Stacy Hoeme and his son, Chaston, farm along the Smoky Hill River in Scott County. For decades the Hoemes have used limited tillage and crop rotation to promote soil health and manage water usage. For more than 40 years the Hoeme family has been on the cutting edge of conservation practices that help their farm’s profitability, soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat. Today they use no-till and cover crops to restore the health of their soils and maximize the infiltration of moisture on their semi-arid farm and ranch. Stacy realizes that the aquifer they irrigate from is a limited supply of water so they added cover crops to their cropland to make the best use of their irrigation water.
The Hoemes developed a cattle grazing program that recognizes that prairies require grazing and rest periods to maintain their natural productivity. The diverse collection of plants on their pastures supports some of the largest known populations and densities of the lesser prairie chicken. Their land was part of the largest study ever on the lesser prairie chicken. The many insights gained on their land have influenced how government, conservation partners, and other landowners manage the landscape for wildlife.
The Hoemes were among western Kansas’ first ranches to fence off ponds to protect water quality and use solar power to pump water for their livestock. They manage many food plots for deer, pheasants, bobwhite quail and migrating song birds. In times of deep snow, the grain left standing may be their only easily accessed food for miles.
A frequent host for a variety of educational tours, the Hoemes have also stepped into political activism for agriculture and wildlife. An additional act of dedication to preserving the fragile, prairie environment found in Kansas is the family’s on-going plan to place their ranch in a conservation easement. This will be a great workshop to learn about growing cover crops and managing grazing land in a semi-arid climate.