The second day of the “Connections: Agriculture, Conservation, and Community” ag tour was packed with large-scale operations and exceptional conservationists Wednesday.
First on the day’s stops was the Bridgewater Dairy (pictured) just outside of Montpelier. The massive dairy farm milks about 3,100 cows twice a day. The parlor milks 84 cows at one time producing an average of 225,000 pounds of milk a day.
Farm manager Chris Weaver gave the tour of the facility and explained the family farms conservation practices.
One of the more unique eco-friendly operations on the dairy is the manure digester. The manure digester uses waste produced on the farm to generate electricity. The manure is then transformed into a very fine and dry material used to bed the cows.
Listen to farm manager Chris Weaver talk about Bridgewater Dairy.
Next on the list for the ag tour was the Anderson’s Inc. (pictured) in Maumee. Started as a family grain elevator, the company is now a publicly traded corporation based out of Ohio. Anderson’s is known for their stores but the retail section makes up only 3.5% of the company. Fertilizer, grain, ethanol, and fuel make up the dominant interests of the business.
The facility in northern Ohio has capacity to store over 200,000 tons of fertilizer and is the largest golf course turf fertilizer provider.
Mike Anderson, CEO of Anderson’s Inc., shared how the importance of customer care cannot be overshadowed. He noted how the rich history and family behind the business have made the renowned service to customers possible while keeping a viable profession.
Listen to Anderson’s CEO Mike Anderson speak about the company.
After a great lunch at Anderson’s with some of their top executives, the tour went back on the road to visit Kitty Todd Nature Preserve in Swanton. The protected area is cared for by the Nature Conservancy and spans nearly 1,000 acres.
Kitty Todd is unique because it is the location of an ancient lakebed. The area has very sandy soil making it possible to have five globally rare ecotypes over the land. Oak savannah, dry sand barren, moist sedge meadow, and wet prairie are a few of the ecosystems in the area. Kitty Todd is also home to the very rare blue-spotted salamanders.
The head conservationist also explained his duties to transform and bring the habitat back to its natural state.
Hirzel Farms of Luckey was the next agricultural location toured. Hirzel Farms is an organic farm that also specializes in certified grain cleaning and composting.
The farm produces soybeans, wheat, corn, and many other crops. Spelt is a unique plant also grown on the farm that is similar to wheat, but it does not contain the gluten which some are allergic to.
The grain cleaning side of the operation utilizes state-of-the-art high-speed cameras to make sure the grain is uniform.
The Top of Ohio Conservation Foundation provided supper. Participants then listened to two speakers after the meal.
Joyce Moreheart, President of the state association of Resource, Conservation, and Development Councils, spoke to guests about the current status of RC&D across Ohio.
RC&D councils are non-profits established in 1962 to provide technical support to landowners while protecting natural resources. Due to economic reasons, many RC&D programs are having a hard time across Ohio.
Finishing the evening was Dr. Jeff Reutter, Director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program. Dr. Reutter spoke on the health of Lake Erie and how agriculture affects it.
Currently, Lake Erie is facing a potentially dangerous algae bloom. The problem is fed by phosphorous, two thirds of which come from agricultural practices. Dr. Reutter spoke on the steps agriculturalists can take to improve the future of Lake Erie.
Day two of the tour was an immense success, seeing lots of action. Participants finish the tour Thursday and then return home.