‘Conservation a necessary tool,’ says family

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
“Conservation just makes good sense,” said James Preheim.

Although this sounds like common sense and a simple philosophy, not everyone subscribes to the notion of conservation.

But because James and Gladys Preheim of Peabody are diligent in their quest for resource conservation, they’ve been named Marion County Conservation District Banker’s Award winners for 2002.

This award is sponsored by the Marion County Bankers Association and the Kansas Bankers Association.

Preheim, who farms in conjunction with his son Randy, has been a lifelong advocate of natural- resource conservation.

“In the ’40s, my father and I built some terraces and some concrete structures,” Preheim said. “I’ve farmed since about 1965, and I built my own terraces then.”

Preheim has a resumé of conservation accomplishments that support his claim of lifelong participation.

The resume includes building 43.52 acres of waterways, 135,416 feet of terraces, 1,659 feet of diversion terraces 4,510 feet of pipe for tile outlets, and one concrete structure.

New this year is the implementation of a grass buffer strip along a creek.

“We put in a buffer strip,” Preheim said. “There’s always a lot of erosion along the creek, and it stops that and also increases water quality downstream.”

Preheim has tailored his farming practices to help conserve natural resources, also.

“We use no-till for pretty much all of our spring crops,” Preheim said. “No-till also saves time, it saves fuel, and it reduces erosion.”

Economically speaking, Preheim isn’t complaining about the added benefits of his conservation practices either.

“Conservation has benefited us with better yields, which translates into more money in your pocket,” he said. “If you farm the type of ground that we farm, it’s easier to farm terraces than gullies. It’s easier on the machinery, and easier on the people who run them.”

Preheim hopes his conservation-minded values are being absorbed by his son.

“Stewardship of the soil has been an important concept in our lives,” Preheim said. “Our goal is to leave the ground better than we found it.

“Conservation is a necessary tool you need to use if you want to stay in agriculture. You have to practice conservation or your soil will deteriorate.”

Preheim works directly with the Marion County Natural Resources Conservation Service, and said he likes the knowledge and friendliness of the NRCS staff.

“They’re all pretty nice and easy to get along with, whomever they send out,” Preheim said. “They’ve given us some good advice over the years.”

Preheim isn’t sure why his family won the award.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of others just as deserving,” he said.

But Preheim is sure conservation is vital in today’s struggle to survive living off the land.

“If you don’t practice conservation, you’ll lose your soil and you’ll go broke farming,” he said.

“There are many people who deserve this award as much or more than we do. It’s gratifying to even be considered.

“We certainly feel honored to win it, though.”

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