NORTH WEBSTER — North Webster grain farmer Sherm Bryant was recently honored with the River Friendly Farmer Award by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Bryant, who turned 91 in June, will formally receive the award at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, on the second floor of the 4-H Exhibition Hall during the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. The awards are sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance.
“I found out probably a month or month and a half ago,” said Bryant. “I haven’t won it before. I appreciate the Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District board for nominating me.”
Bryant and Colleen, his wife of 65 years, have lived on the 227-acre farm northwest of North Webster for 58 years, where they raised two boys and two girls, all of whom have graduated from Purdue University.
Bryant farms 200 acres in crops, though he is stepping out of the day-to-day labor. “I sold most of my farm equipment on Feb. 2,” he said.
His personal conservation efforts involve several components. “For one thing,” he said, “I do no till farming. I also use cover crops.”
Bryant also built a system of water and sediment control basins, dry dams with risers that connect to drainage tiles and direct water to a nearby ditch or stream. WASCOBs are designed to drain within 24 hours to avoid crop damage and reduce erosion.
He is “in the process of installing grass filter strips” on his acreage. “I want to leave the ground better when I leave this earth than when I found it, and I think I have, keeping things out of the lakes as much as possible.”
Bryant, who worked for Farm Bureau Insurance for 36 1/2 years, is one of 47 farmers to receive this year’s honors, which have been awarded since 1999 through the River Friendly Farmer program.
“The statewide initiative recognizes farmers who through good production management practices help keep Indiana’s rivers, lakes and streams clean,” according to the state’s press release.
Each county is entitled to nominate two farmers “who do an outstanding job of protecting their rivers, lakes and streams through their everyday conservation management practices on the farm. The goal is to improve soil health and water quality and restore and sustain human and wildlife habitat in Indiana’s watersheds,” said the press release.
“This group of farmers understands the value of taking care of the land and protecting our water resources for years to come. I’m proud to be a part of this organization that honors farmers for their conservation efforts. This event is a great opportunity to celebrate that effort,” said Roger Wenning, president of the IASWCD board.