Herrons reap conservation rewards

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HANOVERTON, Ohio – For dairymen David and Glen Herron, paying attention to their Columbiana County farm’s natural resources just makes sense, both common sense and good business sense.
They’ve systematically tiled nearly 70 percent of their farm to curb soil erosion; worked to control grapevine in their woods and improve crop trees for future harvests; and developed sod waterways to prevent gullies in fields.
They’ve created a rotational grazing system for their Jersey milking herd and developed a manure nutrient management program.
And they’ve been no-till farming since the 1980s and jumped to nearly 100 percent no-till in 2000.
Job well done. The Columbiana Soil and Water Conservation District honored the Herron brothers and their families for their stewardship by awarding them the Cooperator of the Year award at the district’s annual meeting Nov. 2 at United Local High School.
In addition to David and Glen, who are partners in Welcome View Farm, the next generation also plays a role, as Glen’s sons Jay and Paul, and David’s son, Jim, are also involved in the farming operation.
The Herrons currently milk a closed herd of 150 registered Jerseys and raise approximately 700 acres of corn, 200 acres of soybeans, 300 acres of hay, 150 acres each of wheat and oats, and maintain another 100 acres in pasture.
Showed the way. In accepting the award, David Herron credited his parents, Carl and Hazel, with instilling a conservation mindset.
“They taught us hard work and love for the land would reward us in the end.”
Carl Herron was using conservation measures as early as 1941, leaving sod waterways for better drainage and erosion control. Some of the rock check dams he built from field stone can still be found throughout the farm.
Got them talking. During the annual banquet, Pete Conkle, the county SWCD’s program coordinator, recapped the district’s work, which is conducted in tandem with technical and financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and USDA financial incentives channeled through the Farm Service Agency.
The strength of the county’s work is in the agricultural sector, although the district also works with individual units of government for drainage and sediment control measures, among other projects.
One of the ongoing projects that caught other counties’ attention was the number of grassed waterways being installed in Columbiana County. The waterways covered 39 acres on various farms, and totaled about 12 miles.
“I guess we’re the talk of the state,” Conkle said of the higher-than-usual installations.
The district also assisted with development of 12 springs and watering troughs and rented a no-till drill that was used on 1,135 acres.
Locally driven. The beauty of Ohio’s soil and water conservation district program is the local emphasis, said David Hanselmann, chief of the ODNR’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation who also spoke briefly at last week’s banquet.
“Everything starts here in the county,” Hanselmann said about the local SWCD’s programming. “What’s important to Columbiana County that the conservation district can help you achieve?”
While state cost-sharing funds have “been a little short lately,” Hanselmann said more federal dollars have been available through the Farm Service Agency and NRCS through such programs as EQIP and the Conservation Reserve Program.
He said intensive grazing is an option for many livestock producers, and a low-input way to keep the next generation on the farm. The conservation district, he added, can help producers set up pasture paddocks with an eye toward water availability, heavy use areas and fencing requirements.
USDA partners. Jim Maple, civil engineer with the USDA’s NRCS area office in Medina, presented certificates to Drue Kovick, civil engineering technician, and Mitch Cattrell, district conservationist, for their work in the county.
Kovick has been involved in creating more than 40 CRP and EQIP contracts, and designed five animal waste structures in the county. Cattrell has helped facilitate more than $190,000 in cost-share funds to county landowners and $543,000 in direct payments to cooperators this year.
Now that’s big. For the second consecutive year, John Harris earned the district’s Big Tree award, winning the honor this year for a black walnut on his property with a diameter of 52 1/2 inches and a circumference of just over 14 feet.
According to Ohio Division of Forestry service forester Jim Elze, the tree is approximately 78 feet tall, with a crown span of 74 feet.
Elze also used the tree’s growth to calculate an estimated age of 234 years.
The state winner was a black walnut in Franklin County that had a diameter of about 61 inches and circumference of 16 feet.
Election. Rhonda Simmons, Unity Township, was re-elected to the district’s board of supervisors and Jeremy Kohler, West Township, was elected to the board during elections held during the banquet.
(Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 1-800-837-3419 or at editorial@farmanddairy.com.)

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