Five leaders in soil health received “Seeds of Change” awards at the 2019 Soil Health Partnership Summit Jan. 15-16 in St. Louis.
“The Soil Health Partnership's strength has its roots in our committed and supportive partners — especially the farmers and agronomists who play an important role in our ability to support research-based practices,” Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership, said in a news release from the group.
The five award recipients are:
Super Sprout: Brian Ryberg, Buffalo Lake, Minnesota
As a first-year member of the partnership, Ryberg has jumped into involvement with activities that included holding a field day. Ryberg values collaboration, according to SHP staff, and has worked with other SHP growers to gain and share knowledge.
Champion Communicator: Deb Gangwish, Springview, Nebraska
Gangwish recognizes that her story can make an impact, and in 2018, it did. She participated in a story (“Grassroots Movement for Health Soil Spreads Among Farmers”) with National Public Radio that helped propel the Soil Health Partnership into the national spotlight. This story played a pivotal role in SHP achieving 1 billion media impressions in Fiscal Year 2018.
Gangwish has also placed articles in her local Nebraska newspaper, served as the first farmer-guest of the SHP's new podcast series, and continues to make herself available for media interviews.
Ace Agronomist: Bryce Kujawa, Mount Vernon, Illinois
Approachable and knowledgeable agronomists are a critical link between the Soil Health Partnership and farmers when it comes to implementing and collecting data on new farming techniques, Mehta said. Kujawa connected SHP with a pilot Associate Program site in southern Illinois and continues to support and share information about SHP’s efforts.
Data Dominator: Brian Martin, Centralia, Missouri
Good research contains powerful information, and Martin loves to dig into the data. He is diligent about following every protocol to collect robust data from his site, and he uses precision agriculture equipment, including drones and aerial imagery, to learn as much as he can from his fields.
Exceptional Educators: John and Joan Maxwell, Donahue, Iowa.
The Maxwells take the initiative to tell the story of what's happening on their farm to anyone and everyone, from local kindergarten students to visitors from Brazil. They share how a successful dairy and crop farm can sustainability feed the growing population while caring for the land. John is a strong advocate for the Soil Health Partnership and has been featured in print and television news.