. By closing the system after harvest, the Clarys capture all of winter’s moisture to recharge their subsoils.
The Clarys have been district cooperators for more than 23 years. They were the first in their area to operate under 100 percent no-till in the early 1980s.
Area 2 winners. Gerald and Jan Hanko operate a diverse 750-acre farm in Huron County. Major crops include corn, beans and wheat.
Conservation techniques used include no-till, crop rotation, filter strips, and the installation of 13.2 acres of grassed waterways. Gerald Hanko has been innovative in his use of precision farming to apply nutrients on all crop fields, which has reduced the amount of fertilizers used on his fields.
He has also served as a county SWCD board member for 11 years and has been a district cooperator for 30 years.
Area 3 winners. Jeff and Cathie Kreager operate a diverse 1,250-acre farm in Muskingum County. Their principal crop is hay and they raise cattle.
Conservation practices include installing a windbreak to reduce farmland erosion, stream fencing to prevent livestock from entering streams and woodlots. They have also worked with district personnel in developing a manure-nutrient management plan.
The couple also received the Muskingum SWCD Resource Conservation Award for 2005.
Area 4 winners. Dallas and Edith Lakes farm 385 acres in Montgomery County, primarily raising hay and corn.
To combat rill erosion and drainage problems, Dallas Lakes has installed several WASCOBs, 9,000 feet of grassed waterways, and miles of tile to control erosion. The district has used many of his structures, WASCOBs, waterways and other conservation practices as examples to others of how to apply conservation on the land.
Area 5 winners. Steve and Debbie Miller farm 515 acres in Fairfield County where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and cattle. The farm has been in the family for more than 200 years.
Conservation practices include the traditional techniques such as no-till, mulch till, crop rotation, filter strips and winter cover crops.
On the innovative side, Steve spreads chicken compost and municipal sludge; has just installed a roofed manure dry stack facility, and has plans to install an agricultural fertilizer containment facility. Steve was accepted into the first round of the Ohio Farmland Preservation Program.
About the awards. Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized more than 100 Ohio farm families.
The awards are sponsored annually by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Soil & Water Conservation, Ohio Farmer magazine and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

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