Paul & Janet Heinrich of Paxton, Nebraska
Paul and Janet Heinrich began their farming career upon returning home from college in 1978. They now reside in the family home, south of Paxton, built by Paul’s parents in 1950. The Heinrich family currently raises corn, soybeans, and wheat, but has raised crops as diverse as alfalfa, sunflowers, popcorn, kidney beans, pinto beans, milo, barley, rye, and millet. While greatly honored to receive this award, much of the credit goes to Paul’s parents, Benjamin and Ruby, as they made efforts to be good stewards of the land by practicing methods of conservation that available equipment and technology would allow.
Being typical wheat-fallow farmers of the time, every effort was made to retain as much residue as possible on fragile ground, realizing the benefits received. Recognizing that the Noble blade plow was a significant improvement in equipment for this practice, its use was quickly incorporated into the operation. Later, after Paul and Janet returned to the farm, they were among the first in this area to experiment with and adopt the practice of planting ecofallow dryland corn. They have since incorporated ecofallow farming methods in raising all their crops.
After the death of Janet’s father, Virgil Anderson, in 1981 and Paul’s father in 1983, Paul and Janet became tenants for both family farms. They have also rented and still rent from other family members. Both are very grateful for the allowance by their landlords to pursue experimenting with and adopting innovative conservation farming practices which have been mutually beneficial. Beginning in the 1980’s, the operation has evolved from early attempts at being entirely no-till on dryland and ridge planting on irrigation, to now being mostly no-till and strip till with some minimum tillage as needed. Early on they recognized the value of strip tillage and were quick to adopt this method. They have planted some very fragile ground to grass, and other land is in the application process for development of wildlife habitat. In the past few years, trees and shrubs have been planted for erosion protection and wildlife habitat.
Paul and Janet are the proud parents of two children. Their daughter Sara lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and their son Jeff, his wife Lynn, and their daughter Hannah live in Lincoln. Paul and Janet are life members of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Paxton, and have been active in their community’s activities and organizations.