Louders win top awards at SWCD banquet

The father-son farming duo of Johnny and Jeremy Louder received top honors at the annual Howard Soil and Water Conservation District's annual banquet Tuesday evening.The Louders, who have farmed in Howard, Martin and Glasscock counties for more than 50 combined years, were named the district's Outstanding Conservation Farmers for 2012.Johnny Louder began farming in 1973, while his son, Jeremy, is in his 13th year in the business. Both are Texas Tech graduates who grow both dryland and irrigated cotton on their farm lands.They were hailed by SWCD Board Member Kevin Hamlin for being conservation-conscience in their approach to farming, which has “greatly reduced wind erosion damage to their cotton, improved soil health and eliminated the use of all insecticides since 2005.“Johnny and Jeremy have constructed basin terraces and waterways to reduce water erosion and to effectively contour farm their dryland cotton,” Hamlin said. “They have also utilized the Conservation Reserve Program to take highly erodible land out of production by planting these acres to permanent grass.”In addition, the Louders have utilized rainfall harvesting from their equipment sheds to capture rainfall and store it for use in their spraying operations, Hamlin said.“It is very apparent that this father and son team has successfully merged conservation and production agriculture into their farming operations,” he concluded.Also during the banquet, the district honored winners of its annual poster contest. Those students are Madison Smith of Elbow Elementary, Alejandro Valencia of Moss Elementary, Cameryn Nalley of Marcy Elementary, Makayla Chambless of Washington Elementary and Kevin Marciarena of Goliad Elementary.