INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Red Goldrecently announced the winners of the 2023 Red Gold Stewardship award. Niese Ag LLC of Pandora, Ohio was selected as the first-place winner, and Myers Sod Farms LLC of Seymour, received second place.
This presentation, now in its 15th year, is a partnership between Red Gold and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. The award is presented to Red Gold tomato growers who value improving soil health and water quality on their operations.
“Red Gold is proud of being in a partnership with ISDA and celebrating 15 years of a formal program for all of our tomato growers to participate within,” said Curt Utterback, Director of Agriculture at Red Gold. “The growers are committed in continuing their good efforts with soil and water conservation practices. They are appreciative to be part of an industry providing nutrient food for an ever-growing population, and they want to ensure that their future family generations will have the same opportunity of producing the freshest, best-tasting tomatoes. It is an honor to be able to formally recognize this year’s winners Niese Ag, LLC and Myers Sod Farms, LLC.“
Located in northeast Ohio, Derek Niese of Niese Ag LLC has put a strong emphasis on not only growing excellent crops, but also on the conservation of the land they farm. On their family farm, they grow tomatoes, corn, soybeans, wheat, blackberries and strawberries. They also grow organic corn, soybeans and cabbage. The Nieses have implemented a multitude of conservation practices to promote soil health and water quality on their farm, such as interseeding cover crops in corn and soybeans, grass filter strip and vegetative field borders.
When asked what was important to Niese Ag LLC, Derek Niese said, “trying to build and preserve the farmland for future generations.”
Second place winner, Myers Sod Farms LLC, is located Jackson County, Ind. In addition to tomatoes, they grow sod, corn, soybeans and wheat. On each of their farms, they have implemented a variety of stewardship and conservation practices, such as reduced tillage, regular soil testing and cover crops and living covers in 2022.
“Practicing conservation is important on our farm. We feel that if we take care of the land, it will take care of us,” said Adam Myer of Myers Sod Farm.
The Midwest is leading the pack in soil conservation efforts. Specifically in the Hoosier state, farmers utilize a variety of soil conservation practices and planted more than 1.6 million acres of cover crops in 2022.
“The Red Gold Stewardship Award recognizes those agriculturalists committed to soil conservation and its role in supporting agriculture, specifically here in the Midwest,” said ISDA Director Don Lamb. “Congratulations to the 2023 winners, it is well-deserved.”
As the top winner, Niese Ag LLC received a $1,000 scholarship and the option to ship an extra truckload of tomatoes per day during harvest season. Myers Sod Farms LLC was awarded a $500 scholarship and the opportunity to ship an extra half truckload of tomatoes per day during harvest.
One way farmers practice soil conservation is by planting cover crops. According to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, growers planted over 1.6 million acres of cover crops in Indiana in 2022.
Niese Ag interseeds cover crops in its corn and soybean fields. Myers Sod Farm works with cover crops, along with practicing reduced tillage and regular soil testing in order to preserve farmland for the future.