In the eyes of their dad, Dayton, Ted and Terry Merrell are still farmers, even though they operate Merrell Bros., a multifaceted business that specializes in making municipal biosolids more friendly and applying them as fertilizer on farmland. Dayton nominated his sons as Indiana Master Farmers. Because they spend most of their time operating an innovative business that benefits agriculture, the Master Farmer judging committee named Ted and wife Jean, and Terry and wife Nieta, as Honorary Master Farmers.
“They own, manage and farm land, and like the late Ronnie Mohr, Greenfield, they stress the rounded corners at intersections so as to not block the view with corn at field corners,” Dayton says. “Their strongest asset is their faith and the good they do for God and the community, such as hosting The Great Banquet in Kokomo and operating Cross America, also based in Kokomo. Other missions they support are in Jamaica and Ireland, in addition to services rendered to their church.”
That’s high praise coming from another Master Farmer, class of 1999 — even if it is their dad.
Retired farmer William Pickart also is a Master Farmer, class of 1990. He was a judge for the Master Farmer program for many years. The award is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
Pickart says: “Ted and Terry are always striving to do things in a better and ecologically sound manner. They make every effort to build a reputation based on honesty and professionalism. Their company motto is ‘Try harder.’
“Many years ago, many acres of land were mismanaged by improperly applying biosolids. The brothers’ approach to testing, recording and doing an improved job compared to the past is paying off. They have learned how to make waste products into a safe asset.”
Pickart comments on their community service. “Even as busy as they are operating their business, Ted and Terry are community-minded,” he says. “Purdue students have been given the opportunity to learn from them what it takes to build a successful ag business. One part of that is the willingness to take a certain amount of risk and be willing to adapt to change.”
Isabella Chism, second vice president for Indiana Farm Bureau, watched the Merrell brothers grow up since they were teenagers. Chism and her husband farm in Howard County, Ind.
“I witnessed their ability, even while young, to recognize and solve problems that existed in our farming community,” she says. “That ability, along with ingenuity and a balance of optimism and doubtful realism, has taken them on paths they could not have imagined during those early years.
“They have different strengths and opinions. They have found constructive and positive ways to work through them with teamwork. They leverage their differences to benefit their growing business as well as their community. Aside from employing residents wherever they do business, they also contribute to the betterment of that community in many ways.”
Chism sums up their efforts this way: “Their understanding of a greater purpose than a successful business has brought them success,” she concludes. “They are good stewards of everything God has entrusted to them — the land, the business, the people and His message.”