Leonard E. Dailey, Jefferson, South Dakota, was honored in 1976 as Eminent Farmer by the Board of Regents and South Dakota State University.
When Dailey began farming in 1933, it was only he and his father. Today the Dailey farm covers 1,089 acres with 18 people making their living on this diversified farm. Mainstay crops are corn, soybeans, alfalfa, forage sorghum and brome grass. During the last three years, Dailey, 69, has been raising single cross hybrid seed corn and irrigating a total of 600 acres (he put in his first sprinkler irrigation system about 15 years ago).
The operation also markets about 2,000 head of swine and 180 commercial Angus fed cattle annually.
Dailey’s interests are extremely varied, making him one of those farmers who is as well informed in new technology as the researcher—in fact, he may even give researchers new ideas to review. Dailey was appointed to a five-man committee in 1954 to work out plans with the SDSU Agricultural Experiment Station and the State Legislature to set up and operate a mobile research unit for northeastern and southeastern South Dakota. By 1960 the mobile units gave way to the new farmer-owned Southeastern South Dakota Experimental Farm. Dailey was the first certificate holding member of the farm and served two years as chairman of the board.
In 1962 Dailey’s farm was the host farm for county crop improvement corn and soybean variety test plots, fertilizer plots, chemical weed control plots and others. In 1964 the farm hosted SDSU’s Agricultural Engineering Field Day on irrigation and was also cooperator on test plots for corn rootworm control.
Dailey helped form the Union County Water Resource Development Committee in 1962 to inform people of the need for the East Dakota Conservancy Sub-District. He served as a member of the Agricultural Division Advisory Group of SDSU since its beginning in 1957 until 1973. He was a farmer-member of the board of directors of the Foundation Seedstocks Division of the SDSU Foundation, serving from 1958 to 1970. He also has been a member of the state board of directors of the South Dakota Rural Electrification Association, and was appointed to the board of directors of the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association.
In 1974 Dailey received a recognition plaque from the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council for agricultural education research and as a county commissioner in an exemplary manner. He helped lure a manufacturing plant into the county, and he’s also directed an effort that got a 1 percent tax for schools on money spent at horse and dog racing tracks located in the county.
Dailey was that South Dakota, which is very ag-oriented, must diversify its economy. With his many interests, Dailey might have been a pace-setter in just about any field he chose, but decided to be a farmer.