New MN Precision Ag & Conservation Specialist Helps Balance Land Use Goals for Profitable Agriculture and Conservation

Pheasants Forever in Minnesota has hired William “BJ” Werk to serve as the organization’s new Precision Ag and Conservation Specialist. Leading the Precision Agriculture Business Planning Initiative in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Werk will offer business, agronomic, and conservation planning services for Minnesota producers with the goal of increasing farm income by integrating conservation and alternative practices on less profitable crop acres.

In his main role, Werk will collaborate with ag producers to conduct precision business planning in the state, working closely with participating ag retailers such as grain cooperatives, certified crop advisers, ag lenders, consultants and others, to help farmers be both profitable and successful in their operations. Werk will utilize precision agriculture technology – focusing on return-of-investment (ROI) at a sub-field scale – to define areas where conservation practices and alternative working lands opportunities are more profitable for producers than traditional row crops, helping to diversify farm income and provide environmental benefits over the long-term. By focusing on return-of-investment (ROI), acre-by-acre, Pheasants Forever’s specialist will identify areas where conservation increases whole field profitability, shifting a longtime perception that profitability and environmental performance are competitive. 

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has contributed to the position through an Agriculture Growth Research and Innovation (AGRI) grant to help analyze fields. “We look for projects that will benefit all kinds of farmers, all over the state,” said Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Pheasants Forever’s proposal is using innovative technologies and looking for ways to benefit the environment with a positive impact on farmers’ bottom lines. This kind of research could lead producers to make decisions that work for them, and these are the kinds of projects we’re happy to support.”

Born and raised on a dairy farm in West-Central Minnesota, Werk grew an appreciation for agriculture and wildlife as a farm hand in his family’s operation. Following high school, Werk earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Crop & Weed Science from North Dakota State University in 2002, followed by his Master of Science degree in Crop Production in 2005.  Prior to joining Pheasants Forever, Werk spent five years employed with John Deere as the Integrated Solutions Manager, focusing on their Precision Farming Department with a four-store region. He’s also a Certified Crop Advisor through the American Society of Agronomy, and frequently attends continuing education courses to provide exceptional service, experience and knowledge to farmers and landowners.

Werk is an avid outdoorsman who continually manages for improved wildlife habitat and productive acres on the family farm. “This is a dream career for me personally, helping farmers with profitable decisions that also provide wildlife benefits,” he added. For more information regarding precision agriculture in Minnesota, contact BJ Werk at or by phone at (701) 238-6504.

Minnesota’s Precision Ag and Conservation Specialist is supported in funding by the Minnesota Deprtment of Agriculture, the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources, the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and local chapters of Pheasants Forever. 

About Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 149,000 members and 725 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $784 million on 530,000 habitat projects benefiting 17 million acres nationwide.
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