Awards & Recognition
image 2013 River Friendly Farmer Award: Wes Thomas

In 2013, The Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District nominated Wes And Cory Thomas, Reed's Orchard, for the River Friendly Farmer Award.

Reed's Orchard is strictly grain and specialty. The Reeds farm 400 acres of row crops corn, soybeans, and wheat in a rotation. They also have 25 acres of peaches, and 15 acres of tobacco. They have been 100 percent no-till since 1975 with the exception of the tobacco ground.

The farm is located in the Silver-Little Kentucky Watershed. Since they no-till, Thomas has had very little run-off. He also has installed numerous waterways and buffers. He is a firm believer that the ground should be covered as many months out of the year as possible.

The Thomas' recently started using different types of cover crops besides wheat. By following the no-till system, his cropping operation is sustainable because Thomas rotates his crops which helps with disease and weed resistance. Also by not tilling the soil, there are more worm holes in the ground that gives the soil more tilth and organic matter. The soil also seems to absorb more moisture and allows him to get in the fields earlier. He has installed buffers and waterways in many of fields.

They also have more than 100 acres enrolled in classified forest.
image 2010 River Friendly Farmer Award: Greg Schneider

In 2010, the Jefferson County SWCD nominated Greg Schneider's, Cave Springs Farm, for the River Friendly Farmer Award.

Established in 2003, Cave Springs Farm is located in Madison. The 1930's farmstead is a 60 acre farm that is a balance of timber, pasture and tillable ground.

Greg's main goal is to create a closed system where all feed and fertility is raised/stays on the farm with as little input as possible. Soil fertility is maintained using well-timed applications of composted manure produced by livestock raised on the farm.

All livestock including cows, sheep, hogs, horses, and laying flock, are raised in a humane, natural environment.

Greg has 26 fruit trees in an orchard comprising approximately 1/3 of an acre. The orchard is fenced and sheep are grazed to keep the grass height uniform.

He also raises the vast majority of hay used on the farm. Seven acres is in permanent hay while another 8 acres serves as a first cutting before being added to the pasture rotation. In addition, the farm's rotational pasture system consists of another 25 acres fenced and subdivided into 8 paddocks.

Currently all tillable ground previously used for feed crops is sowed in pasture and/or hay in order to save time for family. In the spirit of a closed system, the long term plan is to get back to a rotation on the feed crops as well.

Of the 22+/- acres of woods, an 18 acre continuous tract is managed as classified forest. Livestock is fenced out and practices are implemented per the forest management plan.

The only year round running water on the farm is a spring coming out of a cave at the front of the property. This is fenced off to keep the livestock out. The farm also has a small pond. While is has not proven itself to be a viable/reliable water source for livestock, it does serve as a wildlife habitat enhancement.
image 2009 River Friendly Farmer Award: Donald Cleffmen

In 2009, the Jefferson County Soil & Water Conservation District nominated Donald Cleffman for the River Friendly Farmer Award. Donald has 100 head of Angus Cattle that he raises on his 127 acres farm in Lexington. Of that acreage 14 are wooded. He practices rotational grazing on his hayand pasture grounds. He puts 100 head on a paddock every week and continues the rotation during the growing season. By doing this Donald has no weed problems and therefore has no need for chemical use.

He does a soil test a least every three years and applies fertilizer at correct application rates based on the soil test results. Donald does not use phosphorus or pesticides.

He uses fencing to exclude livestock from sensitive areas such as streams, ditches, sink holes or surface water inlets. He uses Geo-textile fabric in his heavy use areas to minimize impact and erosion.

On April 16, 2009, Donald Cleffman hosted the districts pasture walk. Donald explained how he raises cattle and the primary topic of discussion for the evening was the management of heavy use areas and pasture improvement. Approximately, 16 individuals attended to learn about his methods of farming.

The speaker for the evening was District Conservationist, Jenny Vogel, with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Jenny discussed different management techniques that have been implemented on the Cleffman farm and their benefits.

This pasture walk was funded through the 2008 Clean Water Indiana Sediment and Nutrient Reduction grant the Jefferson County SWCD received.

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