MaryBeth Matzek: Herricks honored for environmental ag efforts

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.

As all farmers know, topsoil is crucial to their success. Without healthy topsoil, crops struggle and without healthy crops, farms struggle, too. That’s something Jack Herricks discovered 30 years ago. The Cashton farmer knew he needed to do something to keep the soil on his family farm healthy not just for now, but for years to come.

“It’s hilly here and hard to keep that topsoil in place,” says Herricks of the topography in his corner of Monroe County in southwestern Wisconsin. “I knew that if I wanted to keep doing this long-term, we needed to make a switch and I took to no-till. I now take every chance I get to talk to farmers about no-till. I tell them it saves on soil, toil, and oil.”

Herricks’ dedication to no-till farming along with his other environmental efforts earned him and his wife, Pat, the 2014 Wisconsin Leopold Conservation Award. The award is given in honor of the renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold and recognizes voluntary conservation achievements.

“Jack is really an advocate and pioneer for no-till farming, but that’s just one way he is a real champion for the environment,” says Dave Neu, national director of the Leopold Conservation Award Program for the Sandy County Foundation, which hands out the annual award along with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “He has a long-term conservation ethic that can’t be beat.”

Herricks says he was humbled to receive the honor for his 1,010-acre farm. All crops grown on the farm go to feed his 600 dairy cows. “Conservation is part of our heritage, just as farming is,” says Herricks, adding that the family farm started in 1912.

Beyond Herricks’ advocacy for no-till farming, the farm’s participation in watershed projects and manure management also set them apart, says Casey Langan, director of public relations with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

Read the full column for more