The 2021 National Conservation Legacy Award winner is Minnesota farmer Brian Ryberg.
Ryberg farms near Buffalo Lake, Minn. The three finalists in the contest include:
- Jason Russell, Monticello, Iowa (Midwest Region)
- Danny Murphy, Canton, Mississippi (South Region)
- Jim Isley, Palmyra, Michigan (Northeast Region)
The American Soybean Association's Conservation Legacy Awards program is a national program designed to recognize the outstanding environmental and conservation achievements of soybean farmers.
Ryberg and his wife, Sandy, began farming with his parents, Howard and Marilyn, in a 10-year partnership before they retired. Operating as Ryberg Farms, Inc., the business raises soybeans, corn and sugar beets. Ryberg transitioned to strip-till and added cover crops six years ago, prompting a lot of second looks at the operation’s production methods.
“We are in a primarily conventional-till area,” Ryberg explains. “So, to go to strip-till and some no-till fields, the appearance is different. Our methods are different.”
These changes helped him reduce operating costs, become a better steward and moved him closer to achieving his ultimate goal—to leave a legacy for the next generation. He's seeing the changes reflected in the soil he farms.
Where wind and water erosion had become a common sight, Ryberg says he can now better maintain the earth’s topsoil. The move helped improve both soil structure and water infiltration on his mostly rented farmland, which has grown from 1,500 acres to about 6,300 acres in four counties west of Minneapolis-St. Paul near Buffalo Lake.
A national selection committee, composed of soybean farmers, conservationists, agronomists and natural resource professionals, evaluated nominations based on each farmer’s environmental and economic program.
Related: ASA honors soybean industry leaders