Witnessing Conservation In Action

Denny Addis, president of The Andersons' Plant Nutrient Group

Critical watershed concerns such as increasing amounts of dissolved phosphorus require broad discussion and collaborative efforts among agriculture leaders, policy makers and conservationists. That’s what nearly 200 attendees experienced at the annual Conservation In Action Tour held August 9 in Northwest Ohio.

Hosted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), this year’s tour focused on agriculture’s influence on the environmental and economic health of the Maumee River and Bay, as well as Lake Erie. Tour participants met producers implementing innovative conservation practices, observed new conservation technologies that are productive, profitable and help protect resources and discussed the region’s critical water quality issues and how agriculture can help address them.

The Great Lakes were one of the first large-scale watersheds to begin focusing of water quality, making Northwest Ohio an ideal region for this year’s tour, said Rex Martin, Syngenta’s head of industry relations, and chairman of the CTIC Board of Directors. “The importance and diversity of agriculture in Northwest Ohio around Lake Erie and the Maumee River puts it on the forefront of innovative conservation projects to help achieve both soil protection and improved water quality,” he said. “This year’s tour focused on agriculture’s influence on the environmental and economic health in these watersheds.”

CropLife® magazine joined the tour — with stops at The Andersons, Bridgewater Dairy and three area farming operations — and witnessed first-hand conservation in action.

Following The Principles Of 4Rs

Tour participants learned how The Andersons, Maumee, OH, helps producers in the region apply the right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.

“We are very involved in promoting the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship,” said Al Bensch, vice president of northern operations for The Andersons Plant Nutrient Group. “Right now, 89% of the acres we apply on have been soil tested. That might be one of the highest rates in the country. We are making sure the right application goes into the right amount.”

The company is taking a proactive approach in dealing with concerns about dissolved phosphorus levels in the Maumee River, said Plant Nutrient Group President Denny Addis. “We are networking with many organizations to find the right solution to the problem and get the word out to the growers and retailers,” he said.

A Sustainable Dairy

Attendees experienced why the family-owned Bridgewater Dairy, Montpelier, OH, has earned awards for environmental stewardship. The company, which milks 4,200 Holstein dairy cows and farms more than 4,000 acres of ground in Northwest Ohio, has become sustainable and profitable through renewable energy. All of the forage and much of the corn grain consumed by its cows are grown on Bridgewater’s farms. In addition, nutrients for the crops are derived substantially by recycling cow manure. 

At the heart of the recycling process is an anaerobic digester. Manure is pumped into the digester, which is contained in a concrete underground vault. Inside the digester, methane rises to the top and is piped out to fuel two 1,000-horsepower engines. Those engines supply enough power for Bridgewater’s needs and produce surplus electricity that the farm sells to the local power company.

Bridgewater Owner Leon Weaver said there are several benefits from using the digester. “We get streams of cash flow from it, including the sale of electricity and we can accumulate carbon credits for destroying the methane,” he said. “We also can recapture the bedding for the cows and don’t have to purchase sand.”

Conservation On The Farm

Tour stops at Mavis, Dean and Hesterman farms were highlighted by the unique ways these operations have adopted sustainable crop production practices.

At the 2,900-acre Mavis farm near Edgerton, OH, Gary and Scott Mavis shared their philosophy on conservation and how they are systematically transitioning their operation to a successful no-till system. They divide each field into different yield zones based on the previous years’ yield maps and soil types.

“In 1995, we bought our first yield monitor,” said Gary Mavis, who was one of the area’s first adopters of precision agriculture technology. “After about three years we felt comfortable with the yield maps and were able to establish some management zones. We test the soil in each zone separately and evaluate results. We then variable rate our fertilizer, lime, and seed based on the results and yield potential of each zone. The key is to not overapply when it’s not needed, and precision ag technology helps us do that.”

Attendees got down in the dirt at Allen Dean’s 1,900-acre wheat, soybean and cover crop operation in Williams County, Ohio, where a soil pit showed the benefits of cover crops to soil health. Dean has recently started selling cover crop seed and services to area farmers.

“Cover crops can help improve the moisture-holding capabilities of the soil,” he said. “These crops tend to penetrate deep into the soil, helping to open it up. We see results with our wheat and soybean crops right away from them taking in nutrients that have never been tapped into before and from water infiltrating much quicker than before.”

The operation also analyzes soybean and wheat yield maps to determine zones for soil testing, Dean said. The test results help guide their decisions on precise lime and fertilizer application rates.

Hesterman Farm, a 450-acre corn, soybean and wheat operation in Napoleon, OH, hosted the tour’s final farm stop. Owner Todd Hesterman has practiced no-till continuously for 22 years and has used yield mapping for more than 14 years.

“We’ve incorporated filter strips, quail buffers, and soil sampling in the farm, and plan to install a new drainage water management system,” Hesterman said. “I’ve been blessed with a good base operation and I want to nuture it for future generations.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories

FertilizerGypsum Added To List Of Conservation Practices
July 28, 2016
Crop farmers in a growing number of states may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
Crop InputsNACHURS Joins Field to Market
July 27, 2016
NACHURS announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a leading multi-stakeholder initiative working Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Agriculture
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Corn Field
FertilizerPhosphorus: Complex, Inefficient, Essential
July 12, 2016
Submitted by Verdesian Life Sciences Managing phosphorous for optimum plant uptake and increased yield potential is no easy task. “Because of Read More
Trending Articles
Southeast Farmers Coop - Finished Building
Retail FacilitiesNew Stueve Facilities Offer Ag Retailers Speed, Accuracy
July 9, 2016
Leading the industry in planning and constructing dry fertilizer storage and chemical warehouse solutions, Stueve Construction helped three ag retailers Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Latest News
FertilizerGypsum Added To List Of Conservation Practices
July 28, 2016
Crop farmers in a growing number of states may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Read More
Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover …
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesStudy: Fall Weed Controls Can Make Significant Impact O…
July 28, 2016
An article published in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science shows that adopting harvest-time and post-harvest weed controls Read More
InsecticidesSyngenta: Beware Of Early Stinkbug Threat To Soybeans
July 28, 2016
With the record warm temperatures this past winter and confirmations from early entomologist reports, Syngenta encourages growers to monitor stinkbug Read More
Peanut field
Crop InputsVerdesian Introduces New Inoculant For Peanuts
July 28, 2016
As planning begins for the next growing season, Verdesian Life Sciences adds Primo Power CL, a new liquid inoculant, to Read More
Soil Young Corn
Crop InputsSmithsonian: 5 Things to Know About New GMO Labeling Bi…
July 27, 2016
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring large food companies to label products containing genetically modified Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesSpecial Issue Of Weed Science Explores Human Aspects Of…
July 27, 2016
Weeds that evolve resistance to herbicides are a serious threat to global agricultural production. In this Special Issue of Weed Science, Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100CHS Businesses In Washington, Idaho Combining For Great…
July 27, 2016
As full-service ag retailers, CHS Primeland and CHS Farmers Co-op collectively serve farmers and other customers in 15 counties in Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
Crop InputsNACHURS Joins Field to Market
July 27, 2016
NACHURS announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a leading multi-stakeholder initiative working Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Ag…
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Kochia
Crop InputsNufarm Launches New Herbicide for Resistant Kochia
July 25, 2016
Nufarm introduces Scorch herbicide for U.S. farmers and ranchers combating a broad range of troublesome broadleaf weeds. A unique premix Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsBloomberg: Syngenta-Chem China Deal on Track for Regula…
July 25, 2016
Syngenta AG, which has agreed to be taken over by China National Chemical Corp. for $43 billion, said talks with Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and R…
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Imports
July 22, 2016
Monsanto Co. announced today that the European Commission has granted import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. This milestone Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Alfalfa Seed Split Off
July 22, 2016
On September 1, 2016, Syngenta will transfer sales and distribution of alfalfa seed to the NEXGROW branded business that is Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDuPont, Dow Shareholders Approve Merger
July 21, 2016
DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held today, stockholders of both Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Oth…
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More