The American Soybean Association announces that Ryan Speer of Jacob Farms in Sedgwick, Kan. (Midwest Region), Rodney Rulon of Rulon Enterprises in Arcadia, Ind. (Northeast Region) and E. Cullen Bryant of Bryant Farms in Dillon, S.C. (South Region) as the regional winners of the 2012 Conservation Legacy Awards.

They will each be recognized on March 2, 2012, at the ASA Awards Banquet at Commodity Classic in Nashville, Tenn., when one of them will be chosen as the national winner.

Jacob Farms is a three generation farm and was started in 1896 by Samuel Jacob, who came to America from Ireland. Speer came in to the operation when he was hired as a farm manager and later became a partner. Today, Jacob Farms operates over 3,500 acres, about one-half of which are irrigated.

In addition to grain crop production, the operation backgrounds feeder cattle in the winter. Jacob Farms maintains a high quality operation by continuing to adopt new farming techniques and practices and by bringing in talented and motivated personnel. Speer believes conservation is very important.

"The soil is how I make my livelihood and support my family," Speer said. "It is very important to me to leave [the land] better than I found it." Jacob Farms hosts two-to-three field days per year. These events include Kansas State University extension corn and soybean plot tours, cover crop test plot tours and the National Festival of Breads farm tour.

Speer has been a speaker at the No-Till on the Plains winter conferences and has traveled to Brazil to meet with no-till pioneers and learn about their advanced crop production techniques.

Rulon Enterprises is a general partnership engaged in the sustainable production of corn and soybeans. Rulon Enterprises has generations of commitment to protecting and improving the soil. The family has been aggressive in testing and developing no-till/cover crop production systems. Rulon Enterprises’ main products are non-genetically modified yellow-dent corn, yellow-dent corn and seed soybeans utilizing a 100 percent no-till production system since 1991. Rulon Enterprises believes conservation is a way of life.

"After four generations of farming the same land, we understand what sustainable really means and believe we have a responsibility to leave the farm in better condition and more productive for the next generation," Rulon said.

The Rulon family has served on the Soil and Water Conservation Board for many years and served on the Duck Creek Watershed Steering Committee. The Rulon family is also a leader for conservation in Hamilton County as well as on a broader scope.

Bryant Farms is an innovative entity dedicated to addressing resource concerns that improve and/or compliment the farm’s conservation objectives including soil retention; reducing or eliminating nutrient contaminants reaching streams and rivers; improving the forest by reducing or containing wildfires; and wildlife habitat improvements concentrating on improving the quail population.

Bryant is a strong supporter and participant in the Conservation Reserve Program, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program.

For Bryant’s farming operation, "Conservation is all about being sustainable, both economically and environmentally, so we are able to pass on the natural riches God has blessed us with to future generations."

Bryant Farms is active in its community, hosting several educational activities including South Carolina Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom Summer Teacher Institute and Farm City Week. Bryant Farms also plants a garden to support the local food bank and has helped develop a garden for the Master Gardner program.

Along with ASA, the Conservation Legacy Awards Program is co-sponsored by the United Soybean Board, BASF, Monsanto and the Corn & Soybean Digest.