Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

February 12, 2014

Soil & Water District honors 'Conservation Farmer of the Year'

GREENSBURG — On Monday night, the Smiley Brothers – Gordon and Jeff – were recognized as “Conservation Farmer of the Year” at the 50th annual meeting of the Decatur County Soil & Water Conservation District (DCSW).

The brothers operate a 1,200-acre family farm in the Clifty Creek Watershed of the Upper East Fork of the White River. According to DCSW annual meeting materials, they run a “farrow to finish” operation and grow corn and soybeans, as well.

DCSW vice chairman Roger Wenning praised the pair for their conservation efforts, commending them for their use of no-till farming, cover-crops, filter strips and other techniques designed to preserve soil nutrients and prevent erosion.

In August, the brothers were honored at the Indiana State Fair with the “River Friendly Farmer” award. According to DCSW annual meeting materials, the River Friendly Farmer award recognizes farmers who “help keep Indiana’s rivers, lakes and streams clean” through the use of effective “production management.”

After the awards dinner and the presentation of the award itself, Gordon Smiley told the Daily News his family has been farming in Decatur County for several decades, starting with his father in the early 1950s. Conservation efforts weren’t as intensive back in those days, Gordon noted, but the elder Smiley nonetheless became more and more active in conservation as the years passed.

“It’s a unique honor to be named Conservation Farmer of the Year,” Gordon said. “But it’s important to remember that there were lots of individuals before us who helped make this award possible.”

“Dad worked with several folks who were active in the Soil & Water Conservation District,” he added.

Conserving resources – soil, water, land – he said is vital to the future of our children and grandchildren and all their descendants thereafter.

“When you see a little bit of erosion – say a tiny gulley,” he explained, “it might not seem like much, but you’ve got to think about the big picture; what’s that gulley going to look like in 10 years, in 20 years, if you don’t do anything about it? It’s the cumulative effect that matters and that’s why conservation is so important. We’ve got to preserve our resources for future generations.”

Also on Monday night, North Decatur High School junior Justin Weisenbach received the R. Frank Zobel 4-H Award, while Decatur County farmer Fred Fry was elected to the DCSW Board of Supervisors and various board members received the oath of office.

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011; robert.cox@greensburgdailynews.com

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