FARM SCIENCE REVIEW: Ohio’s top conservation farmers honored at Review


LONDON, Ohio – Ohio’s top conservation farm families for 2005 were honored for their long-standing dedication to natural resource conservation during ceremonies Sept. 21 at the Farm Science Review near London.
The annual award is sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Conservation, Ohio Farmer magazine and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
Among those honored were Jan Layman and family of Hardin County; Joe Mattingly of Muskingum County; Brian Renneker of Wayne County; Melvin and Marilyn Roeth of Miami County; and Eugene and Betty Carter from Ross County.
Layman. Jan and Cindy Layman farm 3,000 acres in Hardin County. Corn and soybeans are the principal crops.
Much of the land farmed is considered highly erodable. Conservation techniques include no-till, filter strips, and installation of approximately 1.5 miles of grass waterways.
Layman Farms was also the site for the first water and sediment control basin system designed in Hardin County.
They have hosted a number of OSU Cooperative Extension field days/crop twilight tours at their farm. The American Soybean Association, Monsanto and Soybean Digest has recognized the Laymans as the Eastern Region Conservation Legacy Award winner for 2003.
“Operating in the most profitable manner while still maintaining and improving the quality of the farms we operate, as well as reducing soil erosion and improving water quality, remains our goal,” Jan Layman said.
Renneker. The Brian Renneker family operates a diverse 560-acre farm in Wayne County. The family includes Brian and Heidi Renneker and their children Josh, Ben and Hannah.
Major crops include corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. Cattle are also raised.
Conservation practices include no-till, crop rotation, filter strips, grass waterways, and contour strips.
Renneker has installed fencing to reduce streambank erosion and prevent manure from entering Sugar Creek.
He also planted more than 1,000 trees along the riparian corridor that will someday shade and cool the stream and make it more attractive to fish, aquatic insects and wildlife.
“Being a good steward of the land is a priority, we have to protect our soil and our water,” Renneker said.
“Implementing sound conservation practices is worth the effort and it is easy to see the difference already.”
Mattingly. Joe Mattingly farms 520 acres in Muskingum County.
He has been a cooperator with the district for more than 54 years. He was one of the earliest to install systematic subsurface drainage and was a proponent of contour strips on his farm.
Other conservation techniques utilized include no-till, crop rotation, grass filter strips, erosion control structures, tree plantings, and wetlands development and restoration.
Mattingly’s farms have served as training grounds for a multitude of conservation programs, including pond clinics, forestry field days, college and high school conservation tours, county land judging contests, teacher workshops, as well as the annual “wiener roast” for local nursing home senior residents.
“Soil conservation not only helps the farmer, but benefits everybody by providing clean water in the streams, while the trees help retain water to reduce flooding,” Mattingly noted.
Roeth. Melvin and Marilyn Roeth farm 474 acres in Miami County. Major crops include corn and soybeans.
Conservation techniques used include no-till, crop rotation, grass waterways, grass filter strips, and the development of five acres of wetlands.
The Roeths have been district cooperators since 1958. They have hosted numerous educational workshops on a variety of subjects including: wildlife habitat, stream monitoring, conservation, and the importance of annual planning.
They recently built a small cottage with the idea that it can be used for future workshops and meetings to promote their wetlands and other conservation practices.
Carter. Eugene and Betty Carter farm 2,100 acres in Ross County. Principal crops include corn, soybeans, and wheat.
Conservation practices include installation of almost four miles of filter strips to control runoff, reduce sediment, and prevent fertilizers from entering nearby streams.
They are also strong proponents of no-till, crop rotation, cover crops and grass waterways.
“My goal is to leave this land better than it was when I began farming and hope my children and grandchildren will do the same,” Carter said.
History. Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized more than 100 Ohio farm families for their exemplary efforts of conserving soil, water, woodland and 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.
“The awards program recognizes farm families who have gone the extra mile in protecting the environment while producing the food and fiber crops that are such an important part of Ohio’s economy,” said David Hanselmann, chief of the ODNR Division of Soil and 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.”
Winners receive $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
Nominations are sought annually between January and May.

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