Conservation farm families receive awards
The Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, with support from Prairie Farmer, recognized two Illinois families with the annual Conservation Farm Family Award at Ag Day during the Illinois State Fair in Springfield in August: the Mueller family of Taylor Ridge and the Aldridge family of Lawrenceville.
Each winner was nominated by their local soil and water conservation district. Prairie Farmer sponsors the farm signs awarded to each family.
Four generations of the Mueller family have farmed the original farmstead near Taylor Ridge, starting with Henry and followed by Stewart, Jim and now Jason. The family has put several conservation practices to work over the years, including grassed waterways and grade stabilization structures. They maintain terraces, contour farm with residue management and strip-till.
They use grid sampling to address water quality issues and better manage nutrients, and have closed wells to safeguard groundwater from contamination. They also recently started using cover crops on parts of their cropland.
Jim Mueller served on the Rock Island SWCD board for 30 years, retiring in 2017. The Muellers are active in their community and are involved with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Farm Business Farm Management, 4-H, FFA, Farm Bureau and Edgington Township.
The Aldridge family has farmed in the Lawrenceville area starting with Kevin Aldridge’s father, Ralph. Kevin farmed with his father and began incorporating conservation measures during the 1990s.
Today, they farm about 1,700 acres; about 1,200 acres are tillable and the remaining 500 are in trees, grass or enrolled in the Wetland Restoration Program and Conservation Reserve Program.
Among their other conservation practices are crop rotation, terraces, conservation easements and reduced tillage. Kevin was recognized by the Lawrence County SWCD as its Conservationist of the Year in 2018.
Compeer Financial gives back to Illinois ag
Compeer Financial made two large contributions to Illinois agriculture in August. At the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, the cooperative announced $180,000 over the next three years to fund repairs on the 25 Series livestock barns on the fairgrounds.
25Q was repaired ahead of the 2019 fair with the funds. One barn will be repaired each year. Repairs include cleaning exterior walls, retuckpointing all mortar joints, resealing all windows with caulking, painting interiors and adding three circulation fans.
25 SERIES: IDOA Director John Sullivan kicks off a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate renovations to Barn 25Q at the Illinois State Fair. To his left are John Monson, chief mission and marketing officer at Compeer Financial; John Slayton, Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation; Warren Goetsch, IDOA chief of staff; and Kevin Gordon, Illinois State Fair manager (far left). They are joined by 4-H and FFA members.
Compeer Financial also recently announced a $15,000 contribution to Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur. Funds support the development and print cost of Soil Ag Mag, an educational classroom resource for students.
“Ag Mags continue to serve as a cornerstone publication of the IAITC program,” says Kevin Daugherty, IAITC education director. “And soil serves as an excellent topic for students to develop inquiry skills.”
The IAITC program will release the new Soil Ag Mag this fall. All IAITC materials are available through local ag literacy coordinators to 42,000 educators at no cost.
Grandstand revenue up at DuQuoin State Fair
The Illinois Department of Agriculture reports that ticket sales for the DuQuoin State Fair grandstand were up 26% in 2019 compared to 2018, with 15,800 tickets sold in 2019 and 12,500 in 2018. IDOA says grandstand entertainment revenue also increased 37% over the year prior, generating $356,795 in 2019.
“These early numbers show not only the success we had this year, but our potential to grow in the future,” says Josh Gross, DuQuoin State Fair manager.