Brandon and Ashley Bonk of Magnolia were selected national winners at the 64th annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress held Feb. 6-8 in Westbrook, Conn.
Four national winners were selected from a group of 10 finalists for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state and nation.
Guest Master of Ceremonies Tom Steever of Brownfield Ag News announced the four national winners and interviewed them for an upcoming episode of “This Week in Agribusiness.” The three other national winners for 2020 are from Iowa, Georgia, and North Dakota.
National winners received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., during National Ag Week in 2021.
When Brandon Bonk returned to Delaware with a degree in ag systems technology from Iowa State, his family farm had been discontinued, and he was faced with starting his own operation from the ground up. Together with his wife Ashley and their children Audrey, Annabell, Coy, and Ward, Brandon has created a 5,700-acre operation growing wheat, soybeans, corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Brandon designed and built a new grading line for the potato operation, which Ashley runs during harvest as part of her full-time farm job that also includes office management, providing meals, and operating irrigation systems.
Brandon works with a crop consultant to develop his nutrient management plan using soil, nutrient, and plant tissue testing to achieve yield goals and take care of the soil. Cover crops add fertility to the soil and manage soil moisture, reducing compaction and overall energy use. Minimal and no-till practices also contribute to the farm’s conservation plan.
The Bonks have been involved in the LEAD Delaware program for young ag leaders, the state soybean board, volunteer fire department, Annie’s Project, farm bureau, Masons and Delmarva Poultry Industry. The farm also hosts the Delaware Ag Tech Farm Tour.