Brown top conservation farmer


Highland County farmer Nathan Brown was one of five Ohio family farmers recognized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture as a winner of the 2022 Conservation Family Farm Award at the Farm Science Review in London, Ohio late last week.

“It’s a pretty awesome feeling to have been recognized,” said Brown, who farms nearly 1,200 acres in northern Highland County. Corn and soybeans are the primary crops grown on the farm along with some wheat. Cattle and a flock of sheep are also raised on the farm.

Brown utilizes no-till farming, grass waterways, crop rotations, cover crops, and nutrient management to conserve his farmland and ensure its value in the future.

“We want to make sure that we are leaving our soil in as good or better shape than we found it for generations to come,” said Brown. “We have limited resources with our soils, and they take so long to reproduce and to regenerate themselves, so if we’re doing practices that are promoting erosion then we are losing all that topsoil — in this part of the state we don’t have a lot of topsoil to begin with; we’ve only got four or five inches of topsoil — and that’s a very precious commodity that we don’t want to lose.”

Brown said he works to help other farmers in their efforts to protect Ohio’s natural resources. “I guess part of my venture into conservation was not only trying to learn myself but sharing with others and trying to let other farmers in the area know what kind of practices I’m doing and what works on my farm,” he said. “I think that I’m moving in the right direction, and I’m trying to help, not only myself, but our community move in the right direction.”

Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized Ohio farm families for their exemplary efforts in conserving soil, water, woodland, wildlife and other natural resources on the land they farm. Conservation farm families also host a variety of educational programs, opening their farms to schools, scout groups, farm organizers and others.

In addition to receiving $400 from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, each winning family farm is featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer Magazine. The magazine has sponsored the awards since the program’s inception. Nominations are sought annually between January and May, and Ohio farming families are encouraged to apply. For more information or to apply, individuals can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

The other families honored were: Settlage Farm in Auglaize County, Baltes Farm in Mahoning County, the Felumlee family’s Claylick Run Farm in Licking County, and Branstrator Farm in Warren County.

“We are proud to join with our conservation partners to honor these five special families who have made conservation the foundation of their operations,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelenda. “Although many farmers are conservation-minded, these families have blazed a conservation path to which others may aspire. Their actions are not only supporting the state’s strong agriculture industry, they are also helping to produce more in a way that preserves their land for future generations.”

Brown was also named the 2018 Outstanding No-till Farmer by the Ohio No-till Council. The Browns were also selected as the 2019 Cooperator of the Year by the Highland SWCD based on their determination and willingness to improve soil health and water quality throughout their operation.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

Wants to help other farmers protect natural resources

By John Hackley

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