Osage County’s 2018 Young Farmer: Balding recognized for hard work on the farm – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Osage County’s 2018 Young Farmer: Balding recognized for hard work on the farm

Jace Balding: Young farmer of the year.

By Lori Kuykendall
Osage County Conservation District

This year’s Osage County Young Farmer awardee is Jace Balding, of rural Osage City. Balding grew up near Reading with his brother and two sisters. He got an early start with farming and ranching, with his father doing custom cattle work and managing grassland. His grandfather had some row crop land that Jace also helped with.

The first job on the farm Balding remembers doing is feeding cattle. “I have fed a lot of cattle!” he said.

Balding also ran the swather and rake as a kid. His dad did all the baling, though. Once, when he was 10 years old, he was allowed to run the combine.

“It was a lot of fun until my mom found out,” Balding said.

Balding was active in 4-H as a kid. The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills through hands on learning projects. Balding’s family had a sheep herd and bottle calves, and learned many life skills by caring for and showing these animals.

In 1999, when he was in high school, he went to work for Ron and Pat Fredrickson on the weekends and during the summer. In 2005, he earned his associate degree from Butler Community College in farm and ranch management. He went to work for the Fredricksons full time after his graduation. The Fredricksons were awarded the 1999 Banker Soil Conservation Award, 2010 Grassland Award, and the 2012 Banker Water Quality Award. Balding helped with a lot of the work that allowed them to receive those awards.

He bought his first cattle after he graduated from high school, and began row crop farming on his own in 2013. He now maintains a herd of 100 cows. Half of his herd has calves in the spring and the other half in the fall. He uses a three crop rotation of corn, soybeans and wheat on his cropland. There are several benefits to using crop rotation, including improved nutrient cycling and better weed control.

He plants about 300 acres of his cropland to a mixture of wheat, turnip and radishes that his cattle graze in the winter. These cover crops can build organic matter and nitrogen in the soil. They help build soil structure, reduce erosion, reduce compaction, recycle nutrients and keep weeds in check. Allowing the cattle to graze the cover crops in the winter has an additional benefit of lower feed costs.

Balding has come a long way since the first cattle he bought 15 years ago. His plans for the future are to continue to improve what he has. He wants to keep building up his soil and improving the soil health. He would also like to grow his cattle herd.

Balding will be honored for all of his hard work and as Osage County’s 2018 Young Farmer during the Osage County Conservation District’s annual meeting, at 6 p.m. Jan. 28, 2019, at the Osage City school cafeteria.

Jace Balding: Osage County’s 2018 Young Farmer. Courtesy photo.

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