Among a packed room of farmers, certified crop advisers, wildlife biologists and other conservation professionals, North Dakota native Christof Just was recently honored with Pheasants Forever’s 2020 Precision Farmer of the Year Award, sponsored by John Deere.
The award, bestowed upon one farmer each year as part of the Precision Ag Workshop at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, recognizes ingenuity in farming through the innovative use of precision ag technology and utilization of data to identify profitable solutions and target conservation practices for a sustainable future, for both agriculture and wildlife on working lands.
Christof Just, along with his wife Kelli and their three children, run a farm and cow/calf operation 50 miles south of Jamestown, near LaMoure, ND which has utilized precision agriculture technology to allow the family to become more profitable, while staying dedicated to the principles of soil health and conservation. After speaking with Pheasants Forever at a soil conservation demonstration in the summer of 2017, Just concluded the family operation – suffering from frequent flooding, a rising water table and an increase in salty soils – could benefit from applying Pheasants Forever’s precision ag program to his cropland, identifying his most unprofitable cropland acres. Here are the impactful results:
- Restored 87 acres of marginal cropland in a 429-acre row crop field to forage production for his stock cows, increasing profits on the field by $22 per acre.
- Pheasants Forever’s precision ag program, along with funds available from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, provided a 75 percent cost-share on forage barley, alfalfa and a salt-tolerant grass seed mixture to address salinity, rebuild soil health and create wildlife habitat.
- Restored 12.7 acres of marginal acres on the western side of a 60-acre row crop field to perennial forage production, connecting to adjacent pastureland, to increase his field average profitability by $63.79 per acre.
- Just plans to identify more marginal areas in other fields and continue to establish perennials on those acres to better integrate livestock into a cash crop system.
“Pheasants Forever has been extremely helpful for making our farming and ranching operation more profitable in the long run, while protecting the environmental assets we care so much about,” stated North Dakota farmer Christof Just, “It was a pleasure to work alongside Melissa Shockman and we look forward to future land improvements with her assistance.”
“Christof and his family are great examples of agriculture producers who are utilizing advances in Ag technology to become more profitable, wildlife friendly, and prepared to tackle complex production strategies for the future,” stated Melissa Shockman, one of Pheasants Forever’s precision ag and conservation specialists in North Dakota. “With his background in agronomy and having served on the LaMoure County Soil Conservation Board for the last 15 years, it is rewarding to work with someone who has become an advocate for, and mentor to, his community regarding soil health and incorporating conservation into production agriculture.”
For more information about Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s precision agriculture program and conservation efforts focusing on return-of-investment for farmers and ranchers, please contact Ryan Heiniger, Director of Agriculture & Conservation Innovations by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at (319) 768-8348.
About 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 138,000 members and 760 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent over $900 million on 550,000 habitat projects benefiting 19 million acres nationwide.
Photo (from left to right): Precision Ag Workshop host Chip Flory of AgriTalk and Melissa Shockman, PF precision ag and conservation specialist, pose for a photo with the 2020 Precision Farmer of the Year, Christof Just and his wife Kelli.