Wiscombes honored for land stewardship – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Wiscombes honored for land stewardship

Jerry Meng, First Security Bank, Overbrook, presents the Kansas Bankers Conservation Award to Kelly and Mary Wiscombe for conscientious stewardship of their farm ground in rural Overbrook.

By Lori Kuykendall, Osage County Conservation District Manager

Osage County’s 2013 Kansas Bankers Award recipients for conservation are Kelly Wiscombe and his wife, Mary, of rural Overbrook. This award is given to landowners who use their land according to its capabilities; have quality conservation work completed; maintain their practices; and have good residue management.

Along with farming for the past 41 years, Kelly was also employed with Kansas Power & Light, and retired after 30 years of service. Mary is currently an agent for American Family Insurance, located in Lawrence, Kan. The couple has eight grown children and seven grandchildren.

Kelly’s row crop farming operation is south and east of Overbook. He uses a 50/50 rotation of corn and beans. He began farming at a very young age with his father, Jim, and younger brother, Kirk. Jim, along with farming, retired from Farmland Industries after 37 years. Jim allowed Kelly to operate his first tractor when he was 12 years old.

Kelly credits his parents for his conservation efforts. His parents have won two conservation awards from the Douglas County Conservation District. Through the work his parents did, Kelly grew up seeing the importance of conservation practices. All the cropland he owns has terraces and waterways. If he buys new ground, the first thing he does is make sure it has the necessary conservation practices installed to minimize soil erosion.

Besides on the ground soil conservation practices, Kelly’s machinery assists him in being a better steward of the land. Kelly signed up for the Conservation Stewardship Program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This program introduced him to a new way of thinking about what else he could do to be a better steward of the land. He already had a sprayer with automatic shut off and drift reducing nozzles to keep from over spraying. His planter was also equipped with the technology to keep from overlapping seeding operations.

Kelly decided the next step was grid sampling and variable rate fertilizer application. This practice allows producers to apply the amount of fertilizer needed in the places that need it. By doing this there is no excess fertilizer to wash off and end up in streams and lakes.

Farm equipment has come a long way and is a huge investment. Kelly remembers farm equipment in the 1970s with no cabs or all of the extras we have today. Today new equipment can have many options including cabs, air ride seats, GPS and auto steer.

Seed technology has also come a long way. The new seed genetics are more advanced which make them drought tolerant and capable of producing higher yields. The seed genetics continue to evolve and improve.

With all the technology advances in the last few years, sometimes it seems like there’s more information available than you know what to do with. Kelly is constantly learning and applying this technology and knowledge to make the best use of the investment for each crop.

Kelly said, “I really enjoy taking a piece of ground and making it better.” Kelly’s actions prove that these aren’t just words but something he puts into practice.

Because of their efforts in conservation, Kelly and Mary Wiscombe were honored Feb. 3 with the 2013 Kansas Bankers Conservation Award at the annual meeting of the Osage County Conservation District held in the Osage City Schools cafeteria. As the county’s key banker, Jerry Meng, First Security Bank, Overbrook, presented the award to the Wiscombes.

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