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Ohio media learn of conservation practices, tour demo farms

Ten members of Ohio media toured the three farms participating in the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network during a Farm Bureau sponsored media tour May 11.

The group learned details about the conservation practices being tested in an effort to reduce phosphorus and sediment in the Blanchard River Watershed and throughout the Western Lake Erie Basin.

“I would argue that no other group has done more to help address the issue,” said OFBF Executive Vice President Adam Sharp to reporters from the Toledo Blade, The Plain Dealer, ag media and others before the group set out on a bus to tour the demonstration farms. “You will see the creative activity and the breadth of activity happening in our space today.”

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Above, members of the media ask questions at Kellogg Farms.

The first stop on the media tour was to Kellogg Farms in Forest, owned and operated by Bill and Shane Kellogg. The farm consists of 5,000 acres of corn and soybeans and of those, 305 acres are committed to the network. Subsurface nutrient placement – shallow incorporation of fertilizer placed right where the future crop needs it rather than broadcast application – is one of several conservation practices on the farm, including the use of cover crops.

“If you can keep the dirt on the field the fertilizer stays there, too,” Shane Kellogg told the group.

Next stop was Kurt Farms in Dunkirk, owned and operated by Chris Kurt. The farm is 470 acres of corn and soybeans, and 168 acres are in the network. Along with edge-of-field monitoring equipment, a two-stage ditch and phosphorus removal beds are part of the practices being done on the farm.

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The two-stage drainage ditch on Kurt Farms, left, and the phosphorus bed at the edge of the field, right.

The tour ended at Stateler Farm in McComb, owned and operated by Duane and Anthony Stateler. The long-time pork producers also farm corn, soybeans and wheat on approximately 600 acres along with operating a 7,200 head wean-to-finish swine operation. The Statelers have committed 243 acres to the network. Variable rate manure application is just one of several conservation practices being tested on the farm.

Each farmer spoke to reporters not only about his own role in testing these conservation practices but also about what inspired them to become a participating demo farm.

“We ask ourselves, are we doing things right and how can we do things better?” said Anthony Stateler.

Members of the media took note, with stories about the work Farm Bureau members are doing to support water quality efforts immediately published in various news outlets, including Farm and DairyToledo Blade and WTOL, the CBS news affiliate in Toledo.

The Blanchard Demo Farms project is made possible through a five-year, $1 million agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Ohio Farm Bureau. OFBF collaborated with stakeholders in Hardin and Hancock counties, as well as other partners, in identifying the farms and farmers who are participating in the demonstration sites.

 

Kelli Milligan Stammen is director of publications for the Ohio Farm Bureau.