Conservation Legacy in the Third Generation: Boot Family - Marion County

The Boot family are no strangers to conserving the land. Darren Boot is a third generation farmer/landowner in Marion County who learned almost everything he knows about conservation from his father and grandfather. The family legacy of farming began in 1937 with Vernon Boot who said it best when asked the reason for incorporating conservation practices. “It's not about us. It's about making the land that has been placed in our care, better for the next generation and the many generations to come after that.” David and Darren included that “growing good quality food as close to organic as we can get it is what's most important to this family.”

The Boot family began incorporating conservation practices on 600 acres. Through the second and third generation, these acres have doubled, if not tripled. Conservation practices that have been implemented over the past eighty years include:

  • Grassed field borders, waterways, contour and riparian buffer strips and grassed waterways
  • Reduced, strip and no-till
  • Split apply and side dress nitrogen
  • Extended Crop Rotations and Cover Crops
  • Water/Sediment basins, Terraces, Wind breaks and Grade Stabilization Structures
  • Livestock waste storage and treatment facility with a nutrient/manure management plan

Most recently, Darren has  adopted new conservation practices on his farm. With help from the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Darren installed a drainage water management system to provide a reduction of nitrates during the non-growing season in the Van Zante Creek Watershed.

These conservation efforts have received some recognition from Iowa’s environmental leaders. In 2014, Vernon received the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award and in 2017, David and Darren Boot were recognized as well.

The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award is a joint effort of the Governor, Lt. Governor, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources to recognize the exemplary voluntary efforts of Iowa’s farmers as environmental leaders committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. It recognizes those that have taken steps in their farming operations that improve or protect the environment and natural resources of our state while also serving as local leaders to encourage other farmers to follow in their footsteps by building success upon success.

As environmental leaders, these farmers have adopted best management practices and incorporated environmental steward-ship throughout their farming operations. True stewards of the land, they recognize that improved water quality and soil sustainability reaps benefits that extend beyond their fields to reach the citizens of Iowa and beyond, and have made environ-mental stewardship a priority on their farms.


    Will Myers