Thursday, April 24, 2014

Conserving the Land - Conserving a Legacy

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Roger Wenning has called Greensburg, Indiana home his entire life.  He is proud to be farming the land where he grew up as well as additional owned and rented ground consisting of corn, wheat, and soybeans.   Roger and his wife, Mary Beth, have three sons, Nick, Kevin and Ben, and a daughter, Lisa.  They also have an excavating and farm drainage business.

Roger was the northeast region winner of the 2013 Conservation Legacy Award as a result of his commitment to soil conservation on his 725-acre farm.  One hundred of those acres are in a conservation program (called “CRP”) that protects the land from erosion and keeps soil nutrients and sediment out of creeks, rivers and oceans.  CRP helped Roger establish wildlife buffers that give wildlife a place to live and eat.  All of the acres Roger farms are no-till.  No-till is growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage while preserving organic matter, slowing erosion, preserving worm holes and leaving mulch on the soil to preserve moisture from rainfall.  Roger also nourishes his land by planting cover crops on all acres whenever there isn’t a cash crop growing.  “Cover crops help build organic matter, prevent erosion and feed worms and soil microbes, “Roger explains.

When asked why soil conservation is so important to him, Roger said, “It makes me more profitable, increases yields to feed an ever-growing population and, most importantly, conserves the farm and soil health for my kids and grandkids so they can continue the farm.”  Wenning’s farm holds sentimental value as well, “My father started the farms out here.  I need to keep it as good as or better than he left it, which I feel like I’m doing.  My sons are beginning to farm with me.  I want to keep this productive for them.  I’ve got grandchildren now, so fifty years from now I want them to have healthy soils.  We need to keep this here because people are going to want to eat forever.  If we want to feed them, we’ve got to take care of what’s here because it’ll never come back.  Those little grandkids are my life, so I’m taking care of it for them.  God just gave us so much soil out here and it’s our job to take care of it!”

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