Jack and Pat Herricks, along with two of their three children, operate a 600-cow dairy farm in the rolling hills of Monroe County. Inspired by his father’s land ethic, Jack's decades-long commitment to conservation has proven that good land management and profitability go hand in hand.
The Herricks have practiced no-till farming since 1992, before many farmers had considered it. Jack decided to become a no-till farmer when he could see erosion from his cropland. Since then, erosion has reduced substantially, even on steep hillsides. In addition to no-till, the Herricks’ practices include forestry management, enhancement of wildlife habitat, and careful manure management.
The Herricks have built erosion control structures that provide drinking water for wildlife, and installed sod waterways to move rainwater across grass before reaching a stream.
Water quality in Brush Creek has improved with help from the Herricks’ conservation efforts. The waterway was considered a dead trout stream 25 years ago. Brush Creek has since improved from a Class III forage fishery to a sustainable trout stream with active natural reproduction of fish.
The family also made a decision to stop grazing in the farm’s woodland areas. Over time, natural re-vegetation of oak, maple and hickory trees has taken place.
“When I think of farmers as conservationists, one farmer comes to mind as having a truly contagious passion for agriculture and natural resources: Jack Herricks,” said Monroe County Soil and Water Conservationist, Bob Micheel. “Jack has shown leadership in wise land use management by always stepping up and addressing land use issues, even if it meant taking some risks. He took those risks because he acutely understands taking care of the land means that it will take care of you, and, in turn, protect his farm for the future.”