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Farmers recognized for environmental leadership

Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS)

Farming can be a “thankless” job. However, three Iowa organizations recognized several farmers today for their continued dedication to the environment.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Department of Natural Resources and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg presented 81 farmers the 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award. The award recognizes the efforts of Iowa’s farmers as environmental leaders committed to healthy soils and improved water quality.

John Clayton, and son Kyle, of Walnut, were one of the many Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award recipients. The Claytons implemented no-till, buffer strips, waterways and CRP waterway projects on their farm. John Clayton said he wants to maintain his farm environment, and has been satisfied with the conservation practices implemented.

“We just want to keep it the way (it was) when we started; we want to leave the land like we got it. That was our biggest motivation,” Clayton said. “It’s gratifying to see it work, to see the practices they tell you to use actually do work out there on the farm.”

The Claytons have practiced conservation farming for 30 years, and encourage everyone to implement some sort of conservation practice on their farm.

“Just give it a try,” John Clayton said. “Just start small and try to work into it slow.”

Bob Downing, of Indianola, also received the 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award. Downing implemented terraces, waterways, cover crops and no-till on his farm. Downing said the quality of his family’s farmland motivated him to implement these conservation practices.

“A lot of the ground, we’ve had in the family for many years, and I just want to have it in good shape when I pass it on,” Downing said.

Downing has practiced conservation farming for close to 40 years. In that time, Downing said he’s seen less erosion, better yields and better production. Downing encouraged other farmers to try implementing conservation practices on their farms.

“They got to try it, it’ll work,” Downing said. “It takes some time and money, but it works.”