If agriculture had an Academy Awards, two Ohio farmers would be in line to receive the equivalent of an Oscar for starring in outstanding farm management, innovation, conservation and leadership.
Every year, Ohio Farmer bestows the prestigious Master Farmer award on two individuals who have demonstrated how to farm more effectively, efficiently, environmentally and economically.
This year’s winners are Allen Dean of Bryan and John Motter of Jenera, who were awarded March 5 during the Ohio Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada.
The award acknowledges a lifetime of achievement and not a single year. Master Farmers are nominated by peers and are chosen by a committee of agriculture industry leaders.
The awards program included videos of the winners, produced by sponsor Brownfield Ag News.
As Master Farmers, Dean and Motter received plaques from Michigan Farmer magazine and a Carhartt jacket, donated by Carhartt.
Dean farms just shy of 1,900 acres in Williams County. A first-generation farmer, he gained his footing in agriculture by participating in 4-H and working for nearby farmers. He has been no-tilling crops for close to 40 years and today raises corn and soybeans, as well as some oats and barely this past season.
Cover crops have been a mainstay for his entire acreage since 2005. He started with simple mixes and is now up to 18-way blends.
Grass waterways and filter strips help keep the nutrients, which are variable-rate applied, out of waterways.
Dean is a huge advocate for cover cropping and has hosted numerous field days. In 2011, Dean Farms was a stop on the National Conservation Technology Information Center’s Conservation in Action Tour. And in 2016, he started hosting an annual cover crop field day to showcase the importance of covering the ground and the benefits of conservation in farming.
“Allen’s broad vision of the future of agriculture and his impactful demonstrations of innovative on-farm practices make him a recognized leader in soil health and agronomy,” wrote John and Rebecca McGuire of Simplified Technology Services in a letter of support.
Six years ago, Dean Farms Cover Crop Sales and Service was formed to market seed. A year later, Dean and his brother, Tony, designed and fabricated the farm’s first cover crop interseeder. Two years ago, a new cover crop seed facility was constructed on the farm to clean and blend seed to a farmer’s specifications. Currently, between 10,000 and 12,000 acres are custom-planted annually on farms within a 60-mile radius.
In support of his nomination, Mark Roemke of Roemke Farms in Harlan, Ind., wrote, “Allen Dean has taken conservation farming to new levels and has been a teacher to us all on what cover crops can achieve.”
Motter, a third-generation farmer in Jenera, started farming with his father at an early age. He literally followed in his father’s footsteps. As a 3-year-old walking across a farm field behind his dad, he would put his shoe inside his dad’s footprints.
He also started farming by himself at the early age of 25 after he lost his father to a farm accident.
The once farrow-to-finish hog operation that also included cattle is now focused on 800 acres of corn and soybeans using rotational no-till. Grass waterways help keep nutrients in place, and a fertilizer containment system makes sure the environment is protected.
Nominator Gary Wilson of Hancock County describes a Master Farmer as a conservationist who keeps up with technology to figure out ways to be successful, while also being a leader willing to help other do the same.
“Farming is one of those occupations where you never know what next year is going to bring,” he says. “It’s always a new year and, we don’t know if it’s going to be the best year or the worst, but we’re going to try and make it the best year. Johns was always very noted for doing the best, trying new things and being very, very good at what he does.”
CARHARTT SUPPORT: Master Farmers John Motter (left) and Allen Dean were given Carhartt jackets donated by Carhartt. They also received plaques and pins from Michigan Farmer magazine.
Motter uses GPS, autosteer, yield monitoring and corn population monitoring. Fieldview is utilized to integrate data. Motter lives by the saying, “Be neither the first nor the last to accept new technology.”
He has served on many county and state boards, including chairing both the state and national soybean boards and 28 years on the fair board He’s the farmer representative to the Nutrient Stewardship Council.
Read more about these Master Farmers in the coming days online and in the April issue of Ohio Farmer.
Videos have been developed by Nicole Heslip and Shannon Yokley of Brownfield Ag News to help tell their stories.