Keith and Jana Strasser started farming in 1992 and are third generation farmers. Their care for the land is demonstrated by using established conservation practices and technological advances in their farming operation.

Im just a small farmer. I only have about 1,300 acres, and I rotate farming wheat, milo and corn, Keith Strasser said. On the dryland, we use a wheat, milo, fallow rotation. On the irrigated, we raise corn and then double crop wheat, and then go back to corn.

The Strassers are one of two local farm families to be honored with the 2015 Kansas Bankers Award for Cropland through the Finney County Conservation District.

Connie Richmeier, district manager for the Finney County Conservation District, said the annual award through the Kansas Bankers Association looks at farmers in each county across the state who are doing an excellent job protecting natural resources. A committee comprised of representatives of a local bank, the conservation district, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Kansas State University Research and Extension Service reviews nominations and chooses who they feel is the top steward of the year.

Richmeier said the conservation district has been recognizing farmers with the award since 1946. Its not always two families in a year or always for the same thing. Sometimes, she said, the committee gives awards for efforts under the Conservation Reserve Program, windbreaks, irrigation practices it just depends on the type of year.

As you know, weve had such a dry year. We just felt this year we needed to go with dryland and soil (efforts to conserve moisture), she said. If youve heard anything about our aquifer, you know its extremely important that we save water. Every drop counts.

Keith Strasser continues to maintain terraces to conserve moisture, using a minimum tillage operation on the wheat ground and a no-till on the milo ground, and has increased the intensity of his crop rotation on additional acres. The Strassers continue to carry out enhancements through the Conservation Stewardship Program that improve soil, air, and water quality.

Some of the things the award recognized Strasser for, Richmeier said, was conserving stubble, working less ground, and taking steps to prevent water runoff, when it does rain, from carrying off the topsoil.

Strasser said conservation is an important fact of life for his farm and others.

As far as being important to me, its conserving not only moisture with less trips across the ground, but conserving the water resources to allow future generations to continue, he said.

Strasser said his dad also farms a separate farm, and they share machinery and things like that. He and his wife have two college-aged children, but Strasser isnt sure if they want to go into farming or not.

They can do whatever they want, he said with a chuckle. If they want to come back, they can come back. Im not gonna ask them to or force them to.

Scott is a reporter with the Garden City Telegram. His email issaust@gctelegram.com.