Farm Talk

March 18, 2014

Area families earn ‘Master’ honors


CNHI

Parsons, Kansas — Six couples have been named Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers for 2013. The couples are identified as leaders in farming and their communities, and were honored last week at a banquet in Manhattan.

Honorees from Farm Talk territory include Carrol and Jeanie Campbell, Winfield; Russ and Sandra Sylvester, Ottawa; Neal and Clare Galle, Moundridge; and Lee and Pam Doyle of Holton.

Carrol and Jeanie Campbell

Campbell Farms epitomizes diversity. In addition to dairy and beef production, the Campbells raise wheat, sorghum, corn, soybeans, alfalfa and grass hay.

The family has been in the dairy business for 83 years and stresses the importance of having a relationship with customers. Carrol's father and grandfather went door-to-door selling milk for 54 years. Carrol and Jeanie bought the farm in 1973 and the milk is marketed through an area  cooperative. Cash crops are marketed through a local cooperative, and the beef cattle and cull dairy cattle sold at the local livestock auction. Campbell Farms uses 100 percent AI on the dairy herd and both natural and AI service with the beef cattle. All bulls used are selected on EPDs.

The Campbells are 4-H supporters and volunteers. They teach young people about agriculture by giving dairy tours to local schools and civic groups. Carrol, with other farmers, formed American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology with a mission to connect with the consumer on farmers' values.

The farm is committed to protecting the environment by being energy efficient and conserving the land and soil, using crop rotation, no-till, strip-till, and precise fertilizer and herbicide applications. The Campbells realize their success is dependent on keeping accurate records and doing a regular analysis of those records. Jeanie has a big role in keeping the farm's financial records, in addition to working off the farm over the years as a teacher and in the medical field.

In 2013, the farm began value-added production of sweet corn, a family affair that involved two young grandsons, who attended the farmers' market and interacted with customers.

Children include Holly Martin (husband Eric), Nathan Campbell (wife Aimee), Dana Lowe (husband Scott) and eight grandchildren.

Russ and Sandra Sylvester

At Sylvester Ranch in 1946, Wes Sylvester, father of Russ, began certified wheat seed production with K-State Research and Extension and constructed a conditioning and bagging facility. Today, the operation still grows, processes and sells certified wheat seed but has increased the value-added concept by also producing soybeans and corn. The Sylvesters sell their corn to the East Kansas Agri-Energy ethanol plant, where they are shareholders, and at the Ottawa Co-op, where they are stockholders.

To preserve the land for future generations, the Sylvesters have installed windbreaks, tiled terraces and waterways. They also built two watershed dams, practice no-till and crop rotation, and incorporate cover crops in the fall. GPS is used on the farm for crop production.

Russ has served on the Franklin County Extension Board and represented the district on the State Extension Board. Sandy worked in banking many years and keeps farm records. Russ and Sandy are involved in church and are members of many agricultural organizations. They have hosted "Day on the Farm" with Franklin County 3rd graders for 15 years. They have also hosted "Walk to Bethlehem," a Christmas event involving local churches.

Their children are Kay Selman (husband Mike), Kristine Wallace (husband Terry), Ronald Sylvester (wife Angela) and nine grandchildren.

Lee and Pamela Doyle, Holton

Lee and Pam bought their present 80-acre home place in 1979, and their son, Scott, and his wife, Jill, joined the operation in 2002. Since Lee and Scott became business partners, the operation expanded in cattle backgrounding. Along with beef cow, stocker and feeder production, the Doyles raise corn, soybeans, haylage, silage, alfalfa and grass hay.

The Doyles have used soil testing to apply appropriate fertilizer, installed sediment drawdowns on the bottom ground fields that drain into creeks and ditches, built feedlots on a hill with drain-age to the cropland, and use automatic waterers in feedlots and alternative water sources, such as gravity flow tanks from ponds and developed springs for cattle.

They use no-till farming, controlled burning, rotational grazing and contoured farming to help preserve the land and soil, and GPS in planting and spraying. Pam helps keep farm records and has worked off the farm as a nursing instructor, case management and hospice coordinator.

The Doyles are a member and stockholder in U.S. Premium Beef, provide support to the Holton High School and 4-H and active in agricultural organizations.

Their children are Scott Doyle (wife Jill), Heidi Maggard (husband Chuck) and four grandchildren.

Neal and Clare Galle, Moundridge

Neal and Clare Galle reside on the farm where Neal grew up with five siblings. The farm is home to a diversified livestock program consisting of beef cattle, swine and sheep, along with wheat, sorghum, corn, soybeans, alfalfa and grass hay.

The Galles host a wheat plot for K-State, which is something they have done for 32 years. It is one of four plots in the county. On the livestock side, they keep track of breeding records, growth rates and feed consumption. They also use AI for breeding their swine and cattle.

For crops, the Galles use GPS technology, drill and planter monitors, yield monitors, fertilizer rate control and a grain moisture meter. To effectively manage the land, the Galles use strip till, crop rotation, buffer strips, a reduced tillage program and windbreaks for soil and water management.

Clare has worked on the farm with Neal and has taught in the gifted program and middle school studies for 28 years. Neal has been the 4-H Fair Swine Superintendent since 1978. He has been active in church and school and with other local agricultural groups and boards. The Galles are Pork Quality Assurance certified.

Children: Beth Hess (husband Michael), Craig Galle (wife Alaine), Paul Galle (wife Amy) and three grandchildren Randy and Kim Fritzemeier, Stafford

Nearly 1,400 acres of wheat is the main crop of the Fritzemeier operation, owned by Randy and Kim Fritzemeier. The couple also raises soybeans, silage, alfalfa, sudangrass, fallow and beef cattle. Both Randy and Kim grew up in farm families, which gave them the knowledge needed for having their own successful farm.

The farm has adapted over the years and now uses the latest technologies in AI and EPDs for cattle, and soil testing for precise fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide applications. The Fritzemeiers maintain an approved conservation plan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. They use alfalfa to build up the soil and feed to livestock.

The Kansas Farm Bureau honored the farm as a Century Farm in 2004. Randy, who has a degree in agricultural economics, is the fourth-generation of farmers in his family to work the land in Stafford and Reno counties. Outside the farm, he serves on the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers Board and invests time in other local and area agricultural boards. Kim has a degree in home economics and mass communications and has worked in various media to help tell agriculture's story.

Rural communities, the Fritzemeiers believe, are changing, and it takes all community members to invest in time, efforts and finances to back and maintain each community.

The Fritzemeiers have both served as Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders and support local 4-H and FFA.

Children: Jill Ladd (husband Eric), Brent Fritzemeier and one grandchild

Phillip and Sharron Knox, Brewster, Thomas County

Phillip Knox knows what it's like to work in agriculture, both as an educator and a farmer. He received a Ph.D. in ag economics from the University of California and taught at Colorado State University. He and his wife, Sharron, and their family have Knox Farms, Inc., a family-owned feedlot, and own part of a commercial feedlot in Goodland. They also own AgSun, a limited liability company that produces steam-flaked corn to sell to feedlots and dairies in western Kansas.

The Knox operation focuses on employing community members, and most employees are full-time, salaried managers who are responsible for cattle, dryland production, irrigated production or spraying operations. The Knox operation produces wheat, corn and beef cattle. The farm had an early commitment to no-till and uses a confined feeding operation manure management system with application to the no-till crops.

Sharron, a public health professional, worked nearly 30 years as a Women, Infants and Children nutritionist. She also helps manage the business and accounting side of the farm. Both she and Phillip are 35-year members of the Thomas County Farm Bureau.

The Knox operation owns shares in U.S. Premium Beef, where the cattle are marketed. In the community, Phillip and Sharron have served as 4-H leaders, and Phillip is a member of the Lions Club in Brewster. They also have been active in local church and school activities.

Children are Stephanie Ford (husband Matt), Daniel Knox (wife Vickie), Timothy Knox and three grandchildren.

The Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker award program began in 1927 and is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Farmer magazine.

Selection of Master Far-mer and Master Farm Homemaker couples is accomplished through K-State Research and Extension administrative areas. Local councils and districts submit nominations, and the associate director appoints a committee to pick one couple from each area—northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest—plus two couples at large.