Several people talk a good story when it comes to promoting conservation and soil health. Some of them actually walk the talk and make it work on their farms. A select few not only talk about conservation and follow these practices, but also tell others about the benefits of conservation, cover crops and soil health whenever they get the chance.
Rodney Rulon is one of the few. And he gets lots of chances to talk about what he and his family have learned after decades of continuous no-till and many years of incorporating cover crops into their system. Cover crops remain blistering hot, and those who have experience with them and are willing to share it are in demand.
How much demand? Rulon was receiving a key award at the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual conference in January. Started several years ago to honor one of Indiana’s some 450 soil and water conservation district supervisors each year for outstanding service, it’s typically kept a secret, announced at the closing IASWCD luncheon.
Cat's out of the bag
“When I told some of my fellow Hamilton County SWCD supervisors at a meeting that I couldn’t attend annual conference, it wasn’t long before I knew something was up,” says Rulon, Cicero. He farms with his cousins Ken and Roy, and his uncle Jerry in Rulon Enterprises.
Rulon was going to be named Indiana SWCD Supervisor of the Year at the closing luncheon. Indiana Prairie Farmer sponsors the award each year. Officials were forced to spill the beans early, and let Rulon know he would receive the prestigious award. But he couldn’t be present at the awards luncheon, and the reason tells the story.
“I had already agreed to go to Kansas to talk to farmers at a major meeting out there about conservation tillage and cover crops,” Rulon says.
“The meeting started, and they didn’t understand why I cared so much about soil drainage,” he notes. “As it turns out, it’s mainly dryland country there. Once we got past that, they were receptive to my message.”
Rulon has since spoken at a conservation meeting set up by the Bi-State Extension group, featuring educators in west-central Indiana and east-central Illinois. He also received the Supervisor of the Year award at the Hamilton County SWCD annual conference recently.