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Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN - The Farmer Stewards: Rick Clark Land and Cattle and Brad and Cathy Reece

22 April 2019

When farmers take steps to improve air, soil and water quality, it not only has a positive impact on their communities, but also on their farm businesses and on the planet.

The Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Partners In Excellence Summit honored three outstanding examples of farmer-led stewardship with the Outstanding Sustainability Award. Award winner Rick Clark of Rick Clark of Clark Land and Cattle hails from Williamsport, Indiana, while Brad and Cathy Reece of Chariton, Iowa, received an honorable mention.

Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN is proud to honor these farmers and shine a light on their exemplary leadership and commitment to stewardship.

Rick Clark: Cover cropping and community leadership

Rick Clark manages a total of 6,000 acres in West Central Indiana and East Central Illinois. He was honored with the Outstanding Sustainability Award for his on-farm conservation efforts, which include using nearly 100 percent no-till tillage and planting cover crops across his own farm, as well as land he manages for family members on two other operations.

As he transitioned to no-till over the past 10 years, Rick has seen positive impacts from both a farm profitability and environmental perspective. He has reduced the overall fuel needs on his farm by more than 30 percent, saving him money and reducing emissions. He also saw improved soil filtration rates and reduced soil erosion, which has led to improved soil and water quality on his farm and in his community.

Rick is passionate about his regenerative and sustainable cropping practices, and participates in many events to educate other farmers about their benefits. Over the summer, he joined Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN and Field to Market to host a field day attended by over 200 local farmers and state agricultural officials about the Big Pine Watershed.

The Reece Family: No-till for 34 years

Brad and Cathy of Chariton, Iowa, have been Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN growers for the past four years, through their local ag retailer, South Central Cooperative. As Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN members, they have deployed technology and practices that have allowed them to reduce nitrogen rates almost 30% while maintaining yield. Brad and Cathy provided some of the baseline data for Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN’s Truterra™ Insights Engine, a recently-launched on-farm digital platform that helps farmers measure sustainability progress and trends, in real time, at an acre-by-acre level.

Brad and Cathy have used no-till since 1985 and are 100 percent no-till today. They have deployed several thousand feet of terraces and waterways across their farm to minimize soil erosion. Active in the local conservation community, Brad and Cathy have participated in many projects with the Rathbun Watershed Foundation, and in 2005 they implemented Chariton River Basin Terrace project.

The leadership and on-farm practices of farmer stewards like Rick Clark and Brad and Cathy Reece are crucial for protecting the planet. Their efforts have a ripple effect across the entire food system – from the land they farm, to the food, fuel, feed and fiber companies they supply ingredients to, to the consumers who ultimately use their products.

This article first appeared on the Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN blog. Read more stories like this here

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