Conservation Legacy

Tell us Your Conservation Story.

2015 CONSERVATION LEGACY AWARDS. Conservation Legacy Awards

The Conservation Legacy Awards program showcases the farm management practices of U.S. soybean farmers that are both environmentally friendly and profitable.

Winners are selected by region, with an overall winner announced at Commodity Classic.

Congratulations to the 2015 Conservation Legacy Award Winners: 

2015 Midwest Region Winner: Steve Berger-Wellman, Iowa (National Winner) 

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Bryan Perry, of BASF, (left) and ASA President Wade Cowan (right) present Steve Berger (center) with the National Conservation Legacy Award during the ASA Banquet in Phoenix.

One of the first conservation measures Berger remembers experiencing as a child is building terraces. He helped build 15 miles around his fourth generation farm at Dennis Berger & Son Inc., to slow down the impact of the rainfall on soil erosion.

Berger farms with his mom, dad and wife on their 2,000 acre soybean and corn operation with 20,000 head swine. They’ve been heavily involved in soil conservation since the 1960s. The Bergers introduced no-till nearly 40 years ago and cover crops in the last 15 years. Berger said he  believes that farmers must be shown conservation practices can work effectively and economically, so more of them will embrace conservation voluntarily.

2015 Northeast Region Winner: Mike Starkey, Brownsburg, Ind. 

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Kurt Lawton of Corn & Soybean Digest (left) and ASA President Wade Cowan (right) present Mike Starkey (center) with the Northeast Region Conservation Legacy Award at the ASA banquet in Phoenix.

The sixth generation Starkey family farm lies in an urban area just west of the metropolitan area of Indianapolis. In addition to a dramatic reduction of commercial fertilizer, Starkey has used no-till soybeans since 1989 and introduced cover crops in 2005. He also entered in a NRCS field grant study to monitor tile and stream water.

“My legacy as a conservationist is to improve and protect the borrowed living soil that God has given us and to keep our water clean and pure as the raindrops that fall from the sky,” Starkey said.

2015 South Region Winner: Jimmy Thomas- Timberlake, N.C.

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ASA President Wade Cowan (left) and Monsanto’s Mindy Whittle (right) present Jimmy Thomas (center) with the South Region Conservation Legacy Award at the ASA banquet in Phoenix.

Thomas Family Farms Inc. is a traditional, diverse North Carolina operation incorporating corn, soybeans and wheat, tobacco and swine production.

Three generations worktogether at Thomas Family Farms: Pete and Levon Thomas; their sons Jimmy and Timmy; Jimmy’s wife Janine and two grandsons. The family incorporated a range of conservation practices into the entire operation. As they picked up new land through purchases or leases, they implemented no-till practices on the new farms. For the Thomas family, conservation means constant improvement.

“There will always be new generations of the family, new employees, and new technologies and new knowledge about the environment, and we have to be prepared to keep up,” Thomas said.


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See below for on-farm videos about the conservation efforts of past winners.

VIDEO - 2014 Midwest Region Winner - David Ausberger, Jefferson, Iowa

2014 Midwest Region Winner (National Winner)

National_2014CLA_MindyWhittle_LeeAnnaDavidAusberger_RayGaesserDavid Ausberger

Jefferson, Iowa 

David Ausberger in cooperation with the Iowa Soybean Association developed a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan to reduce nutrient loss and better manage inputs. As a Certified Conservation Farmer,

Ausberger shares his success with advanced conservation measures with other farmers in his area through more than 40 hours of classroom and field experience. Finally, Ausberger is part owner of a seven-turbine wind farm that generates enough electricity for his entire community.

VIDEO - 2014 Northeast Region Winner - Mark & Phyllis Legan, Coatesville, Indiana

2014 Northeast Region Winner

Northeast_2014CLA_KurtLawton_MarkPhyllisLegan_RayGaesserMark and Phyllis Legan

Coatesville, Ind.

The Legans’ operation is both 100 percent no-till and 100 percent cover cropped, which Phyllis says enhances soil biological activity and improves organic matter.

The Legans also utilize the manure from their large-scale hog operation as a nutrient for integration into their soil. Through drainage tiling, cover cropping, man-made wetlands and other methods, the Legans are also invested in smart water management on their farm as well.

VIDEO - 2014 South Region Winner - Jerry Peery, Clinton, Kentucky

2014 South Region Winner

South_2014CLA_SharonHall_JerryValariePeery_RayGaesserJerry Peery

Clinton, Ky.

Peery began no-till farming on his land after attending several field days with no-till pioneers Shirley Phillips and Harry Young, Jr., in the late 1960s, and since the mid-1980s, the Peery farm has been entirely no-till. In addition to no-till, Peery utilizes annual rotation, buffer strips and waterways, cover crops, advanced soil and tissue testing, and makes extensive use of GPS and other precision agriculture technology to allow for more precise application of inputs and collection of valuable data. This provides Peery with a vast set of data points from which to ensure he receives maximum benefits from the smallest amount of inputs and environmental impact. Technology is a key component of the modern-day operation for Peery, who started with a 1949 Allis Chalmers and a harvester with a 10-foot header. Today, Peery harvests with a cutting-edge tractor and combine technology.

VIDEO - 2013 Midwest Region Winner - Gail Fuller, Emporia, Kansas

2013 Midwest Region Winner (National Winner)

wfuller1 Gail Fuller
Emporia, Kan.

Gail Fuller approaches conservation on his Kansas farm with a heavy emphasis on soil health including continuous no-till, utilizing cover crops and maximizing microbes. He always looks for ways to reduce inputs. Fuller is working to rebuild the quail population and has added a livestock component to his farm.

VIDEO - 2013 Northeast Region Winner - Roger Wenning, Greensburg, Indiana

2013 Northeast Region Winner

wwenning1Roger Wennin
Greenburg, Ind.

Roger Wenning’s conservation efforts on his Indiana farm include a commitment to soil health and no-till farming. He continually experiments with cover crops and evaluates for best results. Wenning has addressed drainage issues and made conservation buffers an integral part of his operation.

VIDEO - 2013 South Region Winner - Jeremy Jack, Belzoni, Mississippi

2013 South Region Winner

wjack1Jeremy Jack
Belzoni, Miss.

Jeremy Jack addresses conservation on his Mississippi farm first through water management, which then helps determine careful management of soil and nutrients. He utilizes one-pass tillage, input management practices and current technologies. Jack’s farm is participating in a working-lands stewardship project.

For additional information contact Jill Wagenblast, ASA Director of Marketing and Planning, at 800-688-7692, ext 1310