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conservation farmer

By Nancy Vander Schaaf

news@agrinews.com

INWOOD, Iowa — Roy and Lois Folkerts live by the idea that "the earth is the Lord’s.’’ That philospophy recently helped them earn the Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year’’ award.

Roy and Lois Folkerts were surprised when the Lyon Soil and Water Conservation District submitted their names. After becoming one of nine regional winners, they received the top honor at the recent Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Conference. The award is given annually to a farmer who demonstrates a strong commitment to conservation.

Their son, Todd, lives and helps out on the farm along with his family.

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The award is given annually to a farmer who demonstrates a strong commitment to conservation. Their farming practices include no-till, contours, grass waterways, terraces, settling basins, grade stabilization structures, and field borders.

Roy Folkerts is intent on preventing soil erosion because he says "it takes 400-1,000 years to get back an inch of topsoil."

Roy Folkerts said that his father "saw soil erosion where others didn’t see it, so he taught them about soil erosion."

Folkerts said his father found innovative ways to prevent soil erosion. Some of the things they tried worked and others didn’t, but he wasn’t afraid to try.

The farm has been no-tilled for 15 years. They plant seed corn directly into the soybean stubble and plant beans right into undisked corn residue.

"It looks ridiculous, but it works," Folkerts said. "It just takes a couple additional attachments to the planter. No-till benefits the soil structure because macro-pores created by earthworms and dying roots are not destroyed; this allows increased water percolation and aeration."

Folkerts said his ground is covered year-round to keep soil in place. The Folkerts keep half of their farm in permanent pasture for their cow-calf operation.

Their CRP ground is near their farm pond. They have planted a couple acres of trees nearby. The pond allows them to irrigate 60 acres. They took first place in the no-till irrigated class of the 2006 National Corn Grower's Contest with 244 bushels per acre

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"You're never done learning," Folkerts said.

He likes to keep his mind open and try different things. Recently, he has been experimenting with planting populations.

"You have to have enough flexibility and willingness to change farming practices as needed," he said.

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