The Conservation Farmer of the Year Award highlights the continuous conservation improvements made by Iowa farmers, but focuses on one statewide winner. Iowans have until May 1 to nominate a deserving farmer.
Many may not know that Iowa farmers have invested at least $2.2 billion in conservation the last 10 years, according to an Iowa State University survey. More than one-half of farmers indicate a moderate-major increase in the use of conservation practices, like grassed waterways, terraces, and sediment control basins; the use of soil testing to refine optimal fertilizer rates; and the use of precision farming practices like variable rate application.
This award helps raise awareness about that progress, and also highlights how farmers are always thinking about “what’s next” for them.
We all probably know someone like this, and we should consider nominating them for this award; someone who’s recognized as an exceptional conservation farmer, who applies conservation practices beyond those required, or is active in soil and water conservation projects.
Maybe it’s that neighbor that always hosts field days, or is providing leadership to a soil and water conservation project, or using and promoting the practices in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
Maybe it’s that neighbor that’s always the first one to try a new conservation innovation, like cover crops, a restored wetland, a bioreactor or a saturated buffer.
Think about the farmer you know that’s a leader in the community.
The state winner receives free use of a John Deere 6E Series utility tractor (105-135 HP) or its equivalent for up to 12 months (or up to 200 hours), courtesy of the Van Wall Group of Perry and John Deere. This award has a lease value of as much as $12,000. The award began in 1952 - 65 years ago - and is co-sponsored by the IFBF and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Nominations are due to your county Soil and Water Conservation District office by May 1. To nominate a deserving farmer, write a brief letter (no more than 100 words) to your soil district summarizing a nominee’s conservation practices, how they promote conservation, and how they protect soil, water and air, and manage nutrients and wildlife. Do it now before spring weather gets here and you get busy!
The SWCD office will follow-up with details and submit the nomination. The state winner will get the keys to their tractor July 17 at the Conservation Districts of Iowa annual meeting in Altoona. County and regional winners also receive recognition. Last year’s state winners were Dale and Karen Green of Castalia in Winneshiek County.
You can also find information about the Conservation Farmer of the Year Award, and 10 other conservation awards, on the Conservation Districts of Iowa (the association for our elected soil commissioners) website – cdiowa.org.
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