John “Dale” Anderson and wife Jean of Canton share a long tradition on their land farmed by Kim Koop of Hillsboro.
The Andersons are 2012 Banker Award winners for soil conservation with the Marion County Natural Resources Conservation Service District.
Koop somewhat shares the honor as farm operator, dating back through decades in that relationship with the Andersons begun by Koop’s father, Bennie.
The land is something drivers on U.S. Highway 56 see all the time just past the water tower west of Hillsboro. But Koop said the 154.5 acres of cropland—situated in the northeast quarter of the section west of the tower running along the highway—with brome grass waterways— may not stand out to passersby.
Anderson said according to family tradition, his father, William, swapped real estate he owned in Colorado for the Marion County quarter section in 1940.
“But we’ve just been talking about that,” he said. “I wish we knew the whole story.”
When Anderson’s father died that year, his mother, Vallie, became the owner working in partnership with the Koop family.
It became a short quarter section, Anderson said, when acreage was preempted from it by the state for construction of U.S. 56.
John Anderson inherited half the land when his mother died, then bought his sister’s half to keep the property intact.
Anderson said before the conservation structures were built, the land had become particularly susceptible to erosion due to some of the soil types present.
A new stream of water was continually cutting a ditch through the acreage, he said, even though to passersby the effect might have seemed reasonable.
Anderson had the first third of terraces built on the land about three to four years ago, with another third built two to three years ago. The final third is under construction now.
In winning the award, the NRSC said the Andersons “installed 9.5 acres of waterways (brome grass) and 19,856 feet of terraces. They are finishing the project with approximately 6,850 feet of terraces that are under construction now.”
Koop said many of the latest terraces were put in last fall, but were delayed by rain.
Koop began no-till farming on the land before the final conservation structures were planned. He raises wheat, corn and soybeans there.
Conserving the land is something both the Andersons and Koop wanted. It’s a family tradition for both parties.