YOUNG FARMER AWARD: Busenitz effort is a ?money circle?

Jeff Busenitz, who farms southwest of Peabody, can really put the pencil to the paper to show how conservation pays.

Busenitz is the Young Conservation Farmer Award winner for the Marion County Conservation District this year.

His proof about the value of conservation relates to an animal-waste control system committed to in 2005 and built as part of his farm?s overall conservation plan.

Busenitz pumps water to irrigate corn out of the 150-by-200-foot lagoon that catches his beef feedlot liquid and manure runoff. It?s a system that contains the animal waste until it can be safely applied to the cropland fields.

?It definitely bumps the yields on corn,? Busenitz said.

It brought a payoff because the nutrient-laden water increased the corn output where it?s used in irrigation by 40 bushels?and sometimes more?an acre, he said.

Busenitz can apply an inch of water on 66 acres from the lagoon.

It all makes for a good round-table operation, a money circle, where he feeds his corn to the 800 cattle he grows from 500 pounds to 1,350 pounds annually, and he uses the animal waste to fertilize and provide moisture for more corn.

Busenitz said he buys his cattle from Wyoming, Kentucky, Virginia and other states. He tries to buy ?mostly black.?

His father, Clarence, and brother, Ben, have similar cropping and feedlot businesses, each independently. But they trade equipment and labor to work together in a loose partnership.

He, wife Denise and children Micah, 6, and Ryley, 1, haven?t limited their conservation efforts with the feedyard lagoon.

In 2009, Busenitz built 3,148 feet of diversion terraces and 4,927 feet of gradient terraces that outlet into 2.3 acres of grass waterways.

Busenitz has been farming for 12 years. He started full-time farming when he got out of college at Calvary Bible College in Kansas City.

He said his courses there were all Bible instead of agriculture, but you know it had to include stewardship.

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