Cortland family receives farm award from ODNR

By Burton Speakman


Farming has changed tremendously as production has become more automated and tech- nological.

A Cortland family was one of five families to receive the Farm Family Award from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for effectively using those new practices to minimize waste and potential pollution.

Davis and Bette Denman and their family farm more than 1,600 acres in northern Trumbull County.

They grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat, and raise dairy cows.

Conservation techniques they use include no-till, precision nutrient management, crop rotation, cover crops and grassed waterways.

Two sons, a daughter and a number of grandchildren help Davis and Bette Denman on the farm.

“It’s quite an honor to have your peers recognize the work that you do,” said Davis Denman.

The key to farming today is learning to adapt and use the knowledge that is being developed, he said.

“What we do now is different than what we did 10 years ago,” Davis Denman said. “Ten years from now, we’ll be questioning why we did things the way we now do them.”

The key to any of these new practices is finding a way to use them to increase profits, he said.

“Farming is a field that doesn’t have wide profit margins. You have to be able to justify the costs,” Davis Denman said.

Many of the conservation methods save money ensuring fertilizer or other agricultural products are not overused, he said.

“The Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award recognizes farm families who have gone the extra mile in protecting the environment while producing the food and fiber crops that are an important part of Ohio’s economy,” said Karl Gebhardt, chief of ODNR’s Division of Soil and Water Resources and coordinator of the program.

“The practices farmers use to prevent soil erosion and water pollution benefits all Ohioans and illustrates what individuals can do to conserve natural resources.”

The Denmans are leaders when it comes to conservation in Trumbull County, said Mike Wilson, executive director of the Trumbull Soil & Water Conservation District.

“Davis has been involved in conservation for 30 years; conservation and the environment have stayed in his mind,” Wilson said.

One of the larger efforts is injecting manure into the soil instead of just laying it on top where it could run off and get into water systems, he said.

Injecting the manure also makes it more effective as a fertilizer.

“When there is new technology, the Denmans are always one of the first to go out and investigate it,” Wilson said.

Many of the procedures they use are things that both the state and federal government want to see from farmers, said David Marrison, extension agent for Trumbull County.

The Denman family first got involved in farming when Davis Denman’s grandfather purchased land in Trumbull County in 1904.

“Each generation has just tried to add a little bit to it and make it a little better than it was before,” he said.

In 2011, Davis Denman was appointed by the U.S. secretary of agriculture to the National Beef Board.

He also serves as a trustee of the American Dairy Association, Dairy Farmers of America and the Mid-East Milk Marketing Board.

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