Joe Breker, Havana, ND was a recipient of the 2015 Responsible Nutrient Management Award.

The award was presented to Joe, along with three other producers, at the National No-Tillage Conference Friday, January 16, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Joe has been using no-till on his farm in Havana, ND for 35-years. His operation also has a diverse crop rotation, which includes cover crops following wheat and specialty crops in rotation, and also incorporates compost manure to manage his fertility. These management practices have built up the health and functioning of his soils to allow for lower fertilizer inputs while maintaining yield goals that are at or above county average. Joe runs an innovative farming operation, incorporating cover crops into North Dakota’s short growing season to prime his soils for the following crop. He incorporates a practice called “bio strip till”, where following his winter wheat crop, he plants peas on 30” rows and then radish, turnip, flax and sunflower between the pea rows. The following growing season, he plants corn in the radish rows. This is a benefit to the corn crop because the radish/turnip mix creates a desirable seedbed for corn and the pea rows provide nitrogen to the corn crop. This is a practice he saw demonstrated at the Conservation Cropping Systems Project (CCSP Farm) in Forman, ND (

Photo Credit: Phillip Breker

Joe is active in North Dakota agriculture – a member of the Wild Rice Soil Conservation District and on the board for the CCSP Farm. He is an advocate for soil health and is considered one of the “go to” guys on using cover crops and making no-till work in heavy clay soils. The NDSU Soil Health has had the opportunity to work along side Joe, learning from and evaluating the 35-years of management practices that have lead to the healthy soils he is farming today. Beyond that, Joe has hosted NDSU Soil Health events on his farm, leading tours for producers interested in building soil health.


On behalf of the NDSU Soil Health Team,

Congratulations Joe!