Farming is in the Meinig family blood.
Don Meinig was born in 1927 on the farm his grandfather homesteaded located on the banks of Wild Creek west of Paola, and Don’s son, Jim, has spent the past six decades following in those farming footsteps.
“I started driving a tractor when I was 9,” Jim said.
Jim learned a lot about farming and the importance of conservation from his father, Don, and grandfather, Harry.
“I always say I had the two best teachers,” Jim said.
Jim switched to no-till more than 15 years ago out of necessity when his father could no longer assist him.
“Dad always worked the ground in front of me while I was planting,” Jim said.
But Jim added that his father and grandfather were ahead of their time, and they both recognized the soil conservation benefits of no-till practices, cover crops and buffer strips.
“They never farmed a lot, but they farmed it well,” Jim said.
He specifically remembers his grandfather being a big advocate of sowing red clover into his wheat crop.
“I grew up around that dirty stuff,” Jim said.
He added that he understands the benefits of cover crops, but the timing to get them planted around the harvest schedule can be a struggle.
Jim said he has definitely noticed the benefits of his no-till practices during the past several years.
“The terraces stay and you don’t have to build them back up,” Jim said. “And there is no silt bar at the end of the terrace.”
Previously, Jim remembers having to plow up the terraces every three years.
Jim currently farms about 500 acres of soybeans and corn west of Paola, and he also has about 250 head of cattle.
He recently lost his teacher and role model when his father, Don, passed away Jan. 17 at the age of 93. Jim said he always had great respect for his father, especially since Don also had a trucking company and hauled cattle to the stockyards in Kansas City to support his family.
“He was part of the toughest generation,” Jim said.
Jim soon will be honored by the Miami County Conservation District as a soil health award winner, and he said the award has special meaning this year because of his father’s recent passing.
Several years ago, Jim and Don were both honored with the conservation district’s buffer award for planting native grass and flower strips adjacent to crop fields.
Don’s family paid tribute to his conservation efforts in his recent obituary, stating “He was a true steward of the land, implementing conservation practices to take care of his fields. His philosophy, which he learned from his father and grandfather, and passed on to his children, was to leave the land better than he found it.”