Congratulations to Derek and Darin Woodke of Morris and Kensington for being selected as Stevens County’s Outstanding Conservationists for 2019. Derek and Darin farm the Woodke home farm in Swan Lake Township, as well as farming land in several surrounding townships. They have farmed, working closely with their parents, Steve and Molly Woodke, and their uncle Loren Woodke, for over 15 years. Steve, Loren and their grandfather Donald Woodke were the Stevens Outstanding Conservationists in 1995, so the Woodke roots in conservation stewardship and environmental efforts go deep. Derek and Darin grew up with the positive influence of their family and neighbors to help them make lasting improvements on their farms, with conservation as a priority.
Both Darin and Derek have made it a priority to work on soil health and increase environmental practices on their land. They have worked closely with NRCS and Stevens SWCD to incorporate EQIP, CSP and nutrient management on their land. The Woodkes have been certified in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). Through this whole-farm evaluation, they identified more opportunities to utilize conservation practices that will improve their land. Their goal is to improve land quality while producing crops more efficiently.
Derek and Darin credit landlord Jerome Winter as being a driving force behind their use of no-till/strip-till and cover crops. Winter was already using these practices when the Woodkes began renting his farmland. The Woodkes continued these practices and immediately started seeing the benefits in soil health. They have been buying equipment to be able to incorporate the same practices on more of their land. Derek and Darin have also been proactively installing sediment dams to decrease erosion on their acres. They have evaluated their soil, by grid or zone sampling, and are transitioning to variable rate anhydrous application so they apply only what fertilizer is needed.
The Woodkes put lot of time and planning into doing the right things with their land and leaving a legacy for their families. Derek is married to Elysia and they have three children: Britney, Brady and Brendon. Darin and his wife Alexis have one son, James. We are proud of the Woodkes for the conservation work they do and the passion they have for conserving their land for future generations. The Woodkes will be honored as Stevens SWCD Outstanding Conservationist for 2019, at the Minnesota Association of Conservation Districts Convention in Bloomington on December 10, 2019.