By Mary Howell

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, held his 2017 Conservation Tour to learn more about conservation efforts across the state on Thursday, September 21st. This year’s annual tour, based in the Manhattan area and the Flint Hills, focused on water and soil conservation, grassland prairie preservation, and river sustainability. 

Sen. Moran has held regular tours across Kansas to observe conservation practices. This year’s tour was the twelfth that Sen. Moran has held, highlighting conservation efforts supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), as well as private landowner stewardship practices. Also on the tour with Senator Moran was USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief Leonard Jordan.  Senator Moran told his audience, “I appreciate the opportunity Kansas Conservation Tour gives me to hear firsthand from Kansas farmers and ranchers about the challenges they face, hard work they do, and innovative ideas they implement. The future of Kansas agriculture is bright.” 

Kansas Farmers Union members Donn Teske, Mary Howell, and Jim French participated in the annual tour.

Stops on the tour included discussion about conservation practices important to the Kansas agriculture industry, including the Sustainable Rivers Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), conservation easements, and prescribed burning.

The tour started at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan with opening remarks & a tour that looked at the conservation efforts for landscape maintenance and preservation.  The group traveled to Tuttle Creek Reservoir to discuss the efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and The Nature Conservancy in Kansas to better understand reservoir management through the Sustainable Rivers Program.

The third stop was Dibbon Farms, featuring their sub-surface drip irrigation system to conserve water and increase yields, utilizing cost share funding from the EQIP Program.

A classic BBQ lunch was enjoyed by everyone in the hayloft of the barn at the Moyer Ranch, Alma. A discussion followed explaining on the Agriculture Easements utilized for long term preservation of the prairie.  Senator Moran and Chief Jordan moderated a discussion and took questions. Following lunch, the tour continued in a pasture on the Moyer Ranch.

The last stop of the day at the Downey Ranch focused on Late-Season Burning to preserve the prairie ecosystem and for invasive weed control of sericea lespedeza.