honor farmers: Kim Leval (left) and John
Doran (right) present the Seventh Generation Research
Award to sustainable farming luminaries Sharon and
Dick Thompson recently in “Washington, D.C.
(Photo courtesy American Society of Agronomy)
Dick and Sharon Thompson of Boone, Iowa, were recognized
recently for their leadership in developing scientifically
valid on-farm research, and for their many collaborative efforts
with crop, soil and agronomy scientists.
Presenting the award were Kim Leval, senior federal policy
analyst for the Center for Rural Affairs, which co-sponsored
the award (this year, a plaque and $500 gift) with the Consortium
for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (CSARE).
Assisting her was John Doran, a past president of the Soil
Society of America, who developed a personal relationship
with the Iowa couple while did research on their farm.
The Thompson join the ranks of two earlier winners: Crop
Production Specialist Chuck Francis of University of Nebraska-
Lincoln and Fred Kirschenmann, farmer and executive director
of the Aldo Leopold Center.
The award came at a joint meeting in Washington, D.C., of
the “tri-societies”(American Society of Agronomy,
Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society
of America). The Thompsons knew many specialists in the audience
because of academics’ work over the years on their Iowa
Leval said the award is designed to raise the level of awareness
about what systems- and sustainable agriculture research mean,
and to encourage on-farm research, innovative partnerships
with farmers or non-profit organizations, and multidisciplinary
Giving the award to a farm couple raises the awareness that
there are different types of knowledge that can be credible,
and that farmers are researchers too -- and can add a richness
to our knowledge base about soil, crops, pests and farm systems.
Leval noted that farmers can add this knowledge from place-based
experience over long periods of time observing how their farming