Natural resource conservation continues to be a priority for Iowa farmers. And year after year, Iowa farmers like Tim Minton are preventing soil erosion and protecting water quality with conservation practices.

Minton (pictured above) is the 2015 recipient of the central Iowa district regional conservation award, sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

"I’ve always said we should leave things better than we found it," Minton said. "Soil is a valuable resource and one with a long-term objective."

For the last 30 years, Minton’s Dallas County family farm has used many conservation practices to protect the environment: no-till, minimum till (only tilling when he needs to depending on weather and soil types and slope), buffer strips and dedicated wetlands for nutrient mitigation.

One of his biggest projects was constructing a wetland on a farm that had a severe flooding issue. Through the Iowa De­­partment of Agriculture and Land Stew­­ardship’s Conservation Reserve Enhance­­ment Program (CREP), Minton was able to construct a wetland that captures and naturally filters water from 1,000 acres in the Walnut Creek Watershed and ultimately delivers better water downstream.

He also uses many conservation practices to reduce soil erosion, and is considering cover crops this season to create more organic matter in the soil.

"Topsoil is a finite product, so we can’t misuse or mistreat it," he said.

Minton, who was born and raised on a farm in northeast Iowa, farms about 700 acres, rotating corn and soybeans. He’s married to Jane, and they have two grown children, Ashlee and John.

2016 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year award

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey encourages Iowans to nominate deserving farmers for the 2016 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year award.

"The award recognizes a farmer who has gone above and beyond in their conservation efforts," Northey said. "It is important that we recognize the continuous voluntary improvements made by all Iowa farmers and help raise awareness about the efforts by farmers to conserve our valuable soil and protect water quality."

The statewide winner again this year will have free use of a John Deere 6D series utility tractor or its equivalent for up to 12 months or up to 200 hours. The Van Wall Group and John Deere are providing the use of the tractor to the state winner.

To nominate a deserving farmer, the nominator needs to write a brief letter of 100 words or less, and submit it to their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office. Nominations must be submitted by June 5. Upon receipt of the nomination letter, the SWCD will help complete the full application.

Farmers, farm managers, certified crop advisors, agribusiness and financial professionals, agriculture organizations and other interested Iowans are encouraged to nominate deserving farmers.

A SWCD directory is available on the department’s website at under "hot topics." The winner will be honored Aug. 30 at the Conservation Districts of Iowa annual meeting in Altoona.

Kort is a freelance writer in Ankeny.