Land manager, owner cooperate

Rickey Roberts (left) presents a Banker Award to Charles Good (middle) and Lewis Unruh.Lewis Unruh knew something had to be done about the high rate of erosion on the 220 acres he was farming four miles northwest of Peabody, so he discussed it with one of the landowners, Charles ?Chuck? Good, of Peabody.

That discussion resulted this year with Good and his siblings, all co-owners of the land, being recognized with a Banker Award for soil conservation by the Marion County Conservation District.

Good?s brothers and sister are Don Good of Austin, Texas, Marcia Emonds of Ibert, Colo., and Richard Good of Topeka.

Chuck Good said they all agreed they wanted the farm where they grew up to stay in good condition. Family ownership dated back to their grandparents, a shared heritage.

The project was completed over about seven to eight years, forever stopping the growth of ?pretty good sized ruts? and erosion ditches, Good said.

The conservation improvements included 12.7 acres of waterways, one poured concrete drop box structure, 32,090 feet of gradient terraces with 318 feet of pipe for tile terraces, and 620 feet of diversion terraces. Good said the drop box is designed to slow water before it hits a neighbor?s hedge row.

Unruh said the land also is gradually rebuilding top soil under a no-till three-crop rotation of wheat, corn and soybeans with a cover crop of cereal rye for the year between the corn and the beans. The program results in greater biological activity and organic matter in the soil, he said.

Unruh makes sure the rye is planted 6 to 10 feet from the edge of a field to prevent it from moving into adjoining land. He uses a herbicide to kill it before it can form seed heads ?to stop it escaping the field.?

He said the rotation of wheat for two years, then corn for a year, and then soybeans for a year works well without alteration unless he has to change for ultra-wet or ultra-dry years.

Unruh said he has appreciated the way the Good family has acted to conserve the land. He said that his own heritage with land conservation goes back to the 1940s, when his father built some of the first terraces on his land to be constructed in this region in Harvey County.

Unruh lives at his home in Marion County; Harvey County lies on the other side of the road, and he farms land in both counties.