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Conservation Technical Assistance Helps Resolve Water Quality Issues | Cons

Conservation on the Ground...Conservation Technical Assistance Helps Resolve Water Quality Issues

Fred and Helen German have been farming and ranching in Geary County since 1957. Fred has been extensively involved in agriculture with swine, cattle, and crop production. He has served as president of both the Kansas Pork Producers Association and the Kansas Livestock Association. He now leases out his cropland and rangeland but is still a conscientious steward of the natural resources he possesses.

In 1977, Fred took Vernon Bohn under his wing and they developed a working partnership. Vernon has been farming and ranching with him ever since and shares Fred’s attitude towards conservation and taking care of the natural resources entrusted to him. Vernon is on the Geary County Farm Service Agency County Committee and is active in the community where he lives.

Filter strip installed and seeded to brome between the lots and the creekThe NRCS has provided technical assistance for both Fred and Vernon over the years, so in 1990 when their confined feeding operation was visited by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), they contacted NRCS. KDHE recommended that a water control-pollution plan be developed and submitted for approval. NRCS provided technical assistance to design a grass buffer that was 15 feet wide and 1,000 feet long to filter drainage from the pens that was installed and is still functioning.

The cattle operation consists of approximately two to three acres of confined lots and a bunk-line feeding area on the west side of a paved county roadway and approximately two acres of pens on the east side of the same roadway. The facilities have the capacity for 200 head of lightweight cattle on the west side and 250 head of lightweight cattle on the east side. The bunk-line feeding area serves an additional 160 head. The lot on the east side has an intermittent creek that runs through it and the pens and feeding area on the west side borders both sides of the same creek, north and south respectively.

Cattle were removed from this lot and it was reseeded to bromeIn 2003, KDHE visited the site again and determined it was a significant pollution potential. As water quality issues became more of an environmental concern, it was apparent that the measures previously taken were insufficient to resolve the identified water quality issue. KDHE recommended that NRCS be contacted for additional design assistance to prevent lot runoff from entering the stream from the west pens as well as measures taken to prevent runoff into the stream from the bunk-line feeding area. The east lots needed to be relocated, modified, or abandoned to provide an adequate buffer for the intermittent stream channel located within the lot.

Through technical assistance provided by NRCS personnel and cost share provided through the Geary County Conservation District, a plan was developed and implemented to resolve the resource concern.

A sediment catch area was installed at the head of the east lot. The remainder of the lot was leveled adjacent to the intermittent stream and seeded to grass to provide a buffer adequate to filter the corrals draining into the lot.

A fenceline bunk feeder installed to increase the separation distance of cattle from the creek.The west lots were modified by moving the pens, planting a grass buffer, and installing a berm to prevent lot runoff from entering the stream. In addition, the pens were graded so that the runoff would be filtered through an adjoining cropland field that is farmed with no-till. The bunk-line feeding area was altered and allowed cattle to enter only on the side farthest from the stream. An additional berm was installed to prevent runoff from entering the stream.

In 2004, KDHE contacted Vernon to notify him that the completed site modifications had addressed the identified significant pollution potential and that his attention to the matter was appreciated.

Today, as you drive by the farm, a significant pollution potential no longer exists. The measures taken have been effective because of a cooperative effort between the landowners, KDHE, the Geary County Conservation District, and the technical assistance provided by NRCS.

Conservation at a Glance

Natural Resource Concern ...
Water Quality

How Addressed:

  • Land Smoothing - 4.82 acres
  • Critical area seeding - 4.82 acres
  • Fences were moved to provide a grassed buffer between the lots and the creek
  • Corrals were leveled to reduce channeling of surface runoff.
  • Access to feeding bunks was restricted to only on the side farthest from the creek.
Partners and Financial Assistance Provided by ...

NRCS

  • Technical Assistance

Geary County Conservation District

  • Cost-share funds through the State Conservation Commission's Non-Point Source Pollution Program

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Conservation on the Ground ... Conservation Technical Assistance Helps Resolve Water Quality Issues (PDF; 70 KB)