Union County is home to Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year

Taking on the challenge of improving Iowa’s water quality and going the extra mile to protect soil and water has long been a priority for Chad Ide, who farms in the rolling hills of southwest Iowa with his father. Ide, an Iowa Farm Bureau member from Shannon City, was recently named the Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year for his wide-ranging conservation efforts and commitment to promoting conservation education.

Now in its 66th year, the prestigious Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year Award is sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Ide will be presented with the award at the Conservation Districts of Iowa annual meeting in Des Moines.

“Conservation just comes naturally to me,” Ide said. “My dad has always been very conservation-minded, and it was something that just made sense to me, too.”

Ide and his father, Monty, have seen the environmental benefits of incorporating various conservation practices into their farming operation, but they’ve also seen economic benefits. In addition to conservation practices like buffer strips and terraces incorporated into their row crops, the Ides have added conservation efforts on their grazing ground which have benefited their cow-calf herd.

“Conservation just fits really well with cattle,” Ide says. “We plant cover crops after we chop silage and after soybeans. That gives us a chance for some extra forage in the late fall and the early spring. Having that extra forage can really be a big help, especially in a year like this one when the cold weather in the spring kept the pastures down for so long.”

“Leading by example is so important, because everyone has a role to play in protecting our soil and water quality,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “Our role as farmers is to do more than grow food; we must all work towards leaving the land and watershed better for the next generation. The regional and statewide award winners have certainly shown their commitment to protecting Iowa’s soil and water and a willingness to share their experiences with fellow farmers, so we can all work together to make big strides in conservation.”

“We continue to see farmers making investments and doing more to improve water quality and protect soil health,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said. “These conservation awards are an opportunity to highlight and recognize farmers who take the extra step in their conservation efforts and serve as conservation leaders in their communities and across the state.”

For earning the award, Ide will receive the free use of a John Deere 6E Series utility tractor for up to 12 months or 200 hours. The tractor prize is sponsored annually by Van Wall Equipment of Perry and John Deere.

Ide was nominated for the award by the Union County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the application recognized him as a “steady leader in soil and water conservation in our county.” Along with being celebrated for his numerous on-farm conservation efforts, the Union County SWCD noted the Ides’ willingness to promote conservation education through field days, tours, and trainings which inspires other area farmers.

Regional winners from 2018 include: John and Roger Wilcox of Woodbury County; the Patricia L. Smith Family Trust (owner) and Howard Farm and Mark Howard (operator) of Fayette County; Dennis and Cheryl Crall of Adair County; Dan and Ila Jean Taylor of Dallas County; Paustian Enterprise LTD of Scott County; and John Peck of Jefferson County.