Kansas Conservation Series: Water Technology Farms in Garden City

(Washington, D.C., April 3, 2023) – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. is continuing his conservation series highlighting Kansans’ voluntary efforts to take better care of the environment. Stories will be released throughout the 2023 Farm Bill legislative process.

“While we hold hearings for the 2023 Farm Bill, I want to highlight the fact that Kansans are working hard every day to protect our environment and conserve precious resources our Ag economy needs to thrive. Kansas’ farmers, ranchers, growers, and producers are finding unique and practical ways to preserve our land and protect our water and air. Their efforts are worthy of everyone’s praise,” said Senator Marshall.

This week we highlight the initiative Roth Farms and The Garden City Company took to start Water Technology Farms to conserve water. The Roth family has farmed for The Garden City Company for generations. Dwane Roth and Troy Dumler, General Manager of The Garden City Company, were concerned about declining water levels in the Ogallala Aquifer in northwest Finney County after years of drought. The development of Water Technology Farms in the Kansas 50-Year Water Vision provided a great opportunity to test new irrigation technologies. 

Today, Roth’s nephews Zion and Zach operate Roth Farms and remain committed to extending the life of the Ogallala Aquifer. With support from the Kansas Water Office, K-State Research and Extension, and numerous agriculture companies and organizations, Zion has experimented with soil moisture probes, high efficiency sprinkler nozzle package, irrigation scheduling technologies, and has adapted crop rotations and tillage practices to conserve irrigation water. Experience with these technologies has been shared in a series of field days. 

In conjunction with the Water Technology Farm, The Garden City Company established a voluntary Water Conservation Area (WCA) with a 15% conservation goal in 2017. Upon completing the five-year WCA, Roth Farms has used only 53% of their WCA allocation. While the five-year timeframe of the WCA was blessed with above average precipitation in the early years, the Roth’s demonstrated that they could maintain yields and profitability while conserving water for future years.   

Previous Entries in Senator Marshall’s Kansas Conservation Series:

March 24, 2023, Milford Watershed: The Milford Watershed is a Regional Conservation Partnership Program through USDA NRCS and helps agricultural producers act on water quality. The voluntary program is designed to help farmers and landowners increase the health of their land and make operations more efficient. The Best Management Practice is a plan that helps control nutrient pollution or erosion resulting from agricultural land use. These practices include nutrient management, residue and tillage management, nutrient management plan, cover crop planting, and more. The practices lead to better water quality in Milford Lake. You may click HERE or on the image below to read about the Milford Watershed.

March 17, 2023, Kansas Burning Practices: For ranchers like Joe Carpenter, in the Flint Hills, controlled burning of pastures continues ahead of the start of the summer grazing season. With the Flint Hills being the last remaining tallgrass ecosystem in the United States, it is imperative landowners preserve the landscape and ecosystem. Ranchers, including Joe, use fire to do that. Everything in the Flint Hills, from the animals, grass, shrubs, and trees, has been shaped by fire. For thousands of years, tribes set fire to the prairies to kill invasive species and encourage the growth of new grass, which attracted bison to the area for hunting. The need for the fires continues today – plants, animals, and the economy still depend on it. You may click HERE or on the image below to read the full feature. 

March 10, 2023, Mr. Ray Flickner: Ray Flickner a fifth-generation farmer from McPherson County. On their 147-year-old farm, Ray and his wife Susan grow irrigated corn, soybeans, sorghum and wheat. Ray was practicing regenerative agriculture for many decades before it became mainstream in the Kansas agriculture community. In doing so, he is leaving the soil in better condition for the future through practices like minimum and conservation tillage, subsurface drip irrigation, and cover crops. You may click HERE or on the image below to read Ray Flickner’s full feature. 

March 3, 2023,  Mr. Randall Karr: Randall is a 5th generation farmer who works alongside his father while managing his own acreage. Growing up, he watched his grandfather pioneer new practices, including terraces and no-till farming. Randall utilizes several conservation practices on his farm north of Emporia, including cover crops to minimize soil erosion, no-till planting and weed management, and rotational grazing with his meat goat herd to control weeds and add nutrients back into the soil. In February, Randall was honored by the Lyon/Chase County conservation district with the 2022 Young Conservation Award. You may click HERE or on the image below to read Randall Karr’s full feature. 

February 23, 2023, United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Kansas Great Plains Grassland Initiative (GPGI): Kansas’ transition from productive grassland to woody plant dominance presents a threat to livestock production and increases the chance of dangerous wildfires. The GPGI is partnering with Kansas’ ranchers to protect natural grasslands by offering financial support and treatment strategies for addressing woody plant encroachment. In Southeast Kansas, the Browning family has utilized the GPGI to restore grassland. You may click HERE or on the image below to hear their story.