Kenneth farmer honored as outstanding conservationist for 2017
Kenneth farmer Brian Bergman said he loves being a farmer, but there is one part of the job that bothers him.
“One of my pet peeves is erosion,” he said.
Gullies, in particular, are a nuisance not solely for the loss in crop production but the potential to damage equipment. The possibility of running into a gully in the field keeps Bergman on his toes.
“You have to stay persistent with (battling) it,” he said.
For his work against erosion, Bergman was presented with the 2017 Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources Outstanding Conservationist Award.
Bergman was among 61 individuals or organizations recognized for efforts to improve and preserve the state’s natural resources.
He was nominated for the yearly award by the Rock County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors.
Experience working in the fields has taught Bergman that certain farming practices curb erosion.
Since he began farming in 1996, farmable basins, waterways and grass buffers have proven to slow water runoff and wind erosion in newly worked soils.
He hired custom strip-till equipment operators to plant fields that were particularly prone to erosion.
Bergman’s big push against erosion came after 2014 when heavy flooding took its toll on corn and soybean fields in Battle Plain and Vienna townships near the Rock River.
Working with Land Management Office officials, Bergman cost-shared projects that repaired what the heavy rains and flooding damaged.
According to LMO officials, Bergman maintains four waterways, 20 water and sediment control basins, two terraces, and grass buffers on four separate fields.
Some fields are solely strip-tilled.
Bergman’s conservation practices don’t stop in the field.
As operator of a 270-head cow/calf operation, he also improved his feedlots to manage runoff and improve water quality.
Manure from the livestock operation is incorporated onto the fields to improve soil fertility.
Living the dream
Bergman grew up on a farm near Kenneth and as a youth always dreamed of farming.
“I knew what I wanted to do since I could talk,” he said.
He committed to ag and livestock production as a profession after high school and after he attended Ridgewater College in Willmar.
“There’s something a little different every season,” Bergman said of farming.
After graduating from Luverne High School in 1995 he purchased his first stock cows in order to build some equity as he assisted his father and uncle in their joint farming venture.
His father, Leon, died in 2007, and his uncle, Lloyd, died prior to that.
Without their help, Brian has relied on hired workers to assist on the farm. “We have always had good help,” Bergman said.
Help has also come in adopting new ag technology through the decades.
Bergman admits the adoption of variable fertilizer application and plant population controls saves time and lessens input costs at the end of the season.
He said he was honored when local SWCD officials asked him to be this year’s conservation honoree.
Also in the family farm operation are Bergman’s wife, Tami, and their two school-aged sons, Ross and Will.