Posted February 11, 2016

The 20th annual Winter Conference included No-till on the Plains' first-ever board elections, which included an industry representative and a new producer from outside the state of Kansas. Jimmy Emmons, producer, Leedey, OK, and Jody Saathoff, CHS Inc., Minden NE, were elected to fill open positions starting March 1, 2016. 

Producer Position:
Jimmy Emmons, producer, Leedey, Oklahoma

Jimmy is a long time resident of Leedey, OK. He and his wife Ginger have one son, Beau. He is the third generation on the family farm and attends the Church of Christ in Leedey. Jimmy has been farming since 1980 and have a diverse operation, including wheat, irrigated dairy alfalfa hay, wheat-canola rotation, and a cow-calf operation.

Jimmy has been monitoring soil health with soil testing since 2012 utilizing cover crops to enhance soil health.

Farming nearly 2,000 acres in Dewey County, Jimmy is sharing what he’s learned about soil health on his farm through workshops, field days and test plots. “I want my neighbors, my friends, other board members to be able to come and to learn a little bit about what we are doing. A lot of people think it’s just dirt — that all we have to do is put a little water and some nutrients on it,” he says.

“I really think we have got to get them to understand that the health of our soil is like the health of our bodies. If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, you can go on and on and we still function but we don’t function at our full capacity. It’s the same way with soil. If it’s not healthy, it may be functioning and growing a crop — but not to its full capability.”

As a board member of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, he’s committed to improving the soil resources on his land and hopes others will follow suit — not just for the sake of the resources, but also for the sake of their farming operations. But like others who now farm using soil health management systems to improve the health and function of their soil, Jimmy has also learned from others.

“My ‘ah-ha moment’ of getting into soil health was when a producer from Indiana showed photos and figures of his plots at a national conservation meeting. He wasn’t buying any fertilizer for his cash crop and he not only improved production, but lowered the cost of production,” he says. “It was like ‘Ah-ha, now we’re talking. If he can do it there, why can’t we do it here?’ And so that is when we got started here.”

Industry Position:
Jody Saathoff, CHS Inc., Franklin, Nebraska

Jody Saathoff of Franklin, NE, graduated from Franklin public schools in 1979. He spent his high school summer vacations working for Dr. Scratch in Smith Center, Kansas, operating welders and torches. He began working for Evans Grain Company in Franklin while still in high school as a general laborer, truck driver and floater operator, eventually moving on to manage grain, fertilizer, and equipment inventories.

In 1991, Evans was sold to Koch AgriService where Jody was a regional grain merchandiser and operations manger for Koch’s eleven locations. He also managed Koch’s Gibbon fertilizer plant. In 1996 and 1997, Jody worked for Valley Engineering in Franklin, working on mechanical engineering projects and equipment sales. From 1997 to 2011, he worked at the Cooperative Producers Inc. location in Hildreth, Nebraska, selling fertilizer and seed.

In 2011, he took a job with Aurora Coop as a fertilizer and seed salesman at the their Keene location. In 2014 Jody was hired as manager at the CHS location in Minden, Nebraska, where he still sells seed and fertilizer to his loyal customers.

Jody has been of a supporter of No-till on the Plains for many years and has been an enthusiastic advocate of the practices since he attended his first Conference in 2000. He began cover crop trials in south central Nebraska with participating farmers in 2006 and 2007 with single species and multi-species mixes. Jody continually stresses the importance of soil health and good stewardship as he encourages his clients to stretch their no-till practices.

Jody and his wife Mary have been married for 30 years. They have two children and four grandchildren, all of whom live in Franklin. 

About the Elections

In 2014, the Board of Director’s adopted changes to the organizational by-laws formalizing an election process for Directors on the Board. This year the organization held the first formal election.

As part of the by-laws changes, representation on the Board from various States and industry sectors is specified. That language reads:

Number. The number of directors of the Corporation shall be no more than twenty-one (21) and no fewer than fifteen (15). The Board of Directors shall consist of a majority of growers deriving the majority of their income from grain and or livestock sales. If all Board of Directors’ positions are filled the positions shall be distributed as follows: up to eleven (11) grower positions consisting of six (6) members from Kansas, and five (5) members from other states. Up to three (3) members representing grower commodity organizations. Up to three (3) industry representatives. One representative from the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. One member from a University or technical college with agricultural programs. Two (2) members at large.

During this election the Board plans to fill to positions that will be open as of March 1, 2016. The first open position is a producer from a state other than Kansas. The second position is an industry representative.

In July 2015, the organization solicited potential names for these open positions from industry partners and producers that have attend the conference in the past and have an interest in no-till farming. The nominations committee of the Board of Directors reviewed these individuals and selected two potential candidates to fill these positions.

During the 2016 Conference an open nominations process was held to see if there were additional nominations.