Ohio’s top conservation farmers honored

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Ohio conservation farm family award winners
Five Ohio farm families honored for their conservation work during the 2018 Farm Science Review included: The Brause Family of Crawford County; Paul and Joanne Mechling of Ashtabula County; Chuck and Diane Hicks of Washington County; the Lohstroh family of Madison and Pickaway counties; and T. Wayne Vickers of Pickaway County. (Farm and Dairy photo)

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio —  The Ohio Department of Agriculture recognized five families as winners of the 2018 Conservation Farm Family Awards.

The five families honored Sept. 20 at the Farm Science Review in London were: the Brause Family of Crawford County; Paul and Joanne Mechling of Ashtabula County; Chuck and Diane Hicks of Washington County; the Lohstroh family of Madison and Pickaway counties; and T. Wayne Vickers of Pickaway County.

This was the 35th year of the awards program, which also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the formation of the first county soil and water conservation districts.

“These families have gone the extra mile in conserving soil, water, woodland and wildlife on the land they farm and we thank them for their dedication,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels.

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George and Michelle Lohstroh, their son Jon (holding daughter Julie) and daughter-in-law Annie, were honored with the Conservation Farm Family award during the 2018 Farm Science Review. (Susan Crowell photos)
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George and Michelle Lohstroh, their son Jon (holding daughter Julie) and daughter-in-law Annie, were honored with the Conservation Farm Family award during the 2018 Farm Science Review. (Susan Crowell photos)
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Chuck and Diane Hicks (center), of Washington County, were honored with the 2018 Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award during the Farm Science Review.
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Paul and Joanne Mechling, of Snowy Oak Tree Farm in Ashtabula County, were honored with one of five Conservation Farm Family awards Sept. 20 at the Farm Science Review. Noah Mechling accepted the honor on behalf of his parents.
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Wayne Vickers, who owns farmland and woodland in Pickaway County, received one of Ohio's Conservation Farm Family Awards. Accepting the award during the Farm Science Review on his behalf was Keith Peters, who rents some of Vickers' farmland and works with him on implementing conservation practices.
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The Brause family, of Sunny Slopes Farm, Crawford County, received one of the Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards for their ongoing conservation commitment.

Brause family

Tim, Nathan, and Carrie Brause of Sunny Slopes Farm raise corn and soybeans and own more than 1,550 acres in Crawford County.

The farm includes eight acres of quail buffers and 60 acres of tree plantings. In 1988, they restored 40 acres of marginal cropland into hardwood tree plantings and recently they restored an additional 21 acres of marginal cropland to hardwood trees. The Brauses also manage and produce maple syrup from their woodland acres.

They use no-till production on 100 percent of the cropland, and also utilize cover crops, precision nutrient management, and follow 4R nutrient management best practices. Nathan Brause has been a supervisor with the Crawford SWCD for the last 13 years.

Snowy Oak Tree Farm

Paul and Joanne Mechling of Snowy Oak Tree Farm have more than 365 acres in Ashtabula County, and their woodlands are certified tree farms with the American Forest Foundation, inspected every five years to verify they are practicing sustainable forestry.
Since 1974, they have planted more than 140,000 trees on reverted agricultural land. The Mechlings have also worked with ODNR to build three wetlands and protect more than 11 acres of wetlands.

Paul Mechling has been an Ashtabula County SWCD supervisor since 1998.

The Hicks family

Chuck and Diane Hicks of Washington County farm 365 acres, with approximately 200 acres in soybeans, 105 acres in corn, 20 acres of hay and pasture. They also finish 60 head of cattle each year.

Chuck is an avid promoter of no-till; he built his own no-till soybean planter and has since helped other farmers build their own.

He is a supervisor on the Washington SWCD board, is a member of the Washington County Farm Bureau and a United Producers Inc. board member.

Lohstroh Family Farms

The Lohstroh family (George, Michelle, Jonathan, and Annie) farms approximately 1,000 acres in Madison and Pickaway counties. They raise corn, soybeans, pumpkins, wheat, hay, cover crops, and sorghum-sudan grass for baled silage.

The farm also includes a 35-cow beef herd and a fall farm market at their farm near Mount Sterling, offering pick-your-own pumpkins, hay rides, and educational tours for school groups.

The Lohstrohs use variable rate technology for precision placement of nutrients, and have implemented numerous conservation practices.

Vickers

T. Wayne Vickers owns more than 1,300 acres in Pickaway County, including 320 acres of land in the Conservation Reserve Program, 370 acres of woodlands, 250 acres of corn/soybean rotation and 80 acres of lakes and ponds.

Vickers has planted more than 170,000 trees on his property and the property is home to the largest bur oak in the state.

The farm has hosted tour groups through the local soil and water conservation district and the property has been used by Pheasants Forever to conduct youth programs.

About the program

Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized 181 Ohio farm families for their efforts conserving soil, water, woodland, wildlife and other natural resources on the land they farm.

In addition to receiving $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the families were also featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer magazine and received plaques from ADS Hancor Inc.

Nominations are sought annually between January and May, and Ohio farming families are encouraged to apply. For more information or to apply individuals can contact their local soil and water conservation district.

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