Kurt Stiefvater

Kurt Stiefvater, a Salem, S.D., farmer, stands in a soil pit on his field. He participated in a soil resiliency study pilot last year with SDSU. This type of soil testing will be talked about on Jan. 17 in Wall, S.D. 

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition recognized farmers and industry experts for their work improving soil health at its fourth annual Soil Health Conference in Watertown Jan. 16.

Kurt and Kathy Stiefvater of Salem were presented the Legacy Award for actively advocating for agriculture and improving soil health through numerous organizations in their local community and across the state.

They have shared their knowledge regarding practices such as no-till, cover crops, livestock integration and much more, greatly impacting those they meet, according to a news release. Additionally, the Stiefvater’s have provided Soil Health School participants with the opportunity to experience a working soil health system and learn from their soil health journey.

The Legacy Award was created to honor the late Al Miron, who was a founding board member of the Soil Health Coalition. Miron dedicated his personal and professional life to agriculture and was a dedicated advocate for improving soil health. Receiving an honorary Legacy Award in Miron’s memory this year, was his wife Joan and two of their adult children, James and Jennifer.

The coalition awarded the 2020 “Friend of Soil Health” to Jay Fuhrer of Bismarck, North Dakota. He was selected as this year’s deserving recipient because of the great impact he has had in the area of resource conservation and education.

Fuhrer recently retired after many years of service with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service where he mentored countless producers, USDA employees, and partners within the industry, in preserving natural resources for future generations.

Fuhrer 's expertise and leadership has contributed to the success of South Dakota's Soil Health School and many other outreach events throughout the upper Midwest and beyond.

Throughout the Soil Health Conference proceedings, the SDSHC hosted nearly 400 attendees in Watertown. Local and internationally known speakers energized participants and fueled great discussion. Dr. Christine Jones, Derek Axten, Tom Cannon, and Dr. Andrea Bjornestad were the keynote speakers addressing many diverse ways to improve soil as well as producer health. Other speakers shared their experiences throughout six different breakout sessions.

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