Farms earn state award for conservation practices

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LONDON, Ohio – Five farm families were honored at the Farm Science Review Sept. 20 for their implementation of natural resource conservation practices.
Winners of this year’s Conservation Farm Family Awards included: Eugene and Mariann Royer, Hardin County; Kenneth and Dorothy Stitzlein, Ashland County; Irv and Jean Bell, Muskingum County; Roy Sollenberger Jr., Montgomery County; and Tom and Marilyn Cluxton of Brown County.
Since the award program’s start in 1984, 126 farm families have been recognized for their conservation work.
Area 1 winners. Eugene and Mariann Royer farm 1,285 acres and raise cattle in Hardin County. Major crops include corn, soybeans and wheat.
The Royers practice no-till and crop rotation, and have installed 3,000 linear feet of grassed waterways. They’ve also fenced the livestock out of streams to prevent erosion.
Royer also installed a roof over manure storage and secondary fertilizer containment to prevent nutrients from leaving the farm.
They have worked with their local soil and water conservation district for more than 39 years.
Area 2 winners. Kenneth and Dorothy Stitzlein operate a diverse 560-acre farm in Ashland County, raising corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, and cattle.
They practice no-till and have installed 2,200 feet of grassed waterway for controlled drainage. The Stitzleins also conducted a selective tree harvest to maintain a healthy woodlot, and have hosted the 2003 Ashland County Farm tour to demonstrate their access lane benefits, heavy use pads and rotational grazing.
They also conducted Pioneer field days for several years and collected data on no-till test plots for corn and soybeans for 15 years. They have been district cooperators since 1968.
Accepting the award, Kenneth Stitzlein looked across the crowd and acknowledged Larry Vance, former chief of the Ohio Division of Soil and Water Conservation. The pair were in college together and one of their first jobs as student-employees at the Farm Science Review was planting pine seedlings on a cold, snowy March day. It was, Stitzlein said, the first of many conservation assignments for both.
Area 3 winners. Irv and Jean Bell raise hogs, corn, soybeans and small grains on 1,415 acres in Muskingum County.
Bell has installed grassed waterways to address erosion problems and has also planted grass layers on steep slopes to prevent runoff and provide habitat for birds. Buffer strips were installed along the river to prevent fertilizer and nutrient runoff.
The Bells also received the 2007 Environmental Stewardship Award from the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Pork Producers Council, and in 2006, Bell Farms received the Resource Conservation Award from the Muskingum SWCD.
Area 4 winners. Roy Sollenberger Jr. farms 1,752 acres in Montgomery County, raising corn, soybeans wheat and cattle are also raised.
He has installed filter strips along both sides of a perennial stream, fenced out livestock from streams, practiced no-till, and installed grassed waterways. He also uses a precision nutrient management plan using grid soil sampling and GPS mapping.
Area 5 winners. Tom and Marilyn Cluxton raise hay, soybeans and corn on 1,080 acres in Brown County. The farm is also home to a cow/calf operation.
Conservation practices include no-till, cover crops, crop rotation, grassed waterways and 22 acres of filter strips.
About the award. The annual award is sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Soil & Water Conservation, Ohio Farmer magazine and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
In addition to receiving $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the families are also featured in the September Ohio Farmer.

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