Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced two agribusinesses and two Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) as recipients of the Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award for outstanding leadership in improving Iowa’s water quality. Northey recognized Farmers Cooperative Society from Sioux Center, CF Industries and CCAs Jason Gomes owner of North Iowa Agronomy Partners in Waverly and Joe Lally from Denison.
“Businesses like Farmers Cooperative Society and CF Industries, as well as Certified Crop Advisers like Jason Gomes and Joe Lally have shown real leadership in advancing water quality efforts in our state,” Northey said. “All of these award winners are examples of how stakeholders across agriculture are taking on the challenge of improving water quality by providing tools and information to help farmers and landowners make improvements on their farm.”
Northey presented the awards at the Agribusiness Association of Iowa’s Showcase and Conference at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
Jason Gomes, Certified Crop Adviser and owner of North Iowa Agronomy Partners – Waverly
Gomes has served owner of North Iowa Agronomy Partners, LLC operated as an independent agronomist since 2009.
Jason grew up in Northeast Iowa and has worked with agriculture since he was a teenager. His business provides a range of services to farmers and ag retailers, including crop scouting, soil sampling and data management. He has been a technical service provider with NRCS since 2008 and has been a CCA since 2006. North Iowa Agronomy Partners currently works in the Middle and Upper Cedar watersheds developing conservation plans and providing technical assistance in support of Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy.
Jason believes that water quality and soil quality are two sides of the same coin and that improving soil health is key to improving water quality region-wide. He sees water quality as an opportunity for farmers, rather than a burden, and is interested in solutions that incentivize ecosystem services like soil health, water quality and sustainable production. His company works with farmers and landowners to help them balance the short-term challenges of crop production with their long-term conservation goals. Jason is grateful to work with so many innovative producers who are leading the way in demonstrating that continued improvements in production and improved environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive.
Joe Lally, Certified Crop Adviser – Denison
Joe Lally’s conservation ethic was developed early on as he grew up on a small dairy and hog farm in the Denison area. His father bought the farm in 1956. By the time Joe left for the Army in 1968, they had installed terraces, grassed waterways, a 5 year crop rotation, among other practices, building a successful small farming operation. Joe bought his first farm in the Denison area in 1977. Within 5 years, Joe had installed terraces, grassed waterways, headlands, and minimum tillage farming practices. This was one of the first farms in the area with tile placed in the sediment control structures (Joe refers to them as doodle-dams).
Joe received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa State University and his CCA certification in 2008. He believes that this certification, along with that as a Technical Service Provider in 2003, provides a level of confidence when providing farmers consultation and planning for their farms. Joe is one of two Technical Service Providers that provides conservation and nutrient management plans developed under the guidance of USDA-NRCS and the EPA. He has written over 500 plans since 1990. Joe’s other roles have included environmental management services at Farmland Foods and as Project Coordinator for the Heartland Water Quality Program. The Heartland four-state initiative provides education and training to land-grant educators, ag agency staff, EPA staff, and NGO’s.
Joe refers to himself as an active conservationist, but a selfish one – or at least when it comes to his farm ground –as he is not interested in sharing it’s “natural resources” with anyone else.
Farmers Cooperative Society – Sioux Center
Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS) is a 100% farmer owned cooperative that operates in Northwest Iowa, Southwest Minnesota, and Southeast South Dakota. The mission of FCS is focused around a High Road To High Yields core strategy which is leading with sustainable agronomic, economic, and environmentally advanced technology solutions. This commitment directly helps customers by maximizing nutrient efficiency and minimizing wasted input losses resulting in improved return on investment. This proactive approach also prepares both FCS and its customers for the future.
FCS has been a leading partner in the West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative project in Sioux County and has served on the project’s advisory board since the project began in 2014. They have hosted a number field events and meetings in support of the WQI projects soil conservation, nutrient management and water quality improvement goals, and has helped promote project cost-share opportunities in their newsletters and client communications. FCS has also committed resources to help provide solutions for farmers including tools such as the N-Tensification nitrogen report card, custom cover crop drilling, custom spinner and Hagie sidedress application options, promoting the use of nitrogen stabilizers such as N-Serve/Instinct and ESN coated Urea, promotion of no-till, grid soil sampling and variable rate applications, along with nutrient management planning, and manure sampling. FCS also employs a staff of agronomists that are Certified Crop Advisors with specialty certifications in 4R and Sustainability and is a 4R fertilizer dealer.
The FCS agronomy staff has been instrumental helping support these conservation efforts in alignment with area farmers operational and economical goals. FCS continues to collaborate with the project and farmers locally by providing professional knowledge, guidance based on experience and leadership to help advance common conservation goals forward.
As a global leader in the production of nitrogen-based fertilizers, CF Industries understands the importance of feeding the world in a sustainable manner. Here in Iowa, CF recently invested over $2.5 billion to expand its Port Neal Nitrogen Complex, which sources much of the nitrogen applied across the state. CF is proud of its Iowa roots and its work to preserve the state’s soil through the 4R Plus campaign.
CF launched the 4R Plus campaign in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to enhance years of efforts by Iowa’s farmers to implement sound nutrient management and conservation practices. The 4R Plus campaign is designed to increase awareness and understanding of 4R nutrient stewardship (applying the right nutrient source at the right time, right rate, and right place) and conservation practices to increase productivity, retain soil and nutrients, build soil health, and improve water quality in Iowa. CF believes that using precise 4R nutrient stewardship and targeted conservation practices is critical to achieving healthier soils and productive crops both now and for future generations. CF further believes that 4R Plus principles are critical to meeting the nonpoint goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
CF looks forward to continuing to support Iowa’s growers by helping to provide the resources they need to boost crop yields and profitability while simultaneously improving their soil’s health.