Dordt College News

Folkerts family Conservation Farmers of the Year for 2007

February 9, 2008

Reprinted w/permission from West Lyon Herald

After winning local and regional conservation awards, Todd and Dawn Folkerts and his parents Roy and Lois of Inwood went on to be recognized with the 2007 Conservation Farmers of the Year award at the Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Commissioners 61st Annual Conference Nov. 28-29 at Ames.

Todd, an 85 graduate of Dordt College with an AA degree in Agriculture, and Dawn, an 85 graduate with a degree in Elementary Education, operate a family farm with his parents southwest of Inwood. Roy and Lois live in Inwood, while Todd and Dawn and sons, Brandon and Jordan, live on the farm.

While growing up, Todd’s father Roy learned how to farm from his father, but more importantly he learned about the need to practice soil conservation. “I always enjoyed farming, and I admired my father,” said Roy. “He taught me how to plow the ground so water wouldn’t run down the furrows and cause erosion.”

After a stint in the service, Roy worked for awhile as a mechanic in Rock Valley. Roy’s brother, Cornie, farmed with their father, but when more land was purchased in 1959, Roy joined the operation. Three years later, their father died. “I’ve always been thankful for the education he gave me,” said Roy. He was always reading and studying ways to do things better.” His father planted on contour long before others, and when using a lister planter left too much residue, his father switched to Buffalo till.

Eventually, the brothers divided into separate operations. Roy’s farm is quite hilly, and, following in his father’s footsteps, he has continued to make conservation practices a priority. Twenty years ago he put a hillside in CRP and planted numerous trees to help prevent erosion. “It was lots of work, but they’ve really grown. I enjoy the beautiful scenery they provide,” he said.

For Roy, no-till farming has been the most exciting aspect of conservation farming. Not only does it benefit the soil, but as Roy noted, “It’s a lot easier way to farm.” Saving fuel and soil comes first for the Folkerts even if it means sacrificing some yield, but the fact that the Folkerts consistently grow record-yielding crops proves conservation doesn’t have to mean yield loss.

Roy possesses a deep-seated belief that as a farmer, he has been blessed with a portion of God’s good earth, and, therefore, is obligated to “be a good steward of it.”

The Folkerts conservation efforts were first recognized locally by the Lyon County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), which then submitted information about the family for further recognition at higher levels.

According to the program handed out at the conference, “All areas of the Folkerts’ farms are picture perfect — from their contour farming and terraces in their no-till fields to their beautiful yards. They have an interest in 1,325 head of cattle. The cattle yards are well maintained, adequately treated, and always clean. The Folkerts mow roadsides and spray for weeds in ditches and along fences. Their home sites speak for themselves with plants, flowers, manicured lawns and shrubs.

Their cropland is also picture perfect with several conservation practices installed: no-till, grass waterways, buffer strips, narrow and broad-based terraces, grade stabilization structures, settling basins, field borders, wildlife habitat and more. The Folkerts family now involves three generations. It all began many years ago with conservation being practiced and taught. The Folkerts are worthy recipients of the Iowa Soil Conservation Award.”

Recipients of state awards are determined by judges who evaluate information provided against a set of standards as follows:

• Does the farmer have a conservation plan that meets district soil loss limits?

• What conservation practices has the farmer accomplished? (Determined from a list of 20 different practices a farmer can implement)

• What is the farmer’s involvement in community service?

• Does the farmer practice general farm husbandry (farm appearance, weed control, fences, solid waste control, wildlife areas, etc.)?

Conservation practices on the Folkerts farm include nine miles of terraces and 50 acres of CRP (Conservation Reserve Program).

In its submission to the judges, the Lyon SWCD said this of the Folkerts, “It is obvious that Roy and Todd both believe in conservation of the soil. Roy has passed the conservation way of farming on to his son, Todd. They have begun to pass on their conservation knowledge to Todd’s sons who are starting to help around the farm. Giving the next generation the knowledge and understanding of the strong need and benefits of conservation is worthy of being noted.”

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