Nick and Stephanie Kraus of Marion will be recognized for their efforts at improving soil and preserving grassland.
Nick Kraus returned home from college in 2003 with a new bride, Stephanie, to farm and ranch with his father, Don Kraus; grandfather Raymond Krause, and uncle Leroy Krause.
The couple live northeast of Marion on Nick’s grandparents’ farm, which serves as the base of operations for a cow herd.
Nick took over the operation after his father unexpectedly died in 2012. He works to control soil erosion and regenerate the soil by practicing no till, planting cover crops, and planting grass in areas prone to soil erosion.
Crop rotation consists of alfalfa, wheat, soybeans, and corn. Depending on economic conditions and location, cover crops are planted for forage or grazing.
Pastures are rotated among spring pairs, fall dry cows, fall weaned stockers, and bred heifers. This allows for alternate grazing patterns and the use of burning each year on different properties to prevent them from being overused.
Some pastures are cross-fenced for rotational grazing throughout the season.
Nick has used National Resources and Conservation Services programs to assist with putting water systems in several pastures. They provide reliability and eliminate ponds, he said.
Nick and Stephanie have five children who attend Marion schools and keep them busy with school activities. Haley is a senior; Teegan, a freshman; Trey, a seventh grader; Jason , a fifth grader; and Delaney, a kindergartener. Nick serves on the board of education. The family is active in Holy Family Parish.
Nick advises future generations of farmers and ranchers to break the cycle of “take all you can get” from the land.
“If you invest in the soil, it will pay dividends in the future,” he said.
Last modified Feb. 8, 2024