I seem to be congratulating a lot of Dakota farmers lately on the national awards they have received.
Gary and Amy Cammack, Union Center, S.D., recently received the National Association of Conservation Districts’ and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award.
The Jerry and Renae Doan family, of Black Leg Ranch, McKenzie, N.D., received the national Environmental Stewardship Award during 2017 Cattle Industry Convention.
Now, Joe Breker, Havana, N.D., has received the National Corn Growers Association Good Steward Award. It was presented to him during the 2017 Commodity Classic.
"This program is about expanding awareness of the best management practices in sustainable corn production. This award recognizes the special efforts of those who demonstrate the economic and conservation value of soil management," said Carson Klosterman, president of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association and member of the NCGA Stewardship Action Team. "Joe's investment of time, money and energy over his farming career is staggering, and not just to farm smarter, but to share what he has learned with others in such an unselfish way. It's NDCGA’s privilege to recognize Joe’s many contributions by nominating him for this award."
Breker said learning and adopting conservation practices isn't a decision so much as it is an ever-evolving process and a lifelong commitment. After nearly four decades of trying to farm better and more sustainably he is still learning and teaching others.
Practices employed by Breker include no-till (37 years), strip till (27 years), cover crops (17 years), tiling (12 years) and rotational grazing, including cover crops. Breker composts manure from a large nearby dairy and applies it on his land.
He is a founding member of several conservation groups in North Dakota, including the Conservation Cropping System Project located in Forman. It does long-term, no-till rotation studies and explores new ways to use cover crops.
"In 2011, we made our largest single investment in our farming career by building a family- and investor-owned lodge in the middle of a scenic pasture on our farm. It took two years to build Coteau des Prairies Lodge. In less than four years of operation, we have hosted people from more than 20 countries and most of the 50 states," Breker said. "Our favorite thing to do is engage these groups in conservation agriculture discussion and tours so they understand all the positive changes taking place in farming."