The Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Meets in Indianapolis next week for its' annual conference. Five outstanding families will be honored for their conservation work during the banquet that highlights the meeting. They will receive Conservation Farmer of the Year awards.
This is the first time that Master Farm Conservationist awards will not be presented. For two decades that award recognized Hoosiers who devoted a lifetime to conservation work on their farm, but who had not been recognized in other ways. There is a provision in the Conservation Farmer of the Year award to present a career award, although the judging committee elected not to do so this year. Indiana Prairie Farmer was primary sponsor for the Master Farm Conservationist award. Now, beginning next week, Indiana Prairie Farmer joins Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc., as co-sponsors of the Conservation Farmer of the Year award, along with members of the Indiana Conservation partnership.
Here is a brief rundown of this year's winners.
Bob Brewington, Versailles- Brewington purchased his first farm in 1960. He worked full-time off the farm for about three decades, and now farms full-time once again. He was an early adopter of no-till in his area, tweaking his John Deere 7000 planter until he achieved good stands in no-till. He's also been a frontrunner in installing filter strips and leaving habitat for wildlife. Recently, he's worked with the Ripley County SWCD to establish a cover crop plot. Brewington also reseeds pastures whenever necessary on his rougher land for cattle.
Dennis Dickman, Greensburg- A fence post at the low end of a rolling field is still half-buried in sediment. Dickman left it to remind him how much no-till and conservation practices have helped on the farm he and his wife, Mary, purchased in 1980. He's no-tilled since 1994, and uses a wide variety of conservation practices to address conservation issues on the farm. He even built a chemical-storage facility to minimize concerns about storing fertilizer and chemicals on the farm.
Robert Dunbar, Jamestown- How Dunbar farms his 400 acres directly affects water quality in Big Raccoon Creek and Reed Ditch in his area. He's done his part to protect and improve water quality. He's either strip-tilled or no-tilled since 1985, converting to no-till in 1993.He added GPS technology in 2009 to improve accuracy in herbicide applications. His efforts at providing habitat and food sources for wildlife on his farm date back to 1974.
Stewart Kellerman, Romney- Kellerman looks at his entire farm as a system. Efforts to channel water and control sediment must flow together and work together. He's installed an extensive system of grass waterways to help make this happen, plus he's added a variety of other conservation practices, including streambank stabilization. He converted to no-till soybeans and reduced tillage for corn. His combined efforts help keep soil erosion below the tolerable limit.
Kenneth, Richard and Jim Lange, Ferdinand- With cattle and turkeys on their rolling farm, they've concentrated on saving soil and protecting water quality. Rotational grazing and keeping cattle out of streams have been big pluses for the Langes. The farm has been in the family for 100 years, but they continue to improve it. Within the past five years, they've installed five water and sediment control basins to further help reduce soil loss. Their only mistake, Kenny says, was not installing waterways and other conservation practices 10 years sooner.