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Corn+Soybean Digest

Conservation Makes Him A Winner

More than half of the farmers who read Soybean Digest practice some form of conservation tillage. But it's doubtful that many have had the long-standing history with conserving soil as Sandy Ludeman.

SanMarBo farms, Tracy, MN, has been persistent in using conservation practices for over 50 years. This year the Ludemans have been awarded the American Soybean Association's Conservation Legacy Award.

That award, just presented at the recent Commodity Classic in Nashville, recognizes superb farm stewardship. That's exactly how you'd describe the Ludemans' conservation methods on their family's 2,700 acres in southern Minnesota.

Congratulations to Sandy and the Ludeman family on the award — and for passing on their conservation legacy to each family generation.

For more about SanMarBo Farms or the three other regional winners, see “Stewards,” January Soybean Digest; log on to or

It's heartwarming to see the passion that true conservationists have about their land. Still, there's a lot more that should be done, says Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska extension engineer.

“Tradition and fear are the biggest problems holding conservation tillage from expanding,” Jasa says. “Too often, farmers aren't looking at the economics and true costs of production. For example, a 3-bu/acre yield advantage without using conservation tillage doesn't even pay for the cost of plowing.”

Dan Towery agrees and says that farmers need to keep plugging away. “In the last five years, there's been an increase in no-till, but overall conservation tillage acres have leveled out,” says the natural resources specialist with the Conservation Technology Information Center. Only about 36% of all acres in the U.S. are in conservation tillage.

The biggest pluses, says Towery, are:

  • Labor and time savings
  • Less fuel
  • Less equipment
  • Soil saving

With all those bright spots, I hope farmers continue to chip away at conservation tillage. Maybe you'll be recognized for your soil-saving contributions, just like Ludeman.

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