Kevin Hall receives Panhandle Outstanding Service to Ag Award |

Kevin Hall receives Panhandle Outstanding Service to Ag Award

Kevin Hall, a leader in Nebraska’s sugarbeet industry who operates a diversified farming operation near Bridgeport, has been named the annual winner of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center Outstanding Service to Panhandle Agriculture Award.

The award was presented to Hall by Dr. Linda Boeckner, director of the Panhandle Center, Feb. 15 at the annual meeting of the Nebraska Sugarbeet Growers Association.

Hall produces wheat, corn, dry edible beans, sugarbeets and sorghum. In 2010 he harvested 6,600 total acres of crops, irrigated with 69 center-pivot systems. He is the largest, by acreage, sugarbeet grower in Nebraska with about 2,800 acres annually, and also has a beef feedlot.

Hall has been a leader in agricultural organizations, especially those related to sugarbeets. He was one of the initial committee members to organize the growers’ purchase of Western Sugar; has been on the Board of Directors of Western Sugar Cooperative since its formation; and is currently the board president. He has served on a national committee charged with preserving use of Roundup Ready sugarbeet seed.

He and his wife, Vickie, have three teenage children. He is a church elder. Vickie is a full-time mother and also partner in the farming operation.

“Rightly, this award should be given to Kevin and his wife Vickie, and his parents,” said UNL Machinery Systems Engineer John Smith, who nominated Hall. “His parents, George and Jeanette Hall of Bridgeport, have helped him get started and encouraged his progress.”

Kevin grew up on his father’s farm, rented his grandfather’s farm when he was a senior in high school, and grew the operation from there.

Smith describes Hall as a leader by example in the Panhandle irrigated agriculture community, always willing to try something new if he can be convinced that it has a good chance of contributing positively to his operation. He’s also willing to share his ideas with anyone. Smith said it’s common for other farmers to look to Hall as an example, and many growers visit with him about his operation.

Hall was the first Nebraska beet grower in recent times to purchase a European-style, self-propelled harvester, also one of the first in the U.S. In the four years since, two other Nebraska growers have followed his lead. The harvester is not just bigger, Smith said, but also reduces soil compaction, harvest cost and root damage.

Hall has participated with UNL on several projects and has allowed faculty to conduct demonstrations in his fields, including direct harvest of dry beans; field-scale comparison of 18-inch and 30-inch row sugarbeets; and comparison of harvest loss and soil compaction between the self-propelled system and conventional methods.

Recently he has switched from 30-inch rows to 20-inch rows, a major system change but a progressive one to improve production efficiency.

The Outstanding Service to Panhandle Agriculture Award is given by Panhandle Research and Extension Center faculty in recognition of a person or group who has provided outstanding service to Panhandle agriculture. Award criteria include value of work done or cooperation with UNL specialists or educators; leadership in agriculture; community service other than agriculture; and level of impact on Panhandle agriculture.

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