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
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
Aerial view of the West Fertilizer explosion site
FertilizerFertilizer Companies Blame City For West, TX, Explosion
August 6, 2014
El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries contend the city failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 17, 2013, blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute: New President, Renewed Energy
February 3, 2014
Chris Jahn relishes the opportunity to lead the organization through the challenging times ahead. Read More
FertilizerA New Cycle For Fertilizer Demand
January 2, 2014
Changes in the corn market could have a major impact on the crop nutrients sector in 2014, say experts. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Zach Sheely, vice president of sales and operations, says that several large, well-known U.S. cooperatives (Stanislaus Farm Supply, Wilco-Winfield and Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More