Roni Schweiger of Dead Broke Farm took home top honors at the 2023 Annual Meeting by being named the 2023 Cooperator of the year by the Highland SWCD supervisors and staff. Roni was selected due to her determination to improve soil health and water quality throughout her pastureland operation. Roni has worked diligently with the SWCD and provides an outstanding example of how to incorporate conservation practices that will contribute to an environmentally and economically sound farm. Dead Broke Farm has taken on the challenge of protecting our natural resources and continues learn about new technologies and techniques as they are developed.
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Bringing Quail Back!
Quail are disappearing from our landscape here in Southern Ohio, primarily due to habitat loss. If you are interested in conserving or creating habitat on your land, there are programs to help! Two such programs are;
CRP is a rental program through the USDA, which gives cost share to convert existing farmland into natural habitats to address an environmental concern. After establishment, the USDA pays a rental rate on the land used to keep it in natural cover.
EQIP is a more flexible program, not requiring existing cropland. Only cost share is offered, but this can help offset the personal expenses for otherwise costly work. Invasive control, habitat plantings, and more can be accomplished through the EQIP program.
If you have any interest or questions regarding these programs, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local NRCS office, or to your area’s farm bill biologist. We are happy to assist, and with your help, we can ensure that future generations of the Buckeye State can experience the summer with all of its natural sights and sounds.
9th Highland County Farm Tour a Great Success
The 9th Annual Highland County Farm Tour took place on Sept. 16, 2023, in the New Petersburg area. The farm tour was a result of a collaborative effort between Highland County Farm Bureau and Highland Soil and Water Conservation District. The event was a great success with over 100 people in attendance.
The tour featured beautiful, diverse farms and provided beneficial information on local sustainable agriculture. The first tour stop was Four Finger Hops: featuring a tour of the hopyard, management and production tips and a harvesting demonstration of hops by Tim Dettwiller and family. The second stop featured Crawford Knoll Farm, which offered a unique up-close look at the benefits of incorporating a grass waterway into your farming operation, and the Cockerill Family provided a presentation on the history of their family farm. The final tour stop featured Brenneman Farms; highlighting seasonal high tunnel systems that extend the growing season and provide crop diversity.
In addition to touring these beautiful farms, participants also enjoyed a delicious catered lunch provided by the Highland County Farm Bureau that was served by Maplecrest Meats and More. The Highland County Farm Bureau and Highland Soil and Water Conservation District would like to thank Rural King of Hillsboro for providing bottled water, and everyone that helped to showcase these agricultural farms in Highland County.
The Highland SWCD had the pleasure of having Katie Cook, a sophomore from Greenfield McClain High School, job shadow the USDA Service Center on May 8, 2023. Katie's interest in soils led her to seek out the District as a possible career path. We wish her the very best in her future endeavors!
Earth Day - Lake Cleanup The Highland SWCD had a wonderful Earth Day partnering with Rocky Fork State Park and the Highland Harvesters 4-H Club! The group did their part to clean up the area by picking up trash along the lake edges. A special thanks to Park Naturalist Joshua Pennington, for spending the morning with us!
Congratulations to District Operations Manager for receiving her 20 year service award at the OFSWCD Annual Partnership Meeting held in Columbus on Feb 21, 2023. Thanks Pam for your many years of service and dedication to the Highland SWCD.
Ag Outlook Event
On February 3, 2023 the Highland County Extension and the Workforce Development and Community Services Division of Southern State Community College partnered together to host the 2023 Agriculture Outlook Meeting: Planted with a Purpose. During this free educational opportunity, participants learned about the carbon credit programs, grazing management plans, and they heard from local USDA and Soil and Water Conservation District personnel about upcoming programs available in the year. The event was well attended and may become an annual event in the future.
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2023 Officers Elected
The Highland SWCD Board of Supervisors elected officer at the Jan 11 Board Meeting; (L-R) Jeff Roehm, Vice-Chairman, Jim Carr, Fiscal Agent, Kyle Mustard, Chairman, Dan Chambers & Chris Cox Members
The SWCD Board will hold their regular monthly meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of each month in 2023. The meetings will be held at 8 am in the Service Center located at 514 Harry Sauner Rd. in Hillsboro and are open to the public.
2023 County Soils Winners Every year the Highland SWCD holds a soil judging competition for the five 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 setting. Students also had to complete two written test. One consisted of questions on a packet given to them from the Web Soil Survey and the other tests general knowledge of soils. In the 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. This year the competition was held September 19 at Boeckman Farms. Jason Boeckmann graciously volunteered his time and equipment to dig the soil pits for the competition. The County winners received a plaque that was donated by Farm Credit Mid-America. Pictured above; SWCD Technician Chuck Williams,
Hunter Miller as the top individual in the Urban category,
Cade Sponcil as the top individual in the Ag category, and Amanda Lovedahl representing Farm Credit Mid-America.
Local Envirothon Students Honored
Two members of the Lynchburg-Clay Envirothon team was recently honored during the SWCD's Annual Meeting for being devoted members of the team and successfully ranking high enough to compete at the state level through each of their high school years. (L-R) Envirothon Coach Lara Hamilton, Sydney Hamilton, Sam Hamilton and SWCD Vice-Chairman Jeff Roehm. Congratulations to both Sydney and Sam for this outstanding achievement!
Cover Crop Field Day Held
The Highland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) hosted a successful cover crop field day on August 29, 2023, at the Rocky Fork Lake Restaurant. The event highlighted the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that will provide conservation assistance to landowners in the Rocky Fork Watershed. Information was provided on the ODNR, Division of Parks and Watercraft dredging project and the importance of reducing sediment from entering the lake by planting cover crops. Participants learned about seed establishment and various ways to terminate cover crops, as well as an in-field drone seeding demonstration. This field day offered a unique 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. The SWCD would like to thank everyone that helped to make the event a great success.
Rocky Fork Funding Awarded
Lead Partner, Highland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was awarded funding for the Rocky Fork Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which is one of three projects awarded in the state. The RCPP promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. With the help of various partners including Ohio Department of Natural Resources-Division of Parks and Watercraft & Division of Wildlife, City of Hillsboro-Drinking Water Treatment Plant and Wastewater Treatment Plant, and US Fish and Wildlife Service the project will protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for at-risk species in the Rocky Fork Watershed.
The Rocky Fork Watershed drains approximately 92,350 acres of land, with 46,650 acres of cropland that directly outlets into the Rocky Fork Lake, thus making it a highly sensitive area. The primary objectives of the RCPP is to protect water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion to alleviate algal blooms n the Rocky Fork Watershed region. The project will be carried out over the next five years with water monitoring being conducted through the life of the project to document trends and conditions. With sediment being the biggest challenge for Rocky Fork Lake, partnering with the ODNR Parks and Watercraft dredging operation, will maximize the benefits of reducing sediment from reaching the lake.
This innovative project will implement a series of agricultural best management practices that will have an enormous positive effect on the economic and social development of the Rocky Fork Watershed, as well as, protect the City of Hillsboro’s drinking water supply and provide prescribed habitat for Ohio’s diminished Bobwhite Quail population and other at-risk species. Project goals for conservation practices include the installation cover crops, nutrient management, grassed waterways, and certain prescribed wildlife management practices that improve habitat for targeted species.
If you are in the Rocky Fork Watershed and would like more information on the program you may contact the NRCS/SWCD office at 937-393-1922 ext 3.
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.