Wilbert I. Symens, 63, Britton, South Dakota, a pioneer in adapting research to farming, was honored in 1973 as Eminent Farmer by the Board of Regents and South Dakota State University.
Because he had limited livestock, land, and economic resources when he began farming, Symens studied Experiment Station reports and attended field days. Over the years he became the person who people came to for sound farming advice. He was a leader in stubble mulching, fall fertilizer applications, three-way beef crossbreeding, and on-the-farm test plots for corn and for swine feed ration tests.
He was late for his wedding in 1933 to Inga Severson because he was buying his first quarter section of land. When he retired in 1966, he had increased that quarter to 1,880 acres, 1,400 of which was under cultivation.
Believing in trees and conservation, Symens planted five miles of trees on his farm and was named the Greater South Dakota Association’s Soil and Moisture Conservation Award winner for Marshall County in 1962.
In 1935 he ran one of his first ration performance trials on five different pens of hogs to decide if yeast was worthwhile in the mixture. He found that simply soaking the grain in water for 36 hours worked the best.
He is a Farmer’s Union member, led a 4-H club for 15 years, served on the Amherst School Board for 25 years, and was a member of the Marshall County School Reorganization Board from 1955 to 1973.
Sons Irwin, Herman, Paul, and John now operate the farm. Son David is in Aberdeen. Daughters of the Symenses are Mrs. LaMoyne (Aletha) Prouty, Vienna, South Dakota; Mrs. Darrel (Karen) Jungling, Hawarden, Iowa; Doris, Pierre, South Dakota, and Mrs. Craig (Faye) Schmidel, Bricktown, New Jersey. Though Symens did not attend high school, he insisted the children attend college for at least two years, and four of them earned degrees.