CENTRAL ILLINOIS, (WCIA) — Families and friends are remembering someone they said shaped the world of agriculture and aimed to change the face of farming.
David Brandt, an Ohio farmer, was killed last Thursday, May 18 in a car crash on I-74 near Farmer City.
“He helped develop and make a lot of the farming practices that we promote today,” Joe Rothermel, who’s highly involved with the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District, said.
Rohermel was never close friends with Brandt but nevertheless felt connected with him in the world of agriculture after conferences.
“To say he was a pioneer in the area of conservation would be an understatement,” Rothermel added.
A close friend to Brandt said he was in Central Illinois picking up red corn in Champaign when he died in a car accident. Rothermel was shocked when he heard the news in a meeting.
Friends called Brandt the godfather of soil health and was an advocate for no-till farming.
Brandt was vocal earlier in May after a deadly crash on I-55 south of Springfield.
“We’ve got to get farmers educated enough to understand some of the things we can do to save the soil,” Brandt said. “It’s tragic we have to lose lives that we shouldn’t. I think there are things we can do so it wouldn’t ever happen again.”
Brandt is no stranger to the spotlight. He is known as the “Honest Work Farmer” after a photo in a 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture article circulated about his farming techniques.
Rothermel knows those techniques are important because they help conserve soil and help keep water clean.
“We want to be able to farm for years and years without losing our productivity,” Rothermel said.
In the end, Rothermel said Brandt just wanted to pass down his love of farming to people across the nation.
“He was extremely passionate about what he did and he wanted to share the information. Just a great guy all around,” Rothermel said. “He’s leaving behind a big legacy. A big footprint.”
Brandt was also a Vietnam War veteran who earned three purple hearts.