Johnson County Farms

Johnson County is an important agricultural producer. With almost 45,000 acres of soybeans, corn, wheat and sorghum, and almost 24,000 acres of hayland, agricultural producers control a substantial amount of land in the county. Fertilizers and chemicals used in agriculture potentially have a substantial impact on the Kansas River. There are also enough cows to populate a small city (over 28,000), requiring careful consideration of how to manage manure and other impacts that farm animals have on streams in JoCo. There are special regulations governing livestock waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, we provide resources below for smaller producers.

Farmers are helping reduce nonpoint source pollution

Farmers are using many Best Management Practices to help reduce stormwater runoff from their land, reducing the amount of nutrients and agricultural chemicals that pollute the Kansas River. There are a number of programs that help farmers by providing guidance and cost share for demonstration projects that help reduce pollution in stormwater runoff. These include:

Best Management Practices are also good business practices

Best Management Practices to reduce runoff can actually increase profitability by decreasing erosion, decreasing costs by reducing unnecessary fertilizer and chemical application, improving soil and water, and improving livestock productivity. We suggest that you consider the following BMPs for your farm:

Conduct a farm assessment using the River Friendly Farms Environmental Assessment: The Kansas Rural Center will provide help and a $250 incentive for creating your own farm plan.

Plan and implement extended legume-based crop rotations:
A study conducted in the Lower Kansas River watershed by K-State researchers has found that reducing tillage was similar in production costs per acre but substantially decreased soil erosion, nitrogen and phosphorous loss.

Use cover crops, high residue cropping systems, conversion to no-till or minimum till with a planned crop rotation: According to the Kansas Wheat Association cover crops can reduce the need for fertilizer, improve soil moisture and reduce erosion from wind and rain.

Preserve or create buffer strips, riparian filter strips, field grass filter strips: The NRCS considers buffers a win-win-win strategy because they are economically viable when developed with federal and state incentives; help farmers to meet federal, state, and county regulations; improve habitat for wildlife and game species; and they reduce flooding. All that while reducing sediment, nutrients, pathogens and ag chemicals entering streams. You can get assistance with economic incentives and project planning from your local NRCS office. These programs include:

Use practices that increase streambank stabilization and erosion control: Streambank erosion is a major concern in Kansas because it is a leading cause of reservoir sedimentation. Buffer strips can significantly reduce erosion. The Kansas River and Stream Corridor Guide provides help in assessing bank erosion problems.

Use livestock management systems that reduce confinement feeding and potential pollution including:

Develop livestock waste management systems that limit potential pollution including: