Neuharth named SD 2021 Leopold Conservation Award recipients
Wed, 03/16/2022 - 10:09am admin
Levi and Crystal Neuharth and family of Hayes were honored March 1 by the South Dakota legislature as South Dakota’s 2021 Leopold Conservation Award recipients. Senator Mary Duvall and Representatives Mike Weisgram and Will Mortenson sponsored Senate Commemoration 808 Honoring Prairie Paradise Farms for the award. In addition to floor recognition, the family testified before both the House and Senate committees on Ag and Natural Resources. During his presentation, thirteen year-old Johnathon Neuharth impressed the Committees with his poise and soil health knowledge.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold, this award recognizes private landowners who inspire others with their dedication to the land, water, and wildlife resources in their care.
Levi and Crystal took over management of Prairie Paradise Farms, located west of Hayes, in 2016. Levi is a founding member and current chairman of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, so they make decisions based on the five principles of soil health: 1. Keep the soil covered; 2. Disturb as little as possible; 3. Keep living roots growing as much as possible; 4. Include diversity in plant communities; 5. Integrate livestock.
The crop residue left behind from no-till practices provides a protective armor for the soil, which creates habitat for soil organisms, prevents erosion and evaporation, and keeps out disease, pests, and weeds. A diverse rotation of crops allows them to capture different markets and spread out the risk from weather events.
The Neuharths raise diverse livestock as well, including a herd of 100 dairy goats and a free-range flock of 150 laying hens. In addition to 4-H projects for their three children (Johnathon, Justin, and Kaydee), the goats are an important and beneficial enterprise for the farm.
Although the Neuharths have been rotationally grazing their 3,000 acres of grasslands since 2010, they do not own any cattle. Their custom grazing business provides daily monitoring and frequent rotations to fresh pastures for other people's beef cattle.
With assistance from the USDA-NRCS and their local conservation district, the Neuharths have also planted nearly 20 miles of trees to create wildlife habitat.
In addition to active involvement in a variety of agricultural and community organizations, the Neuharths host a Family Day on the first Saturday in May (May 7) where visitors partake in hands-on educational stations on topics such as livestock, insects, germinating seeds, soil layers, and grain identification.
For more information about Prairie Paradise Farms, please visit their webpage at: www.prairieparadisefarms.com.