Three outstanding ag leaders were honored at the Iowa Agribusiness Showcase, held last week in Des Moines. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig presented the Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award for Conservation to the three honorees. The recipients are AgVantage FS of Waverly, certified crop adviser Stephen Eschenbach of Red Oak and seedsman Jim Webster of Dysart.
“The Secretary’s Ag Leader Awards are presented to businesses and individuals who dedicate their time and talents to advancing agriculture, the backbone of our state’s economy and communities,” Naig said. “As I travel the state, I see countless examples of farmers and landowners who are embracing a culture of conservation. I’m proud to recognize Stephen Eschenbach, Jim Webster and AgVantage FS as ag leaders who are advocates and local resources for individuals and communities who are increasing conservation practices.”
Stephen Eschenbach. Eschenbach is a part of the seed and agronomy department at United Farmers Cooperative at Red Oak in southwest Iowa. Eschenbach has been critical to the success of the Walnut Creek Watershed Project and the adoption of cover crops in that area of the state.
From the beginning of the water quality initiative, Eschenbach has been a leader in identifying ways to incorporate cover crops into current agronomic systems. From planting experimental plots to identifying cost-efficient ways to seed cover crops, he has led the way. He is the person others go to for advice on using cover crops in southwest Iowa. Last fall, Eschenbach helped farmers plant more than 18,000 acres of cover crops in Montgomery and surrounding counties.
Jim Webster. Webster recently retired after a 35-year career with Pioneer. Webster is an advocate for conservation practices and has been actively involved in the Iowa Seed Corn Cover Crops Initiative through his leadership on the Iowa Seed Association board of directors.
It is estimated that the initiative has increased the adoption of cover crops on Iowa’s seed corn acres to one-third of the total acres planted. A few of Webster’s notable career achievements include managing the Pioneer winter production recovery effort in Yuma, Ariz., after the drought of 1988; helping the Chile winter production team implement a more robust herbicide program in the early 1990s; and serving on the GIS software development team.
AgVantage FS. AgVantage FS, based at Waverly in northeast Iowa, supports and encourages best management practices in farming, including using the 4R nutrient framework to apply the right fertilizer source at the right rate at the right time and in the right place. AgVantage’s Certified Crop Advisors work with farmers to implement practices that conserve the land, protect water quality and maximize nutrient use.
As part of a memorandum of understanding between Growmark Inc. and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, AgVantage FS has initiated a pilot project with the local NRCS office to encourage collaboration at the local level and enhance service to their mutual customers. AgVantage FS has also partnered with county offices of the Iowa Farm Bureau to develop a traveling conservation trailer to assist with outreach and education.
Matt Kruse, Tom Severson and Jay Matthews received the award on behalf of AgVantage FS.
Visit cleanwateriowa.org to learn more about voluntary, science-based practices that can be implemented on our farms and in our cities to improve water quality. Iowans can also follow @CleanWaterIowa on Twitter or “like” the page on Facebook to receive updates and other information about the ongoing Iowa water quality initiative.