PIERRE – The virtual 2021 Soil Health Conference held Jan. 6-7 offered more than 400 attendees the chance to hear conservation advice and encouragement from an excellent lineup of soil health experts and innovators.
World Food Prize Winner Dr. Rattan Lal spoke about the importance of soil carbon, the role it plays in our lives and the benefits of sequestering it in the soil. Oklahoma farmer and rancher Jimmy Emmons gave advice on how to reduce tillage and implement good soil health practices. Iowa farmer and equipment innovator Loran Steinlage talked about the benefits of interseeding cover crops. Nebraska agronomist and author Dale Strickler explained how to build drought-resistant soil.
Jorgensen Land and Cattle CEO Nick Jorgensen of Ideal, S.D., spoke about using virtual fence collars in livestock for ease of grazing management. Montana State University Billings Director of Student Health Services Darla Tyler McSherry spoke on the topic of how to help agricultural producers who are struggling with stress.
Participants also heard a summary of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition’s 2020 research trials on wide-row corn interseeded with cover crops.
In addition to these presentations, conference attendees also got a chance to pose their questions to panels of producers including the SDSHC Board of Directors. The quality of the questions asked indicated this year’s conference had an engaged audience committed to learning more about soil health practices.
In 2019, the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition created the Legacy Award in memory of Al Miron of Crooks, S.D., one of the founding members of the Coalition and a shining example of a conservationist. During this year’s SDHSHC annual meeting, Jim and Carol Faulstich of Highmore, S.D., were presented with the 2021 Legacy Award for their long and tireless devotion to promoting conservation practices.
“I’ve known Jim for about 15 years,” SDSHC Board member Doug Sieck said. “I would be hard pressed to find someone in the list of people that I know or have been around that have done more, that have given more of their personal time and effort in the interest of enhancing conservation and the stewardship of the soil, the grasslands, the wildlife, and the environment in general.”
“There’s a lot of reasons why this is a very special award and greatly appreciated,” Jim Faulstich said. “It’s special to be associated with this group of people, so my hat’s off to everything, and I can’t say thank you enough for this award.”
The SDSHC Board of Directors also presented longtime Dakota Farmer editor Lon Tonneson with the 2021 Friend of Soil Health Award for his coverage of soil health and agriculture.
New board member
Three seats on the SDSHC Board of Directors were up for election during the annual meeting. Dennis Hoyle and Doug Sieck were re-elected to their seats. Bryan Jorgensen declined to run for his seat again, and Van Mansheim, a producer from Colome, S.D., was elected to fill the vacant spot on the Board of Directors.
Mansheim operates ManBull Farming LLC with his brother Kirk Mansheim and nephew Heath Bullington. Together they custom graze cattle and grow corn, winter wheat, oats, soybeans and alfalfa.
The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition conducted student essay and photo contests in conjunction with the Soil Health Conference. First place winners in each contest will receive $400 cash scholarships, and second place winners will receive $200 cash scholarships.
Lorie Steiner, a student at Lake Area Technical College, won first place with her essay comparing soil to a painter’s canvas. Lynn Foster, a student at Brookings High School, won second place for an essay explaining the importance of reducing tillage.
Megan Stiefvater, a student at McCook Central High School, won first place in the student photo contest with her photo of a milpa garden, and Ella Stiefvater, a home-schooled student in Salem, S.D., won second place with her photo of a rotational field currently growing grass for grazing.