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Trunnell Family Farm Receives Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award

FRANKFORT, KY. – Trunnell Family Farm of Utica has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award®.

Sand County Foundation created the Leopold Conservation Award to inspire American landowners by recognizing exceptional farms, ranchers and foresters. The prestigious award, named in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is given in 14 states.

In Kentucky the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, Kentucky Agricultural Council and the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts.

Trunnell Family Farm was presented with a $10,000 award, and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold, at the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts Convention on July 10. 

Achieving soil health through the use of no-till farming and cover crops is nothing new to Edward (Myrel) Trunnell, who began farming more than six decades ago. Conservation is synonymous with his idea of farming.

On the no-till scene, Trunnell was an early adopter. He rented a planter from Production Credit Association in 1970 to save soil. He bought his own the next year and never looked back. Today 98 percent of the 1,400 acres he owns, and 500 acres he custom farms is no-tilled.

Not tilling the soil results in less soil compaction, fewer carbon emissions, requires less machinery which reduces operating costs.

The former tobacco grower even worked with the University of Kentucky to design a no-till tobacco planter. Today he grows corn, wheat, hay, soybeans, pumpkins, fruits and vegetables at Trunnell Family Farm.

Beyond no-till, Trunnell uses cover crops to avoid what he calls ‘liquid soil’ that flows to creeks during large rain events. Cover crops help build up organic matter in soil, feed microorganisms, break up compaction, scavenge nutrients for future crops, shade out weeds, and provide food for wildlife.

A rotation of crops breaks disease and pest cycles, and a soybean-to-corn rotation reduces his costs and need for nitrogen application.

The cost of farming has also been reduced by the use of soil testing and precision farming technology. Trunnell believes that crops can be produced more efficiently, natural resources can be preserved, and the environment can be protected using agriculture’s technological advances.

After his son Kevin joined the farm business in 1990 the family diversified the farm by growing fruits and vegetables. They established Trunnell Farm Market and Fun-Acres, an agritourism business that provides entertainment and educational opportunities to the public.

In addition to grass waterways and border strips, the Trunnells have constructed hundreds of control basins and diversion structures. These actions have provided benefits to soil and water quality. Substantial wooded areas on the farm provide wildlife habitat.

Myrel and Shirley Trunnell live on the same farm that he was born on. His grandfather bought the farm in 1889. Shortly after graduating from high school, Myrel began farming full-time and later bought the farm from his father, Gilbert, in 1978.

A Soil Health Ambassador in Kentucky, Trunnell serves on the Daviess County Conservation District board. He received its Master Conservationist Award and the Kentucky No-till Hero Award in 2007.

“The Kentucky Agricultural Council is proud to once again partner with the Sand County Foundation and the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts to recognize exceptional stewardship and conservation practices among Kentucky’s private landowners,” said John W. McCauley, Kentucky Agricultural Council President. “The finalists for the 2018 Leopold Award are extraordinary.”

“KACD and conservation districts promote the sound management of all our natural resources and we are excited to join Sand County Foundation and the Kentucky Agricultural Council in recognizing these well deserving landowners in Kentucky,” said David Rowlett, Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts President. “The Association and conservation districts work daily to assist private landowners in their efforts to adopt sound soil and water conservation practices on their land that benefit us all.”

Among the many outstanding Kentucky landowners nominated for the award were finalists: JRS Angus Farm of Lawrenceburg and Dr. James W. Middleton of Munfordville.

The 2017 recipient was Tallow Creek Farm of Bradfordsville.

The Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award is made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Kentucky Agricultural Council, Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts, Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Corn Growers Association, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Kentucky Woodland Owner’s Association, Kentucky Tree Farm Committee, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, AgriBusiness Association of Kentucky, and the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Sand County Foundation, the nation’s leading voice for conservation of private land, presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 14 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.

For more information on the award, visit

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