Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week announced four recipients of the Secretary's Water Quality Initiative Leader Award. This annual award recognizes individuals, companies and organizations for outstanding leadership in improving Iowa's water quality. The award for 2015 goes to two businesses, Hagie Manufacturing and Eldon C. Stutsman, Inc., and two Iowa Certified Crop Advisers. The two Iowa CCA winners are Joe Shirbourn from Clayton County and John Holmes from Wright County.
"Partnerships have been a key to the Water Quality Initiative since the very start. It is great to be able to recognize these two ag businesses and these two individual Certified Crop Advisers. All four of these winners have really taken a leadership role in helping advance water quality efforts in the state," Northey said. He presented the awards at the Agribusiness Association of Iowa's Showcase and Conference at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
How Stutsman is helping farmers better protect water quality
Eldon C. Stutsman, Inc. is eastern Iowa's largest supplier of agricultural products, retail and wholesale. In recent years, they have added a number of new initiatives focused on helping farmers better protect water quality. Their precision ag program, ProVantage, promotes grid sampling and variable rating nutrients onto fields. This year they started variable rate nitrogen applications.
Stutsmans has also worked very hard to promote cover crops through their sales force, plot tours and monthly newsletters. As a result, they have seen a significant increase in the number of customers adding cover crops to their operations, not only helping to keep nutrients in the field for the next crop but also keep the soil in place over the harsh winter months. They have also been very aggressive promoting nitrogen stabilizers, with a company goal to have every tank of fall anhydrous leave with a stabilizer.
Stutsmans has promoted minimum tillage equipment through their YouTube channel, monthly newsletters, sales force, and their equipment rental program and have purchased a drill to seed cover crops for customers.
Hagie offers a range of innovative solutions to solve problems
Hagie Manufacturing is a 67-year-old manufacturer of innovative agricultural application solutions. Alan Hagie, a third generation owner, has a tremendous passion for agriculture and is leading the company with the purpose of solving problems for customers. This company offers a range of innovative solutions that enhance the versatility of Hagie equipment, while also doing the right things for the environment and boosting profitability.
For more than a decade, Hagie has offered a high-clearance nitrogen toolbar, or NTB. Originally intended as a rescue nitrogen bar, this tool has evolved into a full season solution for performing timely nitrogen applications, which helps with optimal crop uptake to boost yield and minimize loss. Hagie is also offering a new High Speed Toolbar, or HsTB, to efficiently cover more acres and perform precise nitrogen applications in early growth stages for maximum input productivity.
Hagie has also introduced the CCI, a new Cover Crop Interseeding Solution. It is used for below canopy broadcast seeding of cover crops to maximize soil health and protect inputs. In addition, the Hagie Company has been a key partner to help honor the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award winners the past two years. The award is an annual award, a joint effort between the Iowa Governor's office, the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to recognize the efforts of Iowa's farmers as environmental leaders committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. The Hagie Company has sponsored a recognition luncheon for recipients following the ceremony.
Joe Shirbroun is a Certified Crop Adviser in Clayton County
Shirbourn and his family operate their farm in addition to operating a Pioneer seed dealership and an ag consulting business. On their farmland in northeast Iowa, the Shirbourn family has been very active in the Water Quality Initiative Watershed Demonstration Project in Clayton County. In addition to installing thousands of feet of terraces in recent years, this year the family aerially seeded cover crops on over 300 acres in the targeted watershed, establishing the cover crops in highly visible locations for the public and other farmers to see along Highways 18 & 52.
Joe Shirbroun hosted a meeting for his clients and seed dealership customers this winter. He brought in speakers to discuss cover crops and water quality protection practices. He's also hosted demonstrations showcasing the use of high-clearance equipment for cover crop seeding on his farm.
John Holmes is a Certified Crop Adviser in Wright County
John Holmes works for North Central Co-op in Clarion and has been a key partner in the Boone River Water Quality Initiative Demonstration Project. He's conducted a number of N-inhibitor trials for the project using strip trials of inhibitor and no inhibitor and has also compared strip trials of N-serve and N-Zone inhibitors. A strong advocate of nutrient management practices, and the use of strip tillage and cover crops, Holmes is a former Iowa State University Extension agronomist and is well recognized and respected in the area. Holmes retired from ISU a couple years ago has been very active in the Boone River Partners meetings and he has presented information for farmers at field days on water quality practices.
NOTE: Visit CleanWaterIowa.org to learn more about voluntary, science-based practices that can be implemented on farms and in cities to improve water quality. You can also follow @CleanWaterIowa on Twitter or "like" the page on Facebook to get updates and information about the ongoing Iowa Water Quality Initiative.