Ricketts Farm, of South Solon, recently received the 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award at the Ohio Livestock Coalition’s (OLC) 16th Annual Meeting and Symposium held September 6 in Columbus. The annual award recognizes the many accomplishments made by family farmers to protect Ohio’s land, air and water quality and conserve the state’s natural resources.

“Ohio’s livestock farmers are committed to protecting the land, air and water on and near their farms, and the Ricketts Farm under the management of J. L. and Jessica Draganic is no exception,” said David White, OLC executive director. “The farm is a leader in implementing innovative strategies to improve the environment and is an exemplary representation of the goals that the Coalition has for all livestock farmers.”

The cattle farm has taken a number of actions to make their operation more environmentally friendly. Ricketts Farm has developed a comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The farm uses variable rate technology, which allows them to vary the rate of fertilizer application as it is applied on the fields. In addition, Ricketts Farm protects the land from soil erosion through the construction of grass waterways and water and sediment control basins. This helps to reduce nutrient runoff and keep streams clean. The farm also has planted more than 55 acres of native warm season grasses to further prevent soil erosion and filter surface runoff.

In addition to Ricketts Farm, four other Environmental Stewardship Awards were presented at the annual meeting to the following:

All winners received a plaque from their industry's respective member organization. Each also received a proclamation of congratulations and recognition of their commitment to the basic principles of environmental and natural resource stewardship from Governor John Kasich.

OLC coordinates the Environmental Stewardship awards program while five cooperating member organizations – the Ohio Cattlemen's Association, Ohio Dairy Producers Association, Ohio Pork Producers Council, Ohio Poultry Association, and Ohio Sheep Improvement Association – sponsor the individual awards.

The OLC, formed in 1997, is a statewide trade organization consisting of diverse agriculture organizations and individual farmers committed to advancing environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable livestock farming practices.

EDITOR’S NOTE: High resolution photos are available upon request.