Coshocton SWCD hosts county officials’ tour

| August 3, 2018

Coshocton SWCD District Technician Ryan Medley (middle) is pictured explaining projects that his office helped with at Derr Dairy Farm. Josie Sellers | Beacon

COSHOCTON COUNTY – The Coshocton Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) County Officials’ Tour gave people a firsthand look at what its staff is able to do for area farmers.

The tour is held every other year and this year it highlighted two farms in Linton Township and one in West Lafayette.

“They all had more recent projects that happened in the last few years,” said Deb Bigelow, district administrator for the Coshocton SWCD. “This isn’t just about us though. We are appreciative of the landowners being willing to let us come. They spent a lot of time doing extra cleaning up in addition to their regular farm work.”

Those who took the tour met at the fairgrounds on Aug. 2 to board a chartered bus that first took them to the Josh Henderson Farm on Township Road 118 in Linton Township.

“I was here for an auction just to see who bought it, but when it went in my price range I made a bid and here we are,” Henderson said.

He is not from Coshocton County, but said he liked it here because it is cattle country. The property Henderson purchased had a good spring on it, but he had to figure out how to get it closer to his cattle.

“They had to walk a long way to get water and every step they took is extra energy they used that didn’t go to their milk and their calf,” he said.

Henderson, who has a 54 acre cow-calf operation, sought help from the Coshocton SWCD and after an almost three-year project his problem is solved.

“They are all now no more than 700 feet from water and the general rule of thumb is to have water within 800 feet of them,” he said.

The Coshocton SWCD was able to help Henderson with fencing, pipelines, spring development, livestock waterers, a heavy use pad, and grazing management plan.

The next stop on the tour was Derr Dairy Farm on County Road 106 in Linton Township. Here the Coshocton SWCD helped with a new 300-head dairy facility featuring a free stall barn, sand lane, and animal waste storage, 376’ x 90’ free stall barn with flush system, 330’ sand recovery lane, synthetic lined ponds with approximately one year storage, and concrete silage pad.

Zach Wallace, district technician with the SWCD, said the flush system was beneficial for several reasons.

“The aisles are flushed once an hour so the cattle are getting cleaned too,” he said. “That helps with their overall health and their milk so it’s not just a labor reduction feature.”

After visiting Derr Dairy Farm, the group moved on to Schumaker Farms in West Lafayette for dinner and a presentation using the SWCD Watershed Sandbox Model.

The model was built and programmed by Wallace and his fellow district technician Ryan Medley. Grant money from the Coshocton Foundation helped fund the tool, which is used to educate adults and students about watersheds, runoff and topography.

“We had it out at AEP Earth Day, which usually has 400 to 500 kids and it (the model) was a hit, even with the adults,” Bigelow said. “Everyone wanted to see it.”

The final stop on the tour was the WenMar Farms operation in West Lafayette where the SWCD helped with their swine-farrowing facility, animal waste storage and nutrient management. The comprehensive nutrient management plan made for the farm contains all its fields, animal numbers, soil tests, crop rotations, manure storages, manure production and manure test values.

“We want to leave the ground better for our children and their children than it was for us,” said Greg Waters who operates WenMar Farms with his family and is chairman of the Coshocton SWCD Board of Supervisors.

While several local government officials took the tour, it also was enjoyed by State Senator Jay Hottinger.

“I don’t come from an agriculture background so this is helpful to me because ag-related issues come up in legislation,” he said. “I really liked getting to see the new and improved dairy operation. I’ve seen some older ones, but getting to see the flush system they used was really interesting.”

Nate and Christine McNeal also took the tour. Nate is the fiscal officer for Linton Township and he enjoyed getting a closer look at the farms in his area.

“I’ve seen Josh (Henderson’s) cattle, but I’ve never met him before today and it was nice seeing the investment made at the Derr farm,” Nate said. “Milking is a 365 day job for them (the Derrs). There is no taking vacation.”

The Coshocton SWCD office is located at 724 S. Seventh St. in room 120. Bigelow said they will meet one-on-one with land owners who come in to discuss problems or issues.

“That one-on-one assistance is so valuable and there is no charge for it because we are funded through the county and state,” she said. “The landowners have to hire the contractors, but our guys can be there through the construction process. Our mission is to educate and assist landowners with managing their natural resources.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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