The 2019 award was presented November 22, in Washington, D.C. by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief, Matthew Lohr, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “Mr. Guilette has contributed substantially to the exchange of conservation ideas within the agriculture industry,” Lohr said. “He is truly a leader in conservation.”
Guilette added, “It is an honor to represent certified crop advisors, Wisconsin, and the conservation efforts occurring in our state at a national level. It’s exciting to see conservation getting talked about and becoming more of a decision-making process on a day-to-day basis for farmers to take action.”
Guilette has spent his entire life engaged in agriculture. He grew up farming 300 acres with his family, while also working in various conservation positions professionally. With a background in resource management and soils, Nick has worked as an advanced nutrient management and GPS technician, on local farms as a certified crop adviser and agronomist and with the NRCS as a demonstration farm project manager.
“NRCS is proud to partner with Nick through the NRCS demonstration farms. He provides sound advice and resources as an educator to implement leading-edge conservation practices at the local level; he exemplifies excellence in his field, and we congratulate him as CCA conservationist of the year,” said Angela Biggs, NRCS Wisconsin state conservationist.
Guilette explained, “I enjoy working with the NRCS through the demonstration farms. This partnership fosters beneficial conservation management decisions on these farms, and subsequently, on many area farms, keeping our natural resources sustainable for future generations,” explained Guilette.
As an educator, Nick’s efforts have made a conservation impact. “His soil health message, through outreach field days, farm tours and workshops, has spread from the demo farms to other farms across the Midwest and even further,” added Barry Bubolz, NRCS area GLRI coordinator. “Nick has been advising the demo farms to try more sustainable conservation practices like no-till, low-disturbance manure applications and ‘planting green.’ For example, we’ve seen corn silage planted into growing rye and it’s working.”
Nick encourages soil health principles to area farmers, assisting them in building more resilient, economic and environmentally friendly cropping systems. “NRCS works with certified crop advisers at the local level, sharing science-based technologies that make a conservation impact on our natural resources to build productive lands and healthy ecosystems. It is great to see Nick getting positive results from planting green, which is no-till planting primary crops into actively growing cover crops. This is one of many soil health practices that farmers are using,” said Diane Gelburd, NRCS deputy chief for science and technology.
Nick and Barry recently witnessed a 20-minute, half-inch rainfall on one of the demo farms. They saw zero runoff on the fields planted green and were able to drive on those field less than 24 hours later due to the farm’s use of soil health practices. These positive results, and others are being shared farmer-to-farmer throughout the network.
“Certified crop advisers, like Nick, play an important role in partnering with NRCS to further locally-led conservation and soil health efforts. Working together with farmers, they can help innovate and safely push the boundaries of what is thought possible in soil health management today. They help producers make regenerative land management decisions that work for their unique operation, natural resources, that year’s weather, and their bottom line,” said Bianca Moebius-Clune, NRCS soil health division director.
Nick has also worked with the NRCS as a Technical Service Provider, writing comprehensive nutrient management plans, a conservation plan unique to animal feeding operations. He’s written conservation plans for growers on more than 25,000 acres. Nick’s focus on peer-to-peer mentoring and information sharing at demonstration farm events offers a unique challenge for farmers to be models of sustainability through soil health. Nick advocates for farmers to be a part of the conservation solution and he will continue to use his passion for environmental stewardship as 2019’s CCA Conservationist of the Year.