By Richard C. Snell.

Barton County Extension Agriculture Agent.

Western Kansas

Water, it is essential for all life and that we have enough of it and that it is of good quality.

During the next couple of weeks, I will be talking about an important upcoming meeting. It concerns water quality issues in Barton County. The meeting will be held at the Barton County Community College Fine Arts Building, Monday evening, Jan. 14. It will begin at 7 p.m. I would recommend that all citizens of Barton County attend and especially those in agriculture to attend.

The buzzword is TMDLs. TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Load, and we even have a bulletin on it at the county Extension office. In a nutshell, it is the maximum amount of certain pollutants that water bodies, such as streams, lakes and rivers may contain. This may include bacteria, nitrates, phosphorus, atrazine, heavy metals and other things.

As many of you probably know, a few months back, several environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, sued the Environmental Protection Agency and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for not enforcing the Clean Water Act in Kansas. Since that time, several steps have been taken to get Kansas in compliance over the next five years.

Each county will be trying to do some public education through their non-point pollution committees, Extension offices, conservation districts and special projects. The idea will be to determine what the problems in each county are and what best management practices can be used by cities, businesses, farmers and homeowners to reduce water pollution.

The Extension Service has hired five water quality specialists, in several watersheds across the state. All of these were experienced county agents that will be covering several counties, just to deal in water education. Most of these are in eastern Kansas, but one in southwest Kansas is former Pawnee County Extension Agent Bob Frisbie.

A few water quality engineers also have been hired by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. There is one in our area, based out of Hutchinson. Her name is Eowyn Floyd, and she covers Barton County.

At the Monday night meeting, there will be several speakers and then break-out discussion groups. We really do want input from the public, so we need you there, and for you to talk with us.

If you have any questions, you can call Pam Tucker, Barton County Soil Conservation District Office, 620-792-3346, or myself, at 620-793-1910. No reservations are needed. I hope to see you Jan. 14.

Cattlemen won't have to drive all that far to find a location for the Four-State Beef Conference, Jan. 16 and 17.

There are four half-day conferences planned for Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

The one for Kansas producers is in Clay Center, Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Catholic Parish Center. It starts at 4 p.m. The registration fee is $25. You can register by calling the county Extension staff.

More than 300 producers attended last year. This is a long running annual event, because I remember working with it when I lived in northeast Kansas and that has been at least 15 years.

Some of the topics and speakers will include: Developing a Marketing Plan for Your Cattle, by Larry Corah, Certified Angus Beef and former beef cattle specialist, at Kansas State University; Cost Effective Mineral Programs for Beef Cows and Stockers, by K.C. Olson, University of Missouri; Year Round Grazing Management, by Bruce Anderson, forage specialist, at the University of Nebraska; and Benefits of Pre-Conditioning, by Doug Ensley, DVM, at Iowa State University.

The fee includes the evening meal and a copy of the proceedings. In order to keep registration fees low for the future, please call your reservations in by Jan. 11.

Congratulations go to Steve and Terry Gaunt, Great Bend area farmers, for having the highest actual grain sorghum yield, in the United States, in the National Grain Sorghum Yield and Management Contest.

The contest is administered by the National Grain Sorghum Producers, Lubbock, TX.

The Gaunts entered two fields--one in the reduced tillage irrigated and one in the conventional-tilled. Their yield of 173.6 bushels per acre, in the reduced till, was the highest. However, they didn't win the national contest with that, but were the Kansas champion. You see, unlike the corn yield contest, which goes on actual yield, the sorghum contest gives you points for being over your county average. So, it is to your advantage if you have a county with a low average. Unfortunately, Barton County's average of 97 bushels per acre only gave them a net score of 76.6. The winner, from Oklahoma, had 88.14 points, even though his yield was 10 bushels per acre less. He came from a county with a 75-bushel average.

So, officially, they were second in the nation and first in the state, in the reduced till irrigated category.

In the conventionally tilled, their yield was 169.03, which again won the state, but only gave them third in the nation, with a score of 72.03.

I had the good fortune to measure these fields, witness the harvest, the weighing of the grain and do the calculations as contest supervisor. We sent them to the national headquarters, where they approved them.

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