Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

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January 25, 2013

Decatur County man wins award for soil health

Greensburg — Decatur County's Roger Wenning has received recognition from the American Soybean Association (ASA) for his efforts in soil health and no-till farming.

Wenning has been farming his entire life on his family’s farm which was established in the 1940s. He told the Daily News he began working full time on the farm after graduating high school in 1976.

“As I grew up, I guess you watch the land and you try to make things get better,” said Wenning.

He witnessed the topsoil on the farm erode and began experimenting with no-till farming. Roger’s career in farming would subsequently involve experimenting. Other forms of tillage cause the earth to lose many of its nutrients.

“I do a lot of reading, studying and meetings,” said Wenning.

His research led him to using cover crops to keep soil healthy and nourished.

Roger explained that soil is a living entity, and using cover crops feeds the soil nutrients all months of the year, instead of only four months of the year. Cover crops also loosen the soil so cash crops’ roots can grow deeply.

As a member of the Decatur County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Roger speaks at meetings and shares his results. He said the best results from cover crops have come from rye grass, crimson clover and radishes.

“It’s been a fun ride while I’m at it,” said Roger.

Wenning said Americans need to take care of their farms so future generations can continue to grow food for themselves. The ground can be sustainable, he explained, and the earth can’t be allowed to go barren.

Indiana is considered a leader in soil conservation through no-till farming and cover crop usage, according to Roger. He cited that Washington D.C. visitors from ASA have paid compliments to Indiana farmers for their efforts during Field Days.

Wenning usually organizes Field Days for late June, he said. The days are used to dig holes in participating farmers’ property, to take a look at each other’s soil, and see how healthy the earthworms are.

Field Days also allow for an exchange of information.

No-till farming has taken off in the past 20 years, said Wenning, and he wants to continue to improve farming tactics.

According to a press release from the ASA, “Roger Wenning’s conservation efforts on his Indiana farm include a commitment to soil health and no-till farming. He continually experiments with cover crops and evaluates for best results. Wenning has addressed drainage issues and made conservation buffers an integral part of his operation.”

Roger and his wife will be sent to Florida at the end of February to receive the Conservation Award, at ASA’s expense.

Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004

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