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Scholarship

2012/2013 Scholarship Winner

Benjamin Arlt

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BOD Steve Dahlberg congratulating Ben Arlt on receiving $1000 NPSAS Scholarship

 I plan to pursue a career in farming.  My wife and I do not directly come from a farm, so we do not have resources to make a farming career happen immediately. Therefore, an outside job will be necessary in the beginning of our farming career.  I would prefer my job deal with organic and/or sustainable agriculture. 

Farming is a direct connection to agriculture. Our goal is to have an organic dairy farm.  With my degree(s) in agriculture, I will always have my foot in the agricultural world, whether that is through our farm or through an outside job. 

 I was involved with SDSU’s Agronomy and Conservation Club during my undergraduate coursework. The club worked in the community and raised money for the Plant Science Department. They also brought in representatives from different companies, which helped me forge a path into the sustainable and organic sectors of agriculture. They helped me realize that some aspects of today’s agriculture and its various technologies can harm rural America. Through reading literature and forming new friendships with people from NPSAS, I was able to find an alternative path and have hope that one day I can have my own farming operation.

This scholarship would be an investment in agriculture through helping me fund both my education and my start in farming. My research is on flame weeding organic corn and soybeans in hopes that we can offer an economic decision-making tool for farmers.  Flame weeding may be one part of the solution for in-row weed control for not only organic systems, but for conventional producers that have abused herbicide technologies. I believe that herbicide resistant weeds may make herbicides a futile approach for weed control in the near future. My thesis work and knowledge I will gain while in graduate school should make me one of the few experts in a technology that is non-selective and leaves no toxic residues on our food.  

 I will be conducting a second research project with the flame weeder. This project will deal with planting fast growing cool season cover crops to suppress weeds in the spring, killing them with the flamer and no-till drilling soybeans into the residue. Our hope is that we can provide an alternative to tillage with weed management.  Increased tillage has been shown to reduce organic matter and reduce moisture in the soil. Progressive research such as this can shed new light on technologies that serve many purposes. 

My wife and I, while living in northern Minnesota, purchased three cows and sold raw milk off of the acreage we were renting. At one point, we had over one-hundred laying hens and were selling eggs to the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo, North Dakota along with our milk customers. Direct marketing offered us a chance to keep the money in our own pocket and helped us forge relationships with like-minded people. We have been raising five hogs this year and our goal was to breed two gilts and raise half of the pigs as feeders and sell the other half as feeder pigs to other people. I was then offered a program at South Dakota State University in their graduate school. 

We have been fortunate to move our livestock onto an existing farm in the Brookings area.  Thanks to their understanding and willingness to help young people with farming, they have offered us an opportunity to continue with our hog operation.  I am in the process of a cost analysis to determine if this will be profitable. With my current calculations, I believe we will take advantage of this tremendous opportunity. We have been able to keep our cow and calves there as well. We have since sold our cow due to health problems and are considering purchasing young heifer calves as an investment into our future operation. The door is open for us to raise pullets and sell eggs in their on-farm store. I believe we will jump on this opportunity. Farming is a tough world to penetrate since it requires so much capital to start. Working with an established producer is helping us keep our overhead costs to a minimum. Not only that, but we continue meeting like-minded people and are forming a community of people who care for the land and produce nutritious food.

Our long-term goal is to have our own organic dairy farm. In conjunction with the cows, we want to be diverse and raise hogs and laying hens. These species, from our experience and from other producers, work well together. An additional goal of mine is to perfect an organic no-till cropping system, a goal many people would like to see accomplished. No-till farming offers an opportunity to keep organic matter in the soil and with the climate variability as a result of climate change now upon us, it gives the plants a less stressful environment to grow in. Kaylee and I hope to start a family and we believe raising them in a healthy environment is important. We also share a belief that more people should be on the land, caring for it with respect and gratitude. I believe that if given an opportunity, we would help other young people get a start in their own farming career, assuming we are successful with ours. We have had help to get this far and will never forget those people that have shared knowledge, traded grain for future meat and those that simply offered help. We believe that paying-it-forward to those that need help is a great way to help other people fulfill their dreams.

Receiving this scholarship would help me with many things. Most importantly, it would help fund an education focused on solving problems associated with organic and sustainable agriculture. Through helping fund my education, this would enable me to use the money that we do have to continue building upon our path to the farming world.  We strive to be a voice for sustainable agriculture and hope that one day we can be a resource for those that want to make their own operations more sustainable.

NPSAS College Scholarship

NPSAS has established a scholarship fund to support the training of the next generation of sustainable/organic farmers and ranchers. At least one award of $1,000 will be distributed annually. This is a one-time award per applicant. 

Scholarship Application Form