Kansas Bankers Conservation Award: Shoups continue family tradition in caring land

Shoup Farms: Doug and Lara Shoup and their children Garrett, Cade, Charlotte and Leanne. Courtesy photo.

By Lori Kuykendall
Osage County Conservation District Manager

This year’s Kansas Banker Award for soil conservation goes to Shoup Farms. Shoup Farms is located north of Lyndon, and operated by Doug Shoup and his wife Lara and their four children. Doug received his BS, MS and PhD in agronomy from Kansas State University, and was an agronomist for 20 years before returning to Osage County to farm full time in 2012.

Doug and Lara both grew up on farms. Lara grew up in southern Osage County, where her parents still farm. Doug grew up on the farm they now care for.

Doug said, “Like most who farm, I grew up around it and have a passion for the challenge of raising a successful crop, and trying to make improvements to the operation every year.”

Doug and Lara met at Kansas State University and were married in 2005.

Shoup Farm’s crop rotation consists of soybean, corn and wheat. Doug believes soybeans are the most profitable crop in their rotation, so they try to implement a crop rotation to help improve their soybean yield. Corn can be profitable, but they mainly use it as an option to help break up their rotation keep from continuously growing soybeans. Wheat is valuable in reducing soil erosion, because it is a growing crop for eight months in a year and produces additional crop residue for added erosion reduction.

“We nearly always plant a double crop behind the wheat,” Doug said. “We do plant double crop soybeans but look to plant other crops to continue to help break up the rotation.”

Shoup Farms just completed their ninth growing season since Doug’s dad retirement. Doug’s dad cared for the soil enough to adopt soil reducing practices like terracing and reduced and no-till.

“I feel very fortunate to take over a farm that has been well cared for over the last 50 years,” Doug said.

Shoup Farms has seen a lot of changes in the last 10 years. They sold all their livestock in 2014, and have increased their crop rotation, and improved the monitoring of soil fertility levels. One way to monitor soil fertility is to grid sample, which reveals how nutrients are distributed across a field. By using the results of the grid sample, fertilizer can be applied where it is needed the most.

Doug feels that they essentially missed most of the “golden years” of agriculture between 2007 and 2013. “I’m hoping we experience future positive opportunities ahead for all of agriculture,” he said.

When asked what was next for Shoup Farms, Doug said, “I want to continue to adopt technology that will offer the greatest return on investment.”

For their conservation practices, Shoup Farms will be honored with the Kansas Banker Soil Conservation Award at the Osage County Conservation District annual meeting 10:30-11:30 a.m. Jan. 25, 2021, at the Osage City Community Building. The meeting will be an informal come and go meeting; all are welcome.

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