Leopold Conservation Award Program - South Dakota 2015

South Dakota 2015 Jorgensen Land & Cattle Partnership Ideal, SD Leopold Conservation Award Recipient

Photo Credit: USDA NRCS SD

The Jorgensens have made a living from farming and ranching for more than 100 years. Humbly beginning as a small family farm, Jorgensen Land and Cattle Partnership has grown to include livestock, a large variety of crops and a hunting business.

The Jorgensen family owns and manages the fourth generation ranch with land health foremost in their minds. They believe they have a responsibility to continually care for and improve their greatest asset, the soil.

The Jorgensens manage 850 head of cattle and grow 10,000 acres of non-irrigated crops such as spring and winter wheat, corn and grass hay. One of their biggest obstacles is the limited rainfall in South Dakota. To combat this, the family developed crop rotations based on the intensity of water use. They have also been no-till since 1991 and have seen dramatic reductions in wind and water erosion as a result.

Jorgensen Land & Cattle Partnership

Some of the other conservation practices they have implemented include planting cover crops, frequently moving their cattle to improve forage stands, and installing fresh water sources in their pastures to increase herd health and efficiency.

Over the past 25 years, the Jorgensens have evolved their soil management practices to benefit the soil and crops. Rather than applying fertilizer directly on the soil surface based on the assumption of the crop’s needs, the Jorgensens now use tools for soil monitoring and efficient nutrient applications. To evaluate their efficiency, they use GPS tools to collect data on applications and their harvest.

It’s clear that the family does not shy away from sharing their experiences and expertise with others. The Jorgensens have assisted several other farmers with crop nutrient and soil management. The family has also worked with South Dakota State University for many years and regularly host farm tours.

“Jorgensen Land and Cattle has been, and is currently, a leader in their area with the use of no-till, crop rotation and cover crops,” says Neal Foster, South Dakota Crop Improvement Association. “Their ranch is in one of the more fragile land areas and they have recognized the need to maintain the land for their use and for future generations.”

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