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As they wind down their farming at Carthagena, Ohio, the brothers of the Society of the Precious Blood religious order intend to leave the land in the best condition possible while helping other farmers succeed in their place.
A part of their legacy to other no-tillers is a flexible fall weed control program that allows for quicker, cleaner spring crop emergence.
For 40 years, Brother Don Fisher managed the farm at the order’s St. Charles facility. Now he’s working with Brother Nick Renner, the farm manager for the past 4 years, to close the books on the order’s farming history.
St. Charles was established in 1861 with about 200 acres. It has served as the order’s main community center, and for about 100 years it was also a seminary. Decreasing attendance forced the seminary to close in 1969, but farming remained a significant part of the order’s life and financial support. For the past 20 years, the order has farmed nearly 1,100 acres.
Corn and soybeans are the two main crops, usually consisting of 400 to 450 acres each, along with roughly 90 acres of alfalfa and some wheat. About 1,400 tons of corn silage are cut for the order’s dairy operation. The remainder of the corn and all of the soybeans and wheat are sold commercially.
But Brother Don, a member of the order for 50 years, says, “2005 is the last year we will be farming our land ourselves. I will be 70 years old in…