Fifty-five farmers were honored at the Indiana State Fair for the work they do to promote soil health and water quality on their Indiana farms. These special Hoosier producers received the prestigious River Friendly Farmer conservation award during ceremonies at the Indiana State Fair. The award is sponsored by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) and Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc.
Among those honored was Midway Farm of LaGrange County.
Andy Green's Midway Farms consists of 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, and seed corn. He also raises beef show cattle.
The operation is located in the Oliver Lake/Little Elkhart Creek Watershed around four lakes in LaGrange County. The soil health cropping system consisting of no-till, strip till, site specific pest and nutrient management, and cover crops has allowed Green to significantly increase the sustainability of his farming operation.
Soil and water conservation practices are important to prevent erosion and nutrient run-off in the adjacent lakes. Using conservation practices has allowed Green to maintain or increase yields, reduce inputs, and improve the bottom line. The ditches require less maintenance to remove sediment deposits as a result of using no-till and strip till practices. The hybrid beef show cattle are fed with hay and straw raised on the farm. Additionally, manure is not applied on frozen ground and exclusion fencing is used to keep cattle out of any water.
"We have an impressive group of recipients this year" stated IASWCD President Ray McCormick. "The conservation practices these farmers use improve soil health on their farms not just for themselves but for future generations. Our River Friendly Farmer winners know soil is a complex living ecosystem and we all have an obligation to sustain and improve it. That's what they are doing to conserve our natural resources every day."
The 2012 River Friendly Farmer recipients represent grain, livestock and poultry producers from watersheds in 40 Indiana counties. They join an elite group of 600 winners since the award was first given in 2000 to Hoosier farmers who use exceptional conservation practices to improve soil health and protect water quality.
Additional sponsors of the award include the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Division of Soil Conservation and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Recipients were honored by Lt. Governor Becky Skillman and Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock. Also on hand for the ceremony was USDA NRCS State Conservationist Jane Hardisty and President Abraham Lincoln (played by Wilbur Tague of Brownsburg, Ind.) who helped celebrate the USDA's 150th anniversary.