Soil and wildlife conservation practices gain national attention

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has announced that Keith Thompson of Thompson Farms near Osage City has won the 2006 Western Region Conservation Legacy Award. The award is given for dedication to the land and wildlife through cropland management practices such as conservation tillage and nutrient management, farmstead protection, and conservation and environmental management.

Thompson farms 2,000 acres and uses a rotation of soybeans, wheat (double-crop milo), soybeans, corn or milo, corn or milo, then back to soybeans. All of Thompson's acreage has been full no-till since 1991.

"This has not only improved our soil quality, but farm yields have since been above the county averages," Thompson said.

Thompson handles all farm chemicals in one location. A gooseneck trailer has been fixed to haul water and bulk chemicals to the field, which not only speeds up application time but improves safety for the applicator. In addition, Thompson has added 40-foot buffer strips along Salt Creek on his property to control runoff and enhance wildlife habitat. He's also in the process of planting grassed quail strips.

Thompson and three other regional winners from across the U.S. will vie for national honors, which will be announced at the ASA Awards Banquet in March at Anaheim, Calif.