A south central Iowa cattle operation, Ohnemus Farms Inc., has received the Iowa Cattlemen's Association Environmental Stewardship Award for 2007. Duane and Mary Jo Ohnemus of Milo own and operate the family farm that includes an Angus and polled Hereford purebred cow herd, a small feedlot and crops of corn, soybeans and hay.
Duane and Mary Jo have three sons: Vance, 9; Mason, 8; and Nolan, 6. They are the fifth and sixth generations of the Ohnemus family to farm and conserve the natural resources of the family farming operation. In 1889, Duane's great- great-grandfather, Paulus Greubel, settled in Warren County on 40 acres to farm and milk cows.
The Ohnemus family members are long-time land stewards. Many miles of tiling and terraces have been installed to control erosion and save precious soil and water. The family maintains protective cover on the land at all times. Their cattle rotationally graze permanent pastures. Crop fields are minimum-tilled or no-tilled to preserve crop residues.
Certainly a conservation-conscious family
The Ohnemus family has also built or maintained 11 ponds on their land to control erosion and provide ample watering sources for their cow herds.
Duane Ohnemus served until recently as chair of Whitebreast Creek Watershed Project, a four-county effort by participating landowners and government agencies to control sediment by establishing sustainable conservation practices. Ohnemus has led by example, conserving the watersheds of the two small creeks that flow through his farm by installing control structures and maintaining permanent grass cover. With USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program funds, Ohnemus also built a pond for erosion control and a rotational grazing paddock system that included a below-dam watering hub.
The ICA Environmental Stewardship Award Program was started in 1993. Each year an Iowa cattle producer is recognized for exceptional care of the natural resources and for their leadership efforts. For information about the ICA program, call ICA at 515-296-2266 or visit www.iacattlemen.org.