Soil Health U awards presented in Salina

Soil Health U attendees gathered in Salina, Kansas, to take in the educational sessions, be inspired by personal experiences and network with vendors at the tradeshow. Additionally, two attendees were recognized during the Soil Health U awards ceremony. These award winners were nominated by their peers and individual winners were chosen by High Plains Journal.

Regenerative Woman of the Year

DeAnna Lozensky of Max, North Dakota, was selected as the 2023 Regenerative Woman of the Year. She joined her husband, Kelly, on their farm in 2005 and has been a part of daily operations ever since. Together they steward a 2,000-acre no-till, plant-based grain farm and grow a variety of small grains including yellow peas, yellow mustard, flax, oats, hard red spring wheat, winter wheat and some heritage wheat and barley varieties.

The Lozenskys began their Guardian Grains business in 2020 in an effort to deliver whole grains from their soil directly to consumers. They offer whole grains for those wanting to mill their own flour, stone-milled flours from their grains, and heritage artisan pastas.

“I truly believe that we as a community don’t need more of anything, we just need better,” DeAnna said. “That’s why I am passionate about bringing food from our farm to customers, they deserve access to full nutrition, whole foods. When I found out I was selected for the award, I felt very humbled and honored to be recognized for our regenerative efforts. Receiving this award from my fellow farmers encourages me to continue to be an advocate for the importance of soil health and how it applies to every aspect of our existence: we can repair our earth, heal the planet, and grow better food for both people and animals.”

She said she enjoys seeding her ancient grains in the spring, observing the fields throughout the summer and operating her combine during harvest. The Lozenskys began transitioning into regenerative principles in 2013 and have since managed to eliminate seed treatments, all fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides and pre-harvest desiccants.

“Our thriving soil system has allowed us the freedom to put soil health first and we are no longer forced to make decisions based on yield goals or commodity prices. As long as we take care of the soil, it will take care of us,” DeAnna said. “The financial benefits of moving into regenerative agriculture have been significant, we saved $400,000 in fertilizer costs in 2022. However, probably the most significant thing is the sense of pride we feel in growing food in our thriving system. I encourage everyone to stop treating their soils like dirt and start valuing this enormous ecosystem that lives below our feet by using practices that can heal the soil, clean the water, clear the air, and feed our people and animals better.”

Young Producer of the Year

The 2023 Regenerative Young Producer of the Year award was presented to Jacob Cannon of Blackwell, Oklahoma. Jacob was born and raised on the Goodson Ranch, where he is now a managing partner, and has been practicing no-till farming most of his life. At 25 years old, Jacob has taken on a great deal of responsibility on his family’s operation.

“Jacob loves the land and everything that dwells on and in it,” said Jacob’s father, Tom. “He has been responsible for all harvest activities including records and residue management for five years. Without good residue management the seedbed for the next crop suffers.”

Jacob participates in the production of corn, soybeans, sorghum, rye, wheat, oats, cover crop blends, alfalfa and hay. He is also passionate about wildlife management and operates that sector of his family’s business.

“Regenerative farming on our operation is just called farming,” Jacob said. “We do our very best to keep green growing plants on the soil year-round, whether that’s crops we plan to take to the elevator or cover crops that we leave for cattle. Planting cover crops can keep the soil cooler in the heat of the summer, which conserves moisture and gives the cash crop a higher yield potential.”

He appreciates the opportunity to attend conferences and meetings to further understand the importance of soil health.

“Soil Health U, along with many others, teaches me new ideas each and every time,” Jacob said. “The connections you make at these events are incredible.”

Jacob said he believes being part of a community that works to take care of God’s creation is what he was born to do.

“I was very honored to receive this award. Just knowing that people around can see the determination I have for keeping God’s creation intact by starting with the soil is pretty amazing,” he said.

—Lacey Vilhauer can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].

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