Grasslands Council: Ohio group honors grazing gurus


WOOSTER, Ohio – The Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council Inc. recognized two individuals for their work in the forage industry during their 2004 annual meeting at Fisher Auditorium on the Wooster campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

David Zartman, dairy scientist at Ohio State University received the Jack Tucker Distinguished Service award, while Tom Noyes, Wayne county extension dairy agent was recognized with the Outstanding Producer award.

David Zartman. Born and raised on a New Mexico dairy farm, Zartman is a second generation grazier. His family worked with New Mexico’s Experiment and Research Site on pasture and grazing studies.

He received a bachelor’s degree in dairy husbandry from New Mexico State University and after six years in a junior partnership with his father on the family farm, Zartman went on to complete his master’s degree and doctorate in genetics at Ohio State.

Zartman got involved in grazing in Ohio when he agreed to participate in a planning meeting with the extension service’s Eastern district to look at eastern Ohio and particularly the Appalachian area.

“One of the advantages the Eastern region has is its ability to produce forages,” he said. “That asset of forage production hit me in the face.”

Viable Ohio option. He knew the secret was to find a way to use that asset and after reviewing grazing studies in New Zealand, he knew it was a viable option in Ohio.

By 1988, they found a location for the project through the help of Russell Conrad, a dairy scientist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and at that time acting director of the center and its branch stations.

“He was a grazing person and he invited me to take the Mahoning research farm and make it our set up,” he said.

Teaching. “I taught the grazing class as an experimental effort in 1999,” Zartman said. “In 2000 it became an official part of the curriculum.

“It needed to be done and I had a heart to do it, otherwise out students would be inadequately educated.”

Zartman’s students have routinely placed among the top three in the 19- to 21-year-old division of the American Forage and Grasslands Councils’ annual essay contest.

Perhaps Zartman’s greatest involvement with grazing has been on a personal level.

“This has given me a great living, it kept me attached to my emotional roots with the land and animals,” he concluded.

Zartman was the first member of the Great Lakes Grazing Network and started the grazing movement in Ohio, according to Noyes.

Tom Noyes. Noyes grew up on a small Guernsey farm in Rhode Island.

He obtained his bachelor’s degree in animal and dairy science from University of Rhode Island and his master’s degree in dairy nutrition from University of Massachusetts.

He is currently in partnership in a 110-acre dairy farm with his daughter and son-in-law, Cheryl and Russ King. They have a herd of Jerseys and Ayrshires in a management intensive grazing operation.

Noyes’ involvement with grazing started with a 1989 visit to the Mahoning Farm project.

“I said that looks too easy, the pasture quality was outstanding, it was just too easy,” Noyes recalled.

“I could see this is another way to have high production besides a confinement feeding system. I came home and talked to Russ about it.”

Benefits. In 1990, they started grazing hay strips on their farm and the rest is history.

“Grazing has reduced costs, improved animal health and reduced labor,” Noyes said.

“We have also reduced equipment and machinery expense. Our farming operation is managing grass and cows, that is all we do.

“Any hay or silage we harvest as a surplus is custom hired. It makes living pretty nice.”

In 1994, Noyes got involved in a research project at OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster.

Teaching. Noyes has also worked with other extension personal to conduct grazing schools, in Ohio, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana.

Grazing has earned him recognition from his peers, including a Distinguished Service award at both state and national levels from the National Association of Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resource Agents.

He concluded, “If you are going to a grazing system, you must do so in a positive frame of mind.

“You have to be positive that it is going to work on your farm and you have to make it work. You need to forget some of the old when you adopt a new system.”

Elections. During the meeting, members also elected four individuals to the board of directors.

Representing producers will be Bob Hendershot, a sheep grazier from Circleville; Louise Warner, a beef cattle producer from Ashville; and James Morris, a sheep grazier from Shreve.

Bob Clapper, who operates a seed and grazing supplies business in East Canton, will represent the industry.


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