The American Soybean Association (ASA) has announced the regional winners of its 2015 Conservation Legacy Awards. This news release says Steve Berger, Wellman, Iowa (Midwest Region); Mike Starkey, Brownsburg, Indiana (Northeast Region); and Jimmy Thomas, Timberlake, North Carolina (South Region), are the regional winners and will be recognized at the ASA Awards Banquet, Feb. 27, 2015, at Commodity Classic in Phoenix, Arizona, where one of them will be chosen as the national winner.
One of the first conservation measures Berger remembers experiencing as a child is building terraces. He helped build 15 miles around his fourth generation farm at Dennis Berger & Son Inc., to slow down the impact of the rainfall on soil erosion. Berger farms with his mom, dad and wife on their 2,000 acre soybean and corn operation with 20,000 head swine…
“It is important to have the farmer teaching, learning and working with cover crops in modern-day systems,” he said. “It is challenging in today’s farming environment to blend economics and esthetics, but is very rewarding.”
The sixth generation Starkey family farm lies in an urban area just west of the metropolitan area of Indianapolis. In addition to a dramatic reduction of commercial fertilizer, Starkey has used no-till soybeans since 1989 and introduced cover crops in 2005. He also entered in a NRCS field grant study to monitor tile and stream water.
“My legacy as a conservationist is to improve and protect the borrowed living soil that God has given us and to keep our water clean and pure as the raindrops that fall from the sky,” Starkey said.
Thomas Family Farms Inc. is a traditional, diverse North Carolina operation incorporating corn, soybeans and wheat, tobacco and swine production. There are now three generations working together at Thomas Family Farms: Pete and Levon Thomas; their sons Jimmy and Timmy; Jimmy’s wife Janine and two grandsons.
“There will always be new generations of the family, new employees, and new technologies and new knowledge about the environment, and we have to be prepared to keep up,” Thomas said.
The Conservation Legacy Awards Program recognizes the outstanding environmental and conservation achievement of U.S. soybean farmers.
Videos featuring each of the regional conservation winners can be viewed online here.