On August 17th 2011, fifty Indiana farmers from 35 Indiana counties were honored for their outstanding conservation best management practices at the 2011 River Friendly Farmer Awards Ceremony. The recognition took place on Farmers Day at the Indiana State fair.  Happily, two farmers from our own St Joseph county and Kankakee River Watershed were among the honorees.  They are Mike Burkholder and John Dooms.

Mike Burkholder is a corn and soybean farmer in the Kankakee River Watershed. The Aldridge Ditch runs through the property. Filter strips are in place along the ditch to prevent run-off from reaching the open water and filter excess sediment and nutrients as well. Burkholder has no-tilled farmed for over 10 years now. The results are stronger soil structure and health, as well as kept residue on the soil surface, all of which help prevent erosion and filter water maintaining a high water quality on his fields.

John Dooms has a grain and dairy operation with a corn and soybean rotation, as well as alfalfa and hay. The farm has been no-tilled since the 70’s and uses low-pressure conservative irrigation on 400 of the approximately 800 acres of crops. It is located in the Kankakee River Watershed. Grass filter strips are along side the ditch on the farm to prevent runoff entering the watershed. Where filter strips are not in place, the field has a buffer zone of non-worked ground between the crop and ditch allowing room for sprayers and other equipment to keep from polluting the water directly. Practicing no-till farming also promotes higher water quality as residue matter and improved soil structures help prevent erosion and filters water of pollutants. John also uses a nutrient management system that helps him manage the quantity of potential pollutants that could reach the watershed.

Thank you to both of these farmers for working to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

A complete list of all 50 honorees can be found with the St Joseph County Soil and Water Conservation District.