Lisa Holscher has a way with words; the director of the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative says what she thinks. Here’s what she says about Roger Wenning, whom she nominated as a 2019 Master Farmer with his wife, Mary Beth.
“I look up to him for his conservation leadership and his tireless efforts in helping others understand soil health,” Holscher says. “I also look up to Roger for his commitment to his family, his church, his community and his friends. I am lucky to consider myself among the latter.
“Like many of the farmers I work with, Roger is what I call a ‘burnt marshmallow’— crusty on the outside but something entirely different underneath the surface. His core runs deep.”
Barry Fisher also knows something about soil conservation and innovative farmers. He’s a soil health specialist and central region director for the National Soil Health Division of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He’s one of the people who built Indiana into a leader in soil health, and now he’s spreading the message across the country. He credits Roger with being one of the architects of soil health in Indiana.
“Roger has an extensive working knowledge of the integration of conservation cropping systems for soil health, environmental stewardship and water quality,” Fisher says. “The Wenning family farm is a showcase of conservation practices, including no-till, cover crops, grassed waterways, filter strips, nutrient and pest management practices, and more.
“This provides for an excellent site for numerous, basic through advanced training events for countless ag professionals. The Wennings constantly pursue the latest and best conservation cropping equipment technologies, as well as drainage to enhance soil health for their operation.”
Jerry Raynor, NRCS state conservationist, also has good things to say about Roger and Mary Beth Wenning and their family. In the state for less than a year, Raynor has already become an integral part of the soil conservation movement in Indiana.
“The Wenning family leads by example to improve the knowledge and values of soil health management systems by implementing continuous no-till, cover crops, buffers, and precision nutrient and integrated pest management practices on their farm,” Raynor says. “The Wennings are also always willing to play a key role in numerous international, national, state and locally sponsored field days, tours and workshops that host farmers, researchers, policymakers, speakers and panelists.
“In fact, the Wenning farm was the location where national USDA leaders witnessed the power of farmers hearing how soil health management systems can make their farms more resilient and economically viable. As a result, the National NRCS Soil Health Division was created to help spread the word about soil health to other farmers across the nation.” Soon after it was created, Fisher was tapped to be one of the people who would “help spread the word.”
Jeff Ulrey, sales manager for Gypsoil Gypsum, adds: “Roger always makes time for vendors selling products or different techniques to improve upon conservation farming, and he never seems to tire of seeking better and more efficient ways to farm.
“He is willing to test and evaluate it if he believes it can make an improvement. Roger has proven that even though conservation farming is not easy and takes patience, it can still be profitable. He is willing to share that knowledge with other farmers.”