Ohio’s top conservation farmers and families honored

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LONDON, Ohio – Ohio’s top conservation farm families for 2004 were honored for their long-standing dedication to natural resource conservation on the land they farm during ceremonies Sept. 23 at the annual Farm Science Review.
Among the families honored were Vincent and Mary Schroeder of Putnam County, Fred Deering and family of Erie County, Richard and Carolyn Potts of Holmes County, Fred and Marie Cowman of Clinton County, and Lawrence and Judy Burdell who farm in Gallia County.
Schroeder. Vincent and Mary Schroeder operate a diverse farm in Putnam County. Soybeans, corn and wheat are the main crops. Cattle are also raised.
Conservation practices include filter strips, no-till, windbreaks, crop rotation and a manure nutrient management plan. The farm soil is tested to ensure the correct nutrient placement from fertilizer and manure.
A pond built to catch roof water supplies all the water for the farm and two homes. In 2003, and in previous years, production plots were on the farm to compare seed varieties and demonstrate high yields from no-till farming.
The Schroeder family has been a cooperator with the local soil and water conservation district since 1979.
“Avoiding soil disturbance and soil compaction, and increasing soil organic matter content are essential to maximizing soil microbial life,” Vincent Schroeder said.
Deering. Fred Deering and family farm 1,650 acres in Erie County. Major crops include soybeans, grain, wheat and corn. Pullets are also raised.
Conservation practices include no-till farming, crop rotation, grassed waterways, filter strips, grade stabilization structures and manure management.
Fully understanding the value of education and public awareness, the Deerings have partnered with the Erie County Soul and Water Conservation District on numerous occasions, hosting pond clinics, forestry field days, and officials tours.
“Where conservation is concerned, our family tries to lead by example, not only by our environmentally conscientious farming methods, but through participation with various like-minded agencies and organizations,” Fred Deering said.
Potts. Richard and Carolyn Potts’ tree farm is 206 acres in Holmes County.
It was certified by the American Tree Farm System in 1968. Conservation practices include a well-developed plan that guides the sustainable management of the woodlands from planting to harvest.
Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) is applied to developing stands and Crop Tree Release to those approaching maturity.
Riparian zones have been established for streams and best management practices have been applied to all roads and trails. Wildlife habitat is a strong component of the Potts Tree Farm by leaving den and nut-bearing trees in the TSI.
Since 1957, more than 50,000 tree seedlings have been completed.
“Conservation management insures a sustainable production of timber into future generations to continue the use of the land for wood, water, wildlife, and recreation,” Richard Potts said.
Cowman. Fred and Marie Cowman operate a diverse farm in Clinton County. Principal crops are corn, soybeans and wheat. Hogs, cattle and sheep are also raised.
Conservation practices include no-till farming, cover crops, grassed waterways, filter strips and a windbreak. Fred has been a cooperator with the local soil and water conservation district for 54 years.
The Cowmans have hosted numerous farm tours, giving the public the opportunity to see the filter strips, grassed waterways, rock chutes, and all of the other conservation practices that have been installed on the farm.
“My belief is that God blessed us all with soil and water to preserve and cherish. And that it is our responsibility to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us to pass on to future generations as an honor and a privilege,” Fred Cowman said.
Burdell. Lawrence and Judy Burdell farm 300 acres in Gallia County. Major crops include hay, corn and barley. Cattle are also raised.
Conservation practices include no-till farming, cover crops, grassed waterways, contour strips, and fencing to prevent livestock from entering the streams and woodlots.
Innovative techniques include the construction of a winter livestock feeding facility with a manure storage area, rotational grazing and constructing improved stream crossings.
Lawrence has been a soil and water conservation district cooperator for more than 37 years. The Burdells have hosted Farm City Day, Vital Links, soil-judging contests, a beef forage tour and elected officials tours.
“Like Dwight D. Eisenhower, I ‘wanted to buy a piece of ground and leave it better'” than I found it,” Lawrence Burdell said.
Program 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.
“This 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.”
Hanselmann serves as coordinator for the program. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Conservation, Ohio Farmer magazine and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation sponsor the annual award.
Families received $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Nominations are sought annually between January and May.

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