Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Farm develops water system, builds for future

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 1/20/2014

RICHMOND — Ron Dunbar sat in his office chair and rubbed his forehead as he remembered the good ol’ days of farming when work was more hands-on as he waited for his son to get back from feeding some cattle. These days, Ron thinks the technology his son’s generation is going to inherit will make work easier when Aaron Dunbar takes over the operation at Dunbar Farms Inc. at 3420 Douglas Road, Richmond.

“There’s so much more technology involved right now; it’s kind of passed me by,” Ron Dunbar said. “But this younger generation, like Aaron, really picked up on this — that’s the future.”

RICHMOND — Ron Dunbar sat in his office chair and rubbed his forehead as he remembered the good ol’ days of farming when work was more hands-on as he waited for his son to get back from feeding some cattle. These days, Ron thinks the technology his son’s generation is going to inherit will make work easier when Aaron Dunbar takes over the operation at Dunbar Farms Inc. at 3420 Douglas Road, Richmond.

“There’s so much more technology involved right now; it’s kind of passed me by,” Ron Dunbar said. “But this younger generation, like Aaron, really picked up on this — that’s the future.”

But his son isn’t the only beneficiary of technological advances.

The Dunbars — Ron, Elaine, Aaron and Cassie — are winners of the Franklin County Conservation District Bankers Award for Water Quality for their development of their own water system that cleans and feeds cattle throughout their land, instead of relying on water from the rural water system. They will be recognized Thursday at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.

When the Dunbars realized relying on water from the rural water system would be too costly for them, they decided to research and develop their own water system that helped save them more than a few dollars. The system provided cleaner water and safer methods to feed the cattle, which in turn allowed the cattle to grow more healthy and the farm to grow larger than before the water system was developed.

“It’s important to design systems where you’re able to filter the water,” Aaron Dunbar said.

Ron Dunbar said the farm, which mainly raises cattle but also produces corn, soybeans and wheat, began researching the system in 2005 and implemented the practice sometime between 2007 and 2008. He said the farm inherited a water tower on the land before the farm had anything to do with it. But then the Dunbars needed to find an alternate way to get water to their farm.

The Dunbars cleaned up the ponds and fenced them off from cattle, then developed a water system that allowed for water stations to be placed in several feeding pastures dispersed throughout the land. The feeding stations all have lines connected to the water tower, which hold reserved water.

Much like other farms that use conservation practices, the Dunbars just hope to develop a long-lasting sustainable method that will keep the farm up and running into future generations. Aaron Dunbar will be the fourth generation of Dunbars to take over the farm when the time comes.

“We want the environment to be just as good as when we had it and pass it on,” Ron Dunbar said, “and to continue to improve where we can.”

The Dunbars know the future of water is important. Gov. Sam Brownback addressed the issue of water conservation in Kansas last week in his State of the State address and detailed how it is the state’s most valuable resource.

“Water quality is front and center of most other issues in the state right now,” Ron Dunbar said. “A lot of considerations out there to be concerned about.”

“It’s your most valuable resource,” Aaron Dunbar said.

Of course, the farm still relies on rain, as do all Kansas farms. For now, the farm will work with the technology it has, Aaron Dunbar said, but perhaps they’ll get lucky with more technological upgrades.

“Tractors will probably be run remotely,” Ron Dunbar said. “You’ll just sit there and say, ‘Ah, I’ll send it over to that field.’”

comments powered by Disqus