Prairie Paradise Farms to receive South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award

Gov. Kristi Noem and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources announced recently that Prairie Paradise Farms has been selected for the South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold, this award recognizes private landowners who inspire others with their dedication to the land, water, and wildlife resources in their care.

In South Dakota, the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. The award will be presented on Dec. 1 in Rapid City in conjunction with the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s annual convention and trade show.

Levi and Crystal Neuharth took over management of Prairie Paradise Farms in 2016. Levi is a founding member and current chairman of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, so they make decisions based on the five principles of soil health: 1. Keep the soil covered; 2. Disturb as little as possible; 3. Keep living roots growing as much as possible; 4. Include diversity in plant communities; and 5. Integrate livestock.

The crop residue left behind from no-till practices provides a protective armor for the soil, which creates habitat for soil organisms, prevents erosion and evaporation, and keeps out disease, pests, and weeds. A diverse rotation of crops allows them to capture different markets and spread out the risk from weather events.

The Neuharths raise diverse livestock as well, including a herd of 100 dairy goats and a free-range flock of 150 laying hens. In addition to 4-H projects for their three children (Johnathon, Justin, and Kaydee), the goats are an important and beneficial enterprise for the farm.

Although the Neuharths have been rotationally grazing their 3,000 acres of grasslands since 2010, they do not own any cattle. Their custom grazing business provides daily monitoring and frequent rotations to fresh pastures for other people’s beef cattle.

Active in a variety of agricultural and community organizations, Prairie Paradise Farms hosts a Family Day in May where visitors partake in hands-on educational stations on topics such as livestock, insects, germinating seeds, soil layers, and grain identification.

With assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and their local conservation district, the Neuharths have also planted nearly 20 miles of trees to create wildlife habitat.

For more information on the award, visit