Innovative Livestock Services, Inc.
Down Arrow
Tuesday, July 3 2018 7:00 AM
By Anne Burkholder

The Farming Puzzle

Today the plains of Central Kansas are a sea of green as rye, corn, and alfalfa crops sway in the summer wind. A calendar hangs on the wall of the office, but a look out the window at the fields tells the story of the season much better than a piece of paper. The natural life cycle seen at ILS Farms articulates the tale of hard work, ingenuity, and the embracement of new technology. The focus: measuring in order to put together the pieces of the puzzle in the best way – always looking for a harmonious relationship between the land and the cattle.

The Farming Calendar

While the paper calendar year begins in January, Mother Nature determines the farming calendar. In fact, it’s more like an unending circle as we work to make a sustainable cattle farm cycle.

Why do we grow a rotation of rye and corn?

Because cattle like to eat it! As cattle farmers, our priority is to turn the natural resources from our fields into nutritious cattle feed. We do this both by grazing rotations and by harvesting crops to feed to the cattle when they arrive at one of our feedyards. While we initially raise rye, alfalfa, and corn -- ultimately, we grow beef. To ensure success all along the cycle, we must take care of the soil as well as the animals that rely on it for nourishment.

Rye provides a great grazing resource. After high moisture corn harvest, the rye gets drilled (planted) in August. By Mid-Late October, it is ready for the cattle to graze for the winter months. By February, the cattle have begun to eat all of the rye and are gathered and moved into one of our near-by feed yards. There, the animals spend 3-6 months eating a blended diet of corn and forage (alfalfa and corn stalks) before they are shipped to the packing plant.

Caring for the soil

Once the cattle are moved off of the rye pastures, it is time to take care of the soil. Composting (conditioning) the manure that the cattle give to us in our feed yards plays a critical role in our care for the land. Recycling and conditioning our manure allows us to make the most judicious use of this resource. The drier, more consistent fertilizer product is easy to agronomically apply and the composting process reduces weed seed germination.

Agronomic application of fertilizer means that we only apply the amount of nutrients that the soil needs. To determine this, yearly soil samples are taken on all of our farms and compost samples are taken monthly so that we can accurately calculate and then provide what the soil needs each year to give us vibrant crops. In this way, the cattle feed the crops in addition to the crops feeding the cattle.

Being Better Tomorrow Than We Are Today

Most of the farmers that I know are natural nerds. Their intellectual minds drive them to think outside of the box and try new things in order to constantly improve. This instinct to both measure and study what they do combines with a love for the soil in order to provide a winning combination!

Here is a short list of some of the new technologies and farming practices that we employ at ILS Farms:

Do you know a farmer? If so, ask him/her about the farming puzzle…




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Innovative Livestock Services, Inc.

Innovative Livestock Services

2006 Broadway Avenue
Great Bend, KS 67530

(620) 793-9200

4805 Vue du Lac
Manhattan, KS 66503

(785) 587-9700

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