The Corn and Soybean Digest. This will be the third consecutive year that Monsanto has sponsored the program, which recognizes the outstanding conservation efforts made by soybean farmers to protect land and water resources.

"All of us in agriculture have an obligation to protect our soil, water and air quality. Farmers are charged with protecting our most precious natural resource, while recovering economic returns from their land," says Dion McBay, Monsanto U.S. soybean marketing manager. "Monsanto provides products, technologies, agronomic systems and technical support to help farmers be the best possible stewards of the land and to improve their bottom line. We are proud to recognize farmers who succeed at conservation through our support of the Conservation Legacy Awards."

Many of the products and technologies in the Monsanto portfolio have furthered the adoption of conservation-tillage and no-till production systems, including Roundup branded agricultural herbicides, Roundup Ready soybeans, Roundup Ready corn, Roundup Ready cotton and Roundup Ready canola.

"These products have allowed the growth of conservation tillage in crops and geographies where previous weed control programs weren't adequate for the challenges of production systems that don't rely on tillage for weed control," McBay emphasizes.

"As world population continues to grow and the demand for food rises, today's farmer faces a difficult challenge to develop innovative ways to feed the world with less strain on the environment," says Kim Magin, Director of Global Oil Seed, Monsanto Industry Affairs.

"Fortunately, with biotechnology and reduced-tillage systems such as no-till, U.S. farmers and the agricultural industry are better positioned to develop innovative ways to steward the environment and increase production efficiency."

The company has also created a variety of marketing and risk-sharing programs, like Roundup Rewards, designed to help farmers adopt and stick with conservation-tillage practices. Last year alone, over 6,000 farmers took advantage of risk-sharing benefits offered by Monsanto's Roundup Rewards programs, according to McBay.

The Conservation Legacy Awards program will select four regional winners and one national winner based on the implementation of Best Management Practices in conservation- tillage systems. Monsanto also continues to support other similar industry-driving groups like the Conservation Tillage Information Center and the National Association of Conservation Districts.

"Monsanto has established a network of 41 research and testing facilities on working farms across the United States," says McBay. "These Centers of Excellence (COE) test various tillage systems, crop rotations and crop technologies across a wide range of cropping areas and growing conditions."

Trials conducted on COE farms have demonstrated that no-till, Roundup Ready soybeans produce an average of $19 more net profit per acre than conventional-tillage systems. Other advantages of no-till systems include reduced fuel consumption, labor savings, reduced maintenance costs, up to a 90 percent reduction in soil erosion, improved soil health, enhanced water filtration and decreased soil compaction.