Published on Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Tucked away on a country road in Greensburg, Indiana, is a family farm that has been pushing the envelope on soil health since the 1980s. The farm is home to a father and son who not only have worked to improve their own farm with innovative strategies, but have shared their knowledge and discoveries with their community and beyond.
With all they have accomplished, father and son duo, Roger and Nick Wenning, have a lot to be proud of, but when you have a conversation with them, what you will notice most is their humble and giving spirit. That is one of the many reasons the Wennings were chosen as the 2019 Indiana Farm Family of the Year. This recognition, sponsored by Beck’s and Indiana AgriNews, is given to a farm family for their work on the farm and their contributions in their community.
Roger has been recognized with other awards, both nationally and locally, but for him, this one was on a different level.
“This is the first award that had family involved in it,” said Roger. “That really made it special.”
Farming has been passed down from multiple generations in the Wenning family, but beginning in the 1980s, Roger began experimenting with new practices on the farm to improve soil health and increase yields. Through trial and error and years of tiling, building waterways and adding filter strips, their farm became 100 percent no-till, with 100 percent of the acres cover cropped by the early 2000s.
“We are growing the farm vertically right now,” said Roger. “People try to go buy and rent ground and grow horizontally. Using soil health with no-till and cover crops, we can grow it vertically. We get a lot better root system, and that’s why our yields are jumping. That’s why we are able to still farm.”
After being asked to be on the local soil and water board, Roger felt he should do his part in promoting soil health through field days at his farm. According to Nick, the Wennings host their annual field days because “it’s the right thing to do.”
They had about 100 people show up for their very first field day. The day was a total success, despite the four inches of rain they received the night before, thanks to years of work in soil health. The field days are now a yearly event, with one field designated as a test area. Experts from the Midwest and beyond, including professors and researchers, are brought in to speak, and people from all over the country attend. In addition to field days, the Wennings also host NRCS trainings.
Farming is not the only thing that keeps the Wennings busy. As with many farms, the Wennings have had to diversify to keep things up and running. They also manage a successful excavating business. “We’ve always farmed, but I’ve had several other lives,” said Roger. “Nick’s had some too, to keep things going. We’ve had other businesses to supplement, to keep the farm in the family.”
Even with juggling multiple businesses, both Roger and Nick find time to be involved and help their community. Roger is the president of the State Soil and Water Association, while Nick is a board member on the county Farm Bureau. Even with their busy schedules and obligations, they still make time to clear snow in the parking lot of the local Knights of Columbus.
It’s hard to imagine that the Wennings have any free time, but with any they may get, they enjoy collecting antique Massey Harris equipment. “Imagine that. We like something a little different,” Nick laughed. “We don’t exactly follow the beaten path all the time, I guess,” Roger said with a grin. It’s a good thing they don’t because that is what makes the Wennings so special.
Author: Ashley Heyen
Categories: CropTalk, 2019