History of the River-Friendly Farmer Award

Since 1999, key conservation and agricultural organizations have sponsored the River Friendly Farmer (RFF) Program. The statewide initiative recognizes farmers, who through good production management practices helps keep Indiana’s rivers, lakes and streams clean.

Annually, each county Soil and Water Conservation District may nominate up to two farmers who do an outstanding job of protecting their rivers, lakes and streams through their every day conservation management practices on the farm. Watershed organizations also may nominate farmers for the award by submitting an application to a county SWCD.

Congratulations to the
2017 Indiana River Friendly Farmers

(Note: The River Friendly Farmer Award ceremony took place on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Pictured below are the individual winners along with Lieutenant Governor, Suzanne Crouch and Farm Bureau President, Randy Kron.)

2017 River Friendly Farmers

County

Lynn & Pam Hawbaker

Adams County – Their family-owned farm of 176 years, named South Oak Farms, produces soybeans, corn, Alfalfa, Hay, and occasionally wheat. It is located in the Upper Wabash River watershed. Their conservation practice of no-till for over 15 years and use of cover crops since 2012 along with filter strips has effectively reduced erosion and soil compaction while building organic matter in the soil and holding nutrients on their fields. Lynn has served on the Adams County SWCD board for 9 years and the Farm Bureau Board for 27 years. He has also supported their local high school FFA and Food Resource Bank.

John Johnson/Johnson Family

Adams County – The John Johnson Family farms 1,400 acres of Corn, Soybeans, Wheat & Hay. They have been planting cover crops for the last 10 years on 400+ acres with the goal of 100% cover crops on all 1400 acres within the next few years. In addition, the Johnson Family owns 25 acres of woodland area with more than 2 acres of wildlife habitat established. They have used filter strips and waterways, both CRP and not CRP, to stop nutrients from leaving the farm and to prevent erosion and soil from flowing into the Saint Mary’s River that runs along their property. In past years, they have been involved with 4-H. And,  Jack Johnson worked for the NRCS Tech Team for 40 years.

James D. Kline

Blackford County – Kline Family Farms produces grain in the Salamonie/Mississinewa Watershed. They are currently experimenting with cover crops on about 10% of their acres. They utilize strip till on acres going to corn and no-till on acres going to beans and wheat. They maintain grass waterways and WASCOBs; and, participate in a federal grant that helps them manage the way they apply nutrients and pesticides. Grass waterways and WASCOBs are helping to control erosion and tile and catch basins have been installed to help improve water run-off. Kline Family Farms is working with NRCS to construct filter strips along major ditches to filter water run-off and also aid in erosion control. They support local 4-H programs and are members of the Gathering Church. They also work with their local SWCD.

Rick Higbie

Clark County – Higbie Farm produces Corn, Soybeans, Hay, along with a Cow-Calf Operation. They are located within the Fourteen Mile Creek Watershed. Along with rotating crops, the Higbie’s practice Woodland Management as well as livestock exclusion from the creek. They have discovered that their conservation practices, including implementation of buffer strips, has improved their soil quality and organic matter, increased wildlife habitat and protected the water quality in the creek.
Spencer Lee Taylor Crawford County – Taylor Brothers Farm is located in the Blue River watershed and produces livestock and hay. They have practiced Pasture Improvement along with Rotational Grazing, Watering Facilities, Spring Development and livestock exclusion from the woodlands and creeks. These practices have helped prevent erosion,  improved the quality of water leaving the farm and enhanced their cattle’s health. Spencer is a member of Milltown Christian Church and the Crawford County Cattleman’s Association as well as a volunteer for Crawford County 4-H.

Kenny E. & Clara M. Swartzentruber

Daviess County – K & C Swartzentruber Farms is located within the Lower White Watershed with a creek running alongside the farm. Their grain/livestock farm utilizes no-till cropping systems on all of its 134 tillable cropland acres. They have also installed field terraces on sloped cropland to decrease both erosion and surface runoff. K & C Swartzentruber Farms has planted grass filter strips, installed water sediment control basins and has also planted 100 acres of fall cover crops while participating in the SWCD’s Clean Water Indiana grant program. These cover crops have helped to slow the velocity of surface water thus reducing potential erosion of soil and valuable cropland during the idle farming months. A greater population of wild game are now present – including turkey, deer, and pheasants. Through their hardwork, dedication and commitment to conservation they operate a successful farming operation and spread the word through their involvement in FFA, 4-H and programs with FSA and their local SWCD.

Carl Moorman Family

Decatur County – The Carl Moorman Family produces corn and soybeans within the Sand Creek Watershed. Erosion problems were a major concern on their farm; and now, due to their conservation practices, they virtually have no erosion issues. Soil health on their land has also improved dramatically. They practice 100% no-till, plant cover crops and have implemented Waterways. This farmland has experienced a reduction in sediment run-off and improved water quality and Carl was justifiably named the 2013 Decatur County Conservation Farmer of the Year.

Sandy and George Dykhuizen

DeKalb County – Woodbridge Farm, LLC is a family owned tree farm located in south east DeKalb County. Currently the farm is operated by Sandy and George Dykhuizen.  Originally a 40 acre grain and livestock farm, it was Sandy’s father, Wayne Shook, who began the transition to becoming a tree farm in the sixties.  He started with the management and re-forestation of the existing woodlands and then began converting the pasture and cropland to trees in the seventies. Over the years thousands of trees have been planted by this family and now the amount of water leaving this property is minimal. The farm is located in an oxbow of the Saint Joseph River in the shadow of the historic Spencerville Covered Bridge. The primary conservation practices that have been utilized are Timber Stand Improvement (TSI), consisting of invasive species management, pruning, and thinning, and Tree Plantings. In addition to maintaining the tree farm the Dykhuizen’s also believe in preserving and providing wildlife habitat. While this naturally occurs given the fact they operate a tree farm, they also intentionally participate in conservation programs that target specific species for protection.  The Dykhuizen’s are active in both the Walnut Council and the Indiana Forestry and Woodland Owners Association and have hosted workshops for both organizations.

Larry Shreve

Delaware County – All 2,500 acres of Larry Shreve’s operation are in a corn/soybean rotation. He practices Conservation Tillage (no-till), Cover Crops, Nutrient Management/Waste Utilization, Filter Strips, Grassed Waterways, Grade Stabilization, Water and Sediment Control Basins, and VRT (variable rate technology) – grid sampled to know where to or not to apply chemicals. These implemented practices have lead to a reduction of sediment and nutrients running off his fields and into the Campbell’s Creek/Mississinewa River and Miller’s Ditch/White River. By switching to no-till, they have been able to maintain crop yields and add benefits of long term productivity, soil health, and cleaner water. Larry has served on the Delaware County SWCD Board and the Delaware County Farm Service Agency Board.

Mark and Robert Jochem

Dubois County – Jochem Farm produces corn, soybeans, hay, beef, cattle and hogs. Huntley Creek runs near their land in the Patoka Watershed. They strictly no-till and plant cover crops which has helped in building their soil structure. The Jochem brothers have also developed their own system of knifing in hog manure to decrease runoff.  This system keeps them from having to apply any starter fertilizer or side dress and the reduction in runoff has benefited them in both water quality and economics. In addition, they maintain woodland for animal habitat, selectively harvesting trees to ensure a good stand.  Mark and Robert believe that soil is not just soil, but it is the future and they enjoy sharing that message and their conservation practices with all who visit their farm.
Susan Kruger Dubois County – McMurtrie Farm produces corn and soybeans (on a rotational basis), hay and beef cattle within the Ohio-Little Pigeon Watershed. On Susan’s farm, no-till, cover crops, dry dams and soil sampling have all contributed to a reduction in nutrient and sediment runoff and a build up of soil tilth. The fully stocked five-acre lake has also helped with catching runoff from three small streams on the property; and, any water leaving the property is clean and clear. Tree planting and animal habitat have also been a part of McMurtrie Farm. Susan states that it is important to her to share her love of nature and conservation with her children and grandchildren just as her grandmother McMurtrie and her parents did with her. She believes getting children involved at a young age will lead them to cherishing and caring for the land and knowing what a tremendous gift both soil and water are to our world.

Marvin and Judy Roush

Elkhart County – Marvin and Judy Roush’s farm, located in the Elkhart River Watershed, produces Corn, Soybeans and Wheat. They have been 100% no-till for the past 15 years. During the past five years, they have incorporated cover crops on at least 50% of their acreage. With the addition of these cover crops, land benefits have included better soil structure, healthier soil, decreased erosion, less nutrient loss,  retention of more water and increased wildlife. A wetland, woods and pond, all located on the farm, provide habitat for turkeys and sand hill cranes. Also by using no-till, fuel consumption and maintance costs have been greatly reduced. They are involved in their local church, Elkhart Valley Church of the Brethren, where they share their conservation message.

Larry Orr

Fayette County – No till and cover crops are practiced at Orr Farms in the Whitewater Watershed. Using a no till system has greatly reduced his costs of farm production and labor. Additional benefits have included a decrease in runoff and a dramatic increase in the earthworm population. Larry has also enrolled approximately 28 acres in CRP for wildlife habitat. Orr Farms has spread the conservation “word” by hosting a cover crop field day. The farm is also currently enrolled in a three-year study through Purdue University to determine the economic value of using cover crops.

Matt Harsh

Fulton County – Harsh Farms produces corn, soybeans, a little hay and sometimes wheat. It is located in the Tippecanoe River Watershed. Matt maintains grass buffer strips along the Graham Ditch, which starts and runs through the property, and have some grass waterways. By using cover crops and no-till, they have been able to sequester carbon and build organic matter. Matt states, “Although we have yet to actually scientifically measure the impact of what our never-till and cover crop system has done to the quality of water leaving our farm, we can visually see it.” His ultimate goal in implementing conservation practices is to be the lowest cost producer, have the least negative impact on the environment and leave the land he farms in better shape than how he found it.  He has been an SWCD supervisor since 2006 and hosted and helped with many field days promoting conservation. He is a 4-H volunteer, president of Akron Lion’s Club, a leader in his church and board member and coach with the local baseball league.

Joe Muncy

Gibson County – Muncy Farms produces corn and beans in the Patoka River Watershed. No-till, WASCOBs, and filter strips have been implemented on the land and Joe has witnessed a noticeable difference in the speed of water runoff with less sediment and more soil and nutrients remaining on the property. The bird population has also increased due to a bird habitat maintained on the property. In addition, some of the land is part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  Joe is a Farm Bureau member and both of his children were involved in FFA.
Law Brothers Farm Hamilton County – Richard, John and Donel Law of Law Brothers Farms produces grain, mostly corn and soybeans within the Prairie and Cicero Creek Watersheds. They state that being good stewards of the land is not just important but also a way of life for them. By implementing 100% no-till they have experienced a dramatic reduction in soil loss therefore reducing potential nutrient or pesticide runoff. No-till has also increased the water infiltration which reduced potential soil loss. Law Brothers Farm also maintains a riparian area, grass buffers along the creeks, streams and open ditches; and, has installed drain tile. They support their local SWCD and have hosted educational field days and workshops as well as youth soil judging competitions. They are members of Farm Bureau.

David Fell

Harrison County – Boldt Legacy Farm, located in the Blue Sinking Watershed, produces Beef Cattle. Pasture Planting Improvement and Timber Stand Improvement are among the conservation practices that this farm executes. They fence Cattle off of the River Bank and Flash Graze a few Times a Year. They have woodlands enrolled in the Classified Forest Program.  Water quality has been improved as there is less ditch erosion in the river and less manure runoff. Every year David shares his conservation message by inviting his church to the farm for education and fellowship.

Chuck Lamar

Hendricks County – Lamar Family Farms produces Corn, Soybeans, and Hay. By implementing no-till, cover crops and nutrient management, Chuck has been able to secure soil and nutrients on the land and improve water quailty.  He enjoys planting pollinators for bees with his neighbors.

Linda Meister-Crowder

Howard County – Meister-Crowder Farm, located in the Deer Creek Watershed, practices crop rotation in their production of grain crops, corn and soybeans. Buffer strips, Grass Waterways and Structures have helped reduce sediment and made the water so clear in the Mathias Young Ditch that pebbles and fish can be viewed now. Linda states that the erosion control practices that they implemented have saved their 50 acre farm where soil loss and damage used to be extensive. Timber Stand Improvement and removal of invasive species in the woodland has also been essential. She collaborates with the local SWCD office, and supports local 4-H. She also has hosted a Women’s Learning Circle for female landowners, and worked with the Howard County Surveyor and Drainage Board to keep the ditch flowing and clean.
Steve & Judy Adams

Huntington County – S & J Farms produces corn, soybeans, and wheat in the Upper Wabash River Watershed. Valuable top soil on the fields has been preserved due to their no-till practice. Grassed Waterways and Filter Strips have helped reduce run-off of nutrients, chemicals and soil on the property and therefore kept the waterways clean. Steve and Judy share their passion for conservation and success by providing a visual example of how a long-term commitment using conservation practices improves the quality of their natural resources on the farm.

Jordan Wall

Jay County – Jordan Wall of Nuckols Farms maintains over 100 acres of woodland and produces grain, corn, soybeans and wheat in the Salamonie Watershed. His conservation practices of No-Till farming, cover crops, filter strips, and grass waterways have markedly reduced erosion and helped hold nutrients on the farm to improve water quality.  Jordan believes that Soil Health and Farm Profitability go hand in hand. He works to regenerate the soil to a natural healthy state as well as reduce inputs and increase yields.

Frank Royalty

Jefferson County – Royalty Farms began when Frank was sixteen years old and purchased his first farm with his father.  He now farms approximately 1,600 acres of corn and soybeans, 150 acres of hay and he maintains 70 head of beef cows. His farm is located in the Central Muscatatuck Watershed where Little and Lewis Creek run through his property. Frank uses a no-till planting system, cover crops, critical area seeding and grass waterways in his farming operation as well as maintaining a wetland area. These practices have helped keep top soil in place with less sediment running off, leaving the water clearer. In addition, he has installed automatic watering systems and Heavy Use Area Protection pads for the cattle operation which have dramatically reduced the amount of runoff from the cattle into the streams.  Frank is a member of  Jefferson County Farm Bureau and has been involved with 4-H. He believes that conservation is the key to taking care of the land so he likes to stay in contact with his local SWCD, NRCS and FSA offices to keep up to date on the latest conservation practices.

Kelly Mason

Knox County – Mason Family Farms LLC is comprised of Kelly Mason, his wife Tracee, sons Kyle and Lee, and three grandchildren. The farm is strictly a grain producer – rotating crops of corn, soybeans, wheat, and seed corn on a combination of over 3000 acres owned and leased. The farmland has several creeks and rivers that run through it. The Mason Family has implemented conservation practices of No Till, Cover Crops, Nutrient & Pest Management, and Irrigation Water Management as well as Filter Strips, Grassed Waterways, Grade Stabilization Structures, & Riparian Buffers (Tree Plantings). These practices have reduced the amount of sediment and water that leaves the farm, have reduced erosion, have decreased operational costs due to lower nutrient loss and have improved their soil health. Mason Family Farms LLC actively supports Knox County SWCD, FFA, 4H, and Youth Foundation. The family are members of Mariah Creek Church and Kelly is the President of the Niblack Levee Association and a member of the Oaktown Cemetery Board.

Max and Garry Tom
Tom Brothers Farms

Kosciusko County – Tom Brothers Farm is located in the Tippecanoe River Watershed produces corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, and livestock. Erosion and runoff have been better controlled by implementing no-till, as well as filter and buffer strips. Use of cover crops and strict manure handling and application practices have reduced the risk of excess nutrients entering water resources. These conservation practices have also improved soil health leading to increased economic return. Tom Brothers Farm also maintains all waterways and works with a forester for woodland management. They believe strongly in doing the best they can for future generations. Max and Garry have been involved with the Soil and Water Conservation District for over 20 years, in leadership roles at the local and state levels, as well as, an advocate in Washington D.C. for IASWCD and NACD.  They are a member of Farm Bureau, support FFA, are active with 4-H and very involved in church leadership.

Stanley Notestine

LaGrange County – Notestine Farms produces Corn, soybeans, Wheat, and Alfalfa in the Pigeon River Watershed. All row crops are completely no till and they are starting a cover crop program in 2017.  Woods and wetland areas on the farm provide wildlife habitat and their conservation practices have reduced erosion and sedimentation on the land. Stanley is a member of the Lions club, County government township trustee, East Springfield United Methodist Church, and the family has been involved in both 4-H and FFA.

Mike Scherschel

Lawrence County – Mike Scherschel Produces corn, soybeans, and hay in the White River East Fork Watershed. Mike has practiced several diverse conservation practices including: No-till since  2011, Cover Crops since 2013, Maintenance of filter strips and grass waterways, grid sampling for fertilizer application at proper rate, split application of nitrogen, and removal of livestock from sinkhole areas.  He also maintains 100 acres of classified forest – cutting out grapevines, planting oak trees and maintaining trails. He is in the process of establishing a pollinator habitat. Mike participates in the cropland Conservation Stewardship Program to maintain and continue good conservation practices. He states that the use of cover crops and no-till has dramatically reduced run-off into streams and sinkholes. The benefits from his conservation practices include increased water retention and less time and expense required to plant crops by eliminating tillage. He is an SWCD past board member. He also shares his positive conservation experiences with Farm tours by Master Gardeners and other nature conservancy groups.

Tim Dorsey

Marion County – Tim Dorsey of the Center for Urban Ecology (CUE) Farm at Butler University produces Mixed vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs, flowers, and mushrooms and is located in the Upper White/White River Watershed. Conservation practices implemented have included: Conservation crop rotation, diverse cover crop tactics, mulching, minimal tillage and no-till, tarps, perennial plantings with diverse complimentary understories, all natural and organic inputs, native and targeted plantings for beneficial insects and pollinators, rain harvesting, and drip irrigation. These conservation practices have increased water infiltration and moisture retention on the farm, and the cover crops are serving as catch crops for nutrients. The farm regularly engages with various community groups and hosts tour groups that range from grade school children to various Butler University classes in which they discuss sustainable growing practices and goals.  Last fall and each year going forward the CUE Farm is honored to play host to a breakout session of the FFA conference during which they expose young people to the many elements of urban farming.

Jon & Laura Langfeldt

Marshall County – The Yellow River runs through Langfeldt Farms in the Kankakee Watershed. This farm produces Commercial corn and soybeans. Better water infiltration, cleaner water leaving the fields, less wind and water erosion are all benefits experienced through the Landfeldt’s conservation practices. Cover crops, no-till corn and soybeans as well as timber stand improvements, tree plantings and waterways have contributed to savings in labor hours, fuel and machinery maintenance. Jon & Laura share that cover crops and residue have protected their land and the earthworm population has exploded!  They have been involved with their SWCD board, are members of St. Michael Catholic Church, and annually attend the National No-till conference.

Roderic & Theresa Alspaugh

Miami County – Alspaugh Farms, Inc. is comprised of Rodney & Sandy Alspaugh, Roderic & Teresa & Cole Alspaugh, and Jarrod & Ellie Alspaugh. Their farm produces grain in the Mississinewa & Upper Wabash Watersheds. The Alspaugh’s have been 100% no till farming since the early 1990’s.  What first began as a way to save on input costs has developed into belief in the benefits of conservation.  They manage various conservation cropping systems and practices including: Conservation crop rotation, conservation tillage, Nutrient & Pest Management, No-Till Residue Management,  WASCOBS, Grassed Waterways and Classified Forest. Alspaugh Farms uses a GPS grid system for nutrient application so that nutrients are applied only where needed. They have noticed an increase in the earthworm population and organic matter.  And, there is evidence that water leaving the Alspaugh waterways and no till ground is much clearer than water leaving neighboring farms. They have also viewed this same evidence in the winter where snow that has blown from their fields is cleaner than snow blowing ONTO their ground from neighboring farms. Roderic serves on the Miami Co. FSA county committee and the family has been involved with Maconaquah FFA, Miami Co 4H, as well as local sports teams.

William Ade and Bob Lane

Newton County – Ade Acres / Bob Lane Farm produces Corn and Beans within the Iroquois River Watershed. They believe that reserving habitat and preserving water quality are essential for generations. They practice no-till farming, reduced tillage wildlife habitat, as well as maintain wetland and woodlands. Their filter strips have reduced soil runoff into the ditches. They continue to support the local conservation club and are involved in several community groups.

Mark Wunderink
(pictured:  Mark’s sister, Kathy)

Newton County – Wunderink Riverside Farms & Kankakee Venture produces corn & soybeans within the Kankakee River Watershed. They practice a minimum tillage system with a farm for profit program to incorporate micro-organisms into the soil.  This tillage system warms the soil, kills weeds without chemicals and reduces compaction. They also use no salt fertilizer and side dress corn to prevent leaching. Mark participates with the Lake County Surveyor and commissioners on drainage issues on the Brown Ditch, Singleton Ditch and Kankakee River. He works with the Kankakee River Basin Commission on sand filling the river and leaching into Illinois as well as the Newton County Surveyor and Newton County Commissioners on drainage into the Kankakee River.

Clint Beste

 

Posey County – Clint Beste’s farm produces corn, soybeans and wheat in the Big Creek Watershed where McFadden and Rush Creek pass through his property. No till and cover crops, grid sampling, variable rate fertilizer application as recommended, filter strips and WASCOBs have all contributed to improved water quaility by reducing sediment and keeping nutrients on the fields. Cover crops in particular have helped control weeds and soil erosion. Clint shares his postive conservation results with his involvement in FFA.

Joe, Isaac & Andy Eisterhold

Posey County – Joe, Isaac and Andy Eisterhold produce grain/livestock (hogs) in the Big Creek Watershed using no-till and buffer strips.  They have separate buildings for separate stages for the hogs, provide cooling systems for the sows and practice nutrient management for all. They utilize integrated pest & nutrient management, soil testing, and plant cover crops. With the cover crops they are planting and no-till practices, the Eisterhold’s can see that water has slowed and has more time to filter before leaving the farm. They value the importance of leaving healthy soils in place for each generation that will take over the farming practice. They participate in FFA, Farm Bureau, the Partners in Food program at their church and the provide hogs for 4-H.

Andy Wilson

Putnam County – Wilson Farms is a cattle operation and grain producer located in the Eel and Big Walnut Watersheds. They have wooded acreage and do select harvest and Timber Stand Improvement. With their cattle operation, they keep the pastureland separate from the wooded acreage to maintain the quality of a healthy forest. They keep the cattle out of the creeks and streams to reduce erosion and maintain water quality. Wilson Farms uses a rotation of corn, soybeans and cover crops within a no-till system to decrease soil loss and increase organic matter. They are also installing drainage tile and waterways to improve water quality and decrease soil loss. They have created buffer strips in areas that have allowed for wildlife habitat and pollinators. The water quality that leaves Wilson Farms has greatly improved. They state that being a fourth generation farm, the goal has always been to leave the farm in better shape than when they received it and that is the reason to focus on conservation.  By using conservation practices they can be sure that the next generation will be able to provide for their family just as the generations in the past.  They have worked with The Nature Conservancy and Quail Forever.  Andy was a 10 year 4-H member and was a FFA State Star Farmer and he continues to support both organizations.

Ryan & Beth Fleenor

Scott County – Fleenor Farms produces soybeans, corn, and livestock for 4-H (goats, pigs, sheep, cattle), with the majority of the farm in conservation practices. Located in the Muscatatuck Watershed, the farm is on land that is very rolling and is classified as highly erodible.  The highly erodible land is continuous hay or pasture  and they no-till the row crops of corn and soybeans.  Approximately 50 acres are presently in established CRP programs with 5 small food plots for wildlife. They have an abundance of turkey, deer and quail and pollinators are scattered throughout the farm. The Fleenor’s have completed Timber Stand Improvement practices on the small woodland acres. Ryan and Beth volunteer and participate in many programs including SWCD field days, FFA, Farm Bureau, 4-H, Boy Scouts, the local school district, and leaders within their church. Their father, Bill Comer (pronounced comb-er), was named Indiana’s 2016 Conservation Farmer of the Year.

Alan Waninger/
Waninger Brothers Farm

 

Spencer County – Waninger Brothers Farm produces Grain, Livestock and Timber within the Anderson River Watershed. They have implemented No till, Cover Crops, Filter Strips, Heavy Use Area Protection, Exclusion fencing, and Timber stand Improvement on wooded land. The combination use of these practices has reduced the erosion and subsequent nutrient loading to the Anderson River dramatically. Alan serves as a Supervisor on the SWCD Board, is an Active member of St. Boniface Church, and supports various other conservation organizations.

Wayne Allsop

St Joseph County – Wayne Allsop produces soybeans and corn within the Kankakee Watershed. He maintains the marshes and lakes on the property and the ponds have buffer strips. He also practices no-till and uses cover crops. These practices have kept the soil intact and stop the runoff from reaching the water sources. Maintaining and improving water quality are important to him and he enjoys fishing with his grandchildren. He participates in various community groups including 4-H and Farm Bureau.

Rob & Charlotte Wolfe

 

St Joseph County – Prairie Winds Nature Farm produces Specialty Crops (vegetables) & numerous livestock (sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, horses, etc.) in the Kankakee Watershed. They use cover crops and no/low-till practices in all gardens. They compost manure to provide fertility to gardens and spread all manure on pastures (composting first before spreading). They also manage prairie plantings pasture for livestock and Prairie Plantings for wildlife habitat. Prairie Winds Nature Farm has established permanent cover on all 85 acres which are in the headwaters of the watershed. They hold water in their restored wetlands, releasing it slowly through the surrounding prairie plantings into ground water. No water leaves the property unless a very heavy amount of rain has occurred over a long period of time; and even then, water is only slowly released allowing time to infiltrate into ground water. They do not use any agricultural chemicals. Native and honeybee pollinators use the prairie. Revenue has been generated from visitors who are excited to view their restoration area, and the over 1500 children who attend farm camps and school trips hosted at the farm. They also sell grass fed lamb and beef from the 20 acres in permanent pasture. Prairie Winds Nature Farm has also displayed animals at local libraries, Ag Days, and the 4-H fair as well as several church & school events. The Wolfe’s are members and financial supporters of The Nature Conservancy and The Shirley Heinze Land Trust and have invested in the Iroquois Valley Farms organic agriculture venture.
Douglas Klausing

Starke County – Klausing Farms produces grain/popcorn within the Tippecanoe Watershed. He uses Minimum tillage and Cover crops. He also has buffer strips along the Casper Ditch and CRP woodland program along the river. His conservation practices have reduced the amount of nitrogen leaching. He has now also viewed eagles, detected an increase in the small animal (rabbit, squirrel, fox) population, and noticed a return of flocks of wild turkeys.

Dewey & Marcia Powers

Steuben County – Powers Farm is a hardwood tree farm located in the Upper St. Joseph River-Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed. Their land exhibits filter strips and 60-acre hardwood tree plantings. Surface drains and erosion control structures have been installed as well as a two-stage ditch and an HFRP conservation easement installation in 2015. Some of the property was entered in Classified Forest and Wildlands in 2015 and food plots were added in 2016. The benefits of the two-stage ditch include improved channel stability from reduced water flow and beneficial natural processes have been restored, such as reducing the amount of sediment and nutrients being transported.  The control structures, filter strips, and tree planting have also reduced the amount of runoff into Fish Creek. The entire focus of Dewey and Marcia Power’s conservation plan is to preserve a sustainable environment for current and future generations. They are members of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and have worked closely with the local office in developing conservation measures on their farm.  They have hosted several conservation field days on their farm.

Joanne Purdy

Tippecanoe County – Purdy Farms produces soybeans, corn, wheat and turfgrass (sod) where crop rotation, cover crops and no-till are utilized. Cover crops have been beneficial in increasing soil organic matter and reducing compaction. This improved soil health has helped water to infiltrate better and has reduced surface water runoff and therefore a reduction in sediment and nutrients running into adjacent water bodies. Their land also includes both wetlands and woodlots, which provide wildlife habitat. Vegetation runs along ditches to act as a buffer, helping to protect water quality. Joanne has attended a variety of SWCD conservation field days, including a women’s conservation learning circle where she was able to network and discuss conservation in agriculture with other female farmers and landowners.

Lewis Brier

Union County – Lewis Brier produces Corn, beans, and rye in the White Water Valley Watershed. No-till and 100% cover crops have helped improve the water quality and soil health on his property. A pollinator patch as well as conservation acres and trees have improved the wildlife and pollinator population.  He has served on the conservation board for 12 years and Lewis supports and shares information about soil heath and conservation practices at the local 4H fair and Ag Day.

Darrel Adler

Vanderburgh County – Darrel Adler produces grain-only in the Big Creek Watershed. He has implemented conservation practices such as no till, filter strips, WASCOBs, cover crops, pest management, terraces, and tree planting. He has no issues with wash outs and only clean water ever leaves his fields. He has been able to keep soil on the property and also reduce his fertilizer usage. He is a member of the Big Creek Ditch Association and Farm Bureau.
Gary Wilson

Wabash County – Gary Wilson Farms produces strictly grain, encompassing both corn and soybean rotations. Located in the Upper Wabash Watershed, the farm utilizes no-till farming in order to maintain soil health. Gary recognizes the importance of soil health and maintaining it to sustain his livelihood. As a result he works hard to conserve soil and nutrients, while also benefiting the watershed. By utilizing no-till and filter strip practices, there is less runoff of soil and nutrients into the watershed; and, ultimately reducing suspended sediment in the streams. Gary also maintains wooded lots on the farm are as they are beneficial for wildlife. He supports 4-H and FFA and is a long time member of Wabash County Farm Bureau, Richvalley United Methodist Church, Richvalley Lions Club and a board member at North Central Co-op in Wabash.
Trent and Nancy Bush Washington County – Trent and Nancy Bush’s land is located in the Lick Branch and Twin Creek/East Fork White River Watershed where they use cover crops as an integral component of their cropping system. Trent is a local champion for the conservation cropping system of no-till, nutrient and pest management, and cover crops. They have been no-tilling their crops since the early 1990s and have used small grain in the rotation sporadically.  By adding the multi-species cover crops with no-till and nutrient management, the nutrients on their farm are tied up year round. Both surface and groundwater has improved, by reducing the potential for erosion and leaching of nutrients through the soil profile. Annual manure analysis is completed on their 16,900 turkey houses. The filterstrips around the sinkholes on their property provide a corridor from a water source to the woodland acres. Filterstrips are only mowed to control noxious weeds. Trent and Nancy have both served on the Twin Rush Conservancy District where Trent is still a Board Member. Trent serves as a mentor for beginnining farmers and has also offered his farm to the Washington County SWCD to do research on cover crops.  He has attended outreach meetings hosted by NRCS, Extension, and FSA to accompany these individuals to allow them to gain knowledge about the conservation message.
Dwayne Crownover Wayne County – Crownover Farms Produces: strictly grain, corn & soybeans in the West Ford of the Whitewater River Watershed. Dwayne has implemented No till, cover crops, filter-strips, waterways, diversion, grid sampling, variable rate seeding, nitrogen, fertilizer & grade stabilization structures. He maintains a wetland. He has experienced improved water infiltration and slowed runoff with his cover crops and waterways. Better soil health has positively impacted his farm economics. He states his goal is to leave the ground better than he found it. He is a supporter of both 4-H and FFA.
Jarrod Kunkel Wells County – Kunkel Farms Inc. produces grain in the Upper Wabash Watershed where several ditches run through the property. Benefits including a reduction in drift, run-off, and soil erosion have been gained due to conservation practices of No-Till, Filter Strips, Soil Sampling & Variable Rate Fertilizer, Sprayer Technology to reduce overlap and Cover Crops. Jarrod states that the management of these practices, especially no-till and cover crops for 20+ years has also increased the soil health. He spreads the conservation word at the local coffee shop and gas station where he shares his positive results as well as his increased farm efficiency.

Tom Westfall

White County – Tom Westfall produces Strictly Grain in the Tippecanoe Watershed with Honey Creek running through his property. He utilizes Cover crops, corn and soybean rotation, and No-till. Erosion on the property is no longer an issue keeping the soil in place and nutrients on the fields. He also uses no drift nozzles to keep chemicals out of the stream. Tom maintains a woodland which has provided wildlife habitat. He was an Ag Teacher for 15 years and previously worked with 4-H.
Ron, Dave, Tim, Kyle, Mark & Auston Johnson

Whitley County – Shady Grove Farms produces hogs and the family are also grain farmers – corn, soybeans and wheat. Their property is located in the Eel Watershed. They use cover crops which has kept top soil in place and minimum tillage which has saved money in fuel costs and decreased compaction of the soils. Soil testing is completed on a regular basis. You will also find numerous waterways and filterstrips on their property. Erosion has decreased so less sediment is traveling to the water resources. Shady Grove Farms has a number of small woodland acres that provide homes for various wildlife. Dave and Ron were active in 4-H when they were in high school as well as their four sons, Tim, Kyle, Mark and Auston. Now, even grandchildren are participating in 4-H. Dave Johnson has been on the Whitley County SWCD Board for a number of years and the Whitley County Drainage Board.


Download a complete list
of past River Friendly Farmer Award recipients (2000-2016)

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