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Responsible Farming :: Soil Conservation


Maximizing Our Most Valuable Resource


Soil conservation has been a fundamental mission of our farm for nearly a century. We first implemented a soil conservation program in the mid-1930s and have been actively conducting and promoting soil conservation practices ever since.

No-till farming techniques, contour planting, crop rotation schedules, cover crops between seasons, and the construction of structural conservation measures such as cropland terraces, diversion ditches, sod waterways and sod buffer setbacks from streams and woodlands are examples of practices that we have faithfully pursued as stewards of our patch of Pennsylvania soils.

In 1936, Cotner Farms, Inc. became one of the first farms in central Pennsylvania to implement contour farming. Contour farming, a practice of planting strips of land with alternating crops (such as alternating strips of corn and barley), is a common practice today, but was unheard of in the mid-1930s. When asked by a local newspaper about his contour strips, Don Cotner Sr. was quoted, “When we started contouring, people thought we were nuts. But, it solved my erosion problem and I’ve been interested in soil conservation ever since.”

Don Cotner Sr. went on to earn regional and national recognition as a pioneer of soil conservation practices, including Pennsylvania Conservation Farmer of the Year in 1988. The passion for conservation that drove Don Cotner Sr. for so many years continues today under the leadership of Farm Manager Dean James, earning the Northumberland County Conservation Farmer of the Year award in 2008.
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