Precious Blood brother tends, teaches on Ohio farmlands

Precious Blood Br. Nick Renner

Precious Blood Br. Nick Renner works to save Ohio's farmland for future generations. Drawing upon years of farming experience with innovative techniques, he spreads the word about practicing land and water conservation. He applies his love of farming to advise, educate and manage farmers on how to reduce topsoil erosion and runoff into lakes and freshwater bodies.

Born in Landeck, Ohio, Renner grew up on a family farm, where he and his brothers helped grow crops like corn, soybeans and oats. In 1964, Renner joined the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, an order that, like Renner, has roots in Ohio farming. When its priests first came to the rural areas of Ohio's Mercer County, they farmed crops such as potatoes in order to support themselves financially.

Renner's order assigned him to work within its farming community. He worked on the farm of St. Charles, the central house for the Cincinnati province, located in Carthagena, Ohio. The farm includes 1,100 acres of tillable land and 200 acres of hardwood trees. For the next 43 years, Renner farmed the land, harvesting corn, soybeans and other crops.

During his farming tenure, Renner became aware of topsoil loss caused by soil erosion. He noticed that tilling left the soil vulnerable to water and wind erosion, which then stripped away the tilled land's topsoil.

In addition, tilling damaged the health of the soil that remained. "The water doesn't infiltrate into the soils as well because we're getting the compaction from heavy machinery," he said.

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A version of this story appeared in the Sept 26-Oct 9, 2014 print issue under the headline: Brother tends, teaches on Ohio farmlands .

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