Five men will be added to the list of Master Farm Conservationists for '08. The award will be officially bestowed at the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual banquet in Indianapolis early next month. The honorees will also be featured in the January issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer, beginning on the cover and continuing inside in the Conservation and Natural Resources section.
The program is so-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Indiana soil conservation partnership, including IASWCDs, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Division of Soil Conservation within the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Purdue University Extension. It was created nearly two decades ago to honor Hoosiers who devoted a lifetime to improving natural resources on their own farm and beyond.
Here's a preview of this year's winners. Find more complete details in the next Indiana Prairie Farmer, due out shortly.
- Don Berger, Whitewater, Wayne County- Berger operates a relatively small but efficient livestock operation. Farming near a major stream, he has gone beyond the call of duty to protect the environment, while remaining efficient. He was an innovator in rotational grazing, starting while he still milked cows. No longer milking, he raises about 150 Holstein heifers and steers annually.
- Clarence Buechler, Celestine, Dubois County- Now retired, Buechler's son continues the family poultry operation, raising chicks into pullets, and tom turkeys from day-old to market weight. Since their soils are high in phosphorus, neighbors utilize their manure in exchange for hauling and handling it. Recent innovations include two covered barns for storage of manure. Their grass-covered land is dotted with water and sediment control basins. They maintain a small cow herd to utilize grass on rolling soils.
- Carman (CJ) Loudon, deceased, Depauw, Harrison County- Killed in a farm accident in late summer, Loudon's widow, Margie, and children will accept the award. Working off the farm, he assisted his father for some 20 years, then later took over full-time. He's remembered for taking good care of the land, fertilizing it and maintaining it properly, and in turn taking good care of his beef cow herd. His rough land was wrecked by soil erosion decades ago, and could have been again if Loudon hadn't followed soil conservation practices.
- John McCall, Plainville, Daviess County- His first love besides Anna Marie, his wife of 62 years, is soil conservation. McCall is known for reclaiming mine land after the coal company removed the coal. Using no-till and other soil conservation measures, he returned the land to productivity. He no-longer owns those 80 acres, but the last crop he harvested shelled out over 190 bushels per acre.
- Jerry Risk, New Richmond, Tippecanoe County- This true environmentalist took on his biggest challenge when he bought a run-down farm with some unusually 'thin' soils, and an unofficial community dump site. He started by cleaning out loads of trash, and didn't stop until he was successfully no-tilling the land. He devoted 40 acres to the Conservation Reserve Program, and later planted trees according to soil type on 12 acres. He's selling the farm for health reasons, but making sure the next owner retains conservation measures.