2014 A

Grower: George Brand (Brand Dairy Farm)
Retailer: Ty Fichennscher (Cooperative Producers)
State: Indiana

George Brand of Brand Dairy Farm operates a 400-head dairy herd with about 900 head of cattle on the farm at all times and 2,500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. He and his son, David, work with Terry Bechman of The Andersons.For three generations, the farm has been operated as a model of innovation and one that incorporates the latest practices with its dairy herd, as well. It’s a philosophy started by Jim, which he continues to practice. His son George and grandson David embody the same approach.

“Eighty percent of our territory and all of Brands’ farm is in the St. Joseph watershed,” he explains. “It drains into the Maumee River, which drains into Lake Erie. It’s unique in the Great Lakes system in that it’s the shallowest of the five lakes. Being shallow, it’s more susceptible to nutrient runoff – from all sources – and algae bloom. It’s important that growers here are attuned to this and manage accordingly.”

The Brands’ protected soil is tested annually. A third-party agronomist takes into account soil tests, manure application and crop removal and then makes nutrient recommendations by management zones. The Andersons then use that information to apply variable rates of individual fertilizer using GPS-controlled application equipment. This ensures the right type of fertilizer is applied where it’s needed at the right rate and when it’s needed most. This combination of 4R nutrient management practices and conservation approaches ensure that the Brands will farm for generations to come. Plus, they’ll continue to grow their long list of awards from peers and farm organizations.