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Leadership Award

Don and Barb Eekhoff and Ryan and Lori Eekhoff from Hancock County.

DES MOINES | The Dale Dontje family of Twister Creek Partnership in Winnebago County and the Don Eekhoff family of Hancock County received the 2018 Iowa Farm Leader Award this summer in Des Moines.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association recognized 19 members and their families during a ceremony at the Iowa State Fair.

This award identifies farmers who are committed to keeping Iowa's water clean and the soil healthy through a variety of techniques and best management practices.

For example, Don and Barb Eekhoff, their son Ryan and his wife, Lori, have a corn and soybean rotation and use strip tillage, a conservation system that uses minimum tillage, on all 400 acres of their operation.

They also use grid soil sampling and apply variable rates of phosphorus and potassium, enroll three acres of their land in the Conservation Reserve program to reintroduce pollinators and have 25 acres of 66-foot wide filter strips along drainage ditches as well as using a farmstead windbreak.

A filter strip prevents sediments, organic material and other pollutants from runoff from getting into a waterway, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

While the strips are voluntary, Dontje said the farm is "trying to do the right thing for our water supply" by keeping dirt out of rivers. 

"We have been doing some no-till and are going to increase our acres this fall," he said. "It's a good way to help keep the soil where it can do the most good.”

Dontje said his family has been doing soil conversation a long time, starting with his dad in the 1970s. 

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