Stark, Carroll farming conservation efforts receive state honors – Canton Repository


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Two area farms are getting statewide recognition for their conservation efforts.Clifford Miller, who managed his beef cattle farm, used a practice known as rotational grazing, which involves shifting the animals from one small section of his Carroll County pasture to another.And in southeastern Stark County, Sam Sluss uses a cover crop concept on his Paris Township farm, where he plants certain vegetation to enrich the quality of the soil.Both family-owned farms are among five recipients of the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Conservation Farm Family Award.More: Samsung targeting Stark County for 800-acre solar farm"We reach out to the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and try to recognize families that implement the best conservation practices on their farms," said Emily Heppner, outreach administrator for the Ohio Department of Agriculture."The families that we recognize are good stewards of their land. They try to do their best for the land and water. Usually these are smaller farms."The Miller farm in Carroll CountyIn Miller's case, the award comes posthumously; he died in March at age 80. He and his wife, Jeannine, operated a beef cattle farm in the 1200 block of Andora Road NE in Carroll County's Washington Township. To implement rotational, or management-intensive grazing, the pasture land was "just divided into smaller areas so they (cattle) ate more of the grass and trampled less," said Jeannine Miller. "When you have them in a large area, they tend to trample on a lot of it (grass). And they can't pick it up and eat it. It is more efficient eating. It is smaller than traditional grazing."The smaller portions of the pasture are known as paddocks. The practice allows the paddocks not being used for grazing to recover from the presence of feeding livestock.Clifford Miller also was a metallurgical engineer, who retired from Republic Engineered Steels."Of all the people that are conservation related, Cliff was always forward thinking," said Amanda Tubaugh, district administrator for Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District. "He always tried to do better and be better. It is a shame we were't able to give him the award in person."While Miller was on the Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District board he was not eligible to receive the state conservation award. The farm remains active as Tubaugh and her husband lease the property for beef cattle management. Tubaugh nominated Clifford and Jeannine Miller's farm for the state award."He got into rotational grazing so he didn't have to do much with tractors," Jeannine Miller said of her late husband. "All of his efforts were to do as much as he could with the least expenditures."This rotational grazing cuts expenses by allowing farmers to spend less on hay."It is going to be winter before I am feeding them hay," Tubaugh said. "If they are not eating grass, they are eating hay. And hay is money."Sam Sluss returns nutrients to farm soilSluss and his wife, Lauren, operate a crop and livestock farm in the 3400 block of Baird Avenue SE in Stark County's Paris Township. Sam Sluss also works at a family business, Steve Sluss Construction.The focus is "regenerative agriculture," said Jay Jordan, natural resources technician with Stark Soil and Water Conservation District."They are doing crop rotation and try to keep the soil covered as much as possible to prevent erosion. If you have a cover crop there, it helps protect the soil. He uses rye and he also uses a mix of clover, radish, oats and sunflower. When we harvest crops we take a lot of nutrients out. Cover crops help put some of those nutrients back in the soil."The cover crops are planted with the cash crops, aka what Sluss harvests to sell to the public.His cash crops are corn, soybeans, wheat and hay."The clover will pull atmospheric nitrogen out of the air and put it into the ground," Sluss, 36, said. "It will build organic matter in the soil."Sluss was nominated for the state award by Jordan. The cover crops are raised from seeds."They are planted typically in the fall after you harvest your cash crop," Sluss said. "They will go dormant in the winter, and they will start growing again in March. They stay in the field. I plant my cash crop right into it. The cash crops are harvested. The cover crops are not harvested. Soil erosion is what we are trying to prevent. It holds the soil in place so you don't get erosion."The presence of cover crops also helps ward off soil runoff during storms.Reach Malcolm at 330-580-8305 or [email protected] Twitter: mhallREP
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