Conservation agronomists, Rosie Roberts and Ryan Johnso

Conservation agronomists, Rosie Roberts and Ryan Johnson, along with the entire conservation agronomist team will present keys to improved soil health, water quality and profitability in next week's Innovation to Go webinar. (Photo: Iowa Soybean Association).

A conversation on conservation

September 8, 2022 | Kriss Nelson

Keys to improved soil health, water quality and profitability will be featured during next week’s Innovation to Go webinar.

Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) conservation agronomists will team up to discuss the economics and benefits of cover crops, edge-of-field practices, the price of conservation, cost share and funding opportunities.

The webinar will be held Tuesday, Sept. 13 at noon. It will be led by Heath Ellison, ISA senior field services program manager, and conservation agronomists Evan Brehm, Ryan Johnson, Ben Porepp, Rosie Roberts and Joe Wuebker.

“The conservation agronomist network is a unique approach to delivering conservation to farmers,” says Ellison.

Conservation agronomists assist the ag retail sales agronomists while providing in-house conservation program and practice expertise for the ag retailer’s customers.

“This unique and innovative approach is already paying dividends in farmers reached and acres implemented, and we expect this approach to grow and be adopted by more partners over the next few years,” he says.

Meet the conservation agronomists

Ben Porepp

Ben Porepp works out of the ISA office in Ankeny, covering the southern half, central and north central, east central and west central regions of Iowa.

“I am an expert on cost share and the implementation of conservation practices,” says Porepp. “I help farmers with management decisions and financial and technical resources.”


Rosie Roberts

Rosie Roberts serves as conservation agronomist in partnership with Cooperative Farmers Elevator in far northwest Iowa.

During her past year as a conservation agronomist, she has conducted farm visits assessing cover crop establishments and erosion concerns and has connected farmers to applicable cost-share programs.

“I have also held meetings with project partners to drive adoption rates of conservation practices,” she says. “I’ve hosted farmer meetings to connect local resources and share success stories from adopting cover crops and reducing tillage.”

Joe Wuebker

Joe Wuebker’s work focuses on areas of the Farm to River Partnership Project, including Carroll, Greene, Sac and Calhoun Counties, working with Landus Cooperative, NEW Cooperative and Nutrien Ag Solutions.

Wuebker assists producers and ag retailers with start-to-finish planning and the installation of edge-of-field practices, making detailed plans for cover crop usage and termination.

Wuebker encourages producers to tune into the webinar to learn more about what practices and programs may be available in their area.

“We will be discussing conservation edge-of-field practices and their outcomes as well as the costs associated with them and water quality,” he says.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson works out of the AgState office in Calumet, located between the Floyd River Watershed in Plymouth and Sioux Counties and the Headwaters of the North Raccoon in Buena Vista and Pocahontas Counties.

“The North Raccoon continues to be a high-priority area with the Soil and Water Outcomes Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which ISA is a lead partner,” says Johnson. “We are looking for applicants in the North Raccoon interested in no-till, strip-till, cover crops, or edge-of-field practices to get them signed up for the RCPP.”

Recently, Johnson has been promoting Water Quality Initiative (WQI) cost-share funding available for first-time cover crop acres at $25 per acre up to 160 acres and repeat cover crop acres at $15 per acre up to 160 acres.

During the webinar, Johnson will help attendees think about where bioreactors and saturated buffers may fit into their operation. He will also share information regarding cost-share opportunities available, including a program made available by Practical Farmers of Iowa.

“I would love to have everyone tune in next week to hear what our team is doing to promote conservation and how this can benefit the profitability of your farm,” says Johnson.

Evan Brehm

Evan Brehm is the newest to the team of conservation agronomists. His territory is the Middle Cedar Watershed in east central Iowa, where he works with Linn Cooperative Oil Company, headquartered in Marion.

Since starting in his role as ISA conservation agronomist, Brehm has met one-on-one with farmers interested in adapting conservation practices, mainly cover crops.

“I’ve advised several farmers in east central Iowa on what cover crops to use for the goals they want to achieve,” he says.

He has also introduced carbon programs and how they can bring value to farmers and works closely with sales agronomists at Linn Co-op.

“Sales agronomists already have a full plate, and we work side by side helping farmers make decisions instilling confidence that conservation brings agronomic benefits,” he says.

Register here for the final installment of ISA’s Innovation to Go Webinar series.