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Soil erosion not welcome here

The Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts recently honored five outstanding families. Each received a Conservation Farmer of the Year award.

Indiana Prairie Farmer joined Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. as a sponsor.

Here’s a brief rundown of this year’s winners.

Bob Brewington, Versailles: Brewington purchased his first farm in 1960. He was an early adopter of no-till, tweaking his John Deere 7000 planter to achieve good stands. He’s also a frontrunner in installing filter strips and habitat for wildlife. Recently, he established cover-crop plots.

Dennis Dickman, Greensburg: A fence post half-buried in sediment reminds Dickman how much no-till and conservation practices have helped since he and his wife, Mary, purchased the farm in 1980. He’s no-tilled since 1994. He even built a chemical-storage facility to minimize concerns about storing fertilizer and chemicals.

Robert Dunbar, Jamestown: How Dunbar farms his 400 acres directly affects Big Raccoon Creek and Reed Ditch. He’s either strip-tilled or no-tilled since 1985. Dunbar added GPS technology in 2009 to improve accuracy in herbicide applications. His efforts at providing for wildlife date to 1974.

Stewart Kellerman, Romney: Kellerman looks at his entire farm as a system. Efforts to channel water must flow and work together. He’s installed an extensive system of grass waterways, plus added other conservation practices, including streambank stabilization. He converted to no-till soybeans and reduced tillage for corn.

Kenneth, Richard and Jim Lange, Ferdinand: With cattle and turkeys, they’ve concentrated on protecting water quality. Rotational grazing and keeping cattle out of streams help. They’ve installed several water- and sediment-control basins. Their only mistake, Kenny says, was not installing conservation practices 10 years sooner.

Quotable quotes on conservation

Here are quotes about the 2010 Conservation Farmers of the Year.

“Our current cropping system has allowed for less machinery and lower fuel cost, which improves profitability. For example, we no longer have a workable disk.”
— Bob Brewington, Ripley County.

“We strive to use best management practices on our farm. With a little luck our daughter Sarah will be the sixth generation to own the farm.”
— Dennis Dickman, Decatur County.

“Documentation shows soil loss at 25 tons per acre before waterways were installed, and only 2 tons per acre afterwards.”
— Kathy Clawson, Boone County SWCD chairperson, writing about Robert Dunbar’s farm.

“Our whole [conservation] system just works together.”
— Stewart Kellerman, Tippecanoe County.

“People really need to use conservation practices on their farms as they can. As farmers it’s our job to save and improve land for future generations.”
— Kenny Lange, Dubois County.

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COVER-UP! Not all “cover-ups” are bad. Bob Brewington uses pasture on rolling land and cover crops on cropland to keep his soil covered and protected.

This article published in the February, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.