ODNR honors five farm families for conservation excellence

Staff report

LONDON – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recognized five families representing each region of the state as winners of the 2015 Conservation Farm Family Awards at the Farm Science Review in London. This was the 32nd annual awards program.

“Ohio farmers must constantly plan to meet the changes in the world around them. Today, we had the privilege to recognize five such families who exemplify that ability to plan for change,” said Michael Bailey, chief of the ODNR Division of Soil and Water. “We are grateful for the commitment and dedication of these five farm families who have gone the extra mile to demonstrate that we can protect our environment while still producing the food needed to help feed a growing world.”

The five families honored were: Ron and Barb Snyder of Wood County; Richard Thompson of Trumbull County; John and Cindi Quinn of Muskingum County; Dan and Tawni Batdorf of Miami County; and Dr. Patricia Speck of Vinton County.

Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized 166 Ohio farm families for their exemplary efforts conserving soil, water, woodland, wildlife and other natural resources on the land they farm. Conservation farm families also host a variety of educational programs, opening their farms to schools, scout groups, farm organizations and others.

In addition to receiving $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the families were also featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer magazine and received plaques from ADS Hancor Inc. Ohio Farmer magazine has sponsored the Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards since the program’s inception. Nominations are sought annually between January and May, and Ohio farming families are encouraged to apply.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

Area 1 Winner – Ron and Barb Snyder farm more than 200 acres in Wood County, and their major crops are corn, soybeans and rye. They also raise broiler chickens. Ron and Barb have been district cooperators for more than four years. Conservation practices include no-till, cover crops and crop rotation. The Snyders have worked with Wood County Extension, Ohio Farm Bureau and Wood Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to start and promote the “Farm 4 Clean Water” social media initiative. Ron is also piloting an effort to promote the use of soil health field testing equipment at the local level so it could be used for educational and data collection. The Snyders are also working with Riker Seed Farm, Wood County Extension and the Wood SWCD to develop an educational cover crop and soil health plot on the Riker farm. This will allow local farmers to get a firsthand look at the cover crops and supply data for anyone who is interested. It will also allow non-farmers to gain a better understanding of conservation practices. When asked to describe their conservation philosophy, Ron said, “Clean water and healthy soils are the building blocks for an abundant and healthy life.”

Area 2 Winner – Richard Thompson of Heritage Hill Farm has more than 5,000 acres in Trumbull County, and his major crops are corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. He has been a district cooperator with the Trumbull SWCD for more than 30 years. Conservation practices include conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, grassed waterways and grass filter strips. Richard has protected 3,679 acres of their property with conservation easements. These easements protect the agricultural and natural resource values of the property, while protecting the farming heritage of the community. The Thompson Family also holds farm tours for inner-city kids from the YWCA of Warren. Kids have the opportunity to see livestock, farm equipment and even get a chance to fish on one of the farm ponds. When asked to describe his conservation philosophy, Richard said, “Maximizing productivity while being good stewards of the land.”

Area 3 Winner – John and Cindi Quinn farm more than 430 acres in Muskingum County. They grow corn, soybeans and hay, and they also raise beef cattle. Conservation practices utilized include no-till, cover crops and crop rotation. The Quinns have been cooperators with the Muskingum SWCD for 19 years. Additionally, John and Cindi have recently started to bring some of the strip mined ground back into agricultural production by using soybeans to break up severe compaction. Some of the old pasture land was converted to a swamp, which helps filter runoff. The farm has been a registered Century Farm since 1994. When asked to describe their conservation philosophy, John said, “Farmers realize severe weather happens. My goal is to find ways to minimize the damage and keep nutrients on our farm to have betters crops and a better environment in which to live.”

Area 4 Winner – Dan and Tawni Batdorf farm more than 520 acres in Miami County. Their major crops include corn, soybeans and wheat, and they also raise Holstein steers. The Batdorfs have been district cooperators for 38 years. Conservation practices include cover crops, which they have applied for nearly 10 years, no-till, conservation tillage, crop rotation and grassed waterways. The Batdorfs have hosted many cover crop field events, including the 2015 Ohio No-Till Council Cover Crop Field Day. Additionally, Dan was named the 2014 Outstanding No-Till Farmer by the Ohio No-Till Council. When asked to describe their conservation philosophy, they said, “Just doing the right things and trying to preserve the soil for future use.”

Area 5 Winner – Dr. Patricia Speck farms 65 acres in Vinton County and raises dairy cows, sheep and milk goats. Dr. Speck has been a cooperator with the local SWCD for 15 years. She has written newsletter articles, worked with 4-H groups and also helped to develop an educational program for students to show how organic matter improves soil. To address many of the resource management problems found on her farm, she started soil testing and applying lime and fertilizer at suggested rates she also manages grazing and utilizes nutrients from the farm on the farm. When asked to describe her conservation philosophy, Speck said, “You never know it all … [It] requires knowledge in many scientific disciplines to give you the best chance at reaching your conservation objective.”

Staff report