Archive for Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Taking a rest

Planting grasses returns nutrients to the soil

January 25, 2006

William Kimball is no newcomer to farming, but he is a relative newcomer to the federal Conservation Reserve Program.

Kimball is in his 40th year of farming in Leavenworth County, but has participated in the conservation program only for five years.

So it was a pleasant surprise when he and his wife, Loretta, were named recipients of this year's soil conservation award by the Leavenworth County Conservation District.

"I wasn't even thinking about it when they called to tell me we'd won," said Kimball, who farms 160 acres on 147th Street, about 3/4 of a mile north of County Road 8. "It's a little bit of a surprise."

Kimball said he had planted about 100 acres of the farm in native grasses. Before enrolling in the conservation program, the land would have either been planted with wheat, corn or soybeans.

"It's allowing the ground to get a good rest," he said. "It keeps it from eroding and builds the soil up with good nutrients."

Kimball said he began farming in 1966. He has two farms in Leavenworth County: the one on 147th Street and another in Stranger Township on 187th Street. The 147th Street farm has been in his wife's family since the Civil War days. It is known, he said, as "the Zoll Farm."

"They came in here from Kentucky during the Civil War and homesteaded," he explained. The farm's been in the family ever since.

The Kimballs' neighbors on 147th Street are Loretta's sister and her husband, Frances and Jack Kraft.

"Between the Krafts and us, we're about the only ones in the family still farming," he said.

Asked what he remembers most from his years of farming, Kimball doesn't hesitate.

"1993," he said. It was in the summer of 1993 that rains inundated the Midwest, causing widespread flooding in both the Missouri and Mississippi River basins. Many refer to the events that summer as the "Flood of 1993" or the "Great Flood."

He added quickly that he also remembered the flooding that occurred in the area in 1951.

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