Five dedicated leaders in soil health received the Soil Health Partnership’s (SHP) “Seeds of Change” awards at the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. These awards highlight those participants in SHP who go above and beyond to promote soil health throughout the year.
“The Soil Health Partnership’s farmers are at the core of our work. Without their commitment and support, the work of SHP does not exist. I feel honored to partner with this strong group of farmers and recognize five farmers that go above and beyond in their work with SHP,” said John Mesko, SHP senior director. “These five individuals exemplify the very best of our dedicated partners, and we thank them for their great work.”
The five award recipients are:
Super Sprout: Trinity Creek Ranch
Trinity Creek Ranch in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota received the Super Sprout award for their continuous experiments with management practices to improve soil health, despite the challenges of a shorter growing season and extremely cold winters. The farm is owned and operated by Mikayla Tabert and David Miller, a father-daughter duo that can’t wait to use their data to encourage others to consider implementing a cover crop program on their own farms.
Champion Communicator: Mark Heckman with Heckman Farms
Mark Heckman of Heckman Farms received the Champion Communicator award for his work helping other farmers understand his farm’s soil health journey. Mark hosted a field day in summer 2019 to give other farmers a firsthand glimpse of the benefits and challenges of some key management changes that have improved his farm’s soil health. Mark and his brothers and parents have also opened their West Liberty, Iowa farm to a cover crop demonstration plot, cover crop seeding equipment, a hog finishing barn, and a constructed wetland, allowing for maximum learning opportunities.
Data Dominator: Daryl and Jason Maple with Maple Farms
Receiving the Data Dominator award is Daryl and Jason Maple of Maple Farms in Kokomo, Indiana. Daryl and Jason promote optimum soil health from timely sharing of data with many precision ag programs. They are confident that their data will tell the story of what changes are taking place in their field and
they genuinely enjoy the learning opportunities of their Soil Health Partnership trial. The data from their trials offer their farm and others the best opportunities to learn what management changes will work best to improve soil health.
Exceptional Educator: Doug Palen with Palen Family Farms
The Exceptional Educator award goes to Doug Palen of Palen Family Farms. Doug and his family enjoy talking about their soil health management experiences, and they jump into many experiences with both feet, giving them even more to teach about. Palen Family Farms of Glen Elder, Kansas is involved with research via a Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE) grant, field demonstration days featuring no-till companion cropping, research on nutrient management, and projects with Kansas State. Doug takes an active role in his community and in the ag community as a whole, so his voice is a respected one in the area of soil health.
Ace Agronomist: Darin Kennelly with Precise Crop
A knowledgeable agronomist in his own right, Darin Kennelly received the Ace Agronomist award for his leadership with his test plots. He works diligently to ensure soil tests are pulled correctly, is actively engaged in all soil testing, and is well respected with his farmer. Darin asks thought provoking questions and engages with SHP to ensure his test plots are done with great integrity. Darin is an independent ag consultant based in central Illinois.
Editor’s Note: More photos available upon request.
About the Soil Health Partnership
The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative that promotes the adoption of soil health practices for economic and environmental benefit. A program of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the partnership extends to more than 200 working farms in 16 states. While building a peer-to-peer network, SHP collects on-farm data to evaluate the impacts of soil health practices on the soil, the environment, and the farmer’s bottom line. For more information, visit https://soilhealthpartnership.org.
Stacie McCracken, SHP Communications Lead,