Conservationist of the Year
Jeff and Norman Eickhoff of Wykoff have been selected as the 2016 Fillmore County Outstanding Conservationists. The Eickhoff's will be honored at a luncheon at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts' Annual Convention which will be held December 4th 6th at the Double Tree by Hilton, Bloomington-Minneapolis South. They will compete with winners from across Minnesota for the title of Minnesota Outstanding Conservationists.
Jeff and Norman own approximately 750 acres of which 595 acres is cropland that is all minimum-till using a disk chisel on corn stalks in the fall. All fields are worked just once in the spring using a soil finisher before planting. Liquid manure is incorporated after beans are harvested in the fall. Soil tests are taken every four years. Their nitrogen is knife-injected in the spring as needed. P and K are applied with the corn planter on acres that did not receive manure.
The Eickhoff's wean-to-finish 1,850 hogs every six months as a contract finisher. They keep their nutrient management plan updated with the Nutrient Management Specialist at the SWCD. The manure is tested each time the pits are pumped. Most of the manure is applied in the fall, while some is applied in the spring according to the needs determined by the manure tests and nutrient management plan. They also raise 20 goats that are used for meat, milking, sold as breeding stock or for 4-H projects.
Installed to treat runoff from the open lot by their barn was a filter strip and picket fence to create a zero discharge feedlot and divert the runoff away from a sinkhole. This was the first of its kind in Fillmore County installed with cost share. A pond is located at the end of the filter strip to catch the runoff.
Jeff and Norman have installed many terraces and waterways both with cost share and on their own. If a waterway needs repair, they shape it and plant their crop perpendicular to it. After the crop is up and sprayed, they seed the waterway and clip it a couple of times which destroys the crop but helps to prevent washing and gives the grasses a chance to get established.
Jeff is very active with community organizations. He is the current president of the Fillmore County Farm Bureau, is a member of the Parent Teacher League at St. John's School in Wykoff, and also serves on the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation. He has been a 4-H leader and on the Beef Producers Board.
The farms Jeff and Norman own have been in the family for over 140 years. Jeff and Norman are carrying on the tradition of conservation, community involvement and leadership. Jeff is maintaining the practices that Norman and others before him have installed while adopting new practices that will sustain the farm for future generations.
Congratulations Jeff and Norman for setting an example for others that encourages better land stewardship.
Past Outstanding Conservationists
2015 - Goldsmith Brothers, Ross & Steve
2014 - John & Deb Bruihler
2013 - Arden & Judy Willford
2012 - Duschee Hills Dairy
2011 - Larry and Irene Mathison & Loren and Carrie Mathison
2010 - Bailey Brothers
2009 - Dan & Sherry Hanson
2008 - Arlo & Mary Helen Schmitt
2007 - Heusinkveld Farm - Cleon, Steve, Jeff, Nate
2006 - Gary & Deborah Anderson
2005 - The Serfling Family - Dave, Diane, Hannah, Ethan
2004 - Phil & Ruth Abrahamson
2003 - David & Alice Terbeest
2002 - Jerry & Ardis Rindels
2001 - Sass Family Farms
2000 - Dean, Glen & Doris Thomas
1999 - Maynard & Sandi Thompson
1998 - Dan & Cara Miller
1997 - 1976 Outstanding Conservationists
Other Award Winners
2009 - Teacher Award - Craig Colbenson
2009 - Community Conservationists - City of Rushford
2008 - Education Award - Vance & Bonnie Haugen