David and Elaine Unruh of Greensburg, Kansas are the 2016 Recipient of the Kiowa County Bankerís Award in Soil Conservation. The award is sponsored by Greensburg State Bank, A Branch of SJN Bank of Kansas.
David Unruh says that the largest change in his 45 years of farming has been the advent of no-till practices. David has been an avid proponent of no-till for the past 15 years. David and his wife Elaine operate a dryland farming operation southwest of Greensburg, Kansas in Kiowa County, Kansas. David and Elaine have four children. Carol Schmidt and her husband Jonathan live in Missouri, son Lyndon and wife Denise Unruh live southwest of Greensburg, son Wayne Unruh works for a local farmer, and youngest daughter Jewel Unruh teaches at a parochial school.
David and Elaine are the third generation to farm on the Unruh family land. David is avid about taking care of the land that his parents, Calvin and Jennie have passed onto him. David and his father Calvin are working with Lyndon to transition the farm to the fourth generation. The Unruh farm practices primarily a wheat, grain sorghum, and fallow rotation. David has worked with dryland corn and soybean production, but drought years are limiting and he has maintained his primary rotation as it provides the most economical returns to his operation. David does keep an eye out on soybean and corn production, especially since some weeds are developing a tolerance to herbicides that are used in no-till operations.
In the spring of 2016 Calvin and Lyndon began utilizing cover crops on their operation. Calvin planted a blend of warm season cover crops on fallow land. The mix included sun hemp, cow peas, mung beans, brassicas, and forage sorghum. The legume cover crops serve as nitrogen accumulators, the brassicas help control compaction, and the forage sorghum makes great cover to maintain soil moisture by catching excess moisture that falls throughout the season as well as shade cover to keep the soil temperature cooler. David and Lyndon are also using fall cover crops of oats, radishes, and turnips. Cover crops also aid in weed control. David is excited to see what impacts of his fall cover crops will be when he burns them down. The Unruhs are intrigued by the possibility of fall cover crops to keep down spring weeds with competition as they germinate pre-burndown.
David and his family have also worked closely with NRCS and the Kiowa County Conservation District on terrace repair. David has rebuilt numerous terraces in the last 5 years. Currently David is staking out new waterways and terraces to help reduce erosion and help control runoff from his operation. David is very passionate about the soil and the impacts he has upon it. David and Elaine are working hard to leave the farm in great hands. Their hard work and dedication should at least pay off for the next three generations.