I have spent this week visiting with some of the winners of the Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award. All five of the winners for 2009 will be announced Friday Aug. 7. They will be recognized at the Ohio Farm Science Review on Thursday Sept. 24.
It is humbling to see how much conservation work folks can get done with the help of their Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Natural Resources Conservation Services. Yes the total accomplishments represent years of commitment – sometimes the sum of several generations dedication as in a tree planting or a contour strip establishment.
Yet time and again when I ask what the secret is, I am told, “We try to do one project a year.” Whether it’s a water way or a wind block, adding drainage, creating a wetland, managing manure, trying a cover crop or killing grape vines, these families make a decision for improvement and keep after it.
It sounds pretty straight forward, but of course it takes a plan and it takes team work with the supporting agencies. It usually involves some cost share support – especially with the options available through Environmental Quality Incentive Program and other options that have been offered through NRCS or the Farm Service Agency. However, there are plenty of projects that get carried out by determined landowners that go forward with or without government help.
It is not unusual that the time required for a project to return its investment exceeds the working life of the farmer who has undertaken the work. Many times a landowner has taken on work that improves the land; its productivity and its value – even though they have no intention of cashing any of that in during their lifetime.
There are no shortages of things we can do maintain and secure our natural resources. Stewardship is duty that rewards conservation practitioners with the promise of future productivity.
It’s worth going after -- one project a year.