Soil Conservation Award: Sturdy Farms honored as stewards of the land

Honored for preserving soil on their Osage County family farm are the Sturdys, from left, Candi, Clint, Sandy, Darrell, Lori and Rod.

By Rod Schaub
Frontier Extension District

On Jan. 22, 2018, Sturdy Farms will receive the Kansas Bankers Award for Soil Conservation at the Osage County Conservation District’s annual meeting.

The Sturdy family being honored includes Darrell and Sandy, who have owned and operated the farm for nearly 50 years, and two of their sons and their families. Their son Rod and his wife Lori have five children, Kelsey, Kandace, Megan, Shawna and Cheyenne. Son Clint and his wife Candi have two children, Teagan and Jensen. Darrell and Sandy have another son not involved in the farm, Jeff and his family, who live near Wamego.

The Sturdy homestead was founded in 1900 when Frank Wolfe brought his family to Osage County. Upon Mr. Wolfe’s death, he left the farm to his daughter Maggie and son-in-law Ray Sturdy. Today, Sturdy Farm is owned and operated by the fourth and fifth generations of that family.

The operation has evolved over the years to include a commercial cow herd, a stocker summer grazing program, fall development program for replacement heifers, haying, and growing crops, mostly corn and soybeans with a few acres of wheat.

When asked how the family divided up the work load when they have both crops and livestock, Clint responded, “For the most part we do the chores we enjoy the most.”

Rod prefers to do the field work, Clint and Darrell prefer the livestock chores, but for many of the jobs the family works together to get the job done.

“When we work cattle the whole family works together,” Darrell said.“The women usually work behind the chute in the pens bringing the cattle to us.”

According to Clint, the family considers soil conservation as preserving and improving the soil.

“Soil is the key,” he said. “You can’t grow crops, grass or cattle without it. We are always trying to improve the soil and grass on our farm.”

Manure is applied to many of their crop fields. The manure adds organic matter that helps the soil hold moisture and adds nutrients to the soil.

They also annually burn their native grass pastures and spray them as needed to reduce woody plants, and control noxious weeds and other invasive plant species.

Rod explained they used cover crops to improve soil health on a few acres near the farm headquarters. Rye, turnips and radishes planted in the fall help cover the soil, break the hard pan and scavenge nutrients.

The family also uses technology to do a better job of farming – Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to map fields for yields, grid soil sampling to apply variable rates of lime, and in the future they have plans for variable rate fertilizer applications.

“Technology has helped us cut costs and reduce the amounts of fertilizer and chemicals we apply,” Clint said.

Having GPS, auto steer, and row shut offs in their sprayer and fertilizer spreader has been money well spent according to the Sturdys. Future purchases in technology will be to add row shut offs on the planter (instead of section shut offs) to reduce areas that are double planted around the edges of the field

The Sturdy family has been on this land for nearly 125 years (five generations) and they are concerned about preserving the farm for future generations. They strive to be good stewards of the land, to improve soil health, and protect the soil.

“Remember, soil is the key, you can’t grow anything without it,” Clint said.

The Osage County Conservation District’s annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 22, 2018, at the Osage City school cafeteria, where the district will present the annual Kansas Banker Awards and Young Farmer Award.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas