Wenning goes the extra mile to manage crop nutrients to “keep nutrients here on our own property,” he says. “That’s done in various ways.

“We band our fertilizer, and our cover crops sequester nitrogen and phosphorus so they don’t flow out of our tile lines. Waterways keep our soil here and keep it from clogging rivers; filter strips take out any nutrients and pesticides before they enter surface water. We are in the Mississippi River basin, so holding our nutrients in place helps protect the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia zone.”

Much closer to home, the Wenning family enjoys the payoff of environmental stewardship. They take time to enjoy nature at a pristine pond on their farm, surrounded by native grasses and tall timber.

It’s not uncommon to find a number of Wenning’s extended family, which now includes four grandchildren, sitting around the fire pit or fishing at the family hideaway. For Roger, the payoff for being a good steward of the land is very personal.

“If our topsoil goes down the river, it is gone forever,” he says. “I’m looking to the future. The grandkids are my life now. We’re taking care of it for them.”