(Kansas Farmer) – Four finalists have been selected for the 2022 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award,, according to the Sand County Foundation. Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and other landowners who inspire others with their dedication to the land, water and wildlife resources in their care.
The foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In Kansas, the award is presented annually with additional support from the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts and Ranchland Trust of Kansas.
The Kansas Leopold Conservation Award will be presented at the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts’ 78th Annual Convention in Wichita in November. The recipient will receive $10,000 and a crystal award.
The finalists are:
- Ray and Susan Flickner, Wichita. The Flickner family farms in McPherson, Hodgeman, Dickinson and Norton counties. They installed subsurface drip irrigation technology to become more efficient with water and nutrient applications on crops. They experiment with cover crops to improve water infiltration and suppress weeds. Their Flickner Innovation Farm is a collaboration among university, industry and agency partners, where new methods to improve soil health and conserve water are demonstrated.
- Kevin Karr family, Emporia. The Karr family raises crops and hogs in Lyon County. To reduce soil erosion, Kevin began using no-till practices in the 1980s. He credits no-till with enhancing wildlife habitat and reducing his fuel use while building better soil structure. Weeds are naturally suppressed by planting cover crops of rye, while beneficial insects are attracted to flowering cover crops. The combination of no-till and cover crops has bolstered the farm’s resilience to drought.
- Michael Thompson, Almena. Michael has implemented conservation practices at Thompson Farm and Ranch in Norton County, where he farms with his father, Richard, and brother Brian. By rotationally grazing their beef cattle, the Thompsons are improving the landscape of native range pastures and fields of cover crops. Michael’s a vocal advocate for soil stewardship among other farmers and ranchers via speaking engagements, social media and a program geared toward youth.
- Glenn and Barbara Walker, Brookville. The Walkers are improving soil health, wildlife habitat and water distribution on their properties in Ellsworth, Lincoln, Rice, Russell and Saline counties. By using rotational grazing to feed their beef cattle, they are also managing grassland to improve habitat for greater prairie chickens, turkeys and deer. Their investment in removing invasive red cedar trees is improving water resources. Several of their properties are enrolled in the Kansas Walk-in Hunting Access program.