Jill Euken, BEI deputy director, and her family were presented the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award at the Iowa State Fair in August 2016. The award is a joint effort of the Governor, Lt. Governor, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources to recognize the exemplary voluntary efforts of Iowa’s farmers as environmental leaders committed to healthy soils and improved water quality.
Jill and Randy Euken (center) receive the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award from Chuck Gipp, Department of Natural Resources Director and Governor Terry Brandstad (left); and Kim Reynolds, Iowa Lt. Governor, and Bill Northey, Secretary of Agriculture (right).
The Euken farm is located in Cass County, Iowa, and consists of 2,000 acres cropland, 350 acres pasture, and 150 acres alfalfa. In addition to growing corn, soybeans, and alfalfa, the Euken’s raise cows and run a beef feedlot. The farm has been designated as an Iowa Century Farm, having been in the family for 104 years.
Improving Natural Resources
The award recognizes farmers that have taken steps in their farming operations that improve or protect the environment and natural resources of our state while also serving as local leaders to encourage other farmers to follow in their footsteps by building success upon success. The Euken farm has implemented a number of practices toward this end, including conversion of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to pasture, no-till/minimum till, conservation tillage, and contour farming.
The Eukens also practice precision variable rate fertilizer application and seeding, do soil testing, and have established grassed waterways on sloped fields. They’ve added buffer strips of permanent vegetation along streams to intercept pollutants and reduce run-off. The farm also participates in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which includes interseeding of legumes, controlled release nitrogen, and application of nutrients no more than 30 days prior to planting.
“We incorporated these practices to improve soil tilth, reduce soil erosion and eliminate nutrient run-off. We like to use perennials (alfalfa and pasture) on highly erodible land,” Jill Euken said.