Ben and Janelle Johnson of Ireton were named the winner of the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s (IPPA) 2017 Pork All-American Award last week during the Iowa Pork Congress.

The Pork All-American Award is the highest honor an individual Iowa pig farmer can receive from the IPPA. A producer must be under the age of 40 and a Master Pork Producer to be eligible.

The Johnsons are part owners and operators of JB Century Farm with Ben’s parents. Ben, former chairman of the Iowa Farm Bureau young farmer advisory committee, manages the family’s two, 4,800-head wean-to-finish buildings. Since 2009, Ben and Janelle have been contract growers for Wakefield Pork in Gaylord, Minnesota, and Ben has been raising pigs for 11 years.

Ben, a South Dakota State University ag business major, and his father have 650 acres of corn and soybeans in addition to the hogs. Ben started a custom manure hauling business several years ago and applies about 6 million gallons each year.

Janelle studied horticulture at South Dakota State and managed a greenhouse in the Twin Cities. She now works for Plymouth County Extension and assists with the farm’s bookkeeping and payroll.

Conservation is important to the Johnson family. In addition to applying manure nutrients from their own livestock in accordance with their manure management plan, Ben incorporates a nitrogen inhibitor with manure application. Trees surrounding the two-barn site enhance the site’s appearance and help mitigate odor.

Environmental award

Rob Stout of Washington is the winner of the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s 2017 Iowa Environmental Steward Award. He received a trophy and a $2,500 cash award.

Stout, a Washington County Farm Bureau member who began farming nearly 40 years ago, finishes nearly 9,000 pigs annually and also farms about 1,100 acres of row crops.

In the mid-1990s, Stout worked with Iowa State University to establish research plots evaluating nitrogen availability in his swine manure. The results gave him the confidence to reduce application rates while still providing crop needs.

Stout, a certified manure ap­­plicator, waits until soil temperatures are below 50 degrees to begin manure application and analyzes soil and manure samples to determine additional side-dress applications or rate adjustments.

By using manure, Stout estimates he saves $30,000 to $40,000 annually in fertilizer costs and soil health is improved.

Stout utilizes several different conservation practices on his crop ground. He has no-tilled all of the corn and soybean acres for the past 20 years, constructed terraces in the 1980s and uses grass waterways extensively to control erosion.  

The IPPA also recognized 10 Master Pork Producers for their innovation, attention to quality, efficiency and production records within their farm enterprise.

The 2017 Master Pork Producer class includes Mark Dolan of Masonville; Ralph and Becky Dorale of Charter Oak; Danny Gent of Wellman; Tyler and Jessica Kannegieter of Aurelia; Ross and Amber Kooiker of George; Jeff and Nancy Lucas of New Vienna; Aaron and Alyce Nieland of Breda; Jon and Becky Ries and their sons, Adam and Tony, of Manchester; Stephen Schroeder of Remsen; and Stuart Swanson of Galt.