“Ohio is very fortunate to have some of the most fertile ground in the country for growing a wide variety of crops, but none of that is possible if we do not implement conservation practices to take care of what we have,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels. “These families have gone the extra mile in conserving soil, water, woodland and wildlife on the land they farm and we thank them for their dedication.”
The five families honored were: The Brause Family of Crawford County; Paul and Joanne Mechling of Ashtabula County; Chuck and Diane Hicks of Washington County; the Lohstroh family of Madison and Pickaway counties; and T. Wayne Vickers of Pickaway County.
“For 35 years we have been honoring farm families for their contribution to conservation and I am continually amazed how these families are dedicated to paying it forward for future generations,” said Kirk Hines, chief of the department’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation. “These producers are the best of the best and they provide an example for the rest of us to mimic in our effort to conserve our natural resources.”
Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized 181 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. For more information or to apply individuals can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
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Here are profiles of the 2018 Conservation Farm Family Award winners:
Area 1 winner — Tim, Nathan, and Carrie Brause of Sunny Slopes Farm have more than 1,550 acres in Crawford County used for the production of corn and soybeans. The farm includes eight acres of quail buffers and 60 acres of tree plantings. In 1988 they restored 40 acres of marginal cropland into hardwood tree plantings and recently they restored an additional 21 acres of marginal cropland to hardwood trees. The Brause’s also manage and produce maple syrup from their woodland acres. 100% of the cropland acres on Sunny Slopes Farm is no-till and they utilize cover crops, precision nutrient management, and 4R nutrient management. Nathan has been a supervisor with the Crawford SWCD for the last 13 years.
Area 2 winner — Paul and Joanne Mechling of Snowy Oak Tree Farm have more than 365 acres in Ashtabula County. The woodlands on this farm are certified tree farms with the American Forest Foundation, inspected every 5 years to verify they are practicing sustainable forestry. Management plans have been written by a certified forester on all of the woodlands. Since 1974 they have planted more than 140,000 trees on reverted agricultural land. The Snowy Oak Tree Farm has worked with ODNR to build three wetlands and protect more than 11 acres of wetlands. Paul has been an Ashtabula County SWCD supervisor since 1998.
Area 3 winner — Chuck and Diane Hicks of Washington County farm 365 acres with approximately 200 acres in soybeans, 105 acres in corn, 20 acres of hay and pasture. Chuck and Diane finish 60 head of cattle each year. Chuck is an avid promoter of no-till, he built his own no-till soybean planter and has since helped other producers in the county build their own. Chuck currently serves as a supervisor on the Washington SWCD board, is a member of the Washington County farm bureau and a United Producers INC, board member.
Area 4 winner — The Lohstroh Family (George, Michelle, Jonathan, and Annie) farms approximately 1,000 acres in Madison and Pickaway counties. They raise corn, soybeans, pumpkins, wheat, hay, cover crops, and sorghum-sudan grass for baled silage. The farm also includes a 35 cow beef herd and a fall farm market offering pick-your-own pumpkins, hay rides, and educational tours for school groups. The Lohstroh’s utilize variable rate technology for precision placement of nutrients. They are active county farm bureau members.
Area 5 winner — T. Wayne Vickers owns more than 1,300 acres in Pickaway County. The property includes 320 acres of land in the CRP, 370 acres of woodlands, 250 acres of corn/soybean rotation and 80 acres of lakes and ponds. Wayne Vickers has planted more than 170,000 trees on his property and the property is home to the largest bur oak in the state. The Vickers have hosted tour groups through the local soil and water conservation district and the property has been used by Pheasants Forever to conduct youth programs.