ELWOOD, Ind. — In the effort to promote solid conservation
techniques among ag producers, incentive-based, voluntary measures continue to
be a leading method.
A good example is the Red Gold Stewardship Award Program, a
privately-funded campaign with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture as a
The goal of the program is to highlight the practices
already utilized by conservation-minded growers of tomatoes, as well as spurring
others to embrace such practices as part of their own farm management.
Red Gold Director of Agriculture Steve Smith said his
company’s commitment to conservation is reflected in the award program.
“The motivation is to foster the belief in practices of
taking care of our most precious resource — the land,” he said. “The decision to
start the program revolved around our desire to be good stewards of
The incentive is straightforward enough: First prize pays a
$1,000 scholarship plus the equivalent price of an extra truck load of tomatoes
per day during harvest season, and second prize pays $500 plus an extra
half-load per day, with a second-chance drawing also providing an opportunity
for growers to receive the price for an extra load per day.
ISDA’s role in the competition is to serve as an independent
evaluator, including the conducting of judging and scoring. ISDA Division of
Soil Conservation Director Jordan Seger said the evaluating system serves to be
a comprehensive measure.
“The award program examines a whole farm and systems
approach to conservation,” he said. “As a result, there is a strong emphasis on
complete integration of stewardship of natural resources.”