Environmental Leader Award | Ryan Vavroch
March 1, 2023 | Jeff Hutton
The award recognizes an Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) member who demonstrates a commitment to environmental performance practices; works with ISA through the Research Center for Farming Innovation and/or the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund; and shows leadership in the use of precision agriculture tools and technology.
Ryan Vavroch of Elberon is an Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) farmer-member and business owner making strides in implementing new conservation practices to preserve and build soil health and reduce nutrient loss from his fields.
He understands there is an upfront investment to implement conservation practices, but believes they will pay off.
Vavroch is encouraged by the progress he is already seeing in his fields. Seeing the reduction of soil loss is motivating, he says, because it shows that the inputs he’s invested in are being used where they’re intended. He continues to trial various cover crop application methods to find the most efficient way to implement conservation practices.
“On our farm, using no-till, minimum till and cover crops have improved our operation,” he says. “The cover crops reduce erosion and improve weed control. The changes in tillage practices reduce fuel consumption, wear on equipment and free up time for other tasks.”
Working with the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund the past two years has given Vavroch a better understanding of the environmental footprint of the commodities he grows. He uses the findings to calibrate aspects of his operation to further reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and emissions from his practices and sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.
Vavroch is a respected voice for other farmers within his community, and he shares his efforts on the farm with non-ag audiences to show the steps being made to be more environmentally friendly while continuing to feed an increasing global population.
He also fully understands that farmers face different challenges when changing practices within their operation, especially new farmers.
“The future of soybean production is better than ever,” Vavroch says. “Advancements in biodiesel in particular could be a real game changer for demand and local markets.”
Outside of his work on the farm, Vavroch has served as the president of Tama Benton Cooperative, a board member of the Benton County Corn Growers and on several school board committees in the Benton Community School District.
He accepts ISA’s Environmental Leader Award with pride.
“The Environmental Leadership Award is an honor to receive,” Vavroch says. “It’s our job as farmers to protect our greatest asset and leave it better for generations to come.”