The National Corn Growers Association named Mike Shuter from Frankton, Ind., as this year’s honoree for the NCGA’s Good Steward Recognition Program during the 2015 Commodity Classic convention and trade show. The award recognizes one U.S. farmer annually who is demonstrating leadership in sustainable corn production.

The program and award funding was provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of its Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture.

“When it comes to finding practical solutions to conserve and better natural resources on the farm, Mike Shuter has a mind you want to make sure you tap,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “His tireless enthusiasm for discovering new methods for improving his soil, preserving water quality and improving the profitability of farming makes everyone take notice.  Mike has really proven a superior commitment to sustainability through innovation.”

“It’s important to recognize farmers who demonstrate that conservation is completely compatible with high yields and strong profits,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. “Farmers must take the lead in adapting production practices to ensure we preserve and protect our natural resources while maintaining our role as the world’s leading producers. I congratulate Mike Shuter for his leadership in conservation agriculture.”

Shuter Sunset Farms in Madison County, Ind., utilizes 3,000 acres in a corn-corn-soybean rotation that starts with cover crops seeded on all acres in standing crops before harvest. The enterprise also includes a seed stock cow-calf herd of 75 cows, a small beef feedlot to market freezer beef, and a contract swine finishing facility that handles 8,000-9,000 head. The cattle operation is located on less productive and erodible ground, helping to preserve those resources. Manure from the cattle and swine facilities is used to replace as much commercial fertilizer as possible.

For over twenty years, Shuter has developed, adapted and repurposed equipment in search of useful solutions to help him do a better job of no-tilling and strip-tilling. As the utilization of cover crops has increased, so has Shuter’s interest in finding practical ways to incorporate them into no-till/strip-till systems. Recently, Shuter has added Shuter Soil Health Solutions LLC, a division of Shuter Sunset Farms, Inc. to manage a line of cover crop application equipment to help farmers become more efficient in applying nitrogen fertilizers.  

In addition to making significant improvements on his farm, Shuter is a leader in conservation outreach. As a participant in the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative, Shuter has opened up his farm to local farmers to see his operation and the conservation practices he employs. He has also allowed the On Farm Network to sample and study the use of nitrogen in his fields. Shuter is well-known for making his operation balance environmental stewardship, efficiency and productivity, and sharing that knowledge with other farmers.

Shuter was nominated for this recognition by the Indiana Corn Marketing Council.