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Conservation farmer of the year named this week

Conservation farmer of the year named this week
Jack Welp from southern Indiana recognized for his achievements.

His ability to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, helped Jack Welp earn recognition as Conservation Farmer of the year at the 2015 annual conference of the Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts held in Indianapolis earlier this week. Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. sponsors the award each year.

Related: More than a Million Dollars Awarded in Conservation Grants

Happy winner- Jack Welp, right, receives the 2015 Indiana Conservation Farmer of the Year award from Bob White, representing Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc., sponsor of the award.

Welp farms in Dubois County. In presenting the award, Donya Lester, executive director of Purdue University Ag Alumni and emcee for the awards presentation, noted that Welp incorporates no-till cover crops and a conservation cropping rotation to help reduce soil erosion. He has not just done it for one year or two years – he has done it for 20 years.

His career-long dedication captures the spirit of the Master Farm Conservationist of the Year award, which is no longer presented. About 100 farmers who devoted their career to conservation were recognized with this award presented in the 1990s and beyond. It was sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine.

One major benefit of Welp's program has been an improvement in soil health. He reports a noticeable increase in earthworm activity since he converted to no-till and added other soil-improving practices, including cover crops. He reports that production has gone up since he moved into no-till and conservation tillage practices.

Welp has also been active off of his farm, serving on the Dubois County soil and water conservation district board for 15 years. He served as chairman for part of that tenure on the board.

The Dubois County SWCD has recently gained recognition for working with the University of Vincennes Jasper Campus to develop model farming and conservation practices on land owned by the university.

Alan Johnson, recognized as a Friend of Conservation this week, dean of the school, initiated contact with the SWCD to work on the project. It involved installing conservation practices, changing rotations and installing a prairie grass planting.

Congratulations to Jack Welp on his award.

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