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

Flooded corn in Indiana
FertilizerBoth Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss
May 15, 2017
The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. Read More
Iowa waterways
FertilizerDow AgroSciences Recognizes Ag Retailers’ Role in Protecting Iowa Water Quality
April 6, 2017
The state of Iowa and its agriculture community have worked for decades to preserve soil health, protect water quality and Read More
Yara West Sacramento Ribbon Cutting
Crop InputsYara West Sacramento Is Newest Addition
March 27, 2017
Yara’s West Sacramento Terminal was officially welcomed March 21 as the newest Yara North America facility in the U.S. While continually Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teaching Fertilizer Education
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
Trending Articles
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
ManagementWashington Update, Dow-DuPont Earnings, and the Passing of an AGCO Legend
April 27, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the latest Beltway news, crop protection company 1st quarter numbers, and the Read More
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
Young Corn Plants
Crop NutritionStill Hunting Yields
April 1, 2017
There’s no denying it — the agricultural marketplace today is undergoing a fundamental shift in fortunes. Not too many years Read More
Latest News
ManagementTrip Report, PSM R.I.P, and Ag’s Reaction to Federal Bu…
May 25, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent travels, the end for Process Safety Management (PSM), and how Read More
Corn soil
LegislationARA Member Testifies Before Senate Ag Committee
May 25, 2017
Agricultural retailers stand on the front-lines of the American economy. As trusted advisors to America’s farmers, ag retailers are uniquely Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsFortenza Insecticide Seed Treatment Receives EPA Regist…
May 25, 2017
Fortenza seed treatment insecticide from Syngenta has received registration approval from the U.S. EPA for use on corn and cotton Read More
ManagementFarm Market iD’s Agriculture Database Now Covers More T…
May 25, 2017
Farm Market iD, farmmarketid.com, has announced the release of its 2017 Annual Update of its farm and land database. The Read More
Food IT Fork-to-Farm
Precision AgThe Mixing Bowl Event Connects Technology, Food, and Ag…
May 24, 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, The Mixing Bowl presents FOOD IT, under the theme “Fork to Farm.” Action-oriented entrepreneurs, industry Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Seed/BiotechKansas State University Researchers Find New Pathogens …
May 24, 2017
A single seed seems so simple. Put it in the ground, give it some care, and you’ve soon grown food. Read More
Soybean Field
HerbicidesNew Dicamba Herbicide Premix Coming Soon from Syngenta
May 24, 2017
Syngenta has announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Launches New Seed Treatment Fungicide
May 22, 2017
Syngenta has announced the launch of PLENARIS seed treatment fungicide for the control of downy mildew in sunflower. PLENARIS contains Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsMonsanto’s First HPPD Herbicide Garners EPA Appro…
May 19, 2017
Monsanto announced today that EPA has federally approved Harness MAX Herbicide, the first herbicide in the Monsanto portfolio to provide Read More
ManagementPrecision Planting Deal, China Developments, and Enviro…
May 18, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the latest news on John Deere’s now dead deal for Precision Planting, China’s Read More
Soybean aphid leaf
InsecticidesMulti-state Research Reveals IPM Best Option for Treatm…
May 17, 2017
About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the U.S. in 2017 — a record high, according to Read More
GROWMARK-2017-Interns
CropLife 100GROWMARK Names 2017 Summer Interns
May 16, 2017
Forty-two college students are exploring agricultural career opportunities this summer as GROWMARK interns. They are working at FS member cooperatives Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Ag…
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
FertilizerBoth Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss
May 15, 2017
The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. Read More
farmer Kip Tom
Precision AgAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
ManagementOpinion: Shaking Your Perspective in Ag Retail
May 12, 2017
Some of you I’m sure have encountered our recently retired salesman extraordinaire, Dan Bellanger. He worked in the industry for Read More