Contour strips that were laid out on 183 acres in 1944 are still there on Dan and Sherry Hanson’s farm. Dan’s grandfather worked with the Soil and Water Conservation Service back then in developing a conservation plan for the rolling landscape on the family’s Fillmore County farm.
The Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District just announced its “Stop That Dirt —Erosion Watch Campaign.” While the majority of Marion County is now urban, that doesn’t mean it’s immune to soil erosion issues.
Capturing the saga of Greene County’s Goose Pond would require a huge book. It’s a story of tremendous potential, bitter disappointment, drama, intrigue, politics and destiny. At least now the conclusion of this story is clear. Restoration of more than 7,000 acres of constructed wetlands is finally complete.
Indiana has 1% more net wetlands than it did before Goose Pond and Beehunter Marsh were restored. That makes Jane Hardisty smile. She’s the state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
If you’re thinking about doing some conservation work on your land, you’d do well to visit the USDA Service Center that serves your area. You can get both financial and technical assistance. Depending on your situation and what you want to do, one can be just as valuable as the other.
USDA’s new Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP, is an incremental improvement that represents learning from past farm programs. The new CSP is a “green payments” type of program that offers extraordinary opportunity, especially if farmers talk it over with their landlords about the land they manage together.
High prices of fuel and fertilizer have pushed us to take a serious look at cover crops for our farm. Cover crops can do a lot of good things, such as helping prevent soil erosion, increase organic matter, fix atmospheric nitrogen, recycle nutrients and provide grazing.
JA Ranch managers are examining fire results to see how prescribed fires can be used for brush control in their property management.
Good grass and cattle are at the heart of Texas and Southwest agriculture.
Cattle, conservation and hunting are all intertwined on the Besler Ranch near Bison, S.D.
Mid to late summer is a good time to check on grassed waterways, if you haven’t already inspected them. Look for eroding channels or areas filled in with sediment.
One of the largest private landholdings in Indiana has a new owner. Juanita Waugh bequeathed 7,600 acres to St. Joseph’s College at Rennselaer. Waugh, Brookston, passed away in 2010.
The late Juanita Waugh, Brookston, was so adamant that her 7,600 acres remain as farmland that she took two separate steps. First, she instructed her attorney to word the deed so that the farm could never be sold. Second, she sought to place it in a conservation easement.
Some 45 years since its opening, the James E. “Bud” Smith Plant Materials Center at Knox City, Texas, continues to do vital work.
Mark Lawson’s dad, now deceased, carried a petition to form the Hendricks County soil and water conservation district. The Soil Conservation Service started 75 years ago, but farmers soon realized USDA needed help bringing soil
erosion under control.
Joe and Joanie Boggs of Weldon were selected as Rathbun Lake Protectors by the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance several years ago for their actions to protect Rathbun Lake, the water source for 80,000 people in southern Iowa and northern Missouri. They continue to help carry out the mission of saving soil and protecting water quality.
Brian Hefty is co-host of the TV show “Ag PhD”; a Baltic, S.D., farmer; and a seed and chemical retailer. He’s also an advocate for tiling and has spoken to several farm groups in the Dakotas this summer about tiling. He also recently made a presentation to a South Dakota legislative committee. Here he answers some reader's questions.
Landowners and producers in Texas never could have predicted 2011’s severe drought conditions that impacted small and large operations alike.
Denitrifying bioreactors — underground trenches filled with wood chips in farm fields — are still few and far between.
When Brent and Teresa Voss moved to rural Dexter in 1994, they viewed it as more of a place to settle their concrete and foundation business than to develop a large farming operation. But that soon changed. Just a week after buying their home property, they bought a nearby 80 acres of farmland.
Producers such as Jay Hardwick are walking softly on the ground that provides them with a living and giving society the benefit of sustainable commodity crop production.
To better distribute federal dollars, Nebraska conservation folks have identified eight “primary resource concerns” in the state.
In May this year federal conservation officials will begin a statewide effort to conduct conservation compliance reviews using aerial photography. After piloting a similar project last year in two of the agency’s five administrative areas, officials with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service have expanded the project to all tracts randomly selected for annual conservation compliance reviews.
Most full-time farmers in Iowa who make a living from their land have a relationship with their local soil and water conservation district and USDA agencies. Even those with smaller farms know where to get conservation help and have used technical and cost-share assistance programs for the most part, a Wallace’s Farmer survey confirmed last year.
The recent mid-April storm reminded many southern Iowa farmers why there is never a good time for tillage — even after a dry winter and the warmest March on record. Up to 8 inches of rain, along with strong winds and tornadoes, hit southern Iowa on April 14, causing property and cropland damage. In many cases, crop inputs like corn seed and fertilizer washed away.
Stand at the edge of Ralph and Marvin Biehle’s grain setup, and you look down over a small valley and up toward the next hill. Pasture extends down the hill, with barns and silos on the other side. Far off in the distance is a cornfield. And behind it is one of the most important resources on the farm — a pond.
One of the most important crops is the one not to harvest, but to protect and improve the soil.
The way Linda Fisher sees it, raising cattle these days is as much about land/crop management as actual care of the animals.
Cattle and wildlife work splendidly for Rick Hanson and business partner Matt Matthews on the Merrick Davis Ranch operated by their H&M Cattle Co. in Shackelford County, Texas.
If Carvel Cheves ever wondered if he was in the right profession, he got his answer with some “homegrown archaeology.”
Don Biehle waited a long time to convert a piece of land the Southeastern Purdue Agricultural Center acquired a few years ago into useful land. The SEPAC superintendent planned to install pattern drainage in zones with water control structures, establish wetland habitat around the irregular borders of the wooded field and restore a wetland. But the project scheduled for August 2009 was scrubbed when Mother Nature dumped several inches of rain on the farm near Butler
The good story that farmers have to tell will soon be as visible as the footprint they leave on a field.
Since corn hybrids containing biotechnology traits for European corn borer were introduced in 1996, a refuge of non-Bt corn consisting of 20% of the acreage has been required within a half-mile of the Bt corn. In 2003, with Bt corn rootworm hybrids, the 20% refuge remained, with the non-Bt refuge required within or adjacent to the field.
One new product uncovered at the 2010 Farm Progress Show was a head carrier for a 45-foot grain head. When the sales rep was asked what he would do when they built a 60-foot head, he threw up his hands and said he would retire first!
Cedar trees are encroaching on grazing land in Boyd County and around the state at a rate that Jim Mathine, Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist, calls “alarming.” This is especially true in areas choked with small cedars.
Keeping tight crop budgets in mind, this fourth Q&A series article tackles herbicide costs, Russell McLucas, a Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance board member, and Del Voight, Penn State Extension grain-crop specialist, address concerns and what works. McLucas, past chairman of the Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association and a 30-year veteran no-tiller, farms near McConnellsburg, Pa.
The Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts recently honored five outstanding families. Each received a Conservation Farmer of the Year award.
The battle between nature and man went on for more than a century on some 8,000 acres of mostly flat, wet land in Greene County. Even if you’ve never been there, odds are you’ve heard stories about Goose Pond. It was a favorite stopover for geese before farmers tried to drain it.