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Leading a legacy

Categories: WSA, WSPPublished On: April 3, 20242.5 min read

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Jacob Kaderly is the 2024 Upper Midwest Region Winner of the ASA Conservation Legacy Award.  

Growing up on a farm in Judo, working on his family’s row crop operation was challenging. While Kaderly always wanted to farm, allergies kept him from being directly involved right away. With that in mind, he decided to pursue careers that were close to farming without exposing himself to the elements.  

In 2005, he bought land from his father, and later, thanks to cab tractors, he started farming it himself while working as an independent crop consultant. Now, he raises soybeans, corn and wheat on a rotation.  

When he started out, Kaderly was implementing the same conservation practices his father had already started on the farm. Kaderly’s father started no-tilling in the 80’s in order to preserve the land for future generations to come.  

“I’ve been around that all my life,” he said. “I’ve seen many farms around this area do no-till successfully.” 

For the last 10 years, Kaderly has applied a 100% no-tillage practice as well as a 100% cover crop practice as a part of his rotation.  

For Kaderly, an immediate benefit to going ‘no-till’ was that it dramatically decreased his starting cost. When he started out, the only machinery he bought was a corn planter and a tractor.  

“It was a very minimal investment,” he said. “We’ve upgraded a bunch of things now, but it certainly did the job in the beginning.” 

Starting the 100% no-till practice came with its own unique difficulties. Although some benefits were shown right away, it took a few years for the soil to show a change. However, implementing cover crops helped speed the process along for Kaderly.  

“In the spring, cover crops helped to dry the soil a little quicker and warm the soil up a little faster,” said Kaderly. “Cover crops are just another piece of the puzzle that makes the soil better.”  

His commitment to sustainable practices is why Kaderly was chosen to win the 2024 Upper Midwest Region Conservation Legacy Award. Andy Bensend, national winner of the 2017 Conservation Legacy Award and current member of the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, was a part of the selection committee.  

“When looking at applications,” said Bensend, “We like to see results of their efforts and demonstrate a willingness to help share their successes within their community.” 

Kaderly has done just that. His advice to those looking to implement more conservation practices is to first get your fertility in balance, do your homework, then stick with it for more than a few years. 

“If you do this system right, your yields will be as good as you were doing, and they will be better over time,” said Kaderly. “It’s so important to protect the soil if we are going to continue as a society.” 

In the past 7 years, 4 Wisconsinites have been presented the Conservation Legacy Award at the Regional Level:  

  • 2017 – Andy Bensend, Dallas 
  • 2020 – Nancy Kavazanjian, Beaver Dam  
  • 2023 – Tom Perlick, Washburn  
  • 2024 – Jacob Kaderly, Monticello