Quest for new ideas serves Florence farmer-rancher well

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Robert Sellers says he’s always interested in new ideas to improve his farm-and-ranch operation situated four miles southwest of Florence. But he was surprised when one of those ideas led to him being named this year’s winner of the Marion County Soil Conservation “Grassland Award.”

“I’m not a big operator,” he said. “The main thing we have is farm and grass and livestock-and we just try to balance that all out,” he said.

Sellers and his wife, Leah, have well-managed grass-and-brome pastures that provide the foundation for their livestock operation. They use stockers in a grazing plan that makes use of several pastures.

In order to achieve better grazing utilization, Sellers recently completed a cross-fence project in a large pasture.

“That pasture was like a mile long,” he said. “Cattle tend to graze toward the southwest wind, so one end of that pasture was used more than the other. So (cross-fencing) helped that part of it.”

Essentially, Sellers divided the huge pasture in half.

“The pasture we divided already had two ponds on it, so it was kind of natural to do that,” he said.

Sellers said he has already noticed a difference after his first year with the cross-fence.

“Last year seemed to help the south side better,” he said. “We just divide the cattle in two. You get the same number of cattle, but it probably helps the grass a little better.”

Sellers said he’s always had an interest in hearing about ideas that might improve his operation.

“I would say that I attend quite a few schools at the college and the ones the different grazing organization have, and try to pick what will work for me from these types of meetings,” Sellers said.

One of those ideas was to develop a watering source for cattle from a natural spring in one of the other pastures.

“It’s just a little flow from a hillside,” Sellers said. “The government has a technique where they dig back in there, put in some tile and gravel and black plastic. They collect the water and run it down to the tank.

“It’s kind of new in this county, but they’ve done several other projects like it,” he said. “It seems to work pretty good. You kind of work with nature and help it along a little bit.”

Sellers represents the third generation of his family to manage the farm and ranch. The first generation launched the enterprise in 1886.

Presently, the Sellers’ operation is about half pasture and half cropland. They grow wheat, alfalfa, soybeans and milo on the tillable ground and background beef cattle on the pasture.

Sellers said he will continue to implement goods ideas that come along.

“I do have an interest in new things,” he said. “Some of them will work for me and some won’t.”

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