Nathan Brown took home top honors at this years’ 77th Annual Meeting by being named the 2019 Cooperator of the year by the Highland SWCD supervisors and staff. Brown was selected due to his devotion to agricultural and the determination to improve soil health and water quality throughout his farming operation. He has worked diligently with local landowners to install much needed conservation practices on their farms. Brown is a well-respected leader in the agricultural industry and serves as an example of how to incorporate best management practices that will protect our natural resources.
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ADDITIONAL PROJECT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE CLEAR CREEK WATERSHED AREA
The Highland Soil and Water Conservation District recently applied for a Clear Creek Water Quality & Wildlife Habitat Special Initiative in coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver assistance for conservation and wildlife management practices in the Clear Creek Watershed. This Initiative will continue the conservation efforts of The Clear Creek Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to work with various partners including, Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Wildlife, City of Hillsboro, US Fish and Wildlife, and Pheasants Forever, Inc. to maintain water quality, reduce soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat.
The Clear Creek Watershed is located in South West Ohio, Highland County and drains approximately 29,400 acres of land. There is nearly 16,400 acres of agricultural cropland within the watershed. The entire Clear Creek watershed is in the project area, which is unique in that it serves as the source water for the City of Hillsboro, and is the main drinking water source for 6,500 residents and businesses. The Clear Creek Watershed also encompasses Ohio’s first Bobwhite quail focus area. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and listed partners have made sustaining the declining Northern Bobwhite quail population a priority. Within the Clear Creek watershed 9,900 acres have been designated as a focus area for quail habitat management.
This special initiative project will implement a series of agricultural best management practices to protect water quality, improve soil health and provide habitat for at risk species in the Clear Creek Watershed. It will also help protect the City of Hillsboro’s drinking water supply and provide prescribed habitat for Ohio’s diminished Bobwhite Quail population and native pollinators. Project goals for conservation practices include the installation of cover crops, nutrient management, grassed waterways, and certain prescribed wildlife management practices that improve habitat for targeted species. The project will utilize the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to meet the project goals. Implementation of BMPs will be prioritized upstream of the City of Hillsboro’s drinking water intake and within the wildlife focus area for Bobwhite Quail. If you live or farm in the Clear Creek Watershed and would like more information on the program stop in the NRCS/SWCD office or call 937-393-1922 ext. 3.
6th Annual Highland County Farm Tour a Great Success
The 6th Annual Highland County Farm Tour took place on Sept. 14, 2019. The farm tour was a result of a collaborative effort between Highland County Farm Bureau and Highland Soil and Water Conservation District. Over 100 people attended the event in the Fairview area.
The tour featured beautiful, diverse farms and provided beneficial information on local sustainable agriculture. The tour consisted of stops at the following locations: Bonnie Burchwell Farm; featuring a presentation on pond management by Aquatic Biologist Anthony Bruno from Jones Fish, Stroud’s Apiary; where participants learned how to become a beekeeper, Higgins Steel Roofing; which offered a unique look behind the scenes of their performance panel operation, see first-hand how honey is processed and tour the extensive beekeeping products sold at Higgins. In addition to learning about these unique farms, participants also enjoyed a pollinator habitat presentation from Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist Barb Bauer after lunch on the importance of maintaining habitat to protect our pollinators.
The Highland County Farm Bureau and Highland Soil and Water Conservation District would like to thank The Nationwide, Newman-Barton Group of Hillsboro for donating bottled water, to help ensure the event was a great success.
Anyone that was unable to attend this year’s event, but would like to be informed of future events can call 937-393-1922 ext. 3 or 1-888-378-2212 to be added to the mailing list.
Cover Crop Field Day Held
The Highland SWCD and the Highland County Farm Bureau partnered together to host a field day to uncover the importance of planting cover crops. The event was held on August 21, 2019 at Brown Farms in Highland County. Information was provided on fertilizer recommendations, the importance of improving soil health and a tour of a cover crop plot was conducted. Various events was held throughout the day, such as in-field demonstrations and a rain simulator. This field day offered a unique on-site opportunity for landowners to carefully consider all cover crop options that can be implemented to advance their farming operation while capturing nutrients for a long-term investment.
KARNES FAMILY HONORED AT ANNUAL MTG
Charles and Kay Karnes and Family were presented with a Bicentennial Farm award at the Highland Soil and Water Conservation District’s 77th Annual Meeting. It was a privilege to have the Ohio Department of Agriculture Assistant Director, Tim Derickson in attendance to present this award to the Karnes Family as part of the Ohio Historic Farms program.
County Soils Contest Winners
Every year the Highland SWCD holds a soil judging competition for the county school FFA Chapters. The competition allows the students to evaluate soil pits to determine soil properties, limitations, recommended conservation practices, and appropriate land uses for either an urban or rural ag setting. Students also had to complete two written tests. One consisted of questions on the county soil survey and the other tests general knowledge of soils. In the rural ag soil judging contest, students evaluate the soil based on its suitability for agriculture, forestry, pasture and wildlife uses. In the urban soil judging contest, students determine the soil’s ability to be used for roads, lawns, gardens and landscaping, home building sites and septic systems. In 2019 Caleb Cook (Middle R) was the County Urban Winner from McClain FFA and Richie Lester (Alex Snyder- Middle L accepting award for Lester) was the Rural Ag Winner also from McClain FFA. Dan Chambers, Highland SWCD Board member (R) presented the awards of behalf of sponsor Farm Credit Mid-America and District Technician Chuck Williams (L) are shown with the contest winners.
WARM SEASON GRASS GRAZING WORKSHOP
An informational grazing workshop was held at the Millstone Creek Farm on July 16, 2019 located at 9061 Grabill Road in Hillsboro, OH. This was a collorabitive event hosted by the Highland Soil and Water Conservation District, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, USDA NRCS, the Ohio State University Extension and the ODNR, Division of Wildlife to provide opportunities for farmers to learn new advanced grazing techniques. Topics of discussion included; Pasture Management, Animal Performance and Economics, Warm Season Grass Pastures, Warm-Season Annuals and Cover Crop Options, and a pasture walk of the Millstone Creek Farm Operation. A delicious dinner was provided by the Highland County Cattlemen Association and Union Stockyards. The educational evening offered the opportunity to see first-hand how the farm converted fescue to perennial native grasses, to allow a unique grazing technique that will increase water quality, improve soil health, and provide wildlife habitat. This conversion concept is featured in the national Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) project through USDA, NRCS that will assist eligible livestock producers to implement conservation practices to address habitat loss without taking their land out of production. If you would like more information on the WLFW program you may contact the NRCS or SWCD office at 937-393-1922 x 3.
Southwest Ohio Agricultural Conservation Menu
The Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Brown, Clermont, Clinton and Highland counties are working together to collect producer input to develop a new website, the Southwest Ohio Agricultural Conservation Menu (SOACM), to share information on conservation programs and technical services that are available locally to advance farming practices. The SOACM website will be a one-stop clearinghouse for all conservation programs. The site will include information and regular updates on watershed health and local water quality monitoring efforts. The intent of the SOACM website is to provide local farmers with the services and information they need to choose the right agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) that can advance their farming operations and provide protection for local rivers and lakes. Focus group meetings will be held in the spring to prioritize public input on the needed content of the website. The site will also include additional features, including access to locally-developed resources and interactive modules to facilitate information sharing between landowners and producers. The final version of SOACM is planned to be launched near the end of the year, so stay tuned!
All Highland Soil and Water Conservation District programs and services are offered on a non-discriminatory basis without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status.