HAVILAND — Every year, the Kansas Bankers Association gives awards to farmers and ranchers who have been recognized as good stewards of the land.
Many counties in the state participate in the program, which is through the K-State Research and Extension department.
In Kiowa County annual award for soil conservation is to be given to Randy Binford, and Stan Troyer is to be awarded for rangeland. This year for probably the first time ever in Kiowa County, an award is being given for wildlife management. That award is to go to Jeremie Frazier.
“There's not a lot of people in the area who take a quarter of ground and manage it for wildlife,” said harlie Swank, district wildlife biologist for the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife Parks and Tourism.
The awards are scheduled be given at the Conservation District's annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2, 2016 at the United Methodist Church in Greensburg.
Josh Adelhardt, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (a branch of the USDA) spent time with each award winner on their land last week and talked to them about their conservation practices. Donna Greenleaf, of the NRCS, County Extension Agent Barrett Smith, Ken Bronson of the Nature Conservancy and Stan Robertson, president of the state banks of Haviland and Mullinville also came along.
The award winners all live near Haviland.
For the wildlife management award, Swank had to give his approval.
"There's no specific requirements,” Swank said. “It usually takes someone who makes a lot of effort and doesn't just plant something and walk away.”
Frazier said it is an honor to receive the award, but he is more excited about the Conservation Resource Program (CRP), a program through the NRCS in which he is paid to convert old farmland to a habitat with native grass.
“Some guys go far beyond that,” Swank said. “That's the kind of people we look for to give the wildlife award to.”
Frazier's land attracts such animals as quail, pheasant, deer and bobcats.
“The program equips you to do these things,” Frazier said. “Without the programs, you can't take it on very easily unless you're well off.”
When the visitors were at Randy Binford's home, Adelhardt told him, “What you do is more than worthy of this award. I'm glad to congratulate you.”
Binford said, “I grew up a half mile to this quarter. I worked with Dad. He finally retired and let me have it all.”
His farming uses little to no tilling. Binford uses a mixture of crop rotation and cattle on a grazing rotation.
“He has something growing year round and that's good for the soil's health,” Smith said.
Troyer owns 2,000 acre and 120 cow and calf pairs.
“Well it's not fancy, but it's better than it used to be,” Troyer said of his land.
Driving through Troyer's pasture, Addelhardt talked about the different mixtures of grass he planted, such as switch grass, Indian grass and lovegrass and managed the land well in the fragile soil of the sandy hills.
“He had a lot of plant diversity which shows up by rotation,” Addelhardt said. “That promotes better plant diversity and rangeland health.”
Smith spoke highly of the three award winners.
“They're all respected stewards of the land that are trying to leave the resources they were given better for the next generation,” he said.