Julia Cumming For The Madison Press
November 26, 2013
Mike Bergman was named Cooperator of the Year at the Madison Soil and Water Conservation District annual conservation meeting and banquet held on Thursday, Nov. 14 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in London. The award is part of a state program sponsored by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The program recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the conservation of our natural resources. For his efforts, Bergman received a farm sign compliments of Farm Credit Services of Mid-America.
Bergman farms 160 acres, all grass, full-time. He mostly keeps dry dairy cows, about 100 head, which he rotates on pasture.
Bergman has been cooperating with the Soil and Water Conservation District since 2006. Bergman came to the office to see if he needed a permit to build a pond. He met David Ferguson, District Conservationist, who asked him what was happening on his farm that he wanted a pond. After hearing about the wet hole that could not be drained, Ferguson told him that he had something that was not a pond that he might like — it was a wetland. Bergman decided to enroll 7.5 acres in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to build a wetland and plant native grasses for wildlife habitat.
In 2010, he enrolled in Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). He enhanced his operation by managing his grazing differently to improve wildlife habitat. He keeps cows off one third of his pasture until after the nesting date of July 15. As a result, he has seen more wildlife than he expected.
He also began to rotate his supplemental feeding areas. Supplemental feeders can be a resource concern if cows linger too much in one place and turn the area into mud. It can also become a place where manure stacks up. By rotating the supplemental feeders, the manure is spread naturally across the different pastures. The new system works so well, he has sold his manure spreader.
In 2013, he enrolled in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Through EQIP, he installed a heavy use pad made of concrete to address soil erosion. Now when weather conditions are poor, he can place the supplemental feeder on the heavy use pad and the animals can congregate without damaging the soil in the pastures.
“Mr. Bergman’s enthusiasm for conservation shows in his operation,” stated Tim O’Reilly, SWCD Supervisor, “and he is a good example for all landowners about how conservation benefits the community and the environment.”