Douglas County rancher John Bradley stood on a rock channel creek crossing Monday morning, explaining the natural benefits for the animals and the minnows in the stream versus installing, say, a culvert there.
“The crossing is where livestock or vehicles can cross safely. They’re not in the mud,” said Bradley who was giving a tour of his ranch’s conservation plan. “We also preserve water quality in the creek because we’re not causing soil erosion.
“The aquatic habitat, the minnows, can swim up and down stream as they did before. Yet the vehicles and the livestock can travel safely and not cause further erosion of the stream bank.”
The veterinarian’s ranch about 2 miles south of Lawrence was the first stop along Congressman Jerry Moran’s 10th annual conservation tour showcasing different agricultural efforts. Dozens of area agricultural and conservation officials and advocates joined the tour.
“The goal here is to make certain we’re doing the right thing as far as environmental practices, that we’re spending federal taxpayer dollars wisely,” Moran said. “And that we have a chance to highlight all of the groups that come together, public and private, to try to be certain that Kansas’ environmental future, its land, air and water qualities are high.”
Moran represents the state’s 1st Congressional District, which is most of western and central Kansas. He is also the Republican Party’s nominee vying to replace U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, who is running for governor.
Bradley talked about how he worked with conservation and water quality specialists on short-term and long-term goals since he and his wife bought the property five years ago from his mother.
One grazing technique at the ranch is to pull cattle off the grass in September and allow the grass to grow until it freezes. Once it freezes it becomes standing hay, and the process saves him the expense of having to harvest hay and store it in a barn. When the cattle are grazing on it, he moves the fence every few days, giving the cattle fresh grass throughout the winter.
“It’s a better quality for the cattle, and it’s a more natural way to harvest the forage,” Bradley said.
Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and Dave White, chief of the Washington-based National Resources Conservation Services, were also guests. The tour was scheduled to cover farms and ranches in several area counties Monday.
“It’s just fascinating. I think it is a great sign for agriculture and a great sign for Kansas,” said Jenkins, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes western Lawrence.