Three Rivers SWCD Fall Banquet Recognizes Area Producers

November 23, 2021

Three Rivers SWCD was proud to celebrate outstanding producers in the area on November 16, 2021.

The Outstanding Stewardship Award is presented to stewards of the land who are conscious in their efforts to maintain and improve soil health and water quality. Mr. Thomas H. Fox, Jr. is the 2021 recipient of the Outstanding Stewardship Award for the Three Rivers district.

Mr. Fox joined his family’s operation in 1976 with his father and became a fourth-generation farmer. The family operation dates back to 1905 and Thomas currently works just over 800 acres of land, 300 of which are located on the Mattaponi River in King William County. The Fox operation consists of crops such as corn, soybeans, barley, wheat, rye, sorghum, and hay. Thomas also raises approximately 15-20 beef cattle.

Thomas has been instrumental in plot work including varietal and hybrid testing, as well as plot work researching the effectiveness of cover crops in row crop production with both the District and Virginia Cooperative Extension. Last fall, Thomas participated in plot work that explored the effectiveness of brassica cover crops such as canola and radishes before soybeans. He has also participated in plotwork studying ten different hybrids of early maturity corn and is currently participating in a plot consisting of twenty varieties of wheat. Thomas has proven to be a great cooperator and has donated a substantial amount of his time, energy, and equipment to plotwork.

Thomas participates in multiple best management practices annually including winter cover crops and the use of no-till systems. Thomas’s dedication and commitment to soil health and water quality has been superb, and we commend him for his ongoing efforts.

(Lloyd Mundie, Three Rivers SWCD Chairman, presents Thomas Fox with 2021 Outstanding Stewardship Award)

Three Rivers SWCD was also pleased to recognize two operations in the district with Partnership Awards. The District appreciates the cooperation of area producers willing to partner and support our continued interest in evaluating the use of cover crops to improve soil health and crop production on some of our sandy soil types. These farm operators are critical to the district carrying out its educational and outreach goals, as putting in test plots requires a significant time and equipment commitment.

(TRSWCD Director Langdon Townsend presents Robbie Newcomb with the 2021 Partnership Award)

J.M. Newcomb & Sons were the cooperators on a plot evaluating the use of wheat cover crops in corn production in 2021. Results from this plot are still being evaluated, but show the value of small grain cover crops in corn production. 

(Left to Right: Ryan, Winston, and Stephen Ellis accept the 2021 Partnership Award for the Ellis Family)

The Ellis Family cooperated on a plot evaluating the use of different small grains and brassica cover crops in soybean production in 2021. While this plot was recently harvested, valuable data was collected for extension to evaluate the value of small grain cover crops in soybean production. 

The 2021 recipient of the Clean Water Farm Award is Ryan Ellis, a producer who goes to great lengths to identify the true meaning of conservation.

Ryan is a fourth-generation farmer who began his operation in 2011 with 25 acres of land. Ryan has now grown his operation to approximately 1300 acres of land in Essex, Caroline, and King & Queen Counties. Ryan utilizes precision ag on all of his acreage, as well as numerous best management practices such as no-till and winter cover crops which help reduce runoff and erosion. Ryan’s operation is located in the Rappahannock River Basin.

Ryan has also supported and contributed to agricultural research and advancement through the years and he works continuously with local stewards through corn and soybean hybrid variety trials. Additionally, Ryan has hosted numerous field days for area producers.

(Sarah Cole, Three Rivers SWCD Conservation Specialist presents Ryan Ellis with the 2021 Clean Water Farm Award. Left to Right: Sarah Cole, Courtnie Ellis, Emerson Ellis, Ryan Ellis)

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