Families leave mark on Ohio agriculture

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Conservation winner
Five Conservation Farm Family Awards winners were recognized at the Farm Science Review on Thursday.

LONDON, Ohio — State conservation leaders honored five farm families on the final day of the Farm Science Review for “leaving their mark” on Ohio’s agriculture.

Harold Neuenschwander, president of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, said conservation award winners can be defined as people who make a difference today, and for the future.

Harold Neuenschwander, OFSWCD.
Harold Neuenschwander, OFSWCD.

“They’re leaving their mark in agriculture,” he said. They’ve made a difference and they’re influencing others.”

This was the 34th year of the Conservation Farm Family Awards program, and comes at a time when some Ohio counties are celebrating the 75th year of their local soil and water conservation districts.

Ohio Agriculture Director David Daniels said the success of conservation in Ohio has reached “a great milestone,” with a bright future ahead.

The families recognized were the Rufenachts, of Fulton and Henry counties; Dale and Rita Daniels, of Huron and Erie counties; Wendell and Greg Waters, Coshocton County; Greg and Mary McGlinch, Darke County; and Jim and Denise Sherman, Delaware and Morrow counties.

In addition to receiving $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the families were also featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer magazine and received plaques from ADS Hancor Inc.

Nominations are sought annually between January and May, and Ohio farming families are encouraged to apply. For more information or to apply individuals can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

(Scroll below for family bios.)

Conservation winners
Five Conservation Farm Family Awards winners were recognized at the Farm Science Review on Thursday. Plaque winners (front row, left to right) were Area 1 winner Rufenacht Family, Area 2 winner Daniels Family, Area 3 winner Waters Family, Area 4 winner McGlinch Family, and Area 5 winner Sherman Family.

The Rufenacht Family owns 3,300 acres of row crops in Fulton and Henry counties, where they grow corn, soybeans and wheat and raise 3,200 head of Holstein beef. Conservation practices include the use of cover crops, filter strips, drainage water management and conservation tillage. The farm has been used to conduct county soil judging and has participated in on-farm research trials with OSU extension and Pioneer seeds.

The farm has been host to OSU, Corn Growers International and local public officials. The Rufenacht Family has been cooperators with Fulton SWCD since 1991 and were named Cooperator of the year in 1991 and 2016.

Dale and Rita Daniels have 300 acres in Huron and Erie counties used for the production of soybeans, wheat, corn and timber. Conservation practices include no-till, the use of cover crops, established filter strips between fields and systematically tiled 95 percent of farm ground. The farm has also been a certified tree farm for the past 25 years. The Daniels are two- time Erie County Cooperator and Stewardship award winners in 1990 and 2015. The Daniels Farm has hosted inner-city school students in an effort to teach about gardening. The farm has also been used for a variety of field days and educational events.

Wendell and Greg Waters, of WenMar Farms have more than 2,700 acres in Coshocton County. Major crops include corn and soybeans. WenMar Farms is home to a 3,500 sow-hog operation. The hog operation includes two sow facilities and a gilt development facility. WenMar Farms runs manure nutrient tests every year and tests soil every five years using a one acre grid system. WenMar Farms raises corn and soybeans using minimal tillage. They were named Coshocton Soil and Water Conservation Farmer of the Year award in 2007 and they have been cooperators with Coshocton SWCD for 47 years.

Greg and Gary McGlinch have more than 450 acres in Darke County. Major crops include corn, soybeans, wheat and cereal rye. They also raise hogs, meat chickens and laying hens. The McGlinches use soil tests to monitor soil fertility and plan nutrient applications. The McGlinches have experimented with a variety of cover crops and have been cooperators with the Darke SWCD for 30 years. In addition to applying the manure from their own hogs and poultry, they work with nearby livestock producers to apply manure as fertilizer, keeping soil nutrient levels in the maintenance range.

Jim and Denise Sherman farm 700 acres in Delaware and Morrow counties for the production of soybeans, corn, wheat and hay, plus pasture and woodlands. The farm includes a 22-head cow- calf herd and 177 acres have been accepted for the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program under the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The farm is also registered as a Century Farm with the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Historic Family Farm program. Jim was a founding member of the Upper Big Creek Water Quality Partnership.

Since 2004, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has been collecting water samples from drains on the farm as part of a long term study on water quality.
The Sherman family has cooperated with Delaware SWCD for over 41 years and in 2012 the family was named outstanding cooperator of the year with the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District.

About the awards

The Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized 176 Ohio farm families since 1984, for efforts like conserving soil, water, woodland, 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.

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