The Illinois Department of Agriculture has named a Christian County man its 2011 “R.J. Vollmer Sustainable Agriculture Farmer of the Year.” Jack Erisman of Pana will receive the award tomorrow at noon at the Agriculture Day Luncheon on the Director’s Lawn at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Jack began experimenting with conservation tillage in the 1960s. In the 1970s he ceased using anhydrous ammonia and insecticides in his fields and by the mid 1990s became a certified organic operation.
Erisman runs a diverse operation using a seven-year rotation that includes corn, cover crops, soybeans, small grains and legumes. He also owns a 200-head cow and calf herd that he keeps mostly on pasture. The animals are there to complement the system.
“If we can successfully keep the animals on grass, it enables us to use longer rotations,” Jack said.
Jack and a group of other organic producers founded the Illinois Organic Crop Improvement Association. He was instrumental in the formation of the earliest sustainable agriculture organization in the state – the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Society – and also played a leadership role in the creation of CFAR, the Council on Food and Agriculture Research.