A Minnesota farm family’s four generation conservation initiative garnered national attention at the Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla. The National Corn Growers Association’s presented Rick Schlichting’s - Schlichting Farms of Rice, Minn. with its 2019 Good Steward Recognition.
“NCGA defines sustainability as the pursuit of constant improvement and the Schlichting family personifies this description,” said Lynn Chrisp, NCGA president of Hastings, Neb. “Their progressive farming practices and contributions to healthier soils, cleaner water and sustainable crop production are nothing short of extraordinary.”
The program and recognition funding are provided by the NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture.
The Schlichtings farm 6,600 acres of cropland, and the operation reflects their commitment to the concept of regenerative agriculture. They employ cover corps, crop rotation, extreme nutrient management techniques and low-pressure irrigation as staples of their farm management. They also own a farrow-to-finish hog operation that finished 30,000 hogs last year.
Building better, healthier, more productive soil is directly linked to saving soil and cleaner water, Schlichting says, especially for a farm like theirs which started with sandy soil that needed more organic matter and sits astride the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
In addition to state-of-the art best management practices, the Schlichtings are involved in prairie restoration, native tree planting, wildlife food plots and growing rye which is used to plant cover crops in many of their fields.
They believe the best way to ensure the farm remains productive into the future is to use a hands-on approach of testing new management techniques and technologies in the field while relying heavily on using the best technical experts and assistance available.
Schlichting also makes conscious decisions as part of his business plan to pass the sustainability ethos onto the next generation. His daughter Jocelyn recently returned to the farm with a goal of taking the digital revolution on the farm to the next level. He believes the amount of data being collected on the farm today will be a key to operating the successful, sustainable farm of the future as a better understanding grows and this data can drive better decisions.
“Sustainability is really nothing but a commitment to strive for improvement in how we conduct our family businesses,” Chrisp said. “This has become a key factor in all of NCGA’s efforts. It is also important to showcase work that is in place and making a difference now. So, it is an honor to recognize Rick Schlichting and his family.”
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CommonGround is a group of farmers connecting with consumers through conversations about science and research and personal stories about food and misinformation surrounding farming. Supported by the NCGA and state corn organizations.
The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. Administered by NCGA the partnership has more than 220 working farms enrolled in 16 states. SHP’s mission is to utilize science and data to partner with farmers who are adopting conservation agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.
The Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) is a biennial event happening this June. Learn more.